On his second trip in two months to Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kargil, where a massive crowd turned up to hear him speak. He is the first Indian PM in 15 years to visit Kargil.
Addressing soldiers at his first stop, Leh, Mr Modi said Pakistan “has lost the strength to fight a conventional war, but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism.”
Mr. Modi’s remarks come amid heightened tensions in Kashmir, with India and its rival Pakistan trading accusations of ceasefire violations on Monday.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is meant to vote for its next government later this year, and the PM’s party is hoping to win the election, riding on the momentum he generated with his high-profile campaign and stunning victory in the national election in May.
The region of Ladakh, where Mr. Modi landed this morning, has four assembly seats and the party hopes that it will win at least two of those in the state elections. The BJP had won the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat in the national elections this year, for the first time ever.
“There was a time when Prime Ministers never visited this state. I have come here two times already, your love has drawn me here,” the Prime Minister said in Leh, dressed in traditional Ladakhi gear. Inaugurating a power plant, he said his three-pronged plan for the development of the region was about three Ps – “Prakash (electricity), Paryavaran (environment) and Paryatan (tourism).”
In Kargil, Mr. Modi inaugurated a power project and promised industrial development of the area. He also announced Rs. 8,000 crore in additional funds to complete pending projects to thunderous applause and cheers of “Modi, Modi.”
He is the first Indian prime minister to visit the sensitive Kargil region since the war in 1999 following the Pakistan army’s incursion.
New Delhi and Islamabad agreed to a ceasefire in 2003. But despite the truce, firing along the disputed de facto border called the Line of Control has escalated in the last few months.