Indian PM Narendra Modi visits Kargil

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Modi in KargilImage source, AFP
Image caption,
This is Mr Modi's second visit to Jammu and Kashmir since taking over as prime minister in May

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited Kargil in Indian-administered Kashmir, the first visit to the town by an Indian PM since the 1999 conflict with Pakistan.

Mr Modi arrived in Leh, the main town in the Ladakh region on the border with Pakistan, on Tuesday morning.

He also inaugurated power projects in Ladakh, beset by power supply problems.

Meanwhile, in another part of the state, at least seven paramilitaries were injured in a militant attack.

The attack on the Border Security Force (BSF) troops took place on Tuesday morning in Pampore town, 14km from the state capital, Srinagar, police said.

Kashmir has been in the grip of an anti-India insurgency since 1989. In recent years violence has abated from its peak in the 1990s, but the causes of the insurgency are still far from resolved.

'Cheerful claps'

The prime minister flew into Leh from Delhi where he met officers and men from the army and air force and addressed a rally in the town before leaving for Kargil.

"Today when I came I heard the cheerful claps of the people," Mr Modi told the thousands of people who had gathered to hear him in Kargil.

"I had also come at a time when the place was echoing with the noises of bombs and bullets," he said, referring to an earlier visit to Kargil before he became PM.

Mr Modi promised to build new roads, develop tourism in the region and promised jobs for the youth.

"We want to make jobs available for the youth. We want educational institutions for the youth... The government is committed to developing tourism in this region."

Earlier, addressing the army and air force in Leh, Mr Modi accused Pakistan of waging a "proxy war" against India.

"The neighbouring country has lost the strength to fight a conventional war but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism," he said.

During his visit to Ladakh, Mr Modi inaugurated two hydro power projects and laid the foundation stone for a power transmission line from Leh to Srinagar.

A BBC correspondent in Delhi says a lot is being read into the visit because regional elections in the state are due later this year and also because Mr Modi is the first PM to visit Kargil since the 1999 conflict.

In the summer of 1999, Pakistan-backed forces infiltrated into the Indian side and seized mountain peaks in Kargil, sparking off a direct conflict between the neighbours.

This is Mr Modi's second visit to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir since taking over power after the May elections.

In July, he inaugurated a railway line in the Jammu region before travelling to Kashmir Valley to launch a hydro-power station and chair a security meeting.