Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the last leg of the rail link in Kashmir Valley this week – a 19 km patch connecting Qazigund with Islamabad.
This is the third such inauguration – done in parts – of the 119 km rail link in Valley connecting Baramulla with Qazigund.
Last year it was Singh himself who flagged off the same train to chug in Kashmir for the first ever time.
On Oct 11, 2008 he flagged off the first train from Srinagar to Islamabad in south Kashmir. The second part of the link extending the train to north Kashmir was flagged off by him along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi later.  
The Kashmir rail is part of the more ambitious Jammu Baramulla rail link, that still seems as elusive as it always was, or at least 25 years ago when another Indian prime minister launched the project.
Singh also addressed a large gathering at Islamabad station and extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan. It is however unclear what that extension means on ground. He also talked of dialogue with separatists in the valley. However, as home minister P Chidambaram last month said that the dialogue with separatists will be quiet one (quiet diplomacy), the prime minister did not take it beyond  that.
If anything he did offer was an additional allocation of 500 MW of power to Kashmir during winters.
However, New Delhi seems to consider the rail link in Kashmir a big deal, as every extended inch of the rail stretch sees a high level inauguration by no less than a prime minister. Singh is however not the first ever prime minister do so.
The Dogra ruler Maharaja Pratab Singh had first proposed a rail link to Srinagar in 1898. The plan was revived when, during Partition, Jammu got de-linked from the country’s rail grid.
In 1983, Indira Gandhi was the first prime minister to lay a foundation stone for a 54km railway line between Jammu and Udhampur, promising to complete it in five years and also extend it thereafter by 290km to Baramulla in the Kashmir Valley.
In 1986 Rajiv Gandhi laid the foundation stone for the same stretch again.  Later prime ministers, H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujral  Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh visited the state to inaugurate the patches of the Jammu-Baramulla rail link at times, a single stretch of rail line being inaugurated twice or even thrice by more than one of them.


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