RNA - Following a move earlier this week to rescind the articles of the Indian Constitution granting Kashmir’s political autonomy, the PM said on Thursday that the act would only reverse the “separatism, corruption, terrorism and family rule” that have taken root in the region, RT reported.
“As a country and as a family we have taken a historic decision,” Modi noted, adding that the former system in Kashmir had left many “bereft of various rights”, and has therefore been “done away with”.
Kashmiris, Modi assured all, would still be able to “elect [their] representatives in a transparent way”.
Two articles of the Indian Constitution – 370 and 35A – had until now given the territories of Kashmir and Jammu a greater degree of control over their local affairs, but since last year they have been under de facto federal control. A bill to formally remove the special status passed the Indian parliament on Monday, and was later approved by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind.
Some 35,000 soldiers were deployed to the region in preparation for the unrest the decision might provoke, but there are, so far, no reports of major clashes with security forces.
In Thursday’s statement, the prime minister also assailed Islamabad for exploiting the region’s former autonomous status to support terror groups in the Kashmir Valley, a common refrain of many members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Pakistan, which also claims territorial rights to Kashmir, denies any support for terrorism.
Pakistan is not considering a military response to India’s decision to scrap a decades-old constitutional provision that had ensured autonomous status for parts of contested Kashmir.
At a news conference on Thursday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Islamabad still reserved the right to respond.
“We're not looking at a military option,” Qureshi stated, but added, “Don’t we reserve a right to respond in case of any aggression?”
Pakistan announced on Wednesday it was downgrading diplomatic relations with India as tensions continue to mount over the status of the restive region. The government expelled an Indian envoy and recalled its own ambassador from the neighboring country over New Delhi’s moves.
It also said it would bring the issue of India’s “unilateral” and “illegal” decision to the United Nations Security Council. Pakistan also added, on Thursday, that it was suspending the Samjhauta Express rail service linking it to India.
India’s Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah stated on Tuesday that the country would “go on to further integrate Jammu and Kashmir to India for many generations ahead” and hailed the revoking of its autonomous status as a “historic” moment.