Talks with people, not separatists, says Amit Shah as J&K ceases to be a state

New Delhi: Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday declared the government’s resolve to bridge the trust deficit in the Valley and initiate talks with the people.

Replying to a day-long debate in the Lok Sabha on bifurcation of the State into two union territories, he, however, made it clear that there would be no talks with the separatist Hurriyat Conference leaders.

The Bill was passed by 370 votes in favour and 70 against. It had been passed on Monday by the Rajya Sabha and goes to the President now, so that it becomes a law.

With that, the House was adjourned sine die, a day ahead of the scheduled extended session. Article 370 was the divide between India and Kashmir and it has been dismantled forever, Shah said, replying to the debate.

"Article 370 had put doubts in the mind of people whether or not Kashmir is a part of India," the Home Minister said. In a sharp rejoinder to Congress leader Manish Tewari's comments describing the Kashmir announcement as a "black day," Shah referred to the Emergency of 1975 and said:

"Black Day is not today but it was then. During the Emergency, you made all of India into a Union Territory. So don't preach to us."

Replying to another Congress leader, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who embarrassed his party by suggesting that Article 370 was not an internal matter, Shah said it was Jawaharlal Nehru who took Kashmir to the United Nation and were it not for him, PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) would not have existed.

"Who took Kashmir to the United Nations, it was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru? History will decide if this decision (to revoke special status under Article 370) is right or not, but whenever it will be discussed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be remembered," said Shah.

"Neither the BJP nor Narendra Modi can give up PoK. Our claim on every part of PoK remains as strong as it was earlier," he said. In response to AIMIM lawmaker Asaduddin Owaisi's remarks that the government was making a monumental mistake, the Home Minister said: "This is not a historical blunder...we are rectifying a historical blunder."

Shah regretted that so many had opposed the revocation of Article 370 but none showed how it helps Jammu and Kashmir. He asserted that it has rather harmed the state's development and promoted terrorism.

Shah said the debate has been going on for the past 70 years as to with whom to talk. He said there can't be talks with those who get inspiration from Pakistan.

Shah also made it clear that he will not come under pressure from the opposition parties to remove paramilitary forces deployed in Kashmir valley.

The Home Minister also tried to dispel the Opposition's fears that removal of Article 370 may lead to removal of the special provisions pertaining to many states under Article 371.

He also challenged the claim that unemployment had abetted terrorism in the state. He said the youth were misled by Pakistan to take to separatism; otherwise, why is there no terrorism in other states with problem of unemployment?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the passage of the bills on Jammu and Kashmir as a "momentous occasion" and said a new dawn awaits the state which is now free from the "shackles" of vested interest groups. "Together we are, together we shall rise and together we will fulfil the dreams of 130 crore Indians!’’ he said in a series of tweets.

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