'Offer special thanks to Vaishno Devi for abrogation of Art-370' says Jitendra Singh
PTI Photo/S. Irfan

Jammu: Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Sunday asked devotees to offer special thanks to goddess Vaishno Devi for abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Singh, who also paid obeisance at the shrine after inaugurating the Navaratri festival along with advisor to Governor K K Sharma at Katra town -- the base camp for the pilgrims -- said the prayers are also needed for smooth transition of the state into two Union territories on October 31. The Centre announced the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into Union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh -- early last month.

"This is the first Navaratri after the abrogation of the Article 370. We have to offer our thanks to Mata for it as three of our generation left (this world) and we were also not hopeful of seeing the day in our lifetime to see the complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India," Singh, the minister of state in the Prime Minister's office, said. Addressing a gathering of devotees who had turned from across the country to take part in the 'Shoba Yatra', marking the commencement of Navaratri festival in Katra town, Singh said the prayers are also needed for the smooth transition of the process of bifurcation of the state which is completing on October 31.

"We need the blessings of the Mata and offer our special thanks to her for making it possible in our lifetime," he said asking the devotees to pray for peace, prosperity and development of Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh. Interacting with reporters, he said the terrorism in the border state is in final stages and will be finished within one year. "We are determined to finish off the terrorism from the country especially Jammu and Kashmir," he said. Meanwhile, 'Shat Chandi Maha Yagya', organised by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), commenced with the beginning of Navaratras amidst chanting of Vedic Mantras and performance of other religious ceremonies.

The Maha Yagya, which is performed at the cave shrine at Tikuta hills, during Navratras for peace and prosperity, will conclude with 'Purna Ahuti' on Mahanavami (October 7), a board official said.

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