For the third consecutive time, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has expressed that the proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be a “turning point in the history” of J&K. Mufti said the people of the state have great expectations from the Prime Minister’s visit, who he said is a visionary and has his eyes fixed on overall development of J&K. “I see this visit as an opportunity for history to repeat itself,” he said, while recalling the address of former Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee to the people during his memorable visit in 2003 from the same venue. The Chief Minister made these remarks during a public meeting, here this afternoon. Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar, Minister for IT, YS&S and Technical Education, Imran Raza Ansari, MLC, Yasir Reshi, former MP and Chief Spokesman of PDP, Dr. Mehboob Beg and former MLA and Political Advisor to PDP President, Pir Mansoor were also present on the occasion. Describing politics as art of the possible, Mufti Sayeed thanked both Congress and National Conference for extending unconditional support when the 2014 Assembly election results threw a fractured mandate. He said after thoughtful consideration that took more than two months, he took a calibrated decision to opt for BJP in the larger interests of all the three distinct regions of the state. “Way back in 1947, our visionary leaders had demonstrated similar political maturity and acumen to accede with India, keeping in view the pluralistic demography of J&K. We will remove trust deficit and ensure that no region harbours a feeling of deprivation or discrimination,” he said, while defending his decision to align with BJP, which won an overwhelming majority in the 2014 Parliamentary elections. Promising a new era of development in J&K, the Chief Minister cited several instances where Centre has extended wholehearted support in core sectors linked to connectivity, healthcare, education and rural development. He specifically mentioned the personal intervention of the Prime Minister in speeding up execution of four-lanning of Srinagar-Jammu National Highway and fixing timeline of 2017 for its completion and broadening the scope of railway network in the state. “I met Narendra Modi a couple of times and realized that he genuinely wants to win the hearts and minds of people of the state,” he added. Reiterating that he has no lust for power nor does he have any hidden agenda, the Chief Minister said he had been a minister in G. M. Sadiq’s government way back in 1967. He said he could also have safeguarded his political career at the Centre but chose to create a platform (PDP) for articulating the aspirations of the people of this state. “In 2008 elections when PDP won 21 seats, I preferred to sit in the opposition and respect the people’s verdict,” he added. Recalling his earlier tenure as Chief Minister, Mufti Sayeed said when he took over reins of the state, J&K resembled a jail with people having little hope and expectations. He noted with pride his decision of disbanding the Task Force and releasing political prisoners besides opening up new routes both within the state and across the Line of Control. “I favour opening of more trading and travel points to further bolster confidence between the people living on two sides of the Line of Control,” he stated. Urging both India and Pakistan to shun confrontation and engage in a meaningful dialogue, the Chief Minister said J&K is the first casualty of any hostile environment between the two neighbouring countries. He praised Narendra Modi for inviting Nawaz Sharif in his swearing-in ceremony when he took over as the Prime Minister of India. “If India has to emerge as a world power, it will have to foster and maintain friendly relations with all its neighbours, including Pakistan,” he stressed. Highlighting his immediate concerns on economic front, Mufti Sayeed said he expects Centre’s support in restoration of damaged infrastructure, relief to flood-affected people and long-term measures to prevent recurrence of floods by constructing Dogripora-Wullar alternate flood channel. “The worst floods in 150 years devastated us. We have to provide succour to the people who have borne the brunt of such a colossal calamity,” he added. Referring to the state’s special status guaranteed under the Constitution of India, the Chief Minister said even the Agenda of the Alliance recognizes this special constitutional position of the state. He also described the Legislature of J&K as one of the most powerful institutions in the country. “The state Legislature has the distinction of pioneering the enactment of land reforms legislation,” he stated. Admitting that there are different shades of opinion in the state, Mufti Sayeed described as disturbing the attempts aimed at vitiating the peaceful atmosphere ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit. He said the Agenda of the Alliance favours dialogue with persons having different political ideologies as well. “In 2005, when the cross-LoC bus service was started, TRC Srinagar was burnt to derail the confidence building measure between India and Pakistan,” he added. Handing out an assurance to the people that the government will not allow anyone to take law into his own hands, the Chief Minister also made a pointed reference to the State Cabinet’s resolution which unanimously condemned the unfortunate killing of Zahid Rasool Bhat when his truck was set on fire in Udhampur last month. He said the investigation into the killing of Zahid will be fast-tracked so that those responsible for the heinous crime are brought to justice,” he added. The Chief Minister praised his party cadres for supporting him through thick and thin and reposing faith in his leadership. “Whatever I am today is because of my party workers, who are my ears and eyes on the ground,” he said, while addressing the gathering which had substantial presence of office-bearers of the party from Ganderbal and Bandipora districts. Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar and Dr. Mehboob Beg also spoke on the occasion.
2015 Kashmir Despatch