Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday visited the Indian-administered Kashmir in his first public event since New Delhi stripped the disputed region’s special status in 2019.
Addressing a rally at a village in Jammu, Modi said that the “new” Jammu and Kashmir “will write a new story of development in the next 25 years.”
On Aug. 5, 2019, India revoked the longstanding special status of the Muslim-majority region and also bifurcated it into two federally-ruled territories: Ladakh, where China has made territorial claims, and Jammu and Kashmir.
The Indian government has also introduced a domicile law making an unspecified number of outsiders eligible for citizenship of Jammu and Kashmir, raising fears among the Muslims that they would be reduced into a minority.
"In the last two to three years, new dimensions of development have been established in Jammu and Kashmir. There are about 250 laws of the center which were not implemented here. We implemented those laws to empower every citizen of Jammu and Kashmir,” Modi said.
"Our focus is on connectivity, be it connectivity in terms of language or infrastructure or facilities,” he added.
The Indian prime minister announced development projects worth $2.6 billion for the region.
"I want to promise the young generation of Jammu and Kashmir that the hardships your parents had to live with, you will never have to live such a life,” Modi added.
Meanwhile, a "black day" was observed in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to protest Modi’s visit to the Indian-administered Kashmir.
The protest call was given by Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, the newly elected prime minister of the Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Demonstrations were held in several parts of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, including capital Muzzaferabad, Mirpur, Bagh, Rawlakit, and Kotli.
Addressing the demonstration in Islamabad, Ilyas said that Kashmiris would never accept the "Indian occupation", and continue their struggle for "freedom."
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir. Indian and Pakistani troops have also fought intermittently in the northern Siachen region since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan. According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.