"Earlier, the prime minister laid a wreath at the war memorial inside the Badami Bagh cantonment."
Katra/Srinagar, July 4 - Making his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir after assuming office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday vowed to pursue Atal Bihari Vajapyee's dream of restoring peace in the troubled state.
Modi made the pledge during a busy day when he first inaugurated a rail link between Katra and Udhampur to connect the Vaishno Devi temple with the rest of India and a hydro power project at Uri in the Kashmir Valley.
He also presided over a meeting with the army and other security forces to review the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Modi's visit was marred by a protest strike called by separatists which crippled the Kashmir Valley but it had no impact in Jammu region. Security forces in thousands were deployed in the valley Friday.
Addressing a public meeting after flagging off the train from Katra, at the foothills of the Vaishno Devi shrine, Modi said: Jammu and Kashmir has passed through very trying times. It is every Indian's desire to ensure that the state makes progress and youths here get employment.
It is our duty, and we will do it, whether we are in power in the state or not, he added.
I want to give a message to the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the journey started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the state will be taken to its logical conclusion.
Modi's reference was to the 2003 visit to the Kashmir Valley by the now ailing Vajpayee when he was prime minister and the hand of friendship he extended to Pakistan.
The prime minister, who earlier flew in to Jammu, said the 25-km Katra-Udhampur rail link had been inaugurated at a time when the Amarnath Yatra was on and during the holy month of Ramadan.
He described the new railway station at Katra as an example of a state of art environment friendly station.
Modi underlined that his government would not discriminate between the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region.
When progress takes place at one place, some people at other places feel neglected... I want to assure the people of Jammu that their interests will be protected.
Building of infrastructure is a holistic exercise. Whenever development takes place at one place, its benefits reach all places.
Modi said people will be able to travel on their ticket from Katra to Udhampur by train and then take a bus to Banihal town, which is linked to the Kashmir Valley by rail through the Pir Panjal mountain range.
Banihal town is located 140 km from Udhampur. He said six trains would operate in the coming days to Katra from different places of India.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah thanked Modi for making the dream of a rail link between Katra and the rest of India a reality.
He said his gratitude also goes out to former prime ministers Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh for taking a keen interest in the project.
Modi later chaired a high-level security review meeting at the Badami Bagh cantonment headquarters of the army's 15th Corps in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
Inaugurated the 240 MW NHPC-owned hydro-power project near the border town of Uri, Modi said Kashmir had a huge eco-friendly hydropower potential and the central government would give all possible help to exploit it.
The state can produce 13,000-14,000 MW clean and environment-friendly energy, and all efforts would be made to channelize it, he said.
The project, located near the Line of Control (LoC) in Baramulla district, was dedicated to the nation by Modi in the presence of Governor N.N. Vohra, Omar Abdullah and other senior officials.
This is the second power project on river Jhelum in Uri area.
Earlier, the prime minister laid a wreath at the war memorial inside the Badami Bagh cantonment.
Vohra hosted a lunch at the Raj Bhavan for Modi. The prime minister flew back to Delhi from Uri.