Articles 35A, 370 Hinder J&K Development: Modi

NEW DELHI — Sharpening his focus on Kashmir and upholding the promise in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) manifesto, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday reiterated that Articles 35A and 370 have to go as they hinder development in J&K. He also said removing AFSPA in Kashmir is like sending our soldiers to the gallows which he will never allow.

ON ARTICLE 370, 35A

“There must be investment and job opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir. 35A, 370 have been standing in the way of development. No one goes there to invest. We can build IIMs, but professors are not ready to go there as their children don’t get admission in schools. They can’t find homes. This ends up harming the interests of J&K. Pandit Nehru’s policies stand as an obstacle for J&K today. It needs to be reviewed,” the prime minister Modi said in an interview to CNN-News 18 news channel.

In its manifesto, the BJP has promised the abrogation of Article 370 if the party retains power in the Lok Sabha elections.

All major mainstream political parties have vowed to oppose BJP onslaught on Kashmir’s special status with Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti saying that abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution would lead to Kashmir’s “freedom” from India. 

“If you free Jammu and Kashmir from Article 370, you will free the state from country as well. I have said many times that Article 370 links Jammu and Kashmir with the country. When you break this bridge, India loses its legitimacy over the state. It becomes an occupational force,” PTI quoted her as saying.

However, Modi said: “The problem in Kashmir is largely due to the 50-odd political families there. They have been milking the issue. They don’t want any benefit to be given to the common Kashmiri people. They are using public sentiment for political gains. The income tax department has cracked down on such elements.”

“While stone-throwers are funded by Pakistan to protect militants, when there is crackdown by the NIA on terror operators, people stand outside their homes and clap. People of Kashmir want freedom from such political families who have been preying on their emotions for 50 years. The situation in Kashmir is such that people want change, whether it is about Article 35A or 370,” Modi claimed.

ON BJP-PDP COALITION

Terming the BJP alliance with  the PDP an “experiment”, Modi said that the alliance with the PDP was an experiment. “The Kashmir mandate was a fractured one. No single party could have formed the government. We waited for a long time in the hope that the PDP and NC would ally, but they could not see eye-to-eye,” Modi said.

He said BJP-PDP coalition government in the state ran its course when Mehbooba Mufti kept delaying panchayat election in the state.

ON AFSPA

When asked Lashkar and Jaish still strike with impunity in Kashmir what is then the long-term solution? Modi said “firstly we must acknowledge that terror attacks have considerably decreased. Pulwama was an exception. It’s mostly encounters between security forces and terrorists. Usually, the security forces are the ones engaging the terrorists, and most of this was when we were in power at the centre. It wasn’t that the terrorists came, attacked and escaped”.

Prime Minister Modi also summarily dismissed any talk of repealing the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Kashmir, likening the removal of AFSPA from the Valley to “sending our soldiers to the gallows.”

The prime minister said repealing of AFSPA in Kashmir, a long-standing demand of human rights groups, was brought back into national discourse on 3 April when the Congress party promised to kill the Act if it is voted to power. Apart from giving powers to the Army to enforce law and order in disturbed areas, AFSPA protects the Army from litigation in human rights violation cases. The Congress wants to remove this legal cover with respect to “enforced disappearance, sexual violence or torture”.

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