JAMMU: Indian President Pratibha Patil, who is also supreme commander of the Armed Forces, will address Army jawans for the first time when she undertakes her maiden five days visit to the State from May 23. Mrs Patil, who assumed the highest office in July last year, would be addressing the troops in Uri town in north Kashmir and have “bada khana” (lunch with troops). Her predecessor Dr A P J Abdul Kalam had also addressed the troops here during his visit to the State.
He had also gone to Tangdhar to see the rehabilitation work conducted in the area in the aftermath of a powerful earthquake that hit both sides of divided Kashmir in 2006. After her interaction with the troops, the President, who would be accompanied by Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, will spend a day at picturesque tourist spot of Gulmarg in the Valley.
She would also visit Bhadarwah town in Doda district where she would formally inaugurate Bhadarwah campus on May 26 morning. Two academic blocks, two administrative blocks and a pre-fabricated structure have been set up in the campus. She will attend a cultural programme to be organised by Academy of Art, Culture and Languages in Bhadarwah campus. On May 26 evening, the President would inaugurate new Chatha campus building of Sher-i-Kashmir University for Agriculture Science and Technology (SKUAST). She would address convocation of SKUAST at Zorawar Singh auditorium in Jammu University and would present degrees to 258 students and scholars.
She also plans to pay her respects at Mata Vaishno Devi ji. However, this programme is subject to availability of logistics as the Indian Air Force chopper cannot land at the helipad at the Shrine. The State Government has submitted a proposal for use of its State helicopter, which can land at Sanji Chat, about three kilometers from the Shrine. She was expected to be taken in a Palanquin to the shrine, sources said, adding, however, the President’s office is yet to confirm this programme.
This would be third high profile visit to the State in less than two months. On April 12, AICC (I) president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had visited Jammu and addressed a one day women convention of Pradesh Congress. Prior to her Jammu visit, Mrs Gandhi had visited Srinagar and inaugurated Tulip Garden. Her visit was followed by a two day tour of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Jammu on May 25 and 26 during which he inaugurated Akhnoor bridge, addressed a public meeting at Akhnoor, inaugurated Dul Hasti project and addressed convocation of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine University.