Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated a slew of development projects worth Rs 3,000 crore in J&K, including hydel power, AIIMS, roads and bridges and colleges in a push for power, education and health care in the state.
The University of Ladakh, the first ever university in the Ladakh region, was launched by PM Modi, who also inaugurated a northern regional centre campus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) in Jammu.
Modi said Rs 750 crore had been granted to the state for setting up five medical colleges. The setting up of a 700-bed AIIMS would transform healthcare facilities and provide new opportunities to the youth, the PM said.
At a rally at the proposed AIIMS site in Vijaypur area of Samba district, PM Modi took a dig at Congress for misleading farmers in the name of debt waivers every ten years and ignoring the needs and sentiments of the people of the country.
“The Congress had in 2008-09 also promised to waive Rs 6 lakh crores of farm loan. However, after coming to power, it waived loans worth only Rs 52,000 crore,” he said, adding that 70 per cent of the beneficiaries included those who had never been in debt.
Modi said the government took concrete measures to address the woes of farmers by getting them to open Jan Dhan accounts in banks for direct benefit transfer. “Soon, his government will now disburse Rs 75,000 crore directly to the bank account of farmers under the PM Kisan scheme, which envisages payment of Rs 6000 annually to farmers having up to two hectares of land,” he said.
The PM also laid the foundation stone for a 624 MW Kiru hydroelectric project in Kishtwar, which is a run-of-the-river project across the Chenab. The plant will generate 2,272 million units of electricity annually. He also laid the foundation stone for a 1,640-metre span double-lane bridge over Chenab in Sajwal.
A 220 KV Srinagar-Alustng-Drass-Kargil-Leh transmission system was also inaugurated. The foundation stone for the project was laid by the PM in August 2014.
Reaching out to Kashmiri Pandits, PM Modi reiterated the government’s commitment in ensuring their dignified and honourable return to the Valley.
“We haven’t forgotten their persecution. I always feel their pain and agony while leaving their homes in the wake of militant violence. I am also going to Kashmir, where I will be laying foundation stones of two colonies for their resettlement there,” he said.
Criticising successive Congress governments for ignoring the needs and sentiments of people of the country, the PM said that the Citizenship Bill would support those who came to India escaping religious persecution in their countries.
“Had they paid any heed to these, the land of Guru Nanak Dev would have been part of our country, Hindustan,” he said referring to the Kartarpur Corridor.
“Ise tarah, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh mein aisi Ma Bharat ki anek santaney Hein Jin par atyachar hua. Wo Kabi humarey gantantra ka hisa they“, he said. “We shall have to stand for justice and protection of the rights of all these people who were once part of undivided India and got separated during 1947,” he added.
Striking a chord with the people of Jammu, he referred to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and said that the battle of 2019 was also a “fight” for taking the country ahead on the path of progress and development. “Aap logo ki support se, ek Naya Bharat baneyga, jo saksham bhi hoga aur sashakt bhi,” he added.
He also welcomed to the party Retired Lt General R K Sharma and Mohammad Haneef, father of Rifleman Aurangzeb who was killed by militants in the Valley last year.
However, separatist groups called for a shutdown in the Valley to protest against the PM’s visit. Government forces and commandos spread out across Kashmir and closed off roads with razor wire and iron barricades to prevent protests and rebel attacks during Modi’s visit.
Internet services on mobiles were snapped and shops and businesses remained closed to ensure that his visit passed off smoothly.