New Delhi, Oct 31:Paying glowing tributes to SardarVallabhbhai Patel on National Unity Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that Patel’s dream of a united India had been realised.

This comes on the day the state of Jammu and Kashmir is officially being bifurcated into Union Territories (UTs) of J&K and Ladakh.

PM Modi defended the abrogation of Article 370, saying the special status provisions only “generated militancy” in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Sardar Patel had said that had the Kashmir issue been put on his shoulders, it would not have taken so long. Today, on his birth anniversary, I dedicate the historic decision taken on August 5, today to Sardar Patel,” PM Modi said.

Attending a function at the Statue of Unity here on the occasion of Patel’s 144th birth anniversary, Modi led the gathering in taking the `national unity pledge’.

“The new system in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh is not meant to draw a line on the land (to draw a boundary) but to build a strong link of trust,” the prime ministersaid.

He added that, from today, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh “will walk towards a new future, on the birth anniversary of the Iron Man of India.”

PM Modi said that in the last three decades “more than 40,000 people had lost their lives due to militancy in J&K.”

“How long could the country witness the death of so many incident people? The wall has been broken down, and Sardar Patel’s dream has come true,” PM Modi said.

“We must stay united to fight against anti-Indian forces,” PM Modi said, adding that it would be a true tribute to Sardar Patel.

PM Modi also called ‘unity in diversity’ as India’s pride and identity, and urged citizens to celebrate it.

“India’s specialty is its Unity in Diversity. We are very diverse as a country. Unity in Diversity is our image, our pride. We celebrate our diversity. We have never felt divisiveness in diversity, but unity in it,” PM Modi said.

Inspired by Patel, his government is working for “emotional, economic and constitutional integration” of the country, without which it would be difficult to imagine a powerful India in the 21st century, he said.

In a swipe at Pakistan, he said those “who cannot win wars” against India are trying to destroy its unity.

“The country took the decision of abrogation of Article 370, which had only given separatism and terrorism to that state,” Modi said.

“Patel had once said that had he handled the Kashmir issue, it would not have taken so long to resolve it,” Modi said, in a veiled swipe at Jawaharlal Nehru, thecountry’s first prime minister whom the ruling BJP often blames for the Kashmir issue.

“North-East is now moving from separatism to attachment as decades-old problems are nearing resolution,” Modi said, referring to his government’s initiatives to bring peace to the insurgency-affected region.

Without naming Pakistan, Modi said that some elements are trying to destroy the unity in diversity of India by spreading separatism and terrorism, but even after “trying for centuries, nobody could annihilate us or defeat us”.

“Unity in diversity is our pride and our identity, the world is surprised by our unity despite so much diversity,” Modi said.

“When we respect traditions and beliefs of different sects and religions, love and attachment (among people) increase,” the prime minister said.

When Patel embarked on the mission to merge over 500 princely states into India, “feeling of unity” inspired many rulers to join the Indian union, he said.

“Centuries ago, India was united by Chanakya (the ancient philosopher who is said to be the adviser of emperor Chandragupta Maurya), and after that Sardar Patel did it,” Modi said.

Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary is celebrated as `Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’ (National Unity Day) since 2014.

At the function on the occasion, the wife of Naseer Ahmed, a CRPF trooper who was killed in the February 2019 Pulwama militant attack, presented Modi with a replica of the National Police Memorial which commemorates over 34,000 state and central police personnel who died in the line of duty.

During the function, the prime minister offered floral tributes to the Statue of Unity, considered to be the world’s tallest statue, as flower petals were showered on it from above by an Indian Air Force helicopter.

The prime minister watched `Ekta parade’ in which personnel of the Gujarat Police, Jammu & Kashmir Police, Central Reserve Police Force and Border Security Force took part.

Mock drill demonstrations were conducted by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), National Disaster Response Force and National Security Guard.

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