Modi: Development Key to Solving Kashmir Problems

Modi: Development Key to Solving Kashmir ProblemsModi: Development Key to Solving Kashmir Problems

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said development is the “only solution” to Indian-administered Kashmir’s problems, as separatist leaders called for a strike to protest against his day-long visit to the region.

Modi opted for a soft tone on Saturday as he addressed a group of officials, politicians and media in a highly-guarded venue in the restive region’s main city of Srinagar, Aljazeera reported.

“I want everybody to invest energy only in the development of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. “All problems, all differences have only one solution ... development, development and development.”

Authorities imposed a curfew in most parts of Srinagar—including the closure of schools and colleges—ahead of Modi’s visit.

The measures came as separatist leaders called for a rally in Srinagar’s commercial hub and a complete shutdown to protest against the prime minister’s visit.

Kashmir, which remains a long-pending dispute between India and Pakistan, has been grappling with a surge in violence.

In recent years, anti-India street protests attended by many young people have become frequent, as have gun battles between fighters and security forces—particularly in the southern parts of the region.

On Friday, India and Pakistan said eight civilians and a soldier were killed in cross-border shelling.

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On Wednesday, in a departure from their tough stance, the BJP-led (Bhartiya Janta Party) government announced a unilateral ceasefire and ordered security forces in Kashmir not to launch any operation during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

While backing the ceasefire, Modi repeated a line used during his Independence Day speech last year, saying that “the problems in the region cannot be solved with bullets and abuses but by embracing Kashmiris”.

But analysts in the region were not convinced. “These speeches have been heard by people in the past too,” Noor Ahmad Baba, a Kashmir-based political scientist based, told Aljazeera.

Calling development “secondary”, Baba said Modi “ignored the political aspect of the issue”. “Something more needs to be done,” he added.


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