NEW DELHI: Speaking from the ramparts of the Red Fort on India’s 70th Independence Day, prime minister Narendra Modi made no mention of the anti-India uprising in Kashmir and instead decried Pakistan’s ‘atrocities’ on the people of Baluchistan and Pakistan administered Kashmir.
Modi accused Pakistan of “glorifying terrorists and celebrating murder”. In his 93-minute address, Modi said, “I want to express my gratitude to some people — the people of Baluchistan, Gilgit and Pak-occupied-Kashmir — for the way they wholeheartedly thanked me, the way they expressed gratitude to me, the way they conveyed their goodwill to me recently.”
This was the first time that areas in the control of Pakistan were mentioned by an Indian prime minister in his Independence speech. The remarks came after the recent all-party meeting on Kashmir in which Modi said that the time had come to “expose the atrocities committed by our neighbouring nation” in Baluchistan and in areas of “Kashmir under its illegal occupation.”
Modi asked the international community to compare the behaviour of India and Pakistan when it comes to “terror attacks” in each other’s country.
“When children were killed in a school in Peshawar, there were tears in our Parliament. Indian children were traumatised. This is the example of our humanity. But look at the other side where terrorism is glorified,” Modi said.
Asserting that India will not yield to terrorism and violence, Modi asked youths to return to the mainstream by shunning the path of violence.
“I am telling those youths that there is time left: come back and join the mainstream. Realize your parents’ aspirations. Lead a peaceful life. The path of violence has never benefited anyone,” he said.
Modi devoted the bulk of his address to presenting a report card of his government’s work, particularly in boosting economic growth, ease of doing business, and welfare schemes for the poor and farmers.
As Modi spoke, two gunmen attacked a police station in Indian-held Kashmir, wounding six reservists. The army also claimed it had foiled an attempt by militants to infiltrate from Pakistan into north Kashmir.