Modi questions Pak. on rights abuses in Balochistan, PoK

Hits out at Islamabad for glorifying militant Wani as a martyr

Updated - October 18, 2016 01:17 pm IST

Published - August 15, 2016 12:12 pm IST - New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched a sharp attack on Pakistan for its support to terrorism and thanked the people of Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for their recent messages of support.

Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day, Mr. Modi, in an obvious reference to the recent incidents of atrocities against Dalits by cow vigilante groups, also called for social justice. He said: “There is no meaning in economic prosperity if it is not accompanied by social justice.”

“When you look at things from the scale of human values and humanity... when innocent schoolchildren were massacred in Peshawar, the Indian Parliament wept, every school in India shed tears at this tragedy. On the other hand, we have a situation where some people glorify terrorists in our country,” the Prime Minister said, without naming Pakistan that described the slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani as a martyr.

Messages of gratitude

In his 90-minute speech, Mr. Modi said that ever since he had asked the Pakistani establishment to look at human rights abuses in Balochistan, Gilgit and PoK, he had been flooded with messages of gratitude by the people of these areas.

“I am grateful to the people of Balochistan, Gilgit and PoK who have thanked me in the past few days. If people of Balochistan thank me, they are thanking the 125 crore Indians,” he said.

The Prime Minister had, in an all-party meeting on Kashmir last week, said that Pakistan had no business speaking about Jammu and Kashmir when it was “dropping bombs on its own citizens” in Balochistan and other areas.

Talking about atrocities against Dalits, Mr. Modi said: “There is no meaning of economic prosperity if it is not accompanied by social justice.”

Quoting sage Ramanujacharya, he said: “Sage Ramanajucharya used to say that we must view everyone with the same gaze. B.R. Ambedkar and Gandhiji also said the same thing. If society practises discrimination, it will break social structures. If discrimination appears entrenched, then our determination to fight it must be even stronger.”

He appealed to youth from the Maoist-affected areas to eschew the path of violence and join the national mainstream. “In the jungles in the name of Maoism, on the borders in the name of separatism, and on the mountains in the name of terrorism, this land has been soaked by blood, but the young people engaging in this violence haven’t gained anything. I want to tell these misguided young people to eschew the path of violence and recall the dreams of their parents. This is not a country that sustains such violence,” he said.

Acknowledging the contribution of unsung sections of society to India’s freedom struggle, he announced the setting up of a museum of freedom fighters from tribal communities. “There are some whose contributions are acknowledged at all times, there are others who remain unsung, we intend to correct that,” he said.

In a 90-minute speech, the Prime Minister also spoke about his government’s policy formulations and intent to show that the NDA government had worked towards turning Swarajya (independence) into Surajya (good governance).

The government is surrounded by “aspirations” rather than “allegations” as in the past, he said.

He announced that the government would bear the health care cost of families below the poverty line for up to Rs. 1 lakh per household.

Describing the work of various ministries such as roads and highways, he said an average of 100 km of rural roads were being laid per day, more than during previous governments.

As for power, Mr. Modi said nearly 10,000 villages out of the 18,000 that had never received electricity for the past 70 years had been electrified. “Our mission is to reform, perform and transform,” he said.

He said the Aadhaar system of direct benefit transfer of cash had eliminated middlemen. “There was a temptation for populist programmes but we did not succumb to it, instead, we have found ways of optimising good governance for streamlining delivery and making sure existing programmes work.”

“I myself use the Pragati system of monitoring work to look at the policies and programmes of previous governments that had run aground. Some money had been spent but the programmes had lapsed due to apathy. We are determined to complete them,” he said.

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