SRINAGAR, June 25;Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi paid tributes to the eight army personnel killed in Monday’s attack by militants and said that the country was united to wipe out the separatist insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.
Dr Singh and Ms Gandhi, accompanied by the AICC General Secretary in-charge Jammu and Kashmir Ambika Soni and the Union Minister of Health Ghulam Nabi Azad, reached Kishtwar township in the high altitude Chenab valley of Jammu on Tuesday to begin their two-day tour.
The Congress leaders met with representatives of thousands of families whose houses had suffered damage in a major earth quake last month. They also laid foundation stone of the 850-mw Rattle power project on Chenab river.
Addressing a public meeting at Chowgan stadium of Kishtwar, Ms Gandhi and Dr Singh, paid tributes to the soldiers who died in a militant attack at Hyderpora near Srinagar on Monday.
Both the leaders vowed to fight out the cult of violence and terror with strong will and resolution of the country. Ms. Gandhi also appreciated the services and sacrifices of the Army in the massive relief and rescue operations in Uttarakhand.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Mr Azad, who is a resident of the same region, also paid tributes to the soldiers killed in Srinagar. They thanked the Centre for its liberal financial support for the development of the State.
The Prime Minister’s entourage have left for Srinagar where a series of meetings has been scheduled at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre.
Most of the separatist groups have called for shutdown on the occasion of the Prime Minister’s visit in Kashmir valley. Most of the business establishments remainded closed and the civilian passenger traffic was off the road, but a section of the business and traffic was operating in Srinagar and other places.
Authorities have put up extensive security arrangements. Pedestrians and motorists were frisked at many barriers.
Concertina wires have been laid on roads and around the bunkers of the security forces. This correspondent witnessed a curfew like situation in most parts of the Capital city as police were not permitting any civilian movement in the downtown areas.
Security a pre-requisite
A PTI report from Kishtwar said the Prime Minister termed security as a pre-requisite for development, and that the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir Government would work together towards improving the situation in the State for a fast and uniform development.
“The Centre and the state government have vowed to improve the security situation in the State to ensure fast, sustainable and uniform development in the State,” Dr. Singh said after laying the foundation stone for the Rattle project.
After several “difficult” years, collective efforts have resulted in putting Jammu and Kashmir on a faster pace of development, he said.
“Our analysis is that the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir has shown considerable improvement. Terrorist-related violence in 2012 had shown a sharp decline and was the lowest in last two decades,” he added.
However, the Prime Minister said constant vigil was needed to prevent attacks like the one that took place on Monday at Hyderpora.