Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today addressed a rare public gathering in Shahr-e-Khaas, which has been the hotbed of protests over the years, saying the progress of the summer capital cannot be complete without development of this area.
"Srinagar city cannot progress unless Shahr-e-Khaas (Old Srinagar City) also progresses. We will do whatever it takes to improve the development scenario and undo the neglect which this area had suffered up to 2008," Omar said while addressing a public meeting after inaugurating the renovated Bulbul Shah shrine in Nawakadal area of Old City.
He said the area has borne the brunt of ill effects of the past 20 years of militancy-related turmoil in the state.
"Militant attacks took place here, encounters took place here, crackdowns and arrests also took place here. The benefits of peace have not fully reached here yet," he added.
The Chief Minister said while detractors of peace want mainstream politicians to remain cut off from people by creating law and order situations, his endeavour is to remain linked to the people always and work for all-round development and redressal of public grievances.
"In the interior of Shahr-e-Khaas at this place, my talking to you and hearing your viewpoint is a part of my endeavour," he maintained.
Omar said his government has initiated special measures to ensure holistic development of Shahr-e-Khaas.
A road widening project and creation of handicraft clusters in this area are in the pipeline. The government is also working on a project to create direct liaison between the artisans living in the area with visiting tourists so that they can sell handicrafts at their work places to them.
Omar`s public meeting in the erstwhile hub of protests is seen as a significant development as most of the Chief Ministers have shied away from holding such functions in the old city since eruption of militancy in the state.