New Delhi: Article 370 was in place for decades but was there peace in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Home Minister Amit Shah asked Saturday, asserting that the 2019 abrogation of the Constitutional provision has ushered in peace, good business investment and an influx of tourists.
Shah made these remarks during an interaction at the HT Leadership Summit here, referring to a statement by former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah who had said that the government will not be able to bring peace in the union territory until Article 370 is restored.
“There was Article 370 for the last 75 years. Why was there no peace? If there is a relation between peace and Article 370, was the Article not in place in 1990? It was there in 1990 why there was no peace? Even if we include figures of targeted killings, we are not even close to 10 per cent. This means there is peace, Shah said at the event where he also delivered the keynote address.
Earlier in his address, Shah said no one believed that Article 370 and Article 35-A could ever be abrogated, and he referred to a conversation with his English professor who had been maintaining that the promise of removing Article 370 by the BJP will be passed on as it is to the next generation.
“I am happy that Prime Minister Narendra Modi abrogated Article 370 from the Constitution on August 5, 2019. Kashmir is at peace now, investment is taking place, tourists are visiting and Jammu and Kashmir is gradually looking to stand united with the rest of the country,” Shah said.
Article 370, a temporary provision in the Constitution, gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir while Article 35-A prohibited people from the rest of India to buy properties in the erstwhile state.
Both provisions were abrogated on August 5, 2019 and the state was divided into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Shah said a common statement was issued against him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi that curfew was imposed for so long in J&K and Internet services were blocked in Jammu and Kashmir.
“When I went there and asked youths if we had lifted curfew, who would have lost lives? There was initial silence but then they said on video conference they would have been killed. Then I asked whom did Modiji save by imposing curfew. They said they were saved. Then I said the people of the country have to decide what do people, who oppose curfew, want,” he said.
On the demand of J-K political parties that elections should take place after statehood is restored, Shah said Parliament has passed the act that elections will be followed by delimitation exercise.
“First delimitation will take place, then elections will be held then the process to restore statehood will begin. I have said this many times. Now they know that this will be the chronology so they want to create political dispute by demanding the opposite,” he said.
Shah said the kind of development that is taking place under the lieutenant governor’s administration, the improvement in the law-and-order situation, influx of tourists, improvement of the union territory in social sector schemes show that a lot of things have changed for good in a small time frame.
“I am hopeful that the people of Kashmir welcome this change and I appeal to all political parties to be part of the political and democratic process,” he said.
Shah said world will now be distinguished pre-Covid and post-Covid era with big changes coming in all the areas globally.
“In India, it is crucial for us to think if we are ready for these changes. World is watching closely. Are we ready for the preparation needed for us as a Nation — people, government, economic segments,” he said.
The Home Minister said it was a good fortune that India received a form of stability after decades of coalition politics at the centre in 2014.
“For a long time there were coalition governments with no party enjoying clear majority. My own party was in government for six years and we too had to take along a number of political parties. The ill-effects were visible on administration, economy and future. Ten years before 2014 were like a bad dream when country was battling ‘policy paralysis’ at the centre. There was corruption and lack of decision-making,” he said.
Without taking name of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Shah said he headed a Cabinet in which the prime minister was not treated as a PM and every minister thought he was the prime minister.
“Like this, PM office was also compromised and the prestige of the country went down in the world. That time, Indian people elected NDA government with clear majority under Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said.