Indian PM Narendra Modi announces new development projects for India-administered Kashmir in bid to strengthen New Delhi's rule in the annexed Muslim-majority region.
India's prime minister has promised peace and development for India-administered Kashmir, during his first public event in the disputed Himalayan territory since it imposed a sweeping security clampdown and annexed it nearly three years ago.
Tight security was in place for Narendra Modi's appearance at Palli village in Jammu province on Sunday, the southern part of India-administered Kashmir.
As he inaugurated new road and hydropower projects, Modi told the gathered crowd of thousands that his government had put the restive region on the path to prosperity.
"I want to tell the youth of the valley [Kashmir province] that they will not have to face the difficulties and travails that their parents and grandparents had to deal with," Modi said.
Sunday's event marked Panchayati Raj, a day that commemorates grassroots democracy – although India-administered Kashmir has been without an elected regional government since 2018.
Its last chief minister was detained during the clampdown and only released more than a year later.
Modi's Hindu nationalist government has sought to quell a long-running armed revolt throughout the disputed Himalayan region.
India nullified the area's limited autonomy and annexed it in August 2019, when authorities arrested thousands and imposed the world's longest internet shut down, seeking to forestall local opposition to the move.
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Most militarised region
Modi's government has long said its decision to end Kashmir's limited autonomy was aimed at fostering a lasting peace and bringing investment into the troubled region, where tens of thousands of people have been killed over the years.
Today, it is one of the most militarised regions of the world, with more than half a million soldiers and paramilitaries deployed across the fractious territory.
Police say violence has declined since India-administered Kashmir's status was changed, but almost 1,000 people have been killed since 2019 – among them soldiers, rebels and civilians.
Young men continue to join rebel groups that have fought Indian rule of Kashmir for more than three decades.
Suspected militants threw grenades at a bus carrying security forces on Friday, killing an officer, in an incident around 20 kilometres from the venue of Modi's public appearance.
Two suspected rebels were killed in the ensuing firefight with the Indian forces.
Both India and Pakistan claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety.
Rebels in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi's rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebels' goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
India alleges the Kashmir militancy is Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle.
Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and Indian forces have been killed in the conflict.
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