Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing anguish at the death of Kashmiris during violent clashes with security forces, made an outreach to the valley's youth, saying they must choose between tourism and terrorism.
Speaking at the inauguration of the landmark 9.2 km Chenani-Nashri tunnel--among Asia's longest--that would reduce driving time between Jammu and Srinagar by two hours, the PM said, “On one side, some misguided youth are throwing stones, and on the other there are youth who are breaking stones to build Kashmir's future.“ I want to tell the people of Kashmir that they have two roads in front of them: of tourism and terrorism. For the last 40 years, much blood has been spilled, but nothing has been achieved. If anybody has lost anything, it's the mothers who have lost their sons. If tourism had been the focus, Kashmir would have been the hub of tourists.“
Modi recalled former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's rallying cry of “Kashmiriyat, insaniyat (humanitarianism) and jamhooriyat (democracy)“ as the basis on which the people of the state could progress.
“I want to show the people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) how Jammu & Kashmir can develop. Let the people of PoK see development, so that they know the exploitation that they have suffered from those controlling them,“ the PM said.
Amid applause from the crowd, the PM said, “This tunnel will not only shorten the distance between Srinagar and Jammu but is a big leap of development.“ It would, he said, preserve the ecology of the Himalayas and benefit farmers in the Valley who can sell their crops to markets in other states without delay caused by the blockade of the highway due to landslides.
The 9.2 km-long tunnel is the country's first and the world's sixth tunnel to have “transverse ventilation system“, providing fresh air to commuters.
The tunnel will also bring more tourists, he said.“Now, there are no more troubles and worries about tourists. They can visit the Valley without worrying about accidents,“ he said. Criticising Pakistan, the Prime Minister said “those across the border are not able to handle themselves“.