‘Misguided youth deceived by forces inimical to peace; those inciting violence from across border themselves disintegrating’
Srinagar: Speaking at the SKICC in Srinagar on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Kashmiri stone-pelters as “misguided youth” and appealed to militants to join the mainstream and live a life of “dignity and peace”.
“There is no substitute for peace and stability. I urge the youth who have lost their way to return to the mainstream. What is the mainstream? It is their parents and family. The mainstream is their contribution to the development of Jammu and Kashmir,” Modi said in his 26-minute speech at the SKICC where he inaugurated the 330-MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project and the Srinagar Ring Road.
Modi started his speech by greeting the audience in Kashmiri language. An ecstatic crowd of BJP workers, who were brought to the venue amid heightened security, greeted the Prime Minister by shouting “Modi! Modi!” at his arrival.
Before coming to SKICC, Modi laid the foundation stone to formally commence work on the Rs 6,809-crore Zojila all-weather tunnel between Srinagar and Leh.
Modi said that the unilateral ceasefire announced by his government was a slap on the face of those who incite youth to violence. He said the halt to security operations was aimed at providing “relief to the people”.
“Cases have been withdrawn so that these misguided youth live a dignified life,” he said of the amnesty granted to first-time stone-pelters by the PDP-BJP government in the state. “Each stone thrown by a misguided youth hurts the hearts and minds of the people in Jammu and Kashmir,” Modi said.
Without naming any country, he said that those who have been inciting “violence in the state from across our borders are themselves disintegrating at this time”.
Modi put the onus of taking Jammu and Kashmir on the path of development on the youth. “We have to move ahead. The responsibility of taking forward the development process and increasing the pride and honour of Jammu and Kashmir lies on this young generation,” he said. “The state has so much of resources that there is no reason why Jammu and Kashmir should stay behind other states.”
He recalled his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort in Delhi last year in which he said that the Kashmir problem cannot be resolved through bullets or abuses but by embracing Kashmiris.
“The only solution is embracing and loving Kashmiris,” he said, drawing applause from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and others on the stage. Governor NN Vohra, Union Minister for Roads & Highways, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of State for Power, RK Singh, Minister of State in PMO, Jitendra Singh, Minister for Power, Sunil Sharma, and Members of Parliament Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Dr Farooq Abdullah were present at the function in SKICC.
Modi said that he believed in former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee’s “Kashmiriyat” slogan. “Atal ji was fond of Kashmiriyat and so is Modi. He always advocated and supported Kashmiriyat and Modi is the disciple of the same Kashmiriyat,” he said.
He said that the people of state know how they have been deceived by “forces inimical to peace”.
“The central government has appointed a special representative to speak to all people to find a way out of these difficult times. The government is serious to address all issues,” he said, referring to Kashmir interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma.
Asking people to work for the progress of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “We all stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Jammu and Kashmir. They have suffered a lot. No power can separate brothers.”
Stating that the youth of the state could become shining stars in India, he said Kashmiri youth were excelling in every field. “They are becoming role models for the youth in other parts of the country. The 125 crore people of the country are working on the New India project and Jammu and Kashmir can become the shining star of this New India,” he said.
He said it was the love and affection of the people that brought him to Kashmir. “This is also a good coincidence that we all have come together during the holy month of Ramzaan. Today I feel blessed to dedicate the Kishanganga hydropower project to the nation. After the floods in Jammu and Kashmir, I celebrated Diwali with the victims here. Besides this, I got the opportunity to celebrate the festival of lights with the soldiers,” he said.
Taking about Jammu and Kashmir’s tourism sector, he said that his government was working for the ecosystem that is required for the development of tourism. “There will be an increase in tourists in J&K with a stronger ecosystem. The youths of the state will get new employment opportunity with it,” he said.
He ended his speech with a prayer in Kashmiri, “Khuda Thaewnou Khush Te Khushal (May God keep you happy and prosperous).”