Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it took 70 years for Indian government to show its strength under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and nullify Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Delivering the opening address at ‘Purvoday Hindustan’, an event organized by popular Hindi daily Hindustan in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi on Wednesday, Prasad said India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had left the job of dealing with Article 370 to a future government that had the required strength and the guts for taking the monumental step.
Prasad said Article 370 had not been beneficial in any way and detailed how Jammu and Kashmir had lost out over the years due to the provision.
“42,000 thousand people have been killed, Kashmiri Pandits were thrown out and raped, Gurjars, Bakarwals, Gaddis didn’t get any reservation in jobs or education. Prevention of corruption act, Right to Education, Right to Information Act, law prohibiting child marriages didn’t apply to the state,” Prasad said.
He said, the historic decision to abrogate Article 370 was possible only by a determined Narendra Modi government and went on to quote Sardar Patel’s views on the introduction of contentious provision in the Indian constitution.
“Patel said, the future will depend upon the strength and guts of Indian government, if we cannot have confidence in our strength then we do not deserve to exist as a nation,” Prasad read out a quote from Patel’s biography written by his secretary V Shankar to illustrate the point and added that “Narendra Modi had to demonstrate that strength after 70 years.”
The minister suggested the winds of change were blowing in Jammu and Kashmir but some people failed to see it. “29,000 Kashmiri youth are joining the Army and shouting Bharat Mata Ki Jai slogans,” he said.
The law minister also added that the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was in part to blame for Kashmir’s problems.
“Only one of those provinces - the state of Kashmir—was handled by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and it is giving us problems till date,” Prasad said.
Throwing light on the secrecy before the resolution to confirm abrogation of Article 370 was introduced in the Parliament on August 5, Prasad said, “We were apprehensive that if the decision to abrogate the article came out in the open then media will raise several questions and some others will not allow the Parliament to function.”
Prasad also said people were incorrectly deducing from the Supreme Court’s remarks on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir that the state High Court was not functioning.
“The cases are being heard in Jammu and Kashmir High Court, there is a lot of work going on there, but fewer lawyers are turning up at the court, some are associated with the separatist leadership in the state.” Prasad issued a clarification.