Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday (August 8) strongly defended his government’s decision to revoke Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, saying the provision has not given anything except separatism, corruption and family rule to the state, and Pakistan has used it as a tool to spread terrorism.
In his televised address to the nation, Modi hailed his government’s decision to revoke the Article as “historic” and said a new era has begun in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
“The dream of Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and crores of Indians has now been fulfiled,” he said.
Asserting that no one has been able to justify how the Article 370 and Article 35A was benefitting people of the state, the Prime Minister said these provisions did not give anything except separatism, corruption, terrorism and family rule.
Attacking Pakistan, which has termed India’s move as ‘unilateral and illegal’ and strongly protested by downgrading diplomatic ties, Modi said Pakistan used Article 370 as a ‘tool to spread terrorism’.
“In last three decades, over 42,000 people lost their lives,” he said, adding “we will rid J&K of terrorism and separatism under new measures.” He also said over 1.5 crore people of J& K were being denied benefits of legislations meant for the entire country.
Spelling out his government’s development plans for J&K, he said state government employees including police will soon get benefits on par with employees of other Union Territories and all vacant posts in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh will be filled, creating employment opportunities.
He also assured people of J&K that they will get opportunity to elect their representatives in a transparent way. As J&K will see more and more development. I do not think it will remain Union Territory for long. Ladakh will remain the UT,” Modi said.
Earlier this week, the Union government revoked Article 370 to withdraw special status to J&K and bifurcated the region into two UTs — Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh. They also got Parliament nod for it.
BJP hails PM’s speech, Congress slams it
The BJP hailed Modi’s address to the nation as “inspiring” even as the Congress said it was “hardly reassuring” for the people and lacked conviction.
BJP president and Union Home Minister said the prime minister shared his vision and commitment for the development of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh region and urged them “to be a part of this historic journey”.
In a series of tweets, Shah said, “During his address to the nation this evening, PM @NarendraModi has shared his vision and commitment for the development of the people of J&K and Ladakh region. The peace, prosperity and welfare of these regions is the top most priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM has urged the people of J&K and Ladakh, especially youth, to be a part of this historic journey and walk together for a greater cause. A peaceful and prosperous J&K and Ladakh is what every Indian wants.
Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with India was voluntary and the political leadership endorsed the decision. “What the Prime Minister has said is a repetition of what Home Minister Amit Shah has said. That can hardly be reassuring for the people of Jammu and Kashmir… It lacks any conviction and logic which would be reassuring the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir about the respect of their fundamental rights,” he said.
Sharma said India, being the largest democracy in the world, should have had self-confidence by not denying the people their fundamental rights and liberties in J&K. Sharma also said that the bifurcation of the state and its downgrading is without any precedent in the history of India. He said there is a clampdown in the entire region and it should be lifted.
However, his party colleague Abhishek Singhvi, however, said the nation as a whole should support the prime minister and hoped that confidence and faith would be imparted to all the people in J&K. “PM Modi’s speech meant rightly mainly for J&K inhabitants; once Parliament has passed what it has, the country must remain united behind it; despite different views but the decision must be supported as a nation; hope confidence and faith must be imparted to all in JK and Ladakh,” he said on Twitter.