Srinagar: On the second day of his visit to Jammu and Kashmir, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday laid the foundation stone of Balidaan Stamb at Srinagar’s iconic Pratap Park in front of the Press Enclave, near the business hub of Lal Chowk.
Created in the name of Maharaja Pratap Singh (1848-1925), Pratap Park is located in the Srinagar Civil Line between Maulana Azad Road and Residency Road (Sherwani Road). Most of the restoration works, including some fountains, have been completed at the public park under the Smart City project.
Accompanied by the Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Shah reached Pratap Park in a cavalcade through Residency Road. He laid the foundation stone of Balidan Stambh which will be Kashmir’s first Martyrs Memorial in a civil area. Authorities are planning to inscribe on the memorial names of all the personnel of Army, paramilitary forces and the Jammu and Kashmir Police who have given sacrifice of life in discharging their duty and fighting the enemy forces and terrorists particularly after 1989.
Officials said that the Balidan Stambh would come up under the Srinagar Smart City project funded by the Government of India.
In Kashmir, there was a war memorial on “Battle of Budgam” in the name of Major Somnath Sharma and other Indian Army officers and jawans who were the first to reach Srinagar and laid their lives in fighting Pakistan-backed tribal marauders in October 1947. Later, this memorial was shifted to headquarters of 15 Corps in the Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar. Subsequently the Army established a larger memorial at the same premises.
In Jammu, the Army set up a Balidan Stambh near the University of Jammu which was subsequently handed over to the civilian authorities. The Jammu and Kashmir Police too created a Martyrs Memorial outside the Railway Station of Jammu at Trikuta Nagar.
During Shah’s Pratap Park programme, traffic continued through Maulana Azad Road and other streets but was closed for 30 minutes on Residency Road for security reasons and to ensure that there was no traffic jam. From Pratap Park, the Home Minister drove straight to the Srinagar Airport, through a flyover. Authorities did not stop the civilian traffic movement on the Airport Road. Shah returned to New Delhi by a special plane.
With this Shah completed his two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, his 4th since 2014 and 3rd to Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019. Unlike his first visit in October 2021, when 11 civilians were killed in separate terror attacks, there was no untoward incident, militant strike, hartal, curfew or major restriction of traffic this time.
Earlier in the day, Shah visited the Police Golf Course near the Grand Lalit hotel where he met the families of the police martyrs. He paid tributes to the officers and jawans who have laid down their lives in fighting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir in the last 33 years.
In a surprise and unscheduled development, Shah also visited the Maharaja Hari Singh’s Taleh Manzil, which is now a property of his son, former Sadr-e-Riyasat, former Union Cabinet Minister and senior Congress leader Dr Karan Singh. J&K LG Manoj Sinha too had paid a visit recently to the Taleh Manzil on Gupkar Road, in Srinagar. Even as Dr Singh is still associated with the Congress party, his two sons—former PDP MLC Vikramaditya Singh and former Cabinet Minister and NC MLC Ajatshatru Singh—are now both in the BJP.
Shah reached Srinagar in the afternoon on Friday after addressing a public rally at Bhagwati Nagar in Jammu, laying the foundation stone of a Forensic Science Laboratory at Samba and attending the inauguration and foundation laying ceremony of several projects.
In Srinagar too, he attended the inaugural and foundation laying ceremony of some projects at Raj Bhawan. Later, he presided over a security review meeting which was also attended by LG Manoj Sinha. Senior representatives of the 15 Corps of Army, paramilitary forces, the Central and the UT intelligence agencies, Jammu and Kashmir Police, bureaucracy and civil administration participated in the meeting ahead of the start of 62-day long annual Amarnath Yatra.
Shah also attended a cultural function in the evening at SKICC. On Saturday morning, he also met some delegations at Nehru Guest House whe he stayed for the night.