On India’s 73rd Independence Day on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Jammu & Kashmir has been fully integrated into India with the scrapping of a decades-old, divisive provision that gave it special status.
Speaking from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi, Modi said his government overwhelmingly voted against the 70-year-old Article 370 in less than 70 days it came to power.
The abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A fulfils the government’s ‘one nation, one constitution’ goal. It will bring the now union territory of Jammu & Kashmir into mainstream, ensure development, generate jobs and stop discrimination against women, children, ‘dalit’ (oppressed) and tribal communities, he said.
The abrogation of Article 370 of the constitution, a temporary provision, was, however, denounced by a section of Western media, Pakistani leaders and India’s Congress leaders. China on Thursday requested the UN Security Council to hold a special meeting on Jammu & Kashmir. The same day, Amnesty International asked Modi to immediately lift the communication restrictions imposed in the union territory more than a week ago.
India considers Jammu & Kashmir as its integral part and the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A as an internal matter that Western media, Pakistan, China and Amnesty have no right to meddle with.
Without mentioning Congress party, which had rule the country for decades, Modi wanted to know why previous governments did not bother to make the provision permanent if they had given so such importance to Article 370 and Article 35A.
Successive governments knew that Article 370 was divisive and discriminatory but did not scrap it for political reasons.
The present government does not nurse problems or keep them pending. Kashmir was a decades-old issue and the government decided a new approach was needed to resolve it.
Without mentioning Pakistan, Modi said India will continue its fight against terrorism and expose its sponsors to the world.
Within 70 days after assuming power, the government brought radical changes in the laws related to terror giving it power to name even individuals as terrorists.
It also helped millions of Muslim women by banning the Islamic practice of divorcing them by saying ‘talaq’ (which in Arabic means divorce) three times in one breath.
Considering the security environment in the world and the need to coordinate the three defence wings of the military, India will soon have a chief of defence staff, Modi said.
One of the three chiefs of staff is likely to be named for the post. Although the need for having chief of defence staff was felt after the Kargil conflict, previous governments did not take the initiative.
Turning to the future of the country’s economy, he said the government will spend billions to develop infrastructure and make India a $5 trillion economy in five years.
India’s 1.3 billion people can achieve it by making local products attractive for consumers abroad. More hubs will be opened to boost exports, he said.
Modi expressed concern over population explosion which will impact future generations. Smaller families will also contribute to the development of the nation, he said, adding that it is a way of showing one’s patriotic fervour.