Srinagar, Oct 28 (PTI) The good old days have returned to Jammu and Kashmir and the era of violence and terrorism is over, the Union territory's Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said here on Saturday stressing that it is now our collective responsibility to ensure peace and prosperity continue forever.
He was speaking at a Sadbhavana Conference on "Sufism and Kashmiriyat: An Example of Peace and Harmony" organised by the Indian Minority Foundation (IMF) here.
"Kashmir has been the land of Sufism and communal harmony where for centuries, the spirit of goodwill and brotherhood has flourished. Kashmir's heritage of co-existence is also centuries old, but in the last few decades, it had become plagued by terrorism. But, now Kashmir is changing," Sinha said.
It was for the first time after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 that the leaders of all Muslim sects came together in large numbers on one platform. They appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to change the image of Jammu and Kashmir and open new avenues of development.
Religious leaders from various Muslim communities, including Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Dawoodi Bohra, Pasmanda Muslims and Gujjar-Bakkarwals, praised the prime minister for restoring peace and stability in the region plagued by militancy during the last three decades.
The conference was also attended by scholars, academicians, students, representatives of trade and tourism associations, traders, farmer unions and various NGOs.
Sinha said new avenues of development have opened up in the valley during the last four years. The socio-economic development of Jammu and Kashmir has gained momentum under the visionary leadership of PM Modi.
The Lt Governor said Kashmir has witnessed a sea change in recent years resulting in an unprecedented level of transformation in the region.
"Jammu and Kashmir is a holy land where different religions and cultures have flourished. But unfortunately, in the last three decades, this land has been plagued by violence and terrorism, in which our neighbouring country played an important role.
"It (Pakistan) tried unsuccessfully to disturb the peace and tranquillity in the valley. However, with the contribution of the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, major changes are now being seen in Kashmir," Sinha said.
He said no region can develop and prosper without peace.
"Our prime minister has developed and transformed the Kashmir Valley with his tireless efforts. The time of strikes, which affected schools, colleges and businesses, is now over. Stone pelting has become a thing of the past now.
"Every citizen here is enjoying his life as per his own wish. The good old days have returned in Kashmir and the era of violence and terrorism is over,” he said.
However, Sinha added, "it is now our collective responsibility to ensure that this era of peace and prosperity continues forever and every citizen of Kashmir should contribute to the development of the country during the Amrit Kaal." Referring to the attempts to disturb peace, Sinha said there are many elements that may try to divide the people “but we must remain determined for peace and humanity”.
"We live in a country where there is no division on the basis of religion, caste or anything else. Everyone is equal here. India is a family of 140 crore Indians and we must ensure that peace prevails in this family,” he said.
Jammu and Kashmir is touching new heights and writing new development stories, he said.
"PM Modi has given us the vision of a developed India by 2047 and we are moving very fast towards this goal. Jammu and Kashmir is also contributing a lot in this vision and I am sure that in future the contribution of Jammu and Kashmir will be more than other states and union territories,” Sinha said.
The Lt Governor said the present government has ensured that the benefits of its welfare schemes and policies reach every corner of the country.
“After 2014, the government has ensured that everyone benefits from the schemes and policies and citizens are not deprived of the benefits of any scheme. There is no place for discrimination in our governance system.
“Under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, 33 per cent of the funds have been allocated to farmers from the Muslim community while 36 per cent of the total beneficiaries under the PM Mudra Yojana are from the Muslim community,” he added.
The percentage of minority communities in Central government jobs was less than 5 per cent before 2014, but it has now increased to more than 10 per cent. Instead of appeasement politics, the present government has ensured that there is socio-economic uplift of minority communities, he said.
Maulana Abdul Rashid Dawoodi, a prominent cleric of Kashmir and head of 'Tehreek-e-Sautul Auliya' (a religious organisation), said humanity comes before everything.
“Prophet Muhammad said the best among you are those who do good to others. This is a message of humanity and love for others. Sufism is also an ideology of peaceful co-existence and compassion,” he said.
Dawoodi said Sufism has always nurtured the ideology of peace where everyone is equal.
Thanking IMF Convenor Satnam Singh Sandhu for organising such a conference to highlight the teachings of Sufism, he said Kashmir has been the valley of saints and the land has nurtured Sufism for centuries.
Sandhu, who is also the Chancellor of Chandigarh University, said, "We will contribute to the development of Jammu and Kashmir by providing opportunities in the field of education to the youth of the valley." "We will announce a scholarship scheme for women students of Kashmir so that they can fulfil their dreams without any difficulty. We have built very good relations with Kashmir and we will maintain it in the future also," he said. PTI SSB SKL SMN