Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached out to Kashmir saying tensions would be resolved quickly and insisted the freedom enjoyed by any part of India also belongs to the Kashmir valley. Following a month-long silence on the prevailing volatile atmosphere in Kashmir, Modi said unrest in the region is fomented by a handful of "misguided people".
Modi was speaking at a rally in the state of Madhya Pradesh to mark the birth anniversary of Indian freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad on Tuesday, 9 August. He and his government have been under tremendous pressure from critics and opposition that the administration has so far not effectively handled the situation in Kashmir.
Modi said in his address: "Kashmir, which we give so much love to, some people there are causing it a lot of harm. Boys who should be holding laptops, bats, balls in their hands and dreams in their hearts are ones carrying stones. Kashmir wants peace. Whatever Kashmiris want for [the] betterment of their livelihood, the Centre will help."
"The freedom that every Indian also belongs to every Kashmiri. We want the same bright future for every youth in Kashmir," he said. "I invite young people of Kashmir to make Kashmir the swarga (heaven) that it is."
Kashmir plunged into chaos in July after security forces killed Burhan Wani, a key separatist figure in the region, and there have been severe protests ever since. A government-imposed curfew has also been in force for more than 30 days now.
Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti visited New Delhi for holding talks with top authorities. "I hope that Prime Minister Modiji, who has received such a big mandate, takes this situation as a chance, as an opportunity, and apply balm on the wounds of people of Jammu and Kashmir. He should start the dialogue process and take forward the process started by [former prime minister] Vajpayeeji."
Atal Behari Vajpayee, a senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, has been often been praised for reaching out to the people of Kashmir as well as to Pakistan.