Dear Brothers and
On the happy occasion of our Republic Day I send my greetings and good wishes to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Today, when we celebrate the birth of the Indian Republic, we must pay homage to the great leaders who secured freedom for our country and to the founding fathers of our Constitution. We must also commit ourselves afresh to protect and preserve our hard won freedom and to safeguard the unity and security of our nation.
Since we gained Independence, despite constraints and serious challenges on several fronts, India has achieved commendable progress in many arenas. It is a matter for great pride that today we are the largest democracy in the world and also the fastest growing among the biggest economies.
Because of Pakistanís continuing proxy war and its unceasing campaigns for the past nearly three decades to perpetrate violence and chaos to destabilize Jammu and Kashmir the growth and development of our State has been adversely affected.
2017 was marked by Pakistanís sustained attempts to infiltrate the largest possible number of terrorists into the Valley. This resulted in the Security Forces remaining engaged in counter terrorist operations throughout the past year, in which a very large number of terrorists were killed, besides the loss of lives of civilians and Security Forces personnel. The past year also witnessed repeated ceasefire violations by our western neighbour, both across the International Border and the Line of Control, which resulted in the closure of schools, damage to properties, loss of cattle, many innocent lives being lost and the residents of the affected border villages having to evacuate to safer areas. The terrorists also attacked and killed some pilgrims who were undertaking the Shri Amarnathji Yatra but could not succeed in disrupting the pilgrimage.
The various initiatives taken by the Prime Minister to secure friendly relations with Pakistan have still to yield a positive outcome. I hope that Pakistan will soon realise the futility of continuing its terror and violence agenda in Jammu and Kashmir and recognise that only sustained peace and normalcy along the borders will help in restoring fruitful relations between the two countries.
To counter Pakistanís continuing terror campaign, our Security Forces have been performing their duties with utmost devotion, in extremely trying circumstances. I salute our fearless officers and men and pay homage to the brave hearts of the State Police, Central Armed Police Forces and the Army who laid down their lives to safeguard the territorial integrity of our country.
As I have been repeatedly saying in the past years, we need to put an end to the continuing hartals and protestation calendars which result in disturbances and closure of all activities. The recurring disorders have caused human and economic losses and the repeated disruption of the educational schedules has adversely affected the career advancement of our youth. It is indeed unfortunate that our polity and the society at large have failed to muster courage to immunise our youth, particularly girls, from being involved in agitational activities.
It is of crucial importance to safeguard the interests of the upcoming generation and to take all required steps to ensure against their getting frustrated and being attracted to radical ideologies and violent activities. While some youth who had joined the terrorist ranks have since returned to their homes I hope that all others who had left will also come back very soon.
For engendering a hopeful and productive environment it is of crucial importance that our elected representatives, the political executive and the entire spectrum of public services in the State collectively ensure that the Administration provides prompt, accountable, transparent and efficient services to all our people. A sound administrative system, founded in uncompromising integrity and impeccable work culture, will also contribute towards reinvigorating the Stateís economy to progress rapidly and generate the much needed opportunities for our unemployed youth.
The State Administration needs to devote methodical attention to ensure that the Prime Ministerís Development Package of Rs. 80,000 crore is effectively utilised to timely implement the various infrastructure and development projects for which the financial support has been received. It is equally important that the Administration pursues inclusive policies and ensures equitable allocation of resources to promote the welfare of people living in all parts of the State, especially the neglected segments and those who reside in the remote and unconnected areas. Special attention also requires to be given to see that the varied difficulties faced by all those suffering from one or the other kind of disability, particularly the aged, women and children, are promptly provided the required support.
Long years of unrest have caused enormous damage to our grass-root level democratic framework. In early 2016 action had been initiated for the conduct of elections to Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies. However, for varied reasons, these elections have continued to pend. Recently, the State Government announced its decision to commence the electoral process during this winter. Once the grass root level rural and urban self-governing bodies are in position I trust that Government shall promptly empower them with the required delegations and optimum financial and logistical support.
For the past many years, ever since I came to serve this State, I have been repeatedly stressing that the pursuit of divisive and confrontationist approaches shall not resolve our problems but shall, instead, only further damage our interests and thwart our goals. As in the past, I once again appeal to the chiefs of all political parties and the leaders of all social, cultural, religious and other organisations in the State to reflect seriously over the happenings in the past years and accept that the recurring agitations, hartals and closures have engendered no other outcome except causing law and order problems which have adversely affected the functioning of public offices and educational institutions, besides disrupting trade, business, tourism and all economic activities. To uplift the State, and all our people, out of the environment of growing negativity it is of vital importance that all stakeholders ó whatever be their political or religious ideologies ó recognise that every problem can be resolved through dialogue and discussion and by making vigorous efforts to promote reconciliation and communal harmony. The Union Government has appointed its Special Representative to carry out a dialogue with one and all in Jammu and Kashmir. I trust that his ongoing endeavours will contribute to enlarging the constituency of peace.
I conclude by conveying my greetings to Ms Mehbooba Mufti and to the Members of her Council of Ministers and wish success to their efforts towards the restoration of peace and normalcy in the State, which shall enable our people to achieve progress and prosperity.
And to the people of our State, I once again send them my greetings and good wishes and pray for a peaceful 2018.