A week before he is to address the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort to mark the anniversary of Indian independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed concerns about “forces that want to foster disunity in the country” and reached out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, seeking dialogue with them on the basis of “insaniyat (humanity), jamhuriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat.”
Speaking at a public meeting in Bhabhra in Madhya Pradesh, the birthplace of freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad, as part of the government’s fortnight-long Independence Day celebrations, Mr. Modi invoked former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, echoing an approach advocated a day earlier by J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. “When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, he had adopted the path of insaniyat, jamhuriyat and Kashmiriyat, and we walk the same road. I want to tell the brothers and sisters of Kashmir from this great birthplace of Chandra Shekhar Azad that Kashmir has the same strength that has been given to [other parts of] India by our freedom fighters. Kashmir has the same freedom that every Indian feels,” he said.
Every Indian loves Kashmir, says PM
Mr. Modi reached out to the people of Kashmir, saying every Indian loves Kashmir.
“Every Indian fosters a dream to visit the beautiful vale of Kashmir, every Indian loves Kashmir, and yet you see that a handful of people shatter the hospitable culture of the State. I want to appeal to the youth in Jammu and Kashmir that we must make all efforts to make sure that the State remains a heaven on earth. I am pained to see that children, whose hands should be clutching laptops, or volleyballs or cricket bats, are instead clutching stones,” Mr. Modi said.
“By handing these children stones, some people may be able to take forward their politics, but what will happen to these children of my country?” he asked.
He was speaking at a public meeting in Bhabhra in Madhya Pradesh, the birthplace of the freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad as part of the government’s fortnight-long Independence Day celebrations.
“The government in Jammu and Kashmir and the government in Delhi both want to take the State forward in terms of development. There are some who only know how to stoke trouble and not allow any road to peace,” he said in an indirect reference to Pakistan-sponsored terror.
“Kashmir wants peace, the people of Jammu and Kashmir want peace. The ordinary people in Kashmir want to make a living from tourism. When a pilgrim goes on Amarnath Yatra, he goes to Srinagar too, and this benefits the local economy. In a few days, it will be the season for Kashmiri apples, the entire country waits for it. I want to tell the farmers who grow these apples, I want to tell the doctors, lawyers, teachers and traders, that this country of 1.25 billion people want your development. We will pay the price required for your development, and if it so happens that we run out of funds for roads, that shortage will not be allowed to touch you, the rest of the country will bear it instead,” the Prime Minister said in an impassioned speech.