'Modi focuses on winning hearts of people in J&K'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI file photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has special focus on winning the hearts of the people in Jammu and Kashmir and the government is committed to bring development and generate employment in the region, a senior BJP leader said here.

National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Kailash Vijayvargiya, who was in the city, addressed a special Indian community event in the Long Island last week. The event was organised to celebrate the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw J&K's special status and bifurcating it into two union territories.

"With the abrogation of Article 370, there will be peace in Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism will be reined in and investments will come in. Tourism will also get a boost," Vijayvargiya told PTI in an interview.

He said in the years that Article 370 was in place, it was being felt that J&K was becoming different and separate from India.

The people from Jammu and Kashmir were not being able to reap the benefits of several policies and constitutional decisions taken by the Indian government, the BJP leaders said.

"Now, certainly, there will be special focus by Prime Minister Modi on how to win the hearts of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. That will make a huge difference," he said.

Vijayvargiya said Modi has assured the people of J&K that the government is committed to the development and employment generation in the region.

He stressed that it must be compared what the people of Kashmir gained and lost after Article 370 was implemented.

"There was a time when Kashmir was known as heaven on Earth. But terrorism led to bloodshed there. Investment stopped coming to Kashmir. The Valley was once an attractive tourist destination, a source of employment for the local population but that was lost due to terrorism and people became unemployed," he said.

"Vish aur vishwaas dono ki raashi ek hi hai. Vish maarta hai, vishwaas zinda karta hai (Poison kills but belief or trust gives life). Till now there was vish (poison), now vishwaas (trust) will come (in J&K)," Vijayvargiya said.

"Certainly, to win the confidence and belief of the people there, we will have to do a lot. This we have accepted as a challenge. We are confident that under Prime Minister Modi's strong leadership, this will be achieved," he said.

On Pakistan's efforts to internationalise the Kashmir issue by going to the UN Security Council and now planning to take the matter to the International Court of Justice, he said after the snub at the Security Council, Pakistan's "frustration" is there for all to see and remarks by Prime Minister Imran Khan are "frustrated comments".

"Pakistan should rethink its decision to go to the ICJ. They should take care of their own affairs and nation and not interfere in the internal matters of their neighbouring country. Pakistan should get this lesson soon," he said.

Jaipur Foot USA Founder Chairman Prem Bhandari, co-organiser of the community event, said that he is committed to conducting a Jaipur Foot camp in Kashmir and West Bengal through its parent organisation, the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS), founded by D R Mehta in 1975.

Nearly 1.75 million differently-abled people have benefited through 73 camps in 30 countries since the organisation's inception.

Referring to the India Independence Act 1947, India's Consul General in New York Sandeep Chakravorty told the gathering that "there was no mention of a free, independent Kashmir".

"The right to self determination of Kashmir does not exist and if people demand it," it is illegal, he said, adding that if Pakistan is so keen on the right to self-determination of Kashmir, why don't they make Pak-occupied Kashmir independent, they never talk of that.

The American India Public Affairs Committee president and a prominent member of the Indian-American community, Jagdish Sewhani, who had also co-organised the event, said in his keynote address that Article 370 was meant to be a temporary feature of Indian Constitution yet it went on for 70 years.

"Our so called leaders gave an impression to the people of India that this is something that can never be touched, it's permanent," he said, lauding Modi for revoking Article 370.

The abrogation of the constitutional provision was Modi's "masterstroke", he said.

"In one single stroke, Prime Minister Modi has turned the table on Pakistan. A desperate Pakistani leadership has lost its case forever," he said.

A large number of people from the Indian-American community also attended the event.

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