370 hindering JK’s development: Modi

New Delhi, Apr 9: The people of Kashmir ‘want a change, including Article 35A and Article 370’ as they hinder development, Prime Minister Narendra 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,” Modi said in an interview with News18 Network Group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi.

 

He said that people of Kashmir “want freedom from political families.”

“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,” Prime Minister said.

Modi said it was the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s policies which were an obstacle for the development in the Valley.

“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 said.

Blaming Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for the crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have better handled the Kashmir issue and the Valley would not have remained ‘mired in controversy’.

Blaming Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have better handled the issue and the Valley would not have remained ‘mired in controversy’.

He added that it was imperative that people in the rest of the country see ‘the progress’ in Kashmir. “Kashmiris have excelled in sports and competitive exams. Any top university today has Kashmiri students. We must encourage this.”

Modi also said the conflict in Kashmir valley “was limited to just ‘dhai’ (two and half) districts”, and the state largely remained stable under the BJP government. “There is no problem in Ladakh and Jammu. It is only two-and-a-half districts in Kashmir valley where there is a problem. We see these districts as the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. This narrative must change,” Modi said.

Modi claimed the BJP government had continued spending on development in the valley and had dealt with the state in a fair manner. “India has not done anything that should make Kashmir feel neglected or ill-treated. But we must treat this issue with sensitivity and understanding.”

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

Targeting the Congress’s manifesto over its proposal of reviewing Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said revoking the Act would be equivalent to sending soldiers to the gallows.

“The government must have the power to protect its armed forces. Only then will they have the morale to fight. Revoking AFSPA would be like sending our soldiers to the gallows. I won’t let this happen,” Modi said.

Emphasising on the need for the Act in a disturbed area such as Jammu and Kashmir, Modi said the government must first create an environment where AFSPA is unnecessary before revoking or diluting it. He also gave the example of Arunachal Pradesh, where the government partially revoked the Act earlier this month.

“First, we revoked it from a few districts in Arunachal. We then revoked it from a few other states. We were the first government to take such a step since 1980. But we have maintained law and order,” Modi said.

The Congress election manifesto, released last week, proposed a review of the AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir. It also promised revocation or amendment of several other laws like sedition and defamation. This led to condemnation from BJP leaders. However, the Congress clarified it only intended to modify AFSPA in instances of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Following the release of the grand old party’s manifesto, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the vision document was full of “dangerous ideas” that could lead to the “Balkanisation” of India. Jaitley went on to say that it seemed the Congress manifesto was drafted by the “Tukde Tukde Gang”, an oft-used BJP euphemism for those whom the party felt were working against the integrity of the nation state.

Modi took a similar view on the matter and said the Congress manifesto was ‘soft on terror’. “We are at the crossroads of eliminating militancy. Militants are demoralised and we are winning a psychological war against them,” he said.

Modi also said the Congress party’s views on the army were akin to that of Pakistan. “No patriot will tolerate this language. Their manifesto talks about removing AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir. This amounts to removing weapons from a soldier’s hands,” he added.

The AFSPA provides special powers such as arrest without warrant, fire upon or use force against those acting against law and order, legal immunity, among others, to armed forces in a disturbed area. The Act has come under the scanner for human rights violations in regions of effect.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said there will be no option with the government other than abolishing the special status to Jammu and Kashmir in the Constitution if there is a demand for a separate Prime Minister for the militancy-affected state.

Earlier, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had said that his party would strive for restoring the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir that includes having a ‘Sadar-e-Riyasat’ (President) and ‘Wazir-e-Azam’ (Prime Minister).

“Someone who has been chief minister for a long time has said that there should be a Prime Minister in Jammu and Kashmir. If someone talks like that, we will have no option other than abolishing Article 370 and Article 35A,” Singh said.

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