Brothers and Sisters,
- On the auspicious occasion of our 73rd Independence Day, I convey my greetings and good wishes to the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. I also pay homage to our great leaders who made enormous sacrifices to win freedom for our country. Today, we must also strongly affirm our dedication to safeguarding the unity and integrity of our nation.
- On this day, I take this opportunity to pay respectful homage and salute the brave hearts of the State Police, Central Armed Police Forces and the Army who made the supreme sacrifice to preserve the territorial integrity of our country.
- Brothers and sisters, the changes brought out by the Union Government are not just historic but have opened a new vista of development for the people of Jammu & Kashmir and the people of Ladakh. For the past 70 years, the common people of the State have been distracted on the core issues of economic development, peace and prosperity. Rather than focus on these, people have been misled about issues which are not material to their lives. It is amazing that whether it is an election or otherwise, the public discourse never focussed on issues of ROTI, KAPADA aur MAKAN.
- With these changes, the veil has been removed. This will speed up economic growth and prosperity, promote good governance, usher in self sufficiency, provide enhanced job opportunities and more importantly bring a feeling of belonging and oneness amongst the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, with the rest of the country.
- At this point, I would like to assure the people of Jammu and Kashmir that their identity is not at stake nor has been tampered with. The Constitution of India allows many regional identities to thrive and prosper. If you travel from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, one will see wide range of languages, cultures, religions and societies. Therefore, no one should get worried that their identity will be lost with the measures taken by the Union Government. In fact this opportunity can be used to promote the traditional cultures, values and languages in the State. Kashmiri, Dogri, Gojri, Pahari, Balti, Sheena and other languages will have opportunity to thrive in the new set up. Various tribes and castes in the State who have not had political representation will find proper representation.
- A long pending demand of the people of Ladakh has also been fulfilled with the formation of a Union Territory of Ladakh. This will enable the people of Ladakh to realise their aspirations inspite of the problems they face on account of the large and difficult terrain. My administration had earlier this year created a separate Revenue and Administrative Division for ‘Ladakh’ comprising the Districts of Leh and Kargil with a Divisional Commissioner and an Inspector General of Police. Subsequently, 495 posts were also sanctioned for staffing the various Departments of this Division.
- A separate University has been established for Ladakh Region for which a Vice Chancellor has been appointed. This will facilitate the students of the area, who will not have to move outside Ladakh for higher studies. The foundation stone for new Kushak Bakula Rimpoche Airport terminal building at Leh has been laid and process has been initiated for establishing a full-fledged commercial airport at Kargil.
- With a view to taking governance to the door steps of the people, My Government initiated the first of its kind “Back to Village” Programme to create a sense of belonging and address the problems of locals in the remote and far-flung areas. More than 4500 Gazetted Officers of the State visited the Panchayats and interacted with the people in a bid to resolve their grievances. The officers, including senior officers, were directed to stay for atleast two days with a night halt in the village to interact and obtain a feedback from the panchayat representatives, elders and other community members about their concerns, developmental needs and economic potential of the area. Such was the level of success of this programme that the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India appreciated the effort by making a special mention of the initiative during his ‘Man Ki Baat’ aired on 28th July, 2019.
- One of the biggest achievements of the state has been the empowerment of people through grassroots democracy. After a long gap, the State held elections to Urban Local Bodies in October and the second ever Panchayat elections in November-December. In-spite of boycott calls by mainstream parties and the Hurriyat and death threats by the militant organisations, people came out in droves to vote for local representatives. The turnout was 74%. This was in a State which could not hold bye-elections to a Parliamentary seat two years earlier. All this was without any loss of life. Today, the state has a vibrant Panchayati Raj and municipal system which is fully empowered with complete delegation of funds, functions and functionaries.
- The process for establishment of the second tier of the Panchayats has been initiated for which the elections to the Block Development Councils shall be held very soon. I urge all elected Panches and Sarpanches to come forth and participate whole heartedly in these elections. The Block Development Council and thereafter the District Development Boards play an important role in ensuring peoples’ participation in planning and execution of development of their respective areas. I am confident that this budding Panchayati Raj system will be the harbinger of change in J&K in future.
- Young people are the driving force of change and have a responsibility to build a bright future for the State and the Nation. On this occasion, I strongly urge the highly talented youth of Jammu and Kashmir to come forward and take the lead in taking Jammu and Kashmir on a new path of progress and development.
- We have zero tolerance policy towards militants and our Security Forces are taking proactive action against militants. Militants who are carrying out isolated attacks on the security forces at the behest of their handlers across the border have lost the battle. Due to concerted and synergised efforts of Forces, there has been a discernible change in the approach of militants and their supporters. The recruitment of new militants has witnessed a downward trend, while stone-pelting incidents after the Friday prayers have all but ended. The misguided youth are returning back to the mainstream. We have adopted a multi pronged approach to contain cross-border infiltration that is giving positive results.
- My administration is seized of the problems of those residing in areas adjoining the International Border and therefore introduced the provision for grant of reservation in direct recruitment, promotion and admission in different professional courses, for them, at par with those living along the Line of Control (LoC). Similarly reservation has been extended to the Pahari Speaking People and also Economically Weaker Sections (EWSs) of the Society.
- Kashmir is not complete without Kashmiri Pandits. My administration is committed to the safe return and rehabilitation of the Kashmir Pandits in the Valley. The process for recruitment against the remaining 3000 posts out of 6000 created for Kashmiri migrants and the construction of transit accommodation for the Kashmiri migrant employees serving in the Valley has been expected. I firmly believe that the complete return of Kashmiri migrants to the Valley is possible only with the support and cooperation of all Stakeholders including the civil society of the Valley who share a social & cultural bond with the Kashmiri migrants.
- The march against corruption in the State has continued with increased thrust. The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) established by my administration has been further strengthened with the establishment of six Police Stations and notification of their jurisdiction. The ACB is working tirelessly to erase corruption at all levels including at the higher levels.
- The annual pilgrimage to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine was conducted in a smooth manner and during a period of almost thirty days, the yatra witnessed more than three lakhs pilgrims paying homage at the Holy Cave. This was an appreciable increase as compared to the last three years. I reiterate my sincere thanks to the local people of Kashmir in making this yatra successful. The Amarnath Yatra and the Hajj were conducted in a manner which is an excellent example of the true essence of Kashmiriyat which is exemplary for its communal harmony.
- Metropolitan Regional Development Authorities have been established for integrated development of Srinagar and Jammu cities. Corridors for light Rail Transit System (LRTS) for the capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu cities are finalized and once these come up, the traffic related problems will addressed to a greater extent.
- My Administration has taken major strides in the Health sector with massive expansion of Physical and Human Infrastructure. The foundation stone of AIIMS at Awantipora and Vijaypur were laid by the Hon’ble Prime Minister; five new Medical Colleges have been made functional and 400 additional MBBS seats allotted to the State thereby increasing the total number of seats from 500 to 900 which is the largest jump in MBBS seats in any State in a year. Two more medical colleges are coming up at Udhampur and Handwara (Kupwara).
- Under Ayushman Bharat Scheme, Jammu and Kashmir is ranked first amongst all States in the Country with regard to issuance of Golden Cards covering 57% of the families in less than six months.
- My Government has been taking initiatives on its own, outside of Central Government assistance. We have doubled the number of Colleges from 98 to 200, an expansion which will have a long term impact. We have added over 240 High and Higher Secondary schools. This is bound to meet our deficiencies in Education sector, to a large extent.
- Agriculture has been the main stay of our economy with horticulture being one of the major contributors. The Kashmiri apple and other fruits have already created a niche for themselves in the national and global markets. The Government will take all steps to encourage and facilitate value addition in this area through setting up of post harvest storage infrastructure, processing capacity and taking innovative marketing measures. The Investment Summit proposed to be held later this year shall specially focus on attracting investment and expertise in these areas which will help in strengthening this sector and generating new employment opportunities.
- My Government is seized of the hardships being faced by Security Personnel especially the J&K Police. Considering their contribution towards this, we have increased the Hardship Allowance in respect of various ranks of J&K Police Personnel. The Ration Money Allowance in favour of non-gazetted police personnel has been enhanced from Rs.2000/- to Rs.2500/- per month. Similarly, the monthly remuneration of Special Police Officers has also been increased. Besides, the entire police personnel will be directly given dress and kit maintenance allowance.
- My administration is committed to the welfare of its employees and their genuine issues. The Government has already initiated steps to fill a large number of vacant posts in various Government Departments in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and in the very near future, recruitment drives by various Central and State Government organisations will be initiated.
- In conclusion, dear brothers and sisters:
I see a bright future for the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
I see Srinagar and Jammu becoming Global metropolises with International Airports.
I see tourism getting a big boost in future with better infrastructure, creating jobs for youth.
I see large scale industrial development, generating employment and growth.
I see the Jammu and Kashmir becoming a hub for medical tourism.
I see the Jammu and Kashmir where women will not be discriminated and have full rights.
I see the Jammu and Kashmir where Refugees and Safai Karamchari will get full democratic representation.
I see the Jammu and Kashmir where the benefits of Central Laws and Schemes will flow to everyone.
I see the Jammu and Kashmir where the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) become instruments for local self governance.
- Once again, I convey my greetings and good wishes to the people of the State on this occasion.