New Delhi — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday justified his government’s move to revoke Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status as the picturesque Himalayan valley remained under a strict government lockdown for the 11th day. Modi said “a new approach was needed” on the territory, ownership over which has long been disputed with neighboring Pakistan, as efforts by Indian governments over the past 70 years “did not bear results.”
India’s PM Modi silent on Kashmir crackdown as Pakistan says troops killed in cross-border fire
The Indian leader did not address in his speech the mounting tension between his nation and Pakistan fuelled by his move in Kashmir, which ramped-up further Thursday with cross-border fire by the opposing military forces reportedly leaving eight people dead.Modi addressed the nation on India’s 73rd Independence Day from the ramparts of the iconic 17th century Red Fort in Delhi.
He said Article 370 and Article 35A, the constitutional provisions that had given Jammu and Kashmir state significant autonomy had only “encouraged corruption and nepotism.”Article 370 gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir its own constitution and law-making rights for everything but foreign affairs, communications, and defense. Article 35A prevented Indians from outside the state from settling permanently there and buying land. On August 5, India revoked both articles and bifurcated the state into two territories that will be directly controlled by the federal government, amid a security and communications crackdown on the residents of Kashmir. Critics see the move as an attempt by Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government to shift the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir by allowing Hindu people to settle there. “One Nation, one constitution — this spirit has become a reality and India is proud of it,” Modi said in his speech. “We think differently… we neither nurse problems nor keep them pending.” Kashmir lockdown, Day 11 Modi remained silent on the Kashmir lockdown and communications blackout which was in its 11th day on Thursday. Kashmir residents have been largely kept indoors by a huge paramilitary presence since August 5. Phone lines and the internet have also been cut off, leaving the 8 million inhabitants completely cut off from the rest of the world.