Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday claimed that there were no restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir and that the entire world supported the Indian government’s decisions in the state, PTI reported. The Bharatiya Janata Party added that the lack of a phone connection was not a human rights violation.

His comments came even as restrictions, including a communication blockade, have been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5, when the Union government scrapped special status for the state under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. There was no discussion with the state’s representatives, and several political leaders were either detained or put under house arrest before the decision was announced.

“Where are the restrictions,” he asked at a seminar on national security in New Delhi. “It is only in your mind. There are no restrictions. Only misinformation about restrictions is being spread.” Of areas that come under 196 police stations in Kashmir, curfew was still present only in eight areas, the home minister said. “The decision on Article 370 will strengthen the unity and integrity of India.”

Shah said more than 41,000 people had died due to militancy over several decades but no one had bothered to raise violations of human rights of the soldiers and their families. “But people are trying to create a hue and cry over lack of mobile connections for few days,” he said. “Lack of phone connection is not human rights violation.”

Shah also blamed former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for approaching the United Nations in 1948 regarding Kashmir. “In 1948, India went to United Nations. That was a Himalayan blunder. It is more than a Himalayan blunder,” he said.

The home minister also alleged that corruption had flourished in Kashmir because it had not been fully integrated into India. “Those who looted Kashmir did not want Anti Corruption Bureau as they did not want any corrupt to be caught,” he said, adding that they used the constitutional provision as a “shield to loot people”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “finally rooted out the cankering wound” and he should be complimented, Shah added.

Because of Article 370, people always had to say “Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India”, he claimed. “We don’t have to say so when we talk about Karnataka, West Bengal, Gujarat or Delhi.”

Shah rejected claims that Kashmiri culture will be endangered because of the scrapping of Article 370/ “I want to ask those people, is there any threat to Gujarat or its ‘Garba’ because it does not have Article 370,” he said. “Is West Bengal or its ‘Durga Puja’ facing any threat as there is no Article 370 there? Are Karnataka or the Kannada language and Maharashtra or Marathi culture facing threat because there is no Article 370 there?”

He added that the Jammu and Kashmir region will be India’s most developed area in the next five to seven years, and claimed that all world leaders who had gathered in New York for the United Nations General Assembly had supported India’s move. “All world leaders had gathered for seven days [in New York]. Not a single leader has raised the issue [of Jammu and Kashmir],” the prime minister said. “This is a big diplomatic victory of the Prime Minister.”

On Friday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had lashed out at India for abrogating special status for Jammu and Kashmir. During a speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Khan asked the world to urge India to lift the “inhuman curfew in Kashmir”.

China had also mentioned the Kashmir matter at the UNGA. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday said the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan should be resolved as per United Nations Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. “No actions that would unilaterally change the status quo should be taken,” Wang said at the UNGA session. India dismissed the concerns and reiterated that Kashmir was an internal matter.

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