MUZAFFARABAD/ NEW DELHI:
Narendra Modi undertook his first visit to Indian-administered Kashmir as prime minister on Friday amid a strike called by Hurriyat leaders and warnings not to create a separate enclave for Kashmiri pandits.
Many All Parties Hurriyat Conference leaders were also kept under house arrest.
A similar sentiment was seen in Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, as an anti-Modi rally was organised from the Centre Press Club to Gharipan Chowk to protest against the Indian prime minister’s maiden visit to the valley. The rally was jointly organised by the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), Pasban-e-Hurriyat (PeH), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the International Forum for Justice and Human Rights (IFJHR).
At the rally, protesters shouted slogans against the Indian government and called Modi “the killer of humanity”.
Speakers at the rally asked the United Nations Organisation (UNO) to implement its resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir to bring peace in South Asia. “We want to convey to the world that the Indian prime minister is good at selling dreams, but he wants to divide Kashmir on an ethnic basis. This is unacceptable to Kashmiris,” said IFJHR Vice-Chairman Nisar Ahmad Khan.
PPP leader and media adviser to the AJK Prime Minister Shaukat Javid Mir said that Modi’s visit to Srinagar was not out of love for Kashmiris. He said that the people of the held valley had given their verdict on Modi’s visit by observing a complete shutter-down strike. “We should not expect any relief from the present prime minister of India as he has been voted to promote Hindu extremism and fundamentalism in the region,” said Mir.
Later, the protesters dispersed peacefully.
However, Modi’s inauguration of a train to link Katra, the base camp of the Mata Vaishnodevi shrine, by rail was neither disrupted nor opposed and was, rather, welcomed by the opposition.
Modi flagged off the first train from the station nestled in Trikuta Hills in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Reasi district.
Called the Shree Shakti Express, the train will cover a 25-kilomnetre stretch through seven tunnels and over 30 small and large bridges and is considered a technological miracle. It will run between Udhampur and Katra and will take Hindu pilgrims to the Vaishnodevi shrine.
“The journey started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be continued [...] our priority is to win the hearts of every citizen of this state through development,” claimed Modi.
Thereafter, he inaugurated a 240-megawatt hydropower facility in the border town of Uri in district Baramulla, which will mitigate the electricity woes of the small border state.
He travelled by chopper to Srinagar amid heavy security as the city observed a shutter-down strike.
The 87-kilometre highway from Srinagar to Uri was secured by over 2,000 security personnel even though Modi travelled on a helicopter.
In Srinagar, the Indian prime minister went to the Badami Bagh cantonment and chaired a high-level security review meeting at the headquarters of the Army’s 15th Corps.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2014.
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