New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday reached out to the nation, explaining the rationale for scrapping the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir and splitting of the state into two union territories.
The move, he said, will "liberate" the people of the region and bring them closer to the rest of the country.
Even as he said this, the Valley remained in a limbo, communication lines were down, two former chief ministers were under arrest and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for the besieged citizens.
But sounding unduly optimistic, PM Modi allayed misgivings about the democratic process and hinted that the elections in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be held soon.
Further, he dispelled doubts about the role of legislative Assembly in the region. "I want to clarify that your representative will be chosen only by you, the same way you have chosen your MLAs, MPs, cabinets, and CMs.
We all want fresh elections to take place, a new set of ministers and chief minister. I assure you that you will get an opportunity to elect your representatives very soon with full transparency in the same manner that you have chosen your panchayat representatives."
He also mentioned the possibility of J&K regaining statehood in more conducive conditions. "A new age has dawned on Jammu and Kashmir," he declared.
Article 370 had hampered the progress of the state, he said, depriving vulnerable sections -- women, daily wagers, children and Dalits -- of their legal rights that were being availed of by these sections in the rest of the country.
The region was put directly under central government after a lot of thought, the Prime Minister said, patting his government on the back.
“Good governance and development has become visible on the ground over the last few months. The schemes that so far existed only on paper have come alive on ground.
Work has started on decade-old projects. We have brought IIMs and IITs, national projects, power projects. In the future, we are
going to intensify work on connectivity projects, airport modernisation, road and rail links,” he added.
Addressing another deep-seated malaise – the vacancies in government departments -- PM Modi promised that all vacant posts in the new Union Territories will be filled soon.
Referring to the enormous possibilities, he said filmmakers will again flock to the Valley. ‘‘I am confident that even international films will be shot there,’’ he said as he urged Bollywood, Telugu and Tamil film industries to harness the latent potential.
The Prime Minister also expressed hope that Kashmir would emerge out of the current spell of preventive restrictions and normalise, well in time, to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr.