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Centre will launch special tourism drive in Kashmir: Rajnath

Statesman News Service | Jammu |

Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said that the Centre will launch a special tourism promotion drive in Kashmir to help businesses affected by terrorism.

Home Minister said, “Terrorism has adversely hit the tourism sector. The centre will launch a special tourism drive to promote tourism in the valley”.

Many generations have suffered due to the long-stretched terrorism and the worst affected were the youth, traders, daily wage earners and the poor, said Rajnath and added,  “We are taking steps to restore smile on the face of every Kashmiri.”

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was conspicuously missing from the media interaction, where Rajnath Singh was flanked by the deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh and minister of state in the PMO Jitendera Singh.

When asked about absence of Mehbooba or any PDP minister, Rajnath denied any differences with her and said he had earlier held a meeting with Mehbooba to review the situation and she hosted a dinner for him on Sunday.

Rajnath urged tourists to visit Kashmir where the situation has improved as compared to the previous years. Arrival of foreign tourists to the valley has been reduced to a trickle because of advisories against visiting J-K issued by various countries.

Replying to a question about the Operation All-Out operation launched by the Army in the South Kashmir, where about 150 terrorists have been killed, Rajnath said, “Terrorists are not welcome and they will be dealt with strictly.”

However, he said that he has asked the state government to be compassionate boys who are below the age of 18 and have strayed into terrorism and they should be lodged in juvenile homes instead of jail when caught or if they surrender. They should not be treated as criminals and should be given proper counseling so that they put their energy in the right direction.

He said, the permanent solution of Kashmir issue is based on 5 Cs: compassion, communication, coexistence, confidence building and consistency.

Without naming the separatists or any other group, Rajnath said he was ready to talk to anyone and he was hopeful that peace would be restored soon in the valley.

On the Modi government’s stand on the Article 35-A that is being heard by the Supreme Court, Rajnath said the government will not go against sentiments of the people on the issue. Such issues are being raised by those who want to mislead the people and have no other issue left with them.

The Home Minister said that the Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Development Package has escalated to Rs One lakh crore and had asked the concerned agencies to accelerate its implementation.

He said that he had come to Kashmir five times during the past one year but would not hesitate to visit even fifty times if that helps in restoring normalcy and prosperity for the people. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was keen on putting Kashmir back on rails and had in his Independence Day speech highlighted that Kashmiris should be embraced and not abused.

Later, Rajnath flew to the Noushera sector of the Rajouri district in Jammu where he met victims of the recent shelling by Pakistani troops. He is also scheduled to address the Army and BSF soldiers guarding the international border and LOC with Pakistan and POK.