Press Trust of india

Thousands throng Samba for PM’s rally 

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Palli: A sea of people on Sunday turned up to listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, his first public appearance in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.

Though Modi had visited the border areas of Rajouri in Jammu to celebrate Diwali with the Army troops twice – on October 27, 2019 and November 3 last year – his visit to Palli in Samba district, 17 km from Jammu, on the occasion of the national Panchayati Raj Day was marked with massive sloganeering in his support.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Union ministers Giriraj Singh, Jitendra Singh and Kapil Moreshwar Patil, and BJP MP Jugal Kishore shared the dais with the prime minister during his public address.

Modi inaugurated some projects and laid foundation stone to multiple development initiatives worth around Rs 20,000 crore. He also launched the Amrit Sarovar initiative aimed at developing and rejuvenating water bodies.

The organisers made elaborate arrangements in the sprawling fields to accommodate at least one lakh people, who gathered from across the union territory.

However, the audience was left disappointed as the people could not hear Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, and ministers Giriraj Singh and Jitendra Singh, due to a technical snag.

Modi’s speech though was clearly audible, much to the delight of the jam-packed gathering.

He started his over 40-minute speech in Dogri, and called the language and its people “sweet”.

Thanking the audience for their enthusiasm, the prime minister referred to the developments of August 2019 and said Jammu and Kashmir had seen new dimensions of development since then.

The Centre had on August 05, 2019, abrogated Article 370, which gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

“For the first time, elections to the three-tier Panchayati Raj system- Gram Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti and District Development Councils (DDCs) have been held in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said and thanked the people for their co-operation.

Referring to the process of the union territory’s inclusion in the country’s development journey, the prime minister said more than 175 central laws had become applicable in Jammu and Kashmir post August 2019.

“The biggest beneficiaries of this have been the women, poor and the deprived section of the area,” he said and also spoke about the removal of anomalies in reservation clauses.

“The Valmiki Samaj has been freed from the fetters that were put in their feet for decades. Today, sons and daughters of every community are able to fulfil their dreams. Those who did not get the benefits of reservation in Jammu and Kashmir for years, too, are getting them now,” he said without mentioning the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A by his government.

Among the audience, a group of Pahari-speaking people were seen chanting slogans demanding ‘Scheduled Tribe’ status to the community, while many youngsters chanted “Modi, Modi”.

“This is the love of the people from all sections of the society for their prime minister…the people love Modi from the core of their heart and have turned up in large numbers to welcome him,” the union territory’s BJP head Ravinder Raina told PTI.

“Their enthusiasm will be the major factor in the formation of the next government,” he said, reiterating that his party will win 50 plus seats in the next Assembly polls to form the government with its own chief minister.

Naseema, BJP’s Pahari activist from Tangdhar in north Kashmir’s Kupwara, said the community was hopeful of getting the Scheduled Tribe status under the Modi government, along with the early construction of the Sadna tunnel to facilitate round-the-year traffic to the border town.

“We also want the government to turn the border villages into model villages. The roads on the other side of the border are in good condition compared to ours…a message needs to be conveyed to Pakistan by constructing better roads,” Sartaj, a panch from Tangdhar said.

Poonch district development committee member Choudhary Afzal Gani said the government needed to do more to fully empower Panchayati Raj Institutions.

Ashok Kumar Parihar, another DDC member from Dramshalla in Kishtwar district, said Modi was well aware of the issues in the union territory and added, “We are hopeful that he will take Jammu and Kashmir to newer heights of development as promised.” 

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