Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday laid stress on a humanitarian approach to address problems concerning Jammu and Kashmir and said ‘Vikas’ and ‘Vishwas’ will be the cornerstones of the central government’s development initiatives for the state hit by the unrest.
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He said growth and development of Jammu and Kashmir are high on his agenda, particularly the development of villages where a majority of people live.
The Prime Minister was interacting with a 30-member delegation of the All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference, an apex body of Panchayat leaders representing 4000 village Panchayats of the state. The delegation was led by Chairman of the organisation Shafiq Mir.
During the interaction, Modi “reiterated stress on a humanitarian approach and said that ‘Vikas’ (development) and ‘Vishwas’ (trust) will remain the cornerstones of the Union Government’s development initiatives for the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” a PMO statement said.
Modi “stressed that growth and development of Jammu and Kashmir is high on his agenda,” it said.
He added that development of the villages, where a majority of people live, is vital to the overall economic development of the state, the statement said.
The delegation apprised the Prime Minister of the prevailing situation in the state while strongly condemning the burning of schools by anti-national elements, it added.
The body, which represents people at the grassroot level in Jammu and Kashmir, reiterated its faith in the democratic institutions and processes in the country, the statement said.
Mir said a vast majority of the people of the state want a life of peace and dignity and that “vested interests have exploited youngsters and are playing with their future”, the PMO said.
He urged the Prime Minister to take personal initiative to restore peace in Jammu and Kashmir.
Members of the delegation briefed Modi on development issues concerning the state, and said that benefits of central assistance have not reached the villages due to non-empowerment of the Panchayats, in line with the rest of the country.
They also submitted a memorandum which they urged the Prime Minister to consider extension of the 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitution of India – which pertain to local bodies – to the State of J&K, the statement said.
Extension of these Constitutional provisions to the state would empower the Panchayats to undertake basic development activities in the rural areas, they said.
The members expressed hope that this would accelerate the development process in the state, and enable the people of there to take benefits from various central government schemes, the statement said.
They also demanded that elections to Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies in the state be held at the earliest. They said that elections held in 2011 had witnessed enthusiastic turnout of voters.
The Prime Minister assured the delegation that the Union Government will look into their demands.