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             Independence Day 2013

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       On the joyous occasion of the Independence Day of our great Nation I greet the people of Jammu & Kashmir and pray for their prosperity and well being.

 2.    Since we attained freedom our country has marched ahead on many fronts and the people of India represent the largest democracy in the world. On the happy occasion of our Independence we must pay homage to the tall leaders who made enormous sacrifices to liberate our country from the foreign yoke. We should also rededicate ourselves to safeguarding our hard won freedom and resolving to zealously carrying out our duties to see that our country emerges amongst the leading nations in the world.

 3.    In the country’s march towards growth and development, our state has not so far been able to be in the vanguard because of the prolonged period of disturbances, turmoil and violence which our people have gone through. However, it is a matter for some satisfaction that, notwithstanding the continuing external support to terrorism, in the past few years the activities of terrorist networks have been progressively contained. For this we owe gratitude to our people, J&K Police and the Security Forces who have made continuing sacrifices to combat terrorism.

4.    Since the beginning of this year there have been continuing attempts at infiltration and repeated attacks on our Security Forces, leaving no doubt that the adversary agencies and forces across the LoC remain committed to their agenda of destabilising J&K. In this scenario the Security Forces shall need to maintain eternal vigilance. Side by side, the J&K Police shall need to take timely pre-emptive action to ensure that the subversive elements, who receive encouragement and support from adversary agencies, are not allowed to instigate incidents for disrupting communal harmony in any part of the State. The Administration shall also need to take effective initiatives to ensure that societal harmony is maintained in all regions of the State.

5.    The turbulence in the past years has adversely affected the functioning of the administrative apparatus and eroded the erstwhile ethos and work culture. It would be necessary to ensure the success of several initiatives, which were launched in the recent years, for Governance to regain its dynamism.

6.    As I have said on earlier occasions, the educational system in the State suffered severe damage during the period of militancy. It is gratifying to note that, notwithstanding certain continuing constraints, the educational arena has started showing vibrance. Among others, this resurgence is manifested by a progressively increasing number of our youth coming out successful in the various national level competitive examinations for admissions to professional institutions and entry into the higher services. The Administration must ensure that our bright and talented students are provided all required support and encouragement to achieve their potential.

7.    For tackling the problem of unemployment, in the past few years, several Central and State Government schemes have been under implementation to enable youth to acquire and upgrade their skills and enhance their employability. Side by side, endeavours are also under way to encourage and enable potential entrepreneurs to set up their own ventures. 

8.    The severe shortage of power, inadequate connectivity within and between regions and the closure of mountain passes for several months in the winter, are among the more significant factors which thwart the State’s rapid growth.  

9.    For improving the power situation certain initiatives are underway for establishing a number of new power units and work on the 850 mw Rattle Power project, in Kishtwar District, has already begun. As hydro-electric projects take several years to be completed it is necessary that all the envisaged ventures are launched without any delay. 

10.    Insofar as improvement of connectivity is concerned the Kashmir Railway project is making steady headway. The Banihal–Qazigund sector, with an over 11 km long tunnel passing through the Pir Panjal, was inaugurated recently and the Udhampur–Katra sector is likely to become operational very shortly. These two developments take us closer to the momentous day when the Katra– Banihal sector is completed. This shall provide Kashmir round the year rail connectivity with the entire country.  

11.    The 4-laning of the Jammu–Srinagar Highway is progressing and the Mughal Road, which shall enable travellers from Rajouri and Poonch side to reach Kashmir Valley within a few hours, is also nearing completion. Another heartening news is the Prime Minister’s announcement, on his recent visit to J&K, that the Centre shall provide Rs. 710 crore for meeting land acquisition costs to enable the speedy implementation of all the PMGSY road projects which were pending completion because of fiscal problems.

12.    As I have observed earlier also, Jammu and Kashmir will be able to achieve rapid human development and steady economic growth only when there is sustained peace along the LoC. While looking forward to the early realisation of such a development, we must thank the Army for maintaining eternal vigil on the LoC and pay homage to the valiant officers and men who have laid down their lives for maintaining the territorial integrity of our country.             

13.    Before concluding, I would re-iterate my appeal to the leaders of all political, social, cultural and religious organisations, and all other segments of society, in all the three regions of the State, to join ranks and work most closely together for enabling the peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues, through dialogue and discussion. We must also join hands to work unitedly for taking the State speedily forward on the path of progress and prosperity.  

14.    I wish the Chief Minister, Shri Omar Abdullah, and all members of his Council of Ministers, high success in the State Government’s endeavour to achieve rapid growth and development of the State.

15.    I wish the people of Jammu and Kashmir a happy, bright and prosperous future.

Jai Hind.