By Chasfeeda Shah
Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha declared that Kashmir has undergone a remarkable transformation, shedding its image as a land plagued by frequent hartals, separatist movements, and incidents of stone-pelting. Speaking at a gathering of delegates during the G20 tourism working group meeting in Srinagar, Sinha emphasized the monumental changes that have taken place in the region. Kashmir: Embracing Progress and Peace
In an address to delegates at the G20 tourism working group meeting held in Srinagar, Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha highlighted the enduring struggle of Jammu and Kashmir against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism for nearly three decades. However, he emphasized that the terror ecosystem has been effectively contained and marginalized due to the implementation of development schemes initiated by the Central government.
In his inaugural address at the G20 tourism working group meeting, Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha shed light on the enduring struggle faced by Jammu and Kashmir, a region known for its harmonious coexistence among various religious sects, against state-sponsored terrorism perpetrated by its neighbouring country. However, he expressed gratitude towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi for implementing development schemes that have empowered the masses and facilitated effective administration in the Union Territory, leading to the isolation of the thriving terror ecosystem that received support from across the border.
Sinha emphasized that Jammu and Kashmir is now experiencing a new era, brimming with immense potential for growth and peace. The region has witnessed the arrival of foreign investments, symbolizing the promising signs of a brighter future that the people have eagerly awaited.
Furthermore, the Lieutenant-Governor highlighted that the prevailing sense of injustice, exploitation, and discrimination endured by various sections of society for seven decades, largely influenced by external orchestration, has been completely eradicated. This transformation signifies a significant milestone in the region’s journey towards social equity and harmony.
“We are ensuring social equality and equal economic opportunity to all citizens, which is enabling them to contribute to nation building,” he said.
Later, during an interaction with reporters at Raj Bhavan, Sinha said J&K is now capable and ready to host international events of any level although “international summits and meetings are held at the Centre’s prerogative”.
“We have been able to offer all kinds of facilities to the visiting delegates. Anything lacking this time is because of the legacy we inherited. Even though we have accelerated the pace of development (in J&K) by 10 times, it will take seven years to bridge the 70-year-long gap.”
“We have been able to offer all kinds of facilities to the visiting delegates,” he said. “Anything lacking this time is because of the legacy we inherited. Even though we have accelerated the pace of development (in J&K) by 10 times, it will take seven years to bridge the 70-year-long gap.”
While the G20 event will give a fillip to international tourist numbers, which has seen a dip in the post-Covid era, it will also help further a dialogue on how to work towards withdrawing negative travel advisories on Kashmir, Sinha said.
“Visitors will go back with the message to their respective countries that this is a very peaceful land and a must-visit tourist destination,” he said, calling the G20 event “a historic opportunity”.
Although he did not name any country, the L-G said that “representatives from some of those countries that have issued negative travel advisories are also present at the G20 meet”.
Delegates from 27 countries are participating in the meet. China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have stayed away from the event.
Asked about Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s recent remarks on “India abusing its G20 presidency to push its political agenda” by holding the meet in Kashmir, the L-G said, “Pakistan should be more worried about taking care of the basic needs of its citizens. India has left all these things behind and moved ahead.”
In fact, he said, the G20 presidency is a proud moment for India and the United Nations has also sent many representatives to the Srinagar meeting. “This shows that the whole world wants India to hold such events,” he said, adding that the overwhelming participation “is a reflection of India’s strength and ancient values”.
Talking about unleashing the tourism potential of the Union Territory, Sinha said as many as 300 new tourist destinations have been identified, and adequate infrastructure is being developed at these places, so that the region gets more tourists – international as well as domestic.
He also underlined the infrastructural turnaround that is being brought about in the region and the overall peaceful situation. “Jammu & Kashmir is making rapid strides in terms of peace and progress,” he said. “We have been able to eliminate, to a great extent, the terrorist ecosystem sponsored by the neighbouring country.”
“It is no more a land of hartals, separatists and stone-pelters,” he said.
The L-G also said there is a plan to turn Gulmarg into an international-level winter tourism destination. In fact, there was an initial plan to take the delegates to Gulmarg, but it had to be called off due to logistical issues, he said. However, he said, “We are ready to welcome the delegates to Gulmarg on their next visit to Kashmir.”