SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday said he aims at winning hearts of people of Indian-controlled Kashmir.
"My aim is to win hearts of people of Jammu and Kashmir (Indian- controlled Kashmir) through development," Modi said in his address at Katra town.
Modi flagged off the Katra-Udhampur rail link, an extension of railway service meant to take Hindu pilgrims to the mountainous shrine of Mata Vaishnov Devi.
"This facility is not just meant for the people of the state but for the millions of Indians who want to travel to Mata Vaishnodevi," he said.
The railway line is part of India's ambitious project to connect Muslim majority areas of the restive region with mainland India.
Modi had to face a complete shutdown during his first visit to Indian-controlled Kashmir after taking over as prime minister. The shutdown was called by separatist groups opposing New Delhi's rule in the region.
Modi's rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongly opposes special status granted to Indian-controlled Kashmir in the Indian constitution.
A fresh controversy racked up over the Indian government's reported move to create separate zones for Kashmiri Hindus ( locally called pandits) to woo them back to their homeland. The Hindus left the Muslim majority areas of the region in 1990 following the outbreak of armed insurgency challenging New Delhi's rule.
Indian-controlled Kashmir is a Muslim majority region, where Modi is seen as anti-Muslim. He is blamed for doing little to stop 2002 religious riots in Gujarat.The pogrom, worst in recent Indian history, saw more than 1000 Muslims killed and thousands displaced across Gujarat in 2002.