New Delhi, Oct 3: Defending abrogation of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian union, Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday reiterated that this Article had encouraged terrorism and impeded development of the state.
Flagging off the Vande Bharat Express train between New Delhi and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi at Katra in Jammu region at a function here today, he said Jammu and Kashmir had achieved full integration with the rest of India after the scrapping of Articles 370 and 35 A, the latter being discriminatory in nature.
Asserting that article 370, a temporary in nature, came in the way of progress of the state, he said the BJP-led Government was committed to restoring Jammu and Kashmir on the path of development and hoped the state would be counted among the developed states in the next ten years.
"The inauguration of Vande Bharat Express train was a step in that direction, which would promote tourism especially religious tourism in the state", he said, adding 'This was a gift to the people of Jammu and Kashmir during the sacred ‘Navratra’ days'.
Mr Shah said he was proud that this semi high speed train was built under 'Made in India' initiative and the railways was working towards achieving its targets keeping in mind principles of speed, scale and service.
Mr Shah said various pilgrim centres had been taken care of and the Prime Minister was eager to introduce high speed trains to religious destinations, adding that the high speed Vande Bharat Express train had already been started between New Delhi and Varanasi on February 17.
The function was also addressed by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Dr Harshvardhan and Dr Jitender Singh. Lauding the efforts of Mr Goyal, Shah said, 'I am glad that under the able guidance of Piyush Goyal, Railways is progressing fast on the path of development and achieving its targets of speed, safety, among other things.' Mr Goyal assured the countrymen of connecting the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari before August 15, 2022.
The high speed Katra-bound Vande Bharat Express, a luxurious air-conditioned train having chair car service with 16 coaches, will reduce the journey time to eight hours from 12 hours. The train which will start its commercial operations day after tomorrow will depart from New Delhi railway station at 6am and reach Katra at 2pm. It will leave Katra at 3pm the same day and reach New Delhi Railway station at 11pm. The train will halt at Ambala Cantt., Ludhiana and Jammu Tawi before reaching Katra in eight hours.
Mr Shah, Mr Goyal, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Jitendra Singh inspected the train before it was flagged off. This special train is entirely air-conditioned and has been designed in the shape of a bullet train. (UNI)