Modi invokes Vajpayee, Mufti for Kashmir’s peace and development 

Jammu, April 19 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reached out to youth of Jammu and Kashmir and invoked his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the late chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed for “peace and development” in the state still reeling under a fresh bout of violence that saw five people dead in alleged shootings by security forces.

Addressing a public meeting in a town near here, Modi remembered former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying nobody was perhaps as “emotionally attached to Jammu and Kashmir as Vajpayee”.

“His slogan of ‘insaaniyat’ (humanity), ‘jumhooriyat’ (democracy) and ‘Kashmiriyat’ (composite Kashmir culture) is and shall continue to be our guiding spirit for development and peace in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Modi, after inaugurating a sports complex and a super-specialty hospital set up by the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board at Kakryal near Katra — the town at the base of the famed hill temple.

Modi also remembered Sayeed, who died in a Delhi hospital in January, and said people of the state needed “quick paced” and “all inclusive” development as was the late chief minister’s dream.

“We remember Mufti Sahab. He spent years in public life. He had such a long political career and vision. One thing was always on his mind: To narrow down physical and psychological distances between Jammu and the valley,” Modi said, referring to the gulf between the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley and the largely Hindu-populated Jammu region.

The prime minister’s visit to the state comes as parts of the Kashmir Valley have been under siege since five people were killed in deadly clashes between protestors and security forces.

Tension continues to simmer under the surface of a relative calm in several north Kashmir towns and villages amid a strict curfew — which was partially lifted on Tuesday — and heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces.

Modi was silent about the trouble that began after a rumour about molestation of a girl by an Indian Army soldier in Handwara. The girl, however, dismissed the allegation and the army also refuted it. But the violence still spread. Among the dead was a budding 19-year-old sports enthusiast, who had aspired to play cricket for India’s national team.

Modi in his address after opening the health and sports facilities urged youth of the state to “dream to do something, and not to become someone” and take active part in sports.

“I will not wish that more people should be admitted to this hospital. But it would be my prayer that more people go to the sports complex to ensure they stay away from the hospital,” he said.

The nearly Rs.300-crore hospital has some 20 streams of medicine and surgery, including cardiology, cardio-thoracic surgery, neurology, neuro surgery, nephrology, according to the shrine board. It is fully equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment equipment.

The prime minister distributed free OPD treatment and cashless health insurance cards to residents of four villages who have donated land for the hospital.

The sports complex, built on 19,0000 square feet area, can accommodate 10,000 spectators.

This was Modi’s maiden visit to the state after Mehbooba Mufti became the first woman chief minister following three months of the central rule when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dragged its feet on continuing its alliance with the BJP.

Modi praised Mehbooba who also addressed the rally, focussing on security and development.

“With such commitment to peace and progress as she has, I am sure development in Jammu and Kashmir has become undeniable,” Modi said.

Earlier, the prime minister addressed the fifth convocation of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University and wished the passing out students “all the best, specially to the girls who won laurels here”.

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