World is watching Kashmir as ballots defeat bullets: Modi

Kathua/Rajouri (Jammu and Kashmir)


Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday said the assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir was being closely watched by the entire world following the massive turnout of people who have proved the power of ballots over bullets.

Addressing large Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) election rallies in Kathua and Rajouri border towns in Jammu region, Modi said people of the state have proved that the power of democracy was far greater than that of the AK-47 rifle.

"The world is watching these elections because of the massive participation by the people," he said.

Modi expressed happiness over what he called seeing a new hope and expectation on the faces of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

"I am happy your dreams have come alive and you have decided to realise these.

"It is my good fortune that in Jammu and Kashmir, no leader from any other party has had the opportunity to see so many people as I have been able to see.

"Whether it was Ladakh or any other part of Jammu and Kashmir, people have given so much love to nobody else and I will return this to you with interest," he said.

"Your love for me will be returned through development and prosperity."

Modi said people who were making guesses on television screens about who will form the next government "should come and see the people here before doing their electoral arithmetic".

"I am addressing you from a place where Pakistan is on the other side and border firings take place frequently, but the people of this land do not run away because of fear. I have come to salute these brave people who hear the loud noises of bullets on the border each day," he said.

He said successive governments in the past deprived the youths of Kathua from getting jobs in India's armed forces.

Modi was referring to the border resident's certificate which the people of Kathua do not get although the area like many others in the state is a border district.

Youths having border resident's certificate are entitled to apply for service in the armed forces after passing Class 8, while those of other districts can do so only after matriculation.

Modi said governments are formed to address people's problems, "but I ask you, have your problems been addressed?"

He said the people know who their "sinners" were. "Unless you punish those sinners, they will not understand."

The prime minister said the Congress was now blaming the National Conference for not allowing it to fulfil its programmes, and asked why the party continued to remain in the government.

Modi said his government has dispensed with attestation of documents by gazetted officers while submitting copies of certificates for government jobs.

"Shouldn't citizens of this country be trusted? That is why we said self-attestation of academic certificates is good enough," he said.

Modi also spoke about suicides in the country. "Those who attempt suicide do not deserve imprisonment, they need help and guidance to change their lives."

The prime minister told the residents of Rajouri and Poonch that the backwardness of these areas was the handiwork of previous governments.

"Rajouri and Poonch districts should have been connected with the rest of the country through a rail link long back so that the fruits of development reached these far-flung areas quickly.

"I promise to connect these districts with the rest of the country through a rail link," he said.

Modi addressed a BJP rally of more than 40,000 people in Rajouri town, the majority of whom were from the tribal Muslim Gujjar community.

While 18 constituencies will vote Sunday, 20 constituencies in Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts go to polls in the fifth and final phase Dec 20. Votes will be counted Dec 23.

Modi also said the respect he has been getting worldwide was not because of him, but because of the people of India.

"The world has started recognising the excellence of India not because of Modi, but because of the 1.25 billion strong people of the country. When people shake hands with me, they see 1.25 billion people standing behind me," he said in Kathua.

Modi again hit out at the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), terming them "dynastic" parties.

"Aren't children of other families talented to run the state of Jammu and Kashmir? Why should only father-and-son party (NC) and father-and-daughter party (PDP) be allowed to come to power," he asked.

Modi asked people to see the democratic functioning of the BJP "which made it possible for the son of a tea stall owner to become the prime minister".

"Your sons and daughters are second to none. Come forward and make it possible for your sons and daughters to run this country," he said. - IANS