Kashmiris are hopeful after PM Modi’s promise of better days ahead

Srinagar, March 8 (IANS) Hope and expectations of the people in the Kashmir Valley ran high on Friday, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to return the love and warmth people showed towards him.

It was PM Modi’s first visit to the Valley after the abrogation of Article 370 and it was the most successful visit to Kashmir by any Prime Minister of the country so far.

People from almost every nook and corner of the Valley braved the chilly morning cold to join PM Modi’s public rally.

Congress, National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders alleged that the crowd was forced by the government to join the rally.

Politics apart, a crowd of the magnitude that turned out to join PM Modi’s public rally cannot be truly believed to have been herded.

To push a hundred thousand people into a stadium against their will and expect them to wave and cheer the way they did at the Bakshi Stadium on Thursday definitely needs a better explanation by PM Modi’s detractors.

In the not very remote past, some people would not even stand when the national anthem would be played during official functions in Kashmir, not even the local government servants.

Given the body language and the positivity of Thursday’s gathering at the Bakshi Stadium, it is not possible to make such a mammoth crowd behave and resonate with hope and expectation unless they had willingly come to the venue.

The fact is that Kashmir has undergone a sea-change. It is no longer a place where people’s sentiments were available to be exploited in the name of region and religion. Kashmiris have understood that PM Modi ‘Hai tau Mumkin Hai’ and this hope could visibly be seen on every smiling face that was present at the public rally.

“He is the Prime Minister of the country. He has done so much for the poor citizens. Ayushman gold card, free ration, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Ujwala LPG connections, safe drinking water, road and rail connectivity. After all, these things did not happen of their own.

“PM Modi has promised to ensure that Kashmir’s arts and crafts reach their glory once again and I trust him to do that,” said a local artisan, Nazir Ahmad, 48, who attended the rally.

Interestingly, even those the Prime Minister did not promise to do anything for, are hoping that their problems would be solved.

Imran Bhat is a daily rated worker in the Jal Shakti department. He has been a daily rated worker like thousands of others for over 20 years. He expects that his services would be regularised by PM Modi.

“He has promised to bring peace and prosperity to every home in J&K. We are breadwinners of about 63,000 families across J&K. At Rs 9,000 per month, I am unable to send my two children to school and also ensure their healthy upbringing.

“I am sure that PM Modi will get our services regularised. He alone can get it done since all successive governments in J&K so far only made hollow promises to us”, Imran said after he left the Bakshi Stadium.

Local police were in the forefront of managing the security and safety of the VVIP and the people who came in such large numbers to attend the public rally.

People adhered to every security protocol detailed by the police and the respect was mutual among the people and the local policemen in and around the venue.

“This has happened because of PM Modi. Our uniform is respected now. There were days when a policeman would not carry his identity card for fear of the stone pelters and the anti-national elements. And today, we are proud of the dignity and honour this uniform gives us. Who made this change possible in Kashmir? It is Modiji and his determination to have the rule of law back in Kashmir,” said Suleman Khan, an asset sub-inspector of J&K police.

Taxi operators, hoteliers, tour and travel operators, artisans, people engaged in retail trade, small industrialists and others have hope of a better tomorrow ahead because PM Modi has given them the guarantee of such a future.

“He said during his speech that he wants every tourist to spend 5 to 10 per cent of the travel budget in buying local products.

“He himself bought some handicraft items and Agri-products when he visited the local stalls yesterday. He has a vision for revival of local arts and crafts.

“He needs our support to fulfill our dream of a ‘Naya Kashmir’ in which everybody lives without fear and with honour and self-respect,” said Naseer Ali, local wood carving artisan.

The way people are sharing the details of the public rally with their family and friends leaves one in no doubt that the gathering was voluntary. Past experience tells you that people wouldn’t even whisper having attended a ‘Pro-India’ public rally in Kashmir. Thousands are proudly speaking of what they heard PM Modi say inside the Bakshi Stadium. Believing that the participants were nudged by the government to tell stories like this to family and friends is clearly a blind man’s refusal to see the writing on the wall.



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