Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday flagged off the Vande Bharat Express from Delhi to Katra and said the train was the beginning of development of the “new” Jammu and Kashmir.
“I believe that not only was Article 370 a roadblock for the unity of this country, but it was also the biggest roadblock for the development of Kashmir. I am sure that after the removal of this Article, we will be successful in completely eradicating terrorism and the ideas promoting terrorism in the area,” Shah said.
“In the next 10 years, Jammu and Kashmir will be one of the most developed regions of the country and the journey of development has begun with Vande Bharat Express which is set to boost development and promote religious tourism,” he said at the flag-off function.
Shah, who was accompanied by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Union ministers Jitendra Singh and Harsh Vardhan, flagged off the train from New Delhi railway station.
Speaking on the occasion, Goyal said Jammu and Kashmir will be connected through rail link to the rest of the country by August 15, 2022. Work on the missing link in the Kashmir project — the Katra to Banihal section including a bridge over the river Chenab — is underway and is expected to be complete by then, he said.
“The abrogation of Article 370 has connected the people of this country to Jammu and Kashmir and I believe that this train will become the symbol of the development and progress that this region will see in the years to come,” Goyal said.
Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State in the PMO, said that with the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, “the Vande Bharat Express will bring new India to new Jammu and Kashmir”.
Singh said the government’s decision on Article 370 was a gift for the people of the region after “three decades of struggle” and the launch of the train was another present which would contribute towards building a “new Jammu and Kashmir”.
The New Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express, also called Train 18, will depart from the New Delhi Railway Station at 6 am to reach Katra at 2 pm. It will halt at Ambala Cantt, Ludhiana and Jammu Tawi for two minutes each. It will run on all days of the week except Tuesday.