After decades, polls taking place in J&K without fear of terrorism, cross-border firing: PM Modi

TNN Bureau. Updated: 4/13/2024 3:12:11 AM Front Page

Udhampur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the upcoming Lok Sabha election will take place in Jammu and Kashmir without the fear of terrorism, strikes, stone-pelting and cross-border firing, indicating that the "poll-boycott" campaigns run by the separatists in the last three decades are history now.
Addressing a poll rally in Udhampur, Modi said he has fulfilled his promise of putting an end to the long sufferings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and challenged the Congress and other opposition parties to bring back Article 370 of the Constitution, which was revoked by the BJP-led Centre in August 2019.
The rally was organised at the Modi ground along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in support of Union minister Jitendra Singh, who is vying a hat-trick of poll victories from the Udhampur Lok Sabha seat.
Udhampur goes to polls on April 19. The Congress has fielded Choudhary Lal Singh and Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) has nominated G M Saroori from the seat.
"I have been coming to Jammu and Kashmir for the last five decades. I remember the Ekta Yatra in 1992 to unfurl the tricolour at the Lal Chowk (in Srinagar). We received a grand welcome. In 2014, after offering prayers at the Vaishno Devi temple, I addressed a gathering at this very venue and gave a guarantee of freeing the people who have suffered for generations (due to terrorism)," the prime minister said.
He added that with people's blessings, he has fulfilled that guarantee.
"After decades, this election is taking place without the fear of terrorism, separatism, stone-pelting, strikes and cross-border terrorism, which are no more election issues. There used to be a concern regarding the security of the Vaishno Devi and Amarnath pilgrimages, but the situation has changed altogether. Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing development and the people's faith in the government is getting strengthened," Modi said.
After Pakistan-sponsored terrorism reared its head in the 1990s, the separatists led by the Hurriyat Conference used to run poll-boycott campaigns in Jammu and Kashmir. The upcoming Lok Sabha polls will be the first election in the region after the abrogation of Article 370 and there is neither such a campaign nor stone-pelting this time around.
Referring to the revocation of Article 370, Modi challenged the Congress and other opposition parties to get back the contentious constitutional provision and said "they cannot do it".
"Families with a dynastic set-up have harmed Jammu and Kashmir more than anyone else. These parties are of the family, by the family and for the family and they are the ones who created the wall of Article 370. They created an illusion that only Article 370 can safeguard the lives of the people here.
"With your blessings, Modi has not only demolished this wall but even buried its debris. I challenge the opposition parties, especially the Congress, to announce that they will get Article 370 back. The country will not even look at their faces," he said.
Modi said some political parties thought that revoking Article 370 will engulf the region in a fire and Jammu and Kashmir will get separated from the country.
"The youngsters of the region showed them the mirror. When the people came to know about their reality and rejected them, these parties started spreading this impression in the rest of the country. Ask my sisters and daughters in Jammu and Kashmir who was craving for their rights? They know that their brother and their son gave them their rights," he said.
The prime minister asserted that the revocation of Article 370 ensured justice for various sections of the society, who got their constitutional rights for the first time after independence.
"The mothers of our soldiers are no more concerned about stone-pelting. The mothers in the valley are showering me with blessings because they are no more concerned that their sons would fall in wrong hands. They are sleeping with ease. Bridges are not burnt anymore while a new AIIMS, IITs and IIMs are coming up along with modern tunnels, wide roads and railway travel, which are becoming the destiny of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
Modi said his government has cornered the terrorists and corrupt in the last 10 years and that Jammu and Kashmir has completely changed in this period.
"The biggest achievement is the change of heart and the people moving from despair to hope. Tourists and pilgrims are coming in large numbers to both regions of Jammu and Kashmir, which was a dream of the people here," he said, adding, "Your dream is Modi's resolve. Modi has dedicated every minute of his life to you and the country and is working 24x7 to fulfil the guarantee of 'Viksit Bharat' by 2047.
"Please trust me, I will get rid of the problems plaguing Jammu and Kashmir for the last 60 years," he said.
Seeking votes for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates Singh (from Udhampur) and Jugal Kishore (from Jammu), Modi said the upcoming election is also about providing a strong government at the Centre that can face the country's challenges head-on.
The prime minister slammed the Congress for delaying the Shahpur-Kandi dam's completion in Jammu and Kashmir and said "the water of our Ravi river was flowing to Pakistan while our farmers in Samba and Kathua were suffering. Modi fulfilled the guarantee to farmers as thousands of them are going to benefit from the completion of the dam, which will also illuminate the houses here".

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