Patil wishes peace, prosperity for Kashmir; concludes visit (Lead)

May 27th, 2008 - 5:47 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

Jammu, May 27 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil Tuesday concluded her visit to Jammu and Kashmir, conveying her best wishes for “peace and prosperity” for this trouble-torn state. Before boarding an Indian Air Force aircraft from Jammu for Chandigarh, she told Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad that she hoped the state would be more peaceful and prosperous when she comes here again.

Earlier in the day, Patil offered prayers at the Hindu shrine of Vaishno Devi, located atop a 5,400-foot hill in the Shivalik range of the Himalayas, about 60 km from Jammu.

The president flew to the cave shrine Tuesday morning and was there for almost 30 minutes, officials said. Patil’s predecessor A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had also visited the shrine.

Entry to pilgrims was barred during Patil’s trip to the shrine. More than 20,000 pilgrims, who had climbed 13 km from Katra town to reach Vaishno Devi, waited outside shrine.

The president’s five-day visit to the state, which witnessed large-scale security measures, passed off without any untoward incident.

During her stay, the president inaugurated the Institute of Kashmir Studies in Kashmir University, threw open the Bhaderwah campus of the Jammu University and addressed the convocation of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology here.

Patil’s tour of the state, her first as president, started with a visit to the Line of Control (LoC) in the Tangdhar sector in Kupwara district of north Kashmir.

At the LoC she held an AK-47, and her picture with the gun, appearing in many newspapers, raised a minor controversy. National Conference president and former central minister Omar Abdullah said it was in bad taste.

The Kashmir Valley observed a shutdown May 24 following a call given by hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to protest Patil’s visit.

Peace and prosperity were the overriding theme of the five speeches she delivered in teh state. She spent the weekend in Gulmarg, the popular tourist resort in north Kashmir.

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