Prioritizing Kashmir

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Narindra Modi has started his second innings as Prime Minister of India. This time too he has come to power with a massive mandate indicating that the people of India repose full faith in him and believe that he is the only answer to the issues and problems confronting India as a nation. Though the new dispensation is yet to spell out its list of priorities for coming five years, it seems that Kashmir tops the agenda. The message about this belief was loud and clear as the new Home Minister, Amit Shah as MHA engagement held a detailed meeting with J&K Governor, Satya Pal Malik. Reports suggest that besides holding of assembly elections other related issues pertaining to Kashmir were discussed threadbare. The very fact that the Home Minister holds first meeting about and on Kashmir conveys unambiguously that Kashmir tops the agenda of the newly formed government at the New Delhi.

Secondly, the Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh too decided to visit Kashmir as his first assignment in the new Avtar. Rajnath Singh has a long association with Kashmir and during past five years has been regularly visiting here as Home Minister. As Defence Minister he choose Kashmir as his first destination again indicates that Kashmir tops of the list of priroties for Modi’s second innings.

Kashmir needs attention and that too on priority basis. Past nearly three decades have witnessed too much death and destruction here. The continued violence and trouble have impacted all spheres of life be it economy, education, health care or infrastructure building. In this backdrop, the Modi government need to put it on top most priority to resolve the issues confronting the state of Jammu and Kashmir that has all along remained hostage to Indo-Pak hostilities since 1947. Modi has a massive mandate. He enjoys the ultimate trust of more that 40 per cent of India’s populace. He is the man who can take bold initiatives to resolve issues confronting the J&K.

Though it goes without saying that law and order remains the first priority of every government for the smooth functioning and thus is true about Kashmir too, one expects the new dispensation to look beyond it too. Kashmir is face to face with a plethora of problems, law and order being the one. Unemployment is the biggest challenge and the Prime Minister will have to look for some out of the box solution to address this pressing issue. Tourism industry is dying due to continuation of violence and therefore the government will have to take major steps to ensure that peace is restored here and the industry is put back on rails. Electricity is another major issue for which the GoI will have to intervene and ensure a permanent agreement between NHPC and the government of Jammu and Kashmir. Infrastructure development has all along been a big issue. Be is non availability of funds or lack of work culture and accountability, smaller developmental projects consume larger chunks of time – Jahangir Chowk-Ram Bagh flyover being one of the examples. And last but not the leaset, the surface communication between Kashmir and rest of the India. Foundation stone of Udhampur-Srinagar railway line was laid by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi way back in 1975. We are half through 2019 and the project is yet to be completed forcing people of Kashmir to exclusively depend on torn out Jammu-Srinagar National Highway which remains closed most of the times. Time is ripe that the new government focuses on all these issue to ensure a peaceful and progressive Kashmir.

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