As Rajnath Singh spoke at Srinagar on Thursday, the Union home minister couldn’t hide his happiness on seeing thousands of youths in the audience. The 66-year-old leader was effusive in his praise for the state’s new generation, who, he said, had the aptitude and inclination to change the destiny of the border region.
“No power on earth can stop us from having a new dawn in Jammu and Kashmir,” he gushed in his address at the Indoor Stadium. Minutes ago, just as he stepped into the venue, the young crowd applauded Singh, bringing cheer on his face as well as that of chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
The minister felicitated various sportspersons of the state, including, Tajamul Islam, a ten-year-old kickboxing champion. CM Mehbooba described the schoolgirl from rugged Bandipora district as a role model for the youths. Singh too lauded the champion from a modest family in little-known Tarkpora village. A thrilled Tajamul took selfies with Rajnath. “I can’t believe that Tajamul has done such a miracle,” Singh said later, referring to her having won gold at a world event in Italy in November 2016. “The whole of India is proud of her.”
The CM, referring to the children in the gathering, said they were like flowers that needed a good environment to bloom. Mehbooba was quick to make a political statement, saying the Centre’s announcement of a unilateral ceasefire during the ongoing Ramzan has given the Kashmiri children an atmosphere to move around and play. “These children want to live, they want to play, they want to smile…like elsewhere in the country,” the CM said, strongly pleading for an extension of the truce.
The Union home ministry had earlier announced a temporary halt in the operation of the security forces in J&K so as to ensure peaceful passage of the Muslim month of fasting. The said security forces, though, “reserve the right to retaliate if attacked” or if it is “essential to protect the lives of innocent people.”
Singh, in his speech, said the Centre announced plans to withdraw all the cases of stone-pelting by J&K children as part of a months-long stir by civil society in the Valley in 2016 after the killing of militant Burhan Wani by security forces in July that year. “Children can be misguided easily; so we understand the predicament,” he added.
An enthused minister went on to praise the “energy and dedication” among the children in the gathering, and hailed the state sports council secretary Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, who is youth president of the ruling PDP, for uplifting sports. “Sports has the power of education; it can change everything. I want to assure you that the future of J&K youngsters will remain secure,” he said. “To safeguard their lives and education is the responsibility of all of us, whether it is the government at the Centre or the state.”
Singh, who reached Srinagar on Thursday morning on a two-day J&K visit, is accompanied by Union Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh, besides Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba and senior ministry officers. He will review overall security scenario of the state and also the progress of PMDP.
He will leave for Jammu on Friday.