PM, Sonia's historic J&K visit delivered subtle message

Srinagar, June 28 (IANS) Few ever believed there could be an all-weather surface link between the Kashmir Valley and the rest of the country. Even fewer believed there would be one in their lifetime.

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi dedicated the Banihal-Qazigund Pir Panjal railway tunnel to the nation on Monday, they also travelled across the tunnel with a group of local children.

The message was both subliminal and subtle. Future generations of Kashmiris would henceforth not experience the huge inconvenience their elders have been through for decades.

The landlocked Valley's only link with the outside World till now through the Jawahar Tunnel on the Srinagar-Jammu highway would remain closed for days on end because of heavy snowfall in the Banihal sector of the highway during the winter.

Ali Muhammad, a local contractor, still remembers the horrifying experience in 2004 when he was stranded in Nowgam village near Banihal town for seven days.

"The snow simply did not stop falling. We were stranded on the highway in Nowgam village. The villagers gave us shelter for seven days but when all their firewood was exhausted because of the large number of stranded passengers, they tore down the wooden ceiling of their rooms to light fires to cook food and keep us warm.

"That is an experience I would never be able to forget. It snowed for five days and the level of accumulated snow rose to the first floor of the house in which I was sheltered", Muhammad recalled.

Rightly then, did Sonia Gandhi tell Kashmiris on the inaugural run of the 8-coach train that it would now run five times across the Pir Panjal Mountain even during the heaviest snowfall on the mountain top.

"That experience is now a thing of the past," Muhammad added.

The visit of the prime minister and the Congress president, which remained mostly focused on the developmental agenda, also witnessed many other landmarks in that direction.

Kashmir has become the first state in the country to get lavish financial assistance of Rs.710 crore for land compensation under the Pradan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY). Till now, the ambitious rural road laying flagship programme had no provision for land compensation anywhere.

The prime minister also laid the foundation of a 850 MW hydro power project on the Chenab river in the Kishtwar district of the Jammu region. The project is being constructed by a private firm that competed through a global tender. It is being built at a cost of Rs.5,517 crores on the BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) pattern.

Manmohan Singh also announced an additional 150 MW of power to the state daily that would help tide over the electricity crisis to some extent.

The prime minister and the Congress president started their visit to the Valley from the army's base hospital in the Badami Bagh cantonment area of summer capital Srinagar, where the troops injured in a deadly guerrilla ambush on Monday are being treated. Eight soldiers were killed in the ambush.

"The country would not allow the nefarious designs of the terrorists to succeed. I salute the morale and the bravery of our jawans. The country is united to defeat the designs of the terrorists," Manmohan Singh told the people during a public rally.

Besides co-chairing a meeting of the state's council of ministers to review the implementation of the Rs.37,000 crore prime minister's reconstruction package for the state, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi met a number of delegations of political parties, social organizations and representatives from the local trade and industry in Srinagar.

For the Kashmiri separatist leaders, the prime minister's message was curt and clear. "Our doors are always open for those who abjure violence and want to work for peace and development in the state,".

This has fallen short of the expectations of some separatists, who believed the prime minister would invite them for a dialogue.

In a nutshell, the visit has sent out a clear message: The sky is the limit for New Delhi when it comes to development, employment and prosperity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. But, if anybody expected Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi to step outside protocol to meet any separatist leader, they wouldn't do so as the country gears up for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at

Quiz: How well do you know India's economy?

Question 1

Which of these products is India the world's largest producer of?

Poll Choice Options
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Milk

Latest News

  • Infotech's net up by 15 percent

    Hyderabad, April 24 (IANS) Infotech enterprises, a Hyderabad-based engineering solutions provider, Thursday said its net profit during 2013-14 stood at Rs.266 crore, an increase of 15 percent over last fiscal. Infotech chairman B.V.R. Mohan Reddy told reporters that the firm registered a revenue of Rs.595 crore in the quarter ended March 31, a growth of 28 percent year-on-year. We are very confident that this momentum will continue during the current financial year (FY 2014-15)," said Mohan …

  • India may witness below normal monsoon rainfall

    New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) India is likely to witness below average monsoon rainfall in 2014 that will affect farm output and economic growth, the government's weather office said Thursday. Rainfall during the 2014 monsoon season (June to September) averaged over the country as a whole is likely to be 88 percent with a margin for error of plus or minus five percent of long period average, according to data released by the India Meteorological Department and Earth System Science Organization …

  • 69 percent cyber attacks targeted at large companies in India: Report

    New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) Despite stepped up information security measures, businesses in India continue to be an attractive target for cybercriminals with as many as 69 percent targeted attacks being focused on large enterprises, a report said here Thursday. In India, cyber criminals are unrelenting in their focus on large enterprises with a staggering 69 percent targeted attacks carried out against them. "Despite stepping up their information security measures, businesses in India continue …

  • IGIA to become zero-diversionary by October: Committee

    New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) The Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) is set to become a zero-diversionary airport by October as the government is set to implement the recommendations set out by an expert committee which was formed to look into the matter. According to the Civil Aviation Ministry, in a meeting held Thursday with all stakeholders including India Meteorological Department (IMD), Airports Authority of India (AAI), Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd (DIAL), Bureau of Civil …

  • Air India seeks to lease 14 Airbus A320 aircraft

    Air India Ltd [AIN.UL] is seeking to lease 14 Airbus A320 aircraft, according to a tender document posted on the state-run carrier's website. Air India has asked for bids for up to six-year-old A320 aircraft ... …


  • Too good to be true?

    Developers are offering lucrative buyback schemes. But such promises may not be always kept. …

  • Leaderspeak with Vikram Limaye

    Vikram Limaye MD & CEO, IDFC Ltd shares many firsts from his life. …

  • Appy Voting

    Mobile and online apps, seeking to inform or influence voters, have been more active than ever before in this election. …

  • In the crosshairs

    Why the future of FDI in multi-brand retail looks bleak after the polls. …

  • Deserving the honour

    How do the winners of the two new banking licences - microfinance lender Bandhan Financial Services and infra institution IDFC Ltd - measure up to the challenges of operating as full-fledged banks? …

  • A Samurai from Chandigarh

    Advertising veteran Sandeep Goyal is disarmingly frank as he recounts his years with Dentsu. …

  • Falling in line

    Global investors gear up to working with Narendra Modi despite reservations about his secular credentials. …


  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Price % Gainers
    Price % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Price % Losers
    Price % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    Recent Quotes
    Symbol Price Change % ChgChart 
    Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
    You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
  • Recent Quotes News

      Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.