Indian PM visits Kashmir amid shutdown

Modi announces financial aid for the region, which had suffered a terrible flood in September

Indian PM visits Kashmir amid shutdown

World Bulletin/News Desk

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Indian-held Kashmir on Thursday amid a shutdown called by the resistance leadership.

The roads were largely empty, and businesses and offices remained closed in the valley to protest against Modi's visit. Indian Armed Forces also put local resistance leadership under house arrest. 

Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani were both confined to their houses under guard.

Modi first went to the Siachen glacier where he celebrated the Hindu festival, Diwali with Indian soldiers, and then came to occupied Kashmir and met with political and civil society delegations to take stock of post-flood conditions in the valley.

After the discussions, Modi announced a package of 745 crore INR ($123 million) for the flood damaged houses and hospitals in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

Modi called his visit to the valley, where floods wrought devastation in September, a "success" as it helped him understand the situation on the ground.

"From my interaction with people today, I have gathered that people want direct help from the government. Those people who have lost their homes, if money was sent directly to their accounts, that could be more helpful," Modi told a press conference.

The financial package announced though was much less than what the region's government expected. Last month, the regional government had submitted a Rs 44000 crore ($2.45 billion) loss to the the Indian government. Modi said Thursday that they were considering the memorandum, and that it needed to be verified further.

Out of the package announced today, 570 crore INR are meant for reconstruction of flood damaged houses and 175 crore INR for the reconstruction of six major damaged hospitals in Jammu, occupied Kashmir and Ladakh.

"This is very little compared with what the state needs to meet the massive devastation left behind by the floods. We expected more than this and we hope it comes soon," senior leader of the ruling state party National Conference, Nasir Alam Wani, said.

While Modi met representatives of several organizations like the Kashmir Automobile Association, the Western Bus Service Association, and the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti and Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, he kept his visit limited to the governor's residence, which is a mansion protected by the Indian Armed forces.

Modi did not visit any relief camps or neighborhoods where the floods had wrought devastation and where homeless people continue live in tents, as had been expected.

“Having sent out tweets which said that he would spend the Eid with the flood victims of Kashmir, it seemed that he would come and visit the real places and listen to common people, but we did not even see him,” Shaheena Akhter, a woman in her 30's who was waiting since morning outside the governor's house to meet Modi.

She and a few other women had brought along the photos of their damaged houses to appeal for relief.

The Indian government has so far not released any money for relief and rehabilitation in Kashmir and has also disallowed any foreign help or aid.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.

The two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.

Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in IHK have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Ekim 2014, 23:33

Muhammed Öylek