Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dared the opposition to restore Article 370 in occupied Kashmir during an election rally in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon, reported Hindustan Times.
The Indian premier launched a blistering attack on the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over their stand on Article 370 that had granted Kashmir autonomy post-partition.
Alongside the withdrawal on August 5 of constitutional provisions that gave Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) special autonomy, Modi’s government flooded the region with additional troops and imposed curfew-like restrictions to keep a lid on protests.
Months after the move, mobile telephone and internet connections in the occupied valley, home to around seven million people, remain cut off.
“Can these leaders, who’re trying to fool the people with their crocodile tears, bring back Article 370 in Kashmir? Will the people of India allow them to? Will the people of India accept it? I challenge opposition to declare in their manifesto they will bring back Article 370,” Modi said.
He insisted that for the “BJP, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh aren’t just a piece of land or territory”. “Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh aren’t just a piece of land for us, but is the crown of India. Looking at the security needs, we took the necessary steps. We have also tried our best to ensure normalcy in the area, amidst all the negative powers in and around the area.”
He said that the government’s decision on August 5 to abrogate Article 370 was a historic one that among other things restored rights of the Valmiki community.
Modi’s rally came on the birth anniversary of Valmiki – sage, poet and the original author Ramayana.
“Valmikis had no rights in Jammu and Kashmir for 70 years because of Article 370. There was only terrorism and separatism.
Without naming Pakistan, he alleged that a “neighbouring country was conspiring to create unrest in Kashmir and stressed that the government is committed to bring the situation to normal at the earliest”.
“We have taken steps for security. We are working to bring the situation to normal. We won’t take four months to normalise the situation that had been so bad for 40 years,” Modi said.
He accused the Congress of politicising the government’s decision on Kashmir to reap benefits in the upcoming Maharashtra assembly elections.
“Some parties are doing politics over Kashmir even in Maharashtra for votes. Congress and NCP think completely opposite to what the country thinks. They speak the language of a neighbouring country and hesitate to stand by the country,” Modi said.
The prime minister appealed to the people of Maharashtra to once again vote for the Devendra Fadnavis government in the state in the upcoming assembly elections.
“Four months ago, you voted for a new India. The world is watching India’s new ‘josh’ (enthusiasm). Your vote embellished India’s democracy. New India’s josh not due to Modi but your one vote,” he said.
Voting for the Maharashtra state polls will be held on October 21. The counting of votes will take place on October 24.