NEW DELHI: Jammu and Kashmir will not remain a Union Territory for long, Prime Minister Naendra Modi assured its people in his address to the nation three days after the government’s move to end the special powers of the state and bifurcating it to union territories.
The government’s Kashmir decision, he said, would bring about a host of positive changes in the lives of the common man. It would mean the protection of Indian laws, industrialisation, boost in tourism, and more employment.
But politically, not much will change, he assured. There would still be elections in which MLAs will be chosen, and as before, there will be a Prime Minister and President, he emphasised.
Article 370 gave the people “nepotism, terrorism and separatism and nothing else,” he said, pointing out that over the last three decades, more than “42,000 innocents have been killed” in the state.
Calling the government’s decision “historic”, he said, “A system due to which brothers and sisters in Jammu and Kashmir were devoid of rights, which was a big impediment in their development, has been ended”.
It is a “new era” for the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and the nation, when all citizens have equal rights and responsibilities, he said.
Indian laws — which protect the rights of a billion people — will now be available to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, which had its own penal code – the Ranbir Penal Code – as part of its special status.
“1.5 crore people never benefited from the country’s laws,” he said.
“The right to education never reached Jammu and Kashmir’s children, sanitation workers never got benefits, strong laws to prevent atrocities on Dalits weren’t applicable, laws protecting the rights of minorities were skipped, labour laws never reached its people,” he said.
Since Sunday, Jammu and Kashmir has been paralysed by an unprecedented lockdown to prevent any backlash over the government’s big move.