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Ahead of his much-awaited visit, PM Modi meets Kashmir’s business leaders in Delhi

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A delegation from Jammu and Kashmir meets the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. The group included Dr. Darakhshan Andrabi, Chairperson of the JK Waqf Board and others (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@PMOIndia)

Kashmir’s top business leaders on Tuesday met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his scheduled visit to Jammu and Kashmir on April 24. This is for the first time during the BJP’s second term that the valley-based business leaders have had an extensive interaction with the Prime Minister who is planning his first  visit to Jammu and Kashmir after withdrawal of the erstwhile State’s special status in August 2019.

After August 2019, when J&K was reorganised into the Union Territory, PM Modi visited Jammu’s Rajouri district, only to celebrate Diwali with jawans and officers of the Indian Army on 27 October 2019 and 4 November 2021. Now on 24 April, he is scheduled to address public meetings, hold meetings with the Lieutenant Governor’s bureaucracy and administration, apart from Police and security forces.

The Prime Minister’s visit is expected to give a boost to the UT’s Industrial Development Policy. According to highly placed bureaucratic sources, a number of foundation stone laying ceremonies, inauguration of several projects and an address to thousands of urban local body and Panchayati Raj Institution members at an indoor sports stadium in Srinagar is also on cards.

The delegation from Srinagar on Tuesday comprised Mushtaq Chaya, owner of a chain of hotels and the J&K head of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Ashiq, President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), prominent auto dealer Baldev Singh Raina, Showkat Choudhary and Sameer Ahmad.  Chairperson of Jammu and Kashmir Wakf Board, Dr Darakhshan Andrabi, led the business delegation to the Prime Minister.

In a conversation with India Narrative, Chaya described the delegation’s meetings with the two Central leaders as ‘fantastic’. I have met most of the country’s top leaders and politicians. But I am hugely impressed with PM Modi’s affectionate mannerism. It was as if we were all members of a family. He heard us all patiently and assured us to give his government’s best to Jammu and Kashmir”, Chaya said.

In the memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, Chaya acknowledged that things were changing due to Modi’s “love and affection” for Kashmir. He submitted that the Kashmir business community had failed to benefit from  several business recovery schemes for a host of reasons and requested the Prime Minister to extend the operation of such schemes for at least one more year.

The memorandum demanded the constitution of a high power committee headed by a retired High Court or Supreme Court judge for identification of ‘genuine cases’ for regularisation of the land allotted to them and given into their possession lawfully under the so-called Roshni Act. Chaya elaborated that a Division Bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had terminated the Roshni Act and the matter was sub judice but many of the lawful occupants, according to him, were suffering for no fault of theirs.

“The matter is now sub judice in the Hon’ble High Court & Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. This has adversely affected the business of the legal occupants who have already raised business establishments on this land”, said the memorandum while seeking relief for the hoteliers particularly at Gulmarg.

“The land in Gulmarg is entirely owned by the Government. To create the best tourist infrastructure, the Government from time to time leased out the land to different parties for constructions of hotels and restaurants on modern lines. The lease period in most of the cases is 40 years and has expired. Earlier the lease period was for 99 years. The hoteliers are not in a position to upgrade or renovate their properties to ensure best possible facilities for the visitors of the country as well as abroad”, said the memorandum.

Chaya told India Narrative that the Prime Minister assured the businessmen’s delegation that no hotelier or industrialist would be unnecessarily harassed even as nobody would interfere with the law and the court orders. He said that the delegation’s hurriedly scheduled meeting with the Union Home Minister Amit Shah was deferred due to his preoccupation with the business in the Parliament. “Now we are meeting the Home Minister tomorrow”, Chaya said.

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