Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday appealed to “misguided youngsters” to shun the path of violence and join the national mainstream, saying every stone or weapon picked by them led Jammu and Kashmir to the path of instability.
Speaking for the first time after the government announced an halt to anti-militancy operations in the state during the holy month of Ramzan, the prime minister said there is no alternative to peace and stability.
“My appeal to these misguided youths is to return to the national mainstream, which is their own family, and participate in the development of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said while dedicating the 330-MW Kishanganga power project to the nation.
Its progress was monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Amid the chanting of “Modi, Modi”, the prime minister inaugurated the project and laid the foundation stone for the Srinagar Ring Road at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre.
The 42.1 km, four-lane Srinagar Ring Road will link Galandar in west Srinagar to Sumbal in Bandipora district and reduce traffic congestion.
Modi was on a one-day visit to the state’s three regions of Leh, Kashmir and Jammu, launching new projects through remote inaugurations.
In Leh, Modi launched the construction of Zojila tunnel to provide all-weather connectivity to Ladakh. From Jammu, he opened a new track to the Vaishnodevi shrine and also laid the foundation of the Pakal Dul hydroelectric project on Chenab.
Beginning his speech in Kashmiri, Modi asked people in Srinagar to accept his “salaam” and wished them health and prosperity. He spoke passionately for about 30 minutes highlighting the importance of 'Kashmiriyat’.
He said former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a fan of the concept, “and I am also a follower.”
Modi said the state government and the Centre have “a policy, determination and strength to take bold decisions”.
He said the halt to operations during Ramzan will help expose “those who have been spreading terrorism in the name of Islam”.
He said there were many vested interests who do not want to see a prosperous Jammu and Kashmir.
“But friends, we need to reply to these foreign powers by keeping our march to prosperity going,” he said.
The state government and the Centre are striving hard to bring into the mainstream the misguided youths who are under the influence of false propaganda from a foreign power, he said.
“Every stone or weapon picked up by the youth of this state is only meant to destabilise their own state. We have to take the state out of instability for our future generations,” he said.
“The misguided youths will not only have to join Jammu and Kashmir but also the national mainstream of the country,” he added.
On the alienation of the youth, the prime minister said, “There is no power which can create a wedge between two brothers... People who have been engaging in creating a wedge between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the country are now on the verge of extinction.”
Dwelling upon ‘Kashmiriyat’, he said, “Last year, I spent my Diwali with the jawans in Gurez and today I am amidst you during the holy month of Ramzan.”
He reiterated his Independence Day address from Red Fort last year where he had said, “Na gaali se samasya sulajhne wali hai, na goli se, samasya suljhegi har Kashmiri ko gale lagane se (The Kashmir problem cannot be resolved by either bullets or abuses. It can be resolved by embracing all Kashmiris).”
He said for ensuring permanent stability, the Centre has appointed a special representative to whom anyone can go and put forth their viewpoint.
“From the side of the government, we are leaving no stone unturned for ending the cycle of violence. But the onus on ensuring an alliance between Kashmiriyat and democracy lies with the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
The prime minister concluded his speech in Kashmiri, telling people that may God bless them.
Earlier, in her welcome address, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti thanked the prime minister for announcing the halt to anti-militancy operations during Ramzan.
“Let me share with you Prime Minister sir, today the mothers of the Kashmir Valley are sleeping peacefully as they know that there won’t be any operations.
She said she knew it was a difficult decision,
“But such decisions are taken when the Centre has the will and the determination and you showed your magnanimity in announcing such a decision. It definitely needs lot of courage,” she said.
“If the Centre has taken one step towards the people of Kashmir, the people will take 10 steps to come close to New Delhi, to come out of the cycle of violence,” she said.
Mehbooba regretted that despite efforts by Delhi, Pakistan is yet to respond. “We had an unfortunate incident yesterday at the border in Jammu region where civilians and BSF personnel were killed.”
She thanked the prime minister for agreeing to the consensus at an all party meeting where it was resolved to have a 'unilateral ceasefire’.