Modi Makes His Case on Kashmir
A transcript of the Indian prime minister’s remarks.
On Aug. 8, days after his controversial announcement that he would revoke Article 370 of India’s constitution, which had granted the state of Jammu and Kashmir some autonomy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his case to the nation. Arguing that the article had gotten in the way of economic development and deprived citizens in the region of many rights, Modi argued that getting rid of it would improve the lot of the region’s underclasses and minorities and aid in its economic and political development.
Below is the unofficial translation of his remarks.
As a nation, as a family, you, we, the whole country have taken a historic decision.
Such a system, due to which our siblings of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were deprived of many rights, which was a major hindrance in their development, they have been nullified.
The dream of Sardar Patel, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee, Atal ji [former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee], and crores of patriots is now fulfilled.
Some things in social life get so mixed with time that many times those things are considered permanent. It is understood that nothing will change, it will continue like this.
There was a similar sentiment with Article 370. There was no discussion of the loss of our siblings in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Surprisingly, if you talk to anyone, no one could even say what was the benefit of Article 370 in the life of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Any government in our country works for the good of the country by enacting legislation in the Parliament. Be it the government of any party, the government of any coalition, this work goes on continuously. There is a lot of debate, contemplation, and contemplation while making the law, serious arguments are given in its support.
The law that is made by going through this process is for the benefit of the people of the whole country. But no one can imagine that Parliament enacts such a large number of laws and they should not apply in one part of the country.
In other states of the country, the Safai Karamcharis [Sanitation Workers] Act is applicable to the Safai Karamcharis, but the Safai Karamcharis of Jammu and Kashmir were deprived of it. Strict laws are in place to prevent atrocities on Dalits in other states of the country, but this was not the case in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Minority Act is in force in other states of the country to protect the interests of minorities, but this was not the case in Jammu and Kashmir.
Minimum Wages Act is implemented to protect the interests of workers in other states of the country, but in Jammu and Kashmir it was available only on paper.
In the new system, it will be the priority of the central government that the employees of the state, the Jammu and Kashmir Police, get equal facilities with the employees of the other union territories and the police there.
Soon the process of filling the vacant posts of central and state employees in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will be started. This will provide employment opportunities to the local youth. Center’s public sector units and private sector companies will also be encouraged to provide jobs.
We have tried to bring a new work culture, transparency in Jammu and Kashmir administration. As a result, whether IIT [Indian Intstitues of Technology], IIM [Indian Institutes of Management], AIIMS [All India Institutes of Medical Sciences], be it all irrigation projects, power projects, or the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the work on all these has been accelerated.
You will be shocked to know that for decades, thousands of such siblings have lived in Jammu and Kashmir who had the right to vote in the Lok Sabha elections, but they could not vote in the assembly and local body elections.
These are the people who came to India from Pakistan after Partition. Will injustice continue with these people like this?
We all want that in the coming times, there should be elections for the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, a new government should be formed, a chief minister should be elected. I assure the people of Jammu and Kashmir that you will have the opportunity to choose your representatives in a completely transparent environment with a lot of honesty.
As the elections to the Panchayat were conducted with transparency, so will the assembly elections.
I would also urge the governor of the state that the formation of the Block Development Council, which has been pending for the last two, three decades, should also be completed at the earliest.
I am confident that now after the removal of Article 370, when these Panchayat members get a chance to work in the new system, they will do wonders.
I am confident that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will defeat separatism and move forward with new hopes.
I am confident that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will achieve their goals with renewed vigor in an environment of good governance and transparency.
Decades of dynastic politics did not give the youth of Jammu and Kashmir an opportunity to lead.
Now the youth will lead the development of Jammu and Kashmir and take it to a new heights.
I would urge the youth, the sisters and daughters of the area, to take charge of the development of their own area.
Be it the color of saffron or the flavor of kehwa from Jammu and Kashmir,
Be it the sweetness of the apple or the succulence of the apricot,
Be it Kashmiri shawls or artifacts,
Be it organic products of Ladakh or herbal medicine,
It needs to be popularized worldwide.
The development of the people of Ladakh, after the formation of union territory, is now the special responsibility of the government of India.
With the help of local representatives, development councils of Ladakh and Kargil, the central government will now execute all the development plans faster.
Ladakh has the potential to become the biggest center of spiritual tourism, adventure tourism, and ecotourism.
Ladakh can also become a major hub of solar power generation.
Now there will be proper use of its potential, and new opportunities will be created for development without discrimination.
Now the innovative spirit of the youth of Ladakh will be encouraged, they will get better institutions for good education, people will get good hospitals, infrastructure will be modernized more rapidly.
In a democracy it is also very natural that some people are in favor of this decision and some have differences on it.
I respect their differences as well as their objections.
The central government is also responding to the debate on it.
This is our democratic responsibility.
But I urge them to treat the national interest as paramount and help the government in giving a new direction to Jammu and Kashmir-Ladakh.
We have now moved beyond who voted in Parliament, who did not.
We have to work with unity, in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir-Ladakh.
I also want to say to every countryman that the concern of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh is our concern, their happiness and sorrow, their suffering are no different than us.
Freedom from Article 370 is a fact, but the truth is also that the problems that are happening due to the steps taken as a precaution at this time are also being faced by the same people.
A handful of people want to spoil the situation there. Local people are also giving them befitting replies.
We should also not forget that the patriots of Jammu and Kashmir have stood firm against the Pakistani conspiracies to promote terrorism and separatism.
I assure the colleagues of Jammu and Kashmir that gradually the situation will become normal and their troubles will also get reduced.
Eid festival is also close by.
I wish all the best for Eid. Government is taking care that people should not have any problem in celebrating Eid in Jammu and Kashmir.
Our companions who live outside Jammu and Kashmir and want to return to their homes on Eid, the government is helping them in all possible ways.
I thank the security forces deployed for the security of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The way people associated with the administration, the state employees, and the Jammu and Kashmir Police are handling the situation is praiseworthy.
This diligence of yours has increased my belief that change can happen.
This decision will support the economic progress of India as well as Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
When peace and prosperity will come in this important part of the world, then efforts for world peace will be strengthened.
I call upon my brothers and sisters in Jammu and Kashmir, my brothers and sisters in Ladakh. Come, let us together show to the world the strength of the people of this region is, the courage of the people here, and their passion.
Come, let us all together create a new Jammu and Kashmir and a new Ladakh with the new India.
This transcript is the unofficial translation of Modi’s remarks from India’s Ministry of External Affairs.