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Published On: Thu, Aug 15th, 2019

Prime Minister hails ‘path-breaking’ changes amid lockdown

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech to the nation during a ceremony to celebrate country's 73rd Independence Day, which marks the of the end of British colonial rule, at the Red Fort in New Delhi on August 15, 2019. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP)

(Photo by Prakash Singh/ AFP)

NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hailed his “path-breaking” move to strip the Kashmir region it administers of its autonomy in a strongly worded speech marking India’s independence day.
A day later, Modi’s government scrapped Article 370 of the constitution that granted the Muslim-majority region its special status and split Jammu and Kashmir state into two “union territories” to be controlled by New Delhi.
India revokes Kashmir’s special status: All the latest updates
“Our freedom fighters fought hard and long for a free nation. But because of Articles 370 and 35A, there were issues. But today, I can say standing here at the Red Fort, with pride, that we are one nation and one constitution,” said the 68-year-old Hindu nationalist leader.
Speaking from India’s Mughal-era Red Fort in the capital Modi said “fresh thinking” was needed after seven decades of failure to ensure harmony in the Kashmir region. “We do not believe in creating problems or prolonging them. In less than 70 days of the new government, Article 370 has become history, he said.

“Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh will become a big inspiration for India’s growth journey, comfort, progress and peace.” Ladakh is the newly carved-out union territory.
One of his major announcements in the speech was the creation of a new defence post recommended after the Kargil war of 1999 but stalled for two decades. The move would “sharpen coordination” between the Army, Navy and Air Force, he said.
Those supporting Article 370, the prime minister said “are being asked by the rest of the country that if they [the Articles] were so important, why didn’t you make it permanent over the last 70 years? Why did you let it remain temporary?”
“If there was so much conviction, you should have come forward and made it permanent,” he said. “It means you also know that what happened was not correct, but you just did not have the courage or resolve to bring reforms. It would have jeopardised your political future, but for me the country’s future is everything.”
Triple Talaq
On Triple talaq Modi said “If we can take steps against ‘sati’, female foeticide, child marriage and dowry, then why not against instant triple talaq?” , “hung like a sword over the heads of our Muslim mothers and sisters.” Talking about its abolishing, the prime minister said: “We have taken a very important step by taking action on triple talaq.” If we can think of equality for women, why shouldn’t we think about removing triple talaq for our Muslim women?” “Many Islamic countries abolished the practice long ago, but for some reason.
‘One nation, one election’
With Central government’s move in Jammu and Kashmir, he said Indian citizens can now say the country is: “one nation with one constitution. India has also achieved ‘one nation, one power grid’ in the energy sector and arrangements have been made for ‘one nation, one mobility card’.” Making a fresh pitch for holding Lok Sabha and assembly polls together, Modi said: “It is good that such a discussion is taking place.”
‘Will world silently witness?’
Shortly after Modi’s speech on Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan posted a tweet, urging the international community to act on the Kashmir issue. Restrictions on movement and a communications blackout continued for an 11th day on Thursday in the Kashmir valley, while they were lifted from the Hindu-majority Jammu region.
“Will world silently witness another Srebrenica-type massacre and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in IOK?” he wrote. IOK (India-Occupied Kashmir) is how Islamabad refers to the region administered by India. “I want to warn international community if it allows this to happen, it will have severe repercussions and reactions in the Muslim world setting off radicalisation and cycles of violence.”
Prime Minister announced a Chief of Defence Staff post to oversee the tri-services, a “Jal Jeevan mission” to provide water for all and an investment of Rs. 100 lakh crore in infrastructure.

On the theme of a “New India”, PM Modi also, for the first time, expressed concern on what he called the “population explosion” in India, and said those who had limited their family to only two children were true patriots and deserved respect.

The Congress and other parties have not just accused the government of blindsiding the opposition with the Kashmir decisions but also imposing an unprecedented security lockdown in the state where several politicians have been kept under arrest, movement has been severely restricted and phone and internet connections suspended.
In his second term, PM Modi faces a number of challenges that include lack of jobs, a wobbling economy and farm distress. He said the government planned to spend Rs. 3.5 lakh crore to bring piped water to every home and spend Rs. 100 lakh crore on building infrastructure.
Over the last five years, the prime minister said, his government has “repealed nearly 1,450 unnecessary laws – one every day on average”.(With Agency Inputs ).

 

 

 

 

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