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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Will build a new Kashmir: PM Modi to Pandits’ delegation in Houston

“New winds are blowing in Kashmir and we will all build a new Kashmir together that will be for everyone,” Modi told the Kashmiri Pandit delegation. Modi later tweeted about his “special interaction” with the delegation.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2019 02:33 IST
HT Correspondent and Agencies
HT Correspondent and Agencies
Hindustan Times, Houston
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits in Houston on Sunday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits in Houston on Sunday.(Photo: ANI)
         

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to build a “new Kashmir” during a meeting here with a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits, which lauded the Indian government’s steps to reorganise the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Modi, who arrived in Houston on Saturday at the start of a week-long visit to the US, also met members of the Sikh and Dawoodi Bohra communities.

“New winds are blowing in Kashmir and we will all build a new Kashmir together that will be for everyone,” he told the Kashmiri Pandit delegation. Modi later tweeted about his “special interaction” with the delegation.

The Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD) expressed its support for the Indian government’s August 5 decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and to split the state into two union territories. It said it would support India to “raise awareness that the cessation of Article 370 will enhance human rights” and help build a “new future for the people and the land”.

Modi acknowledged the hardships endured by Kashmiri Pandits following their exodus from Kashmir during 1989-90 because of the militancy. “You have suffered a lot, but the world is changing. We have to move ahead together and build a new Kashmir,” he said.

The delegation presented a memorandum to Modi, asking him to set up a task force under the home ministry that will bring together key stakeholders in India and abroad to advise the government in developing the region and repatriating Kashmiri Pandits.

Members of Sikh community that met Modi hailed his initiative to construct the Kartarpur Corridor that will connect Dera Baba Nanak in India with Darbar Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan. The corridor is expected to open in time for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November.

Members of the Sikh delegation said they were happy the government had taken steps to address their grievances regarding the 1984 anti-Sikh violence and to remove more than 300 Sikhs from a “black list” of people barred from visiting India.

Modi also met a delegation of the Dawoodi Bohras, who present him a shawl. “The Dawoodi Bohra community has distinguished itself across the world. In Houston, I had the opportunity to spend time with them and speak about a wide range of issues,” he tweeted.

At the airport in Houston, Modi was received by the US director of trade and international affairs, Christopher Olson, US ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster and Indian ambassador to the US, Harsh Shringla.

Many Indian-Americans made a beeline for Housto to join the “Howdy, Modi!” event at which the Indian premier was set to appear with US President Donald Trump.

“It’s a big deal for the two leaders to share the stage,” said Rakesh Kumar, a software developer from North Carolina who took hopping flights across states to reach Houston, but without much hope of making it into the NRG Stadium, because he registered late and was among the 7,000 waitlisted.

First Published: Sep 23, 2019 02:33 IST

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