STATE TIMES NEWSSRINAGAR: The identity of people of Jammu and Kashmir is neither at stake nor tampered with after the abrogation of the state’s special status by the Centre, Governor Satya Pal Malik said on Thursday after hoisting the national flag on the 73rd Independence Day here. Terming the changes introduced by the Centre as “historical”, Malik said they will open a new door of development and help various communities promote their languages and cultures in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh. “In the last 70 years people were lead astray from the main issues of economic development, peace and prosperity. Instead of paying attention to these issues people were misled on issues which are irrelevant to their lives, he said at the Sher-i-Kashmir Stadium in his address on the first Independence Day function in the Valley after the abrogation.
The function was also attended by National Security Advisory Ajit Doval.
Malik said it is surprising that in all the previous elections, focus of people was not brought on issues of ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makaan (employment, clothing and housing)’.
“These changes have removed the hurdles for economic development and prosperity, he said.
Malik said the step will enable good governance, bring self-reliance and employment opportunities to people of Jammu and Kashmir and most importantly the feeling of unity and equality with the rest of the country.
“I want to assure people of Jammu and Kashmir that their identity is neither at stake nor has been tampered with. Indian Constitution allows many regional identities to prosper… Nobody should be bothered that their identity will finish because of the steps taken by the Central government… This step can be used to promote language, culture and identities within the state,” he said.
Local tribes which did not have political representation will now get it under the new system, he said.
He said his government is committed to the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley.
After unfurling the flag, Malik inspected the parade of para-military forces and Jammu and Kashmir Police led by SSP Manzoor Ahmed Dalal.
He said the government has a zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism and sustained efforts by armed forces have ensured the defeat of terrorists.
There is a sharp decline in terror recruitment and incidents of stone pelting after Friday prayers, he said.
Talking about his one-year administration, Malik said he has tried to empower people through grassroots democracy.
He said Urban Local Body elections in October and the second-ever Panchayat polls in November-December were held after a long gap and people came out in large numbers to send a clear message to terrorists and separatists.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy and Kashmiri apple and other fruits have already created a niche for themselves, Malik said. And Investment Summit proposed later this year will focus on investment and expertise in these areas, he added.
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