Article 370 the root cause of terror in J&K, says Shah
The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed a bill to bifurcate the state of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories and resolutions scrapping special status to the state and its permanent residents , with home minister Amit Shah saying on the floor of the house that the contentious articles of the Constitution were behind most of the ills of the state -- from corruption to lack of development to terrorism.
The scrapping of the special status to the state was a poll promise of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Introducing the resolutions and the legislations in the upper house amid interruptions from the opposition, Shah told the house that Article 370 of the Constitution, which gives special status to the state “is the biggest threat to normalcy”. He responded to fears expressed by the opposition in the House that the state would see a spike in violence after the changes and said: “Nothing will happen.”
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Kashmir will not be allowed to turn into another battle-torn Kosovo, he told the House: “It was heaven on earth and will remain so”, he added, paraphrasing Mughal emperor Jehangir. MDMK leader Vaiko had, in his comments, opposed the resolutions and the legislation and said Kashmir could turn into “Kosovo” or South Sudan.
Shah added that full statehood would be restored to the state at an “appropriate time” when normalcy returns to it.
The Union home minister also claimed that provisions of Article 370 had impeded the growth of the state even as the country has moved on over the years and as many as 48,849 people had died in the state from 1989 to 2018. he pointed out that on average ~14255 per capita is being spent on every resident of the state every year as against ~3681 at the national level. But even as the Centre has spent large amounts of money for the development of the state, it has remained poor, he said. “…This was mainly because of high level of corruption in the state with three major families controlling it,” he said. “Today, this House will pass the bill. Then tomorrow, Lok Sabha will pass it and then both 73rd and 74th Amendment will automatically will apply to the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Shah said.
Article 370 gave Jammu and Kashmir autonomy and its own constitution and decision-making rights for all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs.
Defending the decision to scrap Article 370, Shah said the provisions are discriminatory on the basis of gender, class, caste and place of origin.
He said post the repeal of Article 370, doors to private investment in the state would be thrown open, more jobs will be created and the economy will get a boost. For instance, tourism hasn’t developed in the state simply because hospitality firms can’t buy land in the state for a hotel (such purchases are restricted to permanent residents). The situation is similar for education and healthcare, he explained.
Worse, Shah added, because of the state’s special status, central welfare laws were not applicable there: “Why should the Valley children not get the benefit of education?” he asked, pointing out that the Right to Education law isn’t applicable in J&K.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said that government has sought to disintegrate the country.
“Home Minister @AmitShah Ji’s speech in the Rajya Sabha was extensive and insightful. It accurately highlighted the monumental injustices of the past and coherently presented our vision for the sisters and brothers of J&K,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.