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Monday, April 15 2024
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PM Modi Visits Srinagar, First Time Post-Article 370 Scrapping

Srinagar
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, today to reveal development projects valued at over ₹ 6,400 crore and to speak at a public gathering that his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, anticipates will be the largest political gathering in the area since his previous visit to Kashmir in 2019.
The prime minister arrived in Srinagar on Thursday morning by plane. From there, he traveled to Badamibagh Cantonment, the Army’s 15, or Chinar Corps, headquarters, where he paid his respects to the deceased soldiers and placed a wreath at the War Memorial. After that, he was driven to the rally at Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar.

This is Mr Modi’s second visit to J&K in three weeks; he addressed a rally in Jammu on February 20.

Significantly, this will be his first trip to the Kashmir Valley following the acrimonious repeal of Article 370, which divided the erstwhile state into Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, two union territories.

A general election is scheduled for the coming months, and Mr. Modi’s government has been given a deadline by the Supreme Court to organize an Assembly poll by September 30. Chief Justice DY Chandrachud presided over a five-judge bench that was deliberating on appeals contesting the government’s repeal of Article 370.

The BJP has not concealed its intention to eliminate Article 370 as a key component of its election platform in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and throughout the nation.

In the 2019 election, the BJP and the National Conference of former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah split J&K’s six Lok Sabha seats; the Srinagar seat was won by Mr Abdullah.

The BJP has never won this seat, which has been a bastion for the National Conference since the first election in 1967. Only the Congress (1996) and ex-Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (2014) have managed wins in the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.

The BJP claims two lakh people, including thousands of government employees who have been told attendance is mandatory, are expected at the Prime Minister’s rally.

Prep for the Prime Minister’s visit involve the biggest security exercise in recent years, with thousands of police and paramilitary personnel deployed across the city. Areas around Srinagar’s Bakshi Stadium – the venue – have been turned into a security fortress; drones have been deployed and extensive CCTV camera networks have been set up as part of surveillance measures.

Foot-patrolling by security forces is taking place in a two-km radius around the venue.

Officials, however, have claimed there is minimal disruption to daily life. Srinagar Police sources told news agency PTI “people are being allowed to move about and there are no restrictions anywhere”.

There are some traffic changes, police said.

There is a 7 pm limit on traffic from Jehangir Chowk to Rambagh and from Rajbagh to LD Hospital (as well as the Tulsi Bagh route). Additionally, there are limitations on the flow of civilian vehicles throughout the Jahangir Chowk-Solina-Ram Bagh area.

Similar restrictions apply to civilian traffic on Gupkar Road leading to the All India Radio office and the Raj Bagh-LD Hospital-Tulsi Bagh corridor.

During his most recent visit to J&K, the Prime Minister unveiled several development initiatives valued at over ₹ 32,000 crore, encompassing the fields of education, railways, aviation, and transportation.

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