Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the old system in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh encouraged nepotism, corruption and dynasty rule. He was speaking on the occasion of Independence Day from the Red Fort in New Delhi.
The special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which has now been revoked, also led to discrimination against women, children, Dalits, Adivasis and sanitation workers, said Modi. He added that the country could now proclaim it has “one nation, one Constitution”.
“We believe neither in delaying solutions nor letting problems worsen,” Modi said. “In less than 70 days of the new government, Article 370 has become history, and in both Houses of Parliament, two-thirds of the members supported this step. We want to serve Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh.”
The article provided autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, making central laws inapplicable in the state. On August 5, the Centre abolished the state’s special status.
Modi said previous governments too tried to come up with some solutions for the Kashmir problem, but they failed and new ways had to be tried. “If Article 370 and Article 35A were so important, why did you keep them temporary and not make them permanent despite having huge majorities?” Modi asked. “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.”
The prime minister said that during the tumultous time after Independence leaders such as Sardar Vallabhai Patel took valiant decisions. “But because of Article 370 there emerged problems,” he added. “Today, as I address the nation, I can say that every citizen can proudly say it is ‘one nation, one Constitution’.”
On Wednesday, the prime minister had claimed that those who were against the scrapping of special status of Kashmir only support Maoists and terrorists. Most parts of Kashmir are still under a security and information clampdown, which were put in place on August 4.