Modi hints at Assembly elections in J&K soon; statehood may be restored later

‘Normalcy shortly, all efforts to help people celebrate Eid’
Art 370 pushed J&K into corruption, terror, family rule

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Aug 8: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced that people of proposed Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir would soon get chance to elect their representatives to the Legislative Assembly in transparent manner like Panchayats and they will have their own young and energetic Chief Minister, Ministers and MLAs and assured full statehood to it once everything becomes normal but maintained that Ladakh will remain a Union Territory. He said the Governor is being asked to hold elections to the Block Development Councils (BDCs) immediately. Click here to watch video
In an Address to the Nation on latest developments in Jammu and Kashmir including abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A and bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories-J&K and Ladakh, Modi said the Government wants Legislative Assembly elections in J&K with young MLAs, Chief Minister and Ministers and assured the people that they would shortly get the time to elect their representatives in honest and transparent manner, like Panchayats.
“We will like Jammu and Kashmir to have an elected Assembly soon. I will also urge the Government to start the process immediately for holding elections to the Block Development Councils (BDCs). There was family rule in the State for decades. Youth were not given opportunity to lead. Now, the youth will lead and take the State to new heights,” Modi said in 40 minutes address broadcast and telecast by the news channels and All India Radio at 8 pm.
He said once everything settles down, it was not necessary that Jammu and Kashmir will remain a Union Territory but Ladakh will remain the Union Territory indicating that proposed J&K UT might be given full statehood later. “As J&K will see more and more development. I do not think it will remain Union Territory for long,” he added.
“Your representatives will be elected only by you. In future also, you will have MLAs like past, the Cabinet Ministers and the Chief Minister. I’m confident that in the new system, we will jointly free Jammu and Kashmir from terrorism and separatism. It will again be heaven on earth and attract the world. Ease of living will go up. People will get full rights,” the Prime Minister said.
Maintaining that freedom from Article 370 is a reality, Modi said: “I respect differences and objections. Debate is on, we are responding but it is my request that everyone should have in mind the country’s interest and help the Government build new Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh collectively.”
Admitting it was a reality that people in Kashmir are facing some problems due to restrictions, Modi said a handful of people want to disturb the situation but declared that our people are giving them a reply. He added that Pakistan has always tried to fan terrorism and separatism in the Valley but people of Jammu and Kashmir stood against them.
He assured that situation will be normal slowly in Kashmir and problems of the people will come down. “It is right of the people to realize their good dreams. Let us come together to build new Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the patriotic people of Jammu and Kashmir have stood up against Pakistan’s conspiracy of terrorism and separatism, and that his Government will work towards fulfilling their aspirations.
He referred to number of laws made by the Parliament but not implemented in Jammu and Kashmir, which kept 1.25 cr population of the State deprived of many benefits.
“Other States have Right to Education, but it was not implemented in Jammu and Kashmir. What was the fault of children? Some rights to the girls were not implemented in J&K which they had in other parts of the State. Why? Safai Karamcharis Act was implemented in entire country but not in Jammu and Kashmir. They were deprived of welfare measures. There were laws for Dalits in other States but not in J&K. There was reservation to minorities in the country but not in J&K. There were labour welfare measures like Minimum Wages Act in the country but not in J&K,” Modi said, adding SCs and STs were also deprived of political reservations in Jammu and Kashmir.
Justifying abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A, the Prime Minister said while the democracy strengthened in the country, but in Jammu and Kashmir for several decades lakh of refugees, who settled in the State in 1947 from West Pakistan after partition, had no right to vote in Assembly, Panchayat and Municipal elections. They could only vote for Lok Sabha elections. While the people who settled in other States had all rights, he noted and asked: “Whether such an injustice should have been allowed to go on”?
Reaching out to Kashmiris with messages of hope and optimism, Modi assured them of all round development and defended scrapping of Article 370, which he asserted, has only given separatism, corruption, family rule and used by Pakistan as a tool to spread terror in Jammu and Kashmir.
With the Kashmir Valley reeling under security clampdown, Modi promised that the government is making all sincere efforts to ensure that the people in the region have no difficulties in celebrating Eid which is on Monday.
Referring to current situation in Kashmir, Modi complimented the security forces for maintaining peace in the Valley and said people will be able to celebrate Eid without any difficulties.
He said the Government is providing all possible help to those from Jammu and Kashmir who live elsewhere and want to return home to celebrate the festival.
He also extended Eid greetings to the people.
“Removal of Article 370 is a reality, and it was a well thought out decision,” Modi said.
Laying out a development agenda for Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh, Modi expressed confidence of rooting out terrorism and separatism under the new system of governance.
“The dream of Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and crores of Indians has now been fulfilled,” he said and asserted that no one has been able to justify how the Articles 370 and 35A were benefitting people of J&K.
Attacking Pakistan, which has termed India’s move as “unilateral and illegal” and strongly protested by downgrading diplomatic ties, Modi said Pakistan used Article 370 as a “tool to spread terrorism”.
“In last three decades, over 42,000 people lost their lives,” he said.
Modi exhorted the film industry to start shooting films in Jammu and Kashmir again, saying as the situation returns to normal, crews not only from India but abroad too will descend on the picturesque State. He recalled the time when Kashmir was a favoured destination for Bollywood film shoots.
“There was hardly any film which was not shot in Kashmir … now situation will normalize in Jammu and Kashmir. Then people not only from India but world over will go there to shoot movies,” he said.
The 1964 hit ‘Kashmir ki Kali’, ‘Jaanwar’, ‘Three Idiots’ are some of the movies shot in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Known the world over for its shikaras, lakes, snow-clad mountains and lush green meadows, Kashmir had been a favoured destination of the filmmakers both from the Bollywood and regional cinema.
“Every film will bring along several employment opportunities … I request the Hindi film industry, Telugu and Tamil film industry and people associated with it to certainly think about investment in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, from shooting to establishment of theatres,” he said.
Ladakh has the potential to become the biggest centre of spiritual, adventure and eco-tourism and it can be a major centre of solar power generation, Modi said.
He said when development takes place without any partiality, everyone gets an equal opportunity.
“Ladakh has the potential to become the most favoured centre for spiritual tourism, adventure tourism and eco-tourism. It can become a big centre for solar power generation too,” he said.
The Prime Minister said creation of a separate Union Territory of Ladakh will promote the spirit of innovation among the local youth.
“They will get better education and good institutions. The people will get better hospitals and it will boost infrastructure,” Modi said.
Attracted by jagged peaks and striking landscapes of Ladakh, a large number of tourists from across the world visit the region every year.
Modi said it is time that people of Ladakh benefit from the region’s rich biodiversity, while its medicinal plants and herbs get global recognition.
The Prime Minister referred to Ladakh’s ‘solo’ herb, which he said could work as modern day ‘Sanjeevani’ for security personnel deployed in snow-clad mountains.
“Experts say the plant is a `Sanjeevani’ for people living in high altitudes and security personnel deployed in snow clad areas. It maintains the body’s immune system in areas with low oxygen …. which Indian does not want that it should be sold world over… I have named only one herb. Such herbs are spread all over Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh,” he said.
Modi was of the view that if such herbs are recognized and sold, then it will benefit people as well as farmers of the area.
“I request the industrialists, exporters and those associated with food processing to come forward to take the local products across the globe,” he said.
Modi said specialties from Jammu and Kashmir such as ‘kahwa’, apples and saffron should be popularized and urged exporters to take these unique products to different parts of the world.
He said, “I request the industrialists, exporters and those associated with food processing to come forward to take the local products across the globe.”
“Friends, be it the colour saffron, or the taste of ‘kahwa’, sweetness of apple, juiciness of apricot, Kashmiri shawl, handicrafts, Ladakh’s organic products or medicinal products need to be popularized across the globe,” Modi said.
He also said that it is time that people of Ladakh benefit from the region’s rich biodiversity, while its medicinal plants and herbs get global recognition.