SRINAGAR: The newly appointed Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha has greeted people on the eve of August 15, the independence day. In his message, he has extended greetings and good wishes to the people of the Union Territory.
My dear brothers and sisters,
Warm and heartiest greetings to all of you on the auspicious occasion of the 74th Independence Day.
Countless freedom fighters offered the ultimate sacrifice to liberate India from the yoke of foreign tyranny. This auspicious day offers us an occasion to commemorate their struggle and sacrifice, while offering our sincere tribute and gratitude for their contribution. Moreover, this day inspires us to renew our resolve to preserve and protect the independence and integrity of our country. On this day, we must reflect on the task, which we have undertaken for the evolution of a poverty free, disease free and illiteracy free society.
Jammu and Kashmir has always been an integral part of the existence of India in each and every respect – culturally, politically, socially, and spiritually. Jammu and Kashmir has a time honoured tradition of assimilating and embracing every religion and tradition right from Kalhan’s Rajtarangini to Shankaracharya’s Advaita, Sufi Islam to the Buddhist philosophy of Mahayana. And this peaceful and syncretic co-existence is reflected in the lives of the inhabitants of this land.
Although this cultural mosaic has suffered many attacks, yet nothing has succeeded in annihilating its existence.
The philosophy of Ahimsa or non violence propounded by Mahatma Gandhi has been the guiding light of India’s movement for independence. This insistence of non violence has always been consistent with the ethos of Jammu and Kashmir. Those responsible for the partition of the country did try to divide this land too on communal lines, but the people of this land have always steadfastly rejected this bigoted ideology. The rejection is directly a consequence of the fact that the labels ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ have always been only descriptions rather than manifestation of a division in Jammu and Kashmir.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir dissociated themselves from the communal riots of partition, and fully immersed themselves in upholding the spirit of national integration. We are all familiar with the contribution and role of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the struggle for India’s liberty. Innumerable heroes from this land of Jammu and Kashmir offered the ultimate sacrifice in service of Mother India. This land of Jammu and Kashmir has given birth to brave hearts like Mahavir Chakra Awardee Martyr Brigadier Rajinder Singh. History is a witness that in 1947 when invaders lay siege to Uri sector, Brigadier Rajinder Singh stood like a rock in the path of the enemy to repulse their attack. Till his last breath, he saved the land of Jammu and Kashmir from the enemy. He was hit by many bullets, but that hardly deterred him as he stood firm and upright like a rock in the path of the enemy. The enemy was forced to beat a hasty retreat in the face of such valour.
In the same vein we remember the valour of Brigadier Usman who offered the supreme sacrifice while confronting the enemy. His last words were: “I may be dying, but the land for which we are fighting should not fall in the hands of the enemy.”
Jammu and Kashmir is the land of Rishi Kashyap, and is also the land of Prophet Mohammad. This land has also hosted Guru Nanak in his quest for enlightenment, while also accommodating the philosophy of Gautam Buddha. We can learn a lot from Jammu and Kashmir’s ancient tradition of religious inclusivity, and we are committed to renew and empower this tradition. A verse by Kashmir born Laleshwari testifies to the tradition of the wonderful cultural syncretism of Jammu and Kashmir.
It will be difficult for me to recite the original verse, so I can only offer a translation in Hindi and English. I assure you, however, that I will soon learn your language and read the verse in its original form:
Shiva abides in all that is everywhere
Then do not discriminate between a Hindu and a Muslim
If you are wise seek the absolute within yourself
That is true knowledge of the Lord.
Jammu and Kashmir has offered an invaluable contribution to nurture and ensure a cultural harmony and peaceful co-existence between Hinduism and Sufi Islam. The traditional cultural harmony of Jammu and Kashmir has ensured the peaceful co-existence of Hindus and Muslims, mutual respect for their places of worship, and offered a new paradigm of the protection of not just cultural mores, but also religious rituals. This is the inheritance of this land, this is the true story of this land, and we have to carry forward this legacy. In this spirit, I wish to make a special appeal to the youth and students of Jammu and Kashmir.
The greatest power with the youth is the power of transformative imagination. It is your greatest strength. Change is the only constant – we often hear this saying, and no one can deny the veracity of this truth. But I believe that there is another allied truth to this transformation that we all accept. This truth is that throughout history, youth-power has been the harbinger of all transformations.
We often hear that the youth and student life can only be experienced just once, and vanishes in the twinkling of an eye. But I believe that if the youth make optimum use of their youthful years, then this short time is sufficient to effect the greatest transformation.
Youth and student life are defined through activism. My own student life can be defined by my engagement with activism. I have been a student leader, and was active in student politics. Activism is not a bad thing, but to choose the correct option is of utmost significance. Your activism should be directed at development of the nation, as this country belongs to none other than you, and you are its future leaders.
Unfortunately, some wrong decisions were taken after independence. These decisions inevitably led to resentment in the hearts of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and distanced them from the rest. This distancing led to the widening of fissures and cracks. Generation after generation was sacrificed at the altar of hatred. Instead of countless doors that should have opened for the people in Independent India, numerous doors closed upon the people, and distances increased.
Former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid great emphasis on Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat. But humanity conceded defeat to terrorism for decades in Kashmir, democracy suffered at the hands of vested interests, and Kashmiriyat was massacred to appease the hatred that ensued. It is a matter of great sorrow that the legacy of cultural syncretism has been eclipsed by the vicious story of sectarianism.
But we want to transform the narrative once again. We want to make development, peace, progress and social harmony the most integral part of the narrative of Jammu and Kashmir.
After the constitutional change enacted in 2019, the central government took not one or two, but historic 50 decisions to transform the face of the region. A new era of normalcy and development has dawned due to the changes effected in the last year; a new journey has been undertaken. To ensure that this journey allows us to reach our destination quickly, the government has earmarked five targets to be achieved:
Firstly, we wish to put in place a just and transparent system of governance, which will be dedicated to empowering the marginalized and weaker sections of society.
Secondly, we want to establish a thriving grassroot level democracy.
Thirdly, we wish to ensure maximum welfare by ensuring that every person benefits from government schemes.
Fourthly, we are committed to accelerate the development of Jammu and Kashmir.
Lastly, Economic development, creation of employment opportunities and livelihood will be our primary priority.
These are our five guiding principles.
Equality and justice
Equality and justice are being gradually restored in Jammu and Kashmir. No system of governance can be truly just, if even one person is deprived of equal social, political and economic rights. The rights of women who marry outside Jammu and Kashmir are now protected. Refugees from West Pakistan, displaced migrants, pahadi speaking people, Other Backward Classes and safai karmis have finally found long delayed justice. They now possess democratic, employment and property rights. An unbiased reservation policy is being put in place now in education and employment sectors.
A commission for Socially and Economically Backward Classes is considering to make the reservation policy more effective and appropriate. Economically Weaker Sections have been accorded an additional 10% reservation. Public welfare oriented and progressive laws are providing rights and reservation to empower senior citizens, whistle blowers, traditional forest dwellers, disabled people and minorities.
Along with effective reform in the system of governance, discipline and order are gradually being established. Corruption, which hinders good governance, needs to be uprooted completely. The government is promise bound to uproot corruption in all forms. To strengthen the guardian of good governance – Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), the number of police stations has been increased from two to eight, and a provision has been made for a dedicated Economic Offence Wing. Government Employees will be accountable for their performance and delivery of services. There will be zero tolerance towards corruption.
The full application of 73rd and 74th amendments of the constitution has laid the ground for a strong grassroots democracy. Panchayats and Municipalities lay the base for thriving, significant and accountable grass roots democracy.
To ensure development, unprecedented energy is being channelized at the ground level through 960 councilors, as well as more than 27000 sarpanchs and panchs. Government is cooperating fully with the people in this quest for development through decentralization in allotment of funds, works and employees. After the constitutional change, elections for Block Development Council were conducted for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir. They have been accorded a status as Public representatives and now possess the means to fulfill expectations of people. Through ‘Sabki Yojna Sabka Vikaas’, the participation of people has been converted into an effective tool to create a blueprint for village level development in an organized manner. As soon as the Covid-19 Pandemic subsides, we will fill the vacant posts of panchayats and create the third tier of governance viz. panchyati raj at the district level. To generate confidence in people, 38 Union Ministers visited and interacted with people in every nook and corner of the region.
A wave of positive energy is circulating in the system, which is apparent and hard to miss. People want to benefit from development works at the local level and are expressing a strong desire to resolve their issues. A thriving Panchayati Raj and Municipal system will be the corner stone of transformation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Our sole target is to ensure the welfare of all. Through Individual Welfare Schemes, focus has been laid on 100 % coverage of beneficiaries. 100% coverage has been achieved in schemes like Saubhagya, Ujala and PM Ujjwala. In Saubaghya, J&K has been awarded National Award of Rupees 100 crore. 15.9 lakh families have received LED lamps under the Ujala Scheme. More than 12 lakh families have benefitted from LPG connections provided under Ujjwala Scheme.
Pensionary benefits have been given to more than 7 lakh people, which marks a huge jump of 59% from last year. Transgenders are also benefitting from regular pension. 5 lakh students are now availing the benefit of minority scholarships, which is a gigantic increase of 266% from last year. Jammu and Kashmir is at the forefront of the implementation of PM-Jan Arogya Yojna- Ayushman Bharat and PM-Kisan.
Most importantly on the auspicious occasion of Independence day, Government is planning to extend benefits of health insurance through J&K health scheme to the remaining one crore people, other than the 30 lakh people who are beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat. This will be the first region in the country where every person will be granted free health insurance. This is a momentous step indeed!
As we move forward, our endeavour is to ensure that everyone in Jammu and Kashmir benefits from government schemes and nobody is left out.
The goal of rapid and accelerated development of Jammu and Kashmir will yield phenomenal result. In the history of Jammu and Kashmir, never before have schemes and programs been executed with such speed and precision. By utilizing our traditional resources, natural bounties and evolution of a professional workforce, Jammu and Kashmir will be at the forefront of progress. Despite large scale distribution of resources and special packages, Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed scanty and limited development. The available resources far exceeded the requirements.
But things have started to change now. Works which were never executed in 70 years are being executed now. After 70 long years, drinking water has been made available in the Mohra Ambkhori mohalla of Kangri village in Rajouri. In Budgam Laripora canal has been rejuvenated after 70 years of lying in a decrepit state. The villages of Keran and Mundiyan in Kupwara are being connected to the electricity grid after 70 years. Drinking water is being made available to Dheerti Village of Reasi district and Chumtihal village of Anantnag District after 70 years. People like Dipu Devi of Valmiki Caste have finally got their rights. 102/108 Ambulance Services have been started in Jammu and Kashmir, years after the service was started in other regions of the country.
The implementation of PM Development Package has gained great speed. In 17 schemes, expenditure has risen to 54%. All prominent schemes are on track. The Rambagh Flyover in Srinagar, pending for nearly 5 years, has been completed and thrown open to public. Work on Jammu Ring Road, Akhnoor Road and other prominent road projects has been expedited. Work has commenced on the Pakal-Dul Hydro-Electric Project. Kiru, and Ratle Hydro-Electric power projects will truly convert Jammu and Kashmir into a power hub. The new tunnel at Banihal on Jammu-Srinagar national highway and the world’s highest rail bridge on River Chenab will both be completed in 2021. In 2022 Kashmir will be connected all the way to Kanyakumari by railways. The Shahpur Kandi and Ujh Irrigation projects, languishing for decades, will now in a few years provide irrigation facilities to more than one lakh hectares of unirrigated land and transform the agrarian scenario of the region. Rupees 6000 crore mobilised through JKIDFC is ensuring speedy completion of languishing projects. This is being accomplished even as the Covid-19 pandemic has affected every sector.
The cities of Jammu and Kashmir need to be modernized more. They should serve as the engine of development. We are planning to create more smart cities like new Jammu and new Srinagar, which will be counted among the most advanced cities of the world.
Power Sector is an area of our prime focus. In addition to hydro electric power projects, transmission and distribution projects are also being implemented with an aim to fulfill the target of providing 24× 7 electricity supply to every household.
We are proud that during the visit of Honble. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the seed of the endeavour to provide 100% piped drinking water connections was sown. We will be at the forefront of ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’. Srinagar and Ganderbal districts have already achieved 100 % coverage, and we hope that Jammu and Kashmir will be ahead of every other region by attaining 100% coverage by December 2022.
Economic Development and Employment:
The Honble. Prime Minister has recently announced a mega package under ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. Jammu and Kashmir is promise bound to extract the maximum benefit from this scheme to revive its economy, and accelerate its progress. 8 task forces have been specially created for dedicated implementation of the package, and we will try to acquire a benefit of Rupees 20,000 crores from it.
The farmers are the backbone of Jammu and Kashmir. Agricultural and horticultural schemes aimed at doubling the income of farmers are on track. Kashmiri saffron is considered to be the best in the world, and now it has been accorded the prestigious GI tag. Farmers are being encouraged to bring and sell their produce directly in the market. Digitization of revenue records is being undertaken at a rapid pace which will help farmers and fruit growers to easily avail bank loans and increase their investments leading to greater income.
We will try to make Jammu and Kashmir an attractive destination for investment. To achieve it, new medicity, educational centers and IT Hubs will be developed. A land bank of 6000 acres has been created for it. This will open new avenues of employment for our youth.
The process of filling 11000 posts has been started to provide employment. In addition to this, 10,000 more vacant posts will be filled soon. The interview for Class III and IV posts has been abolished.
To promote tourism, new destinations are being developed. Unprecedented investment is being made in the sports sector. Our teams, our boys and girls are winning the hearts and accolades of the entire country.
Whether it be the allocation of Rupees 366 crore to 4483 panchayats to develop gram panchayats, or laying underground power cables in Gulmarg, Pahalgam , Patnitop and Sonmarg, or commencing the work on supply of piped gas to Srinagar and other major towns, all these decisions were inspired by a single motive – to strengthen the democracy in Jammu and Kashmir and ensure the development of the region.
Brothers and Sisters
Today on the occasion of Independence Day, I express my gratitude to J&K police, Central Paramilitary Forces and the brave jawans of our military, who offer the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the integrity and freedom of the nation, and ensure that the citizens of the country live a secure and peaceful life. This is the occasion to remember Ajay Pandita and Wasim Bari, who laid down their lives to defend the idea of India.
Our government and administration stands by all those who are committed to, and strive towards strengthening democracy in Jammu and Kashmir. Elected representatives of local self-governments, who face threat, are being provided with a 25 lakh life insurance cover. To make policing more effective, the necessary reforms are being undertaken.
COVID -19 pandemic has affected our lives terribly. We have also lost some precious lives. Our sincerest condolences are with their families! To stop the spread of this pandemic, the efforts of the government has been commendable in offering people testing and treatment facilities. About three lakh people have been brought home safely. Every individual is being looked after properly and no one will be left without assistance. Our doctors, paramedical staff and nurses have worked selflessly and with exemplary dedication. I want to convey to them that we are immensely proud of them. We will never forget their selfless service. We will offer all health workers an additional 25 lakh insurance cover apart from the 50 lakh insurance cover offered by the central government. I request all the people to adopt necessary precautions to safeguard themselves from the COVID Pandemic.
We are committed to provide a better alternative for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. An alternative that stands for development, welfare and social transformation.
Jammu and Kashmir has long suffered from scarcity of development. We have to remove this scarcity. Electricity, water and roads shall be made available to every house and village. We have to create a healthy and educated society here. We have to create ultra modern and world class infrastructure here. We have to transform Jammu and Kashmir into a world class tourism destination. We have to create a peaceful environment here. I expect the full cooperation and support of people here that we may create a new Jammu and Kashmir.
It was the dream of Sardar Patel that whole India should not just exist as a political map, but also move forward together at the same time, and conquer new milestones of development and progress.
To honour this dream, the Prime Minister announced ‘Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat’ on 31st October 2015, on the eve of National Integration Day. This program aims at increasing and encouraging cultural interactions among the different parts of the country, and motivates the people to engage more deeply with cultures other than their own. Under this program, Jammu and Kashmir has been linked to Tamil Nadu.
I hope and wish that this endeavour to strengthen cultural relations is not restricted to a specific area, rather people of Jammu and Kashmir should forge strong relations with each and every region of the country.
It is my strongest and cherished belief that Jammu and Kashmir will immensely contribute to the realization of our dream of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat’.
Along with this, I again reiterate my heartfelt wishes to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.