Two days after both Houses of Parliament cleared the reading down of Article 370 and the reorganisation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate Union Territories, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a televised address to the nation on Thursday said it was a historic move and a new beginning for Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh. He also unveiled measures that would follow this change.
Mr Modi, however, stressed that the Union Territory status for J&K from being a full State, was a “temporary” situation and that at some point statehood would be restored. Ladakh, he added, would remain a Union territory.
He also said Assembly polls, held in a transparent manner and with a process that had integrity, will take place soon, and that MLAs and the chief minister will be from among the people of the Union Territory. “You will choose your representative who will emerge from among you. I have full faith that under this new arrangement we will destroy terrorism and free Jammu and Kashmir,” Mr.Modi said.
Weapon in Pak. hands
Mr. Modi’s speech, which lasted 39 minutes, began by explaining the imperative behind the abrogation of Article 370, which he termed as a “weapon used by Pakistan against India and to invoke sentiments among the people.”
‘Art. 370 brought graft’
“Article 370 and Article 35A had only given terrorism, separatism, nepotism and massive corruption to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). These articles have been used as a weapon by Pakistan,” he said.
Disturbances over the last 30 years, Mr. Modi said, had ended up killing 42,000 innocent people in J&K.
The Prime Minster pointed out that while the country took justifiable pride in its democratic process of law making, many of these laws including Right to Education, Minimum Wages Act, Acts that protect against atrocities on Dalits etc. were not applicable in the State in the past.
He also pointed out that those who had settled in J&K after Partition could only vote in Lok Sabha polls and not the Assembly or local body polls. With the reading down of Articles 370 and 35A, this was now over, he said.
Mr Modi urged political parties who had opposed the Bills in Parliament to put national interest front and centre going forward on this path.
“Dynastic politics in the State had not allowed young leadership to emerge in the past, I want that the youth and women come forward,” the Prime Minister said, adding that he had also asked the administration to go forward with polls for the Block Development Councils (BDC).
He said the Union Territory status for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh also meant that the State police and administrative staff would get pay parity with the staff in other Union Territories. All vacancies in government jobs at both the Central and State levels will be filled soon, he added.
The Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme would also be extended further, he said. Recruitment for the Indian armed force and paramilitary from the two union territories will also be pushed, he said.
Call for investment
Calling for 130 crore Indians to consider the trials and triumphs of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as their own, Mr Modi said some of the restrictions could be eased by Id next week.
He assured people that jobs through public sector units and private sector would also make their way to the two Union Territories. He called for investors, film industry in particular to generate business in the State, delineating tourism, horticulture and handicrafts as the mainstay of the economy there.