Srinagar: Narendra Modi’s decision to travel to Kashmir Valley on Diwali (October 23) has been welcomed by the ruling National Conference and opposition PDP as a “good gesture,” while Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference faction has called for a shutdown against the visit.
Both NC and its bête-noire PDP appreciated the “gesture” of Modi to spend Diwali among the flood-hit people of Kashmir. “It is more of a gesture, but we appreciate it. Basically, our state needs more than gesture on this special occasion of Diwali. He should announce rehabilitation package, which was submitted by state government in the aftermath of floods,” NC spokesman Junaid Matoo told Kashmir Reader.
Asked if it would have been appropriate for Modi to visit the state on Eid, the NC spokesman said his party doesn’t want to go into that. “Why his visit didn’t happen on Eid is a perception,” he added.
PDP chief spokesperson Naeem Akhtar Andrabi said, “Coming on this auspicious occasion is a good gesture. He thought of Kashmir when the country is celebrating this special occasion.”
Andrabi admitted that if Modi would have visited the Valley on Eid earlier this month, it would have an “added advantage”. “He would have feel of the tragedy and accordingly plan for process of relief and rehabilitation.”
However, Congress termed Modi’s visit as “nothing more than politics” and criticized him for not greeting Muslims on Eid. “He should have declared floods as national calamity. He didn’t greet us on Eid. Let him come, but there’s more of politics in his visit. We haven’t received any aid from Delhi till date,” senior state Congress leader and MLC, G N Monga, said.
Meanwhile, the flood-hit business community of Kashmir does not appear excited over Modi’s visit.
“This is all politics, nothing else…He should have come on Eid as this is a Muslim majority state,” chairman Kashmir Economic Alliance Mohammad Yaseen Khan told Kashmir Reader.
Civil society group, the Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS), said they have not heard a word from Modi since floods struck Kashmir. “Modi himself saw the destruction caused by the floods, but we didn’t hear a word from him about reconstruction process since he visited Kashmir on September 7. It’s worrisome. We believe he should come and announce rehabilitation and reconstruction package,” senior KCSDS member Shakeel Qalandar said.
Hurriyat (G) calls for shutdown
Hurriyat Conference (G) has called for a shutdown on Thursday, October 23 against the Valley visit of Narendra Modi.
“The government of India acted as a mute spectator when the floods hit Kashmir and later did nothing to mitigate the sufferings of the affected,” Huriyat (G) spokesman Ayaz Akbar told local news agencies on Monday.
“Also, we are under the forceful occupation of India, we will not allow anyone to rub salt on our wounds,” said Akbar, adding, “Another reason for calling the strike is the ‘communal mindset’ of Modi.”
Akbar said that when Modi did not even felicitate Muslims on Eid, his celebrating Diwali in the Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir “is unacceptable.”
Quoting Huriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani, Akbar said that people are urged to observe complete strike on October 23 and also hold peaceful demonstrations.