The union government is reaching out to the youth of Kashmir with a scheme to train them professionally and provide jobs. Union Minister Jairam Ramesh was in Sopore on Saturday, giving training certificates to 90 young men and women; 70 of them have got jobs.
The Himayat scheme was started by the Centre last year to fight the sense of alienation among the youth in Kashmir; it has helped around 5000 men and women so far. The government hopes to create one lakh jobs in the next five years.
Mr Ramesh's presence in Sopore, once ravaged by militancy, had its own message. "I think Sopore is also psychological. When you read newspapers, Sopore is associated with militancy. Nobody sees that you have a centre like this in Sopore with all these young girls and boys," the Rural Development Minister said.
Kausar, one of the women to have got jobs after training, will work at a health centre in Sopore.
"My life has changed. I was a school dropout, sitting at home. Now I am self-reliant, earning and helping my family," she said proudly.
The Himayat scheme has resettled 900 men and women with jobs outside Jammu and Kashmir, but many have complained of harassment.
Mr Ramesh had comforting words for them. "I sympathise with the sentiment that the youth of Jammu and Kashmir are looked at suspiciously even today. As an Indian, I find it unacceptable. I share the anguish and pain of the boys and girls of Kashmir," he said.
Thousands have been orphaned in two decades of militancy in Kashmir. Mr Ramesh said the Himayat scheme will be extended to them.