Indian PM asks Kashmiri youths what they want_ tourism or terrorism
A Monitor Report
16 Apr, 2017  |
: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated India's longest and Asia's first bi-directional road tunnel at Battal Ballian in Jammu and Kashmir's Udhampur district.
The 10.89 km Chenani-Nashri tunnel on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway would reduce travel time by about two hours, cutting short the distance by over 30 km.
While speaking at a time when youth from the region have been attacking security forces during encounters with militants, the Prime Minister said, "Some misguided youngsters are pelting stones, but here, the youth of Kashmir are using the same stones to build infrastructure." Asserting that bloodshed would never help, he said youngsters would have to choose between tourism and terrorism.
Modi said, "If the youth ignore the invaluable tradition of Sufi culture, they would lose the present and put their future into darkness. For the last 40 years, so much blood has been spilled, but nothing has been achieved. If tourism was the focus over the last 40 years, Kashmir would have been the hub of tourists," he said, adding that the tunnel, which "is environment friendly and would help fight global warming", would provide a boost to tourism in the region as it connects Kashmir to the rest of the country.
He added, "The beauty of this land (Jammu and Kashmir) can draw so many people - this would also bring economic growth. People from across the country who were scared of visiting the Valley due to bad roads would now not have to worry about accidents," he said, and remarked that the tunnel has been built in accordance with the best standards in the world.
Meanwhile, normal life was affected in the Valley due to a strike called by separatist groups against the Prime Minister's visit. Most shops, business establishments and fuel stations were shut in Srinagar, where public transport stayed off the roads.