Modi to visit J-K today, three-tier security put in place
Srinagar, May 18: A three-tier security arrangement has been thrown around the city ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to all three regions of Jammu and Kashmir today, during which he will lay the foundation stone for the ambitious Zojila tunnel that will provide all-weather connectivity to Ladakh with the rest of the country.
Ahead of the Prime Minister's visit, the NDA government announced a unilateral ceasefire on security forces' operations as a goodwill gesture during the holy month of Ramzan which started yesterday. The visit of the Prime Minister has generated hope among the people in the militancy-ravaged Kashmir Valley, which has been witnessing increased violence since 2016.
During his Independence Day address last year, Modi had said bullets or abuses would not resolve the Kashmir issue and that it could be addressed by embracing every Kashmiri. Modi had them said his government was committed to restoring the lost glory of Kashmir and its status as "heaven on earth". "Na gaali se samasya sulajhne wali hai, na goli se, samasya suljhegi har Kashmiri ko gale lagane se (Kashmir problem cannot be resolved by either bullets or abuses. It can be resolved by embracing all Kashmiris)," Modi said.
Modi will inaugurate the 330-MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project, whose progress was monitored by the Prime Minister's Office. He will inaugurate it from Sher-e-Kashmir Convention Centre, located on the picturesque Dal Lake in the city. Security around the venue has been tightened and barricades had been erected as separatists had given a call for 'Lal Chowk chalo' tomorrow.
Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq tweeted, "Mr Modi all have been listening to your 'maan ki baat’ for years now. As you come here tomorrow allow us Kashmiris to peacefully gather at Lal Chowk so that you hear our 'maan ki baat’! It’s just three words Resolve Kashmir Dispute." In his address at a Friday congregation, the Mirwaiz referred to the Ramzan ceasefire and said that "confidence building measures (CBMs) cannot be for a month alone but have to be long term and meaningful. If government really means business it must look at real CBMs like demilitarisation and repealing draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, Public Safety Act. This must be followed by a political process of engagement among all parties to the dispute." According to a traffic police advisory, all roads leading to the venue will be closed till tomorrow afternoon until the Prime Minister is in the city. River police wing of the state police, CRPF and BSF have been deployed at the Dal Lake, while the Army has been asked to dominate the Zaberwan peak overlooking the venue where Modi will inaugurate a Ring Road around Srinagar. Police have also erected barricades around the city to prevent separatists from staging a protest march at Lal Chowk. Police were also carrying out raids in various parts of the city to nab the notorious anti-social elements as a precautionary measure. The hectic tour of the Prime Minister will begin from Leh tomorrow morning from where he will inaugurate work on the prestigious 14-km Zojila tunnel, that will provide all-weather connectivity to Ladakh. It will be India's longest road tunnel and Asia's longest bidirectional tunnel which will be built at a cost of Rs 6,800 crore. The construction of this tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh as this route remains snow-bound for a large part of the year and is ravaged by frequent avalanches. The tunnel will cut down the time taken to cross the Zojila pass from the present three-and-a-half hours to just 15 minutes, besides making the drive much safer and convenient. The construction of the tunnel is expected to bring about all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions, an official spokesperson said. Later, the Prime Minister will participate in the 100th birth anniversary celebrations of Ladakhi spiritual leader Kushak Bakula.
From Leh, the PM will fly to Srinagar where he will inaugurate the 330-MW Kishanganga Power Project and lay the foundation stone for the 42-km Srinagar Ring Road which will link West Srinagar to Sumbal in Badnipora district. The cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 1,860 crore.
The Kishanganga project was started in 2007 but on May 17, 2010, Pakistan moved for international arbitration against India under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 that regulates the use of waters in the shared rivers. The Hague-based International Court of Arbitration allowed India in 2013 to go ahead with construction of the project in North Kashmir and upheld India's right under the bilateral Indus Waters Treaty to divert waters from the Kishanganga for power generation in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Prime Minister will later arrive in Jammu, the winter capital of the state, where he will inaugurate the 58-km Jammu Ring Road which is being constructed at a cost of Rs 2,023 crore. The Prime Minister will address the convocation of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) in Jammu and inaugurate Tarakote Marg and Material Ropeway of Vashino Devi Shrine Board. The Prime Minister will also lay the foundation stone from Jammu for Pakal Dul hydroelectricity project at Kishtawar before returning to the national capital.