New Delhi, Aug. 8 (UNI) Soon after Parliament nod for doing away with Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday unveiled his government’s roadmap for speeding up the pace of development there. Blaming Pakistan-inspired terrorism and separatism which took roots under the special status provision, Modi said that 42,000 innocent lives had been lost due to such nefarious and anti-national activities. In his 40-minute address to the nation, his first since scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcation of State, Modi described Jammu and Kashmir as India’s “crown” and assured the people that normalcy would return gradually.
He said the government would be happy to restore full-fledged Statehood to Jammu & Kashmir which has now been made a Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly once normalcy is restored. Prime Minister maintained nobody could explain the benefits of Article 370 and why it was sought to be seen as a permanent measure. Modi’s address to the nation came close on the heels of Pakistani response to India’s decision of scrapping Article 370 and bifurcating J&K with expulsion of Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria from Islamabad and suspending bilateral trade. Islamabad also has announced that it will not send their newly appointed envoy-designate to New Delhi.
The Prime Minister came down heavily upon dynastic rule in Jammu and Kashmir over the decades – which he said – had prevented the youth from taking up leadership roles. He assured that the people of Jammu and Kashmir would vote to elect their representatives in the legislatures soon in a totally transparent electoral process. As things return to normalcy and development picks up, we will not hesitate to give full-fledged Statehood to Jammu and Kashmir. However, Ladakh will remain to be a Union Territory,” he said adding that only a handful of disgruntled people were bent upon creating trouble. He said that such elements were being given a befitting reply by the local people themselves.
Hailing the local population, the Prime Minister that people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have always thwarted Pakistani designs to stoke fires of terrorism and separatism there. “All our brothers and sisters who believe in the Constitution of India have full rights to lead a good life. To realize their dreams is the duty of each and every Indian,” he said expressing confidence that separatism and terror would be defeated by the local people. Lauding the efforts of recently-elected representatives of village panchayats, Mr Modi said that women village council members had achieved remarkable success in taking development initiatives at the grass roots. “I am sure with their help, rural development, electricity, rural roads and connectivity will reach at every doorstep,” he added.
Unveiling his government’s plans to build a ‘New Jammu and Kashmir’ and ‘New Ladakh’ along with his vision for ‘New India’, Mr Modi said that not only public sector undertakings but private enterprises would also become partners of development and bring prosperity to the people. The Prime Minister said that armed forces and Central paramilitary forces would hold their recruitment campaigns in Jammu and Kashmir for inducting youth in their ranks. He made a special mention of Army jawan Aurangzeb who was gunned down by terrorists in Kashmir Valley but even then his two brothers had joined the Army pledging to serve the nation.
Exuding confidence that things will return to normalcy gradually, he said that certain precautionary measures had been enforced which have resulted in hardships for the people in Jammu and Kashmir. But such restrictions would be removed in a phased manner, he said. “Badlao hoga….(The change can come),” he emphasised. Recalling the era when almost all Bollywood movies were shot on the beautiful and mesmerizing locales of the Kashmir Valley, the Prime Minister also appealed to the film industries of Mumbai, Tamil Nadu and Telugu to take their film industries to Valley once again and also help in building theatres for the people there.