Will Take Forward Vajpayee's Initiatives On J&K: Modi

5 July 2014
The Hindu
Suhashini Haider & Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Srinagar: Sticking strictly to his development agenda in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked his first visit to the State with a pitch for a 'Himalayan model for growth' while he spoke to soldiers in Srinagar about indigenising weaponry. The Prime Minister stopped at Jammu, Katra, Srinagar and Uri during his one-day trip. The visit saw no political engagements or reference to political issues in the State as Mr. Modi sidestepped the furore over Article 370 and Kashmiri Pandits. He also chose to ignore the Pakistan foreign office's reference to the Kashmir 'dispute'. The Prime Minister said he wished to 'win the hearts and minds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir through development.' Mr. Modi dedicated the Katra-Udhampur railway line and inaugurated a 240MW hydroelectric power plant by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation in Uri later in the day. In Jammu, Mr. Modi shared the stage with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, but the two leaders didn't share many words. Mr. Abdullah was also not part of the PM's security review meeting at Srinagar's Badami Bagh Cantonment. Invoking former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's initiatives, Mr. Modi said, 'The journey begun by Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be taken ahead by us.' His comments won rare praise from the Opposition People's Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti. She told The Hindu, 'In the State you will see there are many takers for Mr. Vajpayee's thinking, so he should build on that. We welcome his visit to Jammu and Kashmir.' In Srinagar, a mix of heavy security and a bandh called by the Hurriyat meant that Mr. Modi was welcomed by empty streets. He was given a security brief at the headquarters of the Army's 15 Corps by the Vice Chief of Army and other senior officers, including the General Officer Commanding-in-chief of the Northern Command and four Corps Commanders.