Jammu and Kashmir’s identity was “buried on January 19, 1990”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in parliament on Thursday, lashing out at critics of his government’s controversial move to withdraw special status to the former state under Article 370, NDTV reported.
“Kashmir is India’s crown. Kashmir’s identity was reduced to bombs and terrorism. In January 1990, that black night, some people buried Kashmir’s identity that night,” NDTV quoted the Prime Minister as having said today, adding, “Some said (withdrawing) 370 would lead to fire, some point to a few in jail. This House protects the Constitution, it is dedicated to Constitution”.
The centre’s decision on Article 370, taken in August last year, sparked massive protests from the opposition, who hit out at stringent security measures that blanketed the former state, including the forced detention of hundreds of key opposition leaders – three former Chief Ministers, including 83-year-old Farooq Abdullah, are among those who remain under house arrest.
The centre also cut mobile and broadband internet across the former state, resulting in one of the world’s longest internet shutdowns, banned protests and large gatherings, and deployed thousands of soldiers to quell any backlash against its decision, said the report.
The measures were greeted with concern by the international community that repeatedly called for the release of detained leaders and repeal of the communications ban. The centre sought to deflect some of the criticism by organising visits for foreign envoys; 15, including one from the United States, visited the region last month to fierce criticism from opposition MPs, it said.
Last month the Supreme Court ordered the J&K administration to review all restrictive orders. The court said internet access was part of the fundamental right to freedom of speech.
January 19 is remembered as ”Exodus Day” by the lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits who fled the Kashmir Valley three decades ago.
In September last year, a month after Article 370 was lifted, a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits met the Prime Minister in Houston – during his “Howdy, Modi!” tour – to thank him.
The PM told them: “You have suffered a lot, but the world is changing. We have to move ahead together and build a new Kashmir”.
In October, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that the Centre has decided to provide compensation of Rs 5.5 lakh each to 5,300 displaced families from Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (PaK), who initially opted to move outside Jammu and Kashmir but later on returned.
These families were earlier left out in the rehabilitation package that was approved by the Cabinet on November 30, 2016.
The Prime Minister had announced a reconstruction plan for Jammu and Kashmir in November 2016. His plan included a rehabilitation package for a one-time settlement of 36,384 displaced persons’ families of PaK-1947 and Chhamb, reported NDTV.