Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the people of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday that elections would be held soon in the state for the local assembly, two days after government’s decision to end special status for the state and split it into two union territories, APA reports quoting Reuters.
In an address broadcast on television and radio, the first time he has spoken to the nation on the decision, Modi painted the move as one that will benefit the people of Kashmir. The federal government would take steps to create more economic opportunities, he said.
This week’s move, tightening New Delhi’s grip on the contested region, withdrew the Muslim majority state’s right to frame its own laws and allowed people from outside the region to buy property there.
“The people of Jammu and Kashmir will be able to choose their leaders, their CMs (chief ministers) like they have done before,” Modi said. He added that once the law-and-order situation improves in the region, Jammu and Kashmir would again be a converted into a full-fledged state.
Indian authorities have imposed a communications blackout on Kashmir for a fourth straight day, stopping media from being able to report what is happening there.
Modi said the government had taken the decision to repeal Article 370 and 35A of the constitution for the overall development of the region. These legal provisions created hurdles to extending legal benefits to women, minorities and students that the rest of India provides, he said.
Introduced decades ago, the constitutional provisions provided autonomy to the state authorities to limit the implementation of Indian laws as well as to keep people from other parts of the country from overrunning the state.
“I am confident that with Article 370 and 35A becoming a history, Jammu and Kashmir will come out of its negative effects,” Modi said.