PM Modi Flags Off Train for Pilgrims

katraNEW DELHI:Narendra Modi is in Jammu and Kashmir today – his first visit after taking over as Prime Minister – and he has launched a train that will give easier access to one of India’s most popular pilgrimages.Mr Modi landed in Jammu and flew by chopper to Katra, where he flagged off a new train from Katra to Delhi via Udhampur, providing a direct link to the base town for the Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrimage. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was also with him.
An estimated 50 lakh people visit the shrine every year and a Railways official said they expected “good demand” on the new line Separatists have called for a strike in protest and there is massive security in capital Srinagar and other places.All shops, business establishments, schools and banks are closed in the state today and there is little traffic on the roads in most parts of the Valley.
The train connectivity to Katra is part of the ambitious Rs. 1,150-crore Kashmir rail link project which links the region with the rest of the country.Mr Modi will leave for Srinagar before noon and will address troops of the Indian Army at the Badami Bagh Cantonment.He will lunch with Governor N N Vohra at the Raj Bhawan and then eave for Uri, where he will inaugurate the second phase of a hydel project. Mr Modi will return to Delhi in the evening.
Ahead of Mr Modi’s visit, Pakistan harped on Kashmir being “disputed territory”.“We do not accept the so-called accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India. Kashmir is not an integral part of India. Our position is that Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory,” said Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam on Thursday.A tight security cover is in place across the state for Mr Modi’s visit. Hotels and lodges are being checked; security personnel have combed all nearby hills and taken vantage positions.

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