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In Kashmir, PM Modi asks local youth to carry forward India's growth story
Tuesday April 19, 2016 7:51 PM, Agencies

Invoking Atal Bihari Vajpayee's refrain of "humanity", "democracy and "harmony" for peace and development of the troubled-state that is still limping to normalcy after days of violence last week left five people dead in alleged shootings by security forces, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked the youth of Jammu and Kashmir to carry forward India's growth story.

On a hectic day-long visit to the state's Jammu region, Modi inaugurated a sports complex, a super-specialty hospital, held a public meeting and addressed the fifth conclave of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University at Kakryal near Katra -- the town at the base of the famed hill temple.

"People of Jammu and Kashmir had enormous faith in Vajpayee. He used to say 'insaniyat (humanity), Kashmiriyat (Kashmir's composite culture) and jamhooriyat (democracy) are key to progress of (the state). We have to take it to the new heights through these pillars," Modi said in his address to the students of the university.

With Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti by his side, Modi also remembered her father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed as a visionary politician who dreamt of "narrowing down distances between Jammu and Srinagar", referring to the gulf between the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley and largely Hindu-populated Jammu region.

Addressing the students, Modi said the 21st Century belonged to India because "the energy that is required which is knowledge is with India".

"India has 800 million youth power which is below 35 years. Dream of every youth can become a progress story of the country," he said.

The prime minister's visit to the state comes as normalcy began returning to the Kashmir Valley, some 300 kms from where Modi was speaking, after days of siege since five people were killed in deadly clashes between protestors and security forces on April 12 and 13.

Tension continues to simmer under the surface of a relative calm in several north Kashmir towns and villages even as curfew was lifted on Tuesday but heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces continued.

On Tuesday, the Indian Army chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, visited the troubled areas to review the security situation.

Authorities in north Kashmir Handwara town, the epicentre of the latest trouble, removed an army picket after 20 years, using an earthmover machine to demolish the concrete bunker in the main square. The army had vacated the picket last Tuesday when a mob attacked and set it ablaze partially.

The prime minister was silent about the fresh trouble that began after a rumour about alleged molestation of a Handwara girl by a soldier. The girl, however, dismissed the allegation and the army also refuted it. But the violence still spread. Among the dead was a budding 19-year-old sports enthusiast, who had aspired to play cricket for India's national team.

Modi in his address asked the youth of the state to inculcate "sportsman spirit" to carry everybody along for a victory that is shared by all.

"Our chests swell with pride when a Kashmiri youth shines as a cricketing star in India," he said, referring to all-rounder Parvaiz Rasool of a south Kashmir village who played for Team India.

Modi urged the youth of the state to "dream to do something, and not to become someone" and take active part in sports.

"I will not wish that more people should be admitted to this hospital. But it would be my prayer that more people go to the sports complex to ensure they stay away from the hospital," he said.

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