'Kashmir Was in a Mess Before August 5': Jaishankar Defends Govt's Article 370 Move
The external affairs minister said the government’s first concern was to ensure that there was no loss of lives due to violence and demonstrations in the region after the scrapping of Article 370.
File photo of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. (Reuters)
New York: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday defended the restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir after the Narendra Modi government’s decision to scrap the special status of the state, saying it was in a mess before August 5.
Jaishankar, while addressing the press, said the government’s first concern was to ensure that there was no loss of lives due to violence and demonstrations in the region after the scrapping of Article 370.
“We had the experience of 2016 when a self-advertised terrorist cult figure called Burhan Wani was killed and after that, there was a spike in violence. Our intention was to manage the situation (post Article 370) without loss of life and restrictions were intended to do that," he said.
The Union minister added that as many as 42,000 people were killed in the last 30 years in the state and the “level of intimidation had reached a height where senior police officers were lynched on streets of Srinagar, journalists who wrote against separatism were assassinated, military personnel returning home for Eid were kidnapped and killed”.
“Hence, before August 5, Kashmir was in a mess. Difficulties in Kashmir did not start on August 5. It is supposed to be a way of dealing with those difficulties,” he said.
Jaishankar said the situation in the region has now stabilised and lots of restrictions have been rolled back including the operationalising of landlines and mobile towers and resumption of economic activity.
The minister said that the temporary provision allowed a set of narrow elite to arbitrage Article 370 for monopolising political power and creating a close loop politics.
"They had vested interests in keeping alive separatist sentiments. You had a situation where separatist political parties were openly allied with terror groups operating out of Pakistan. They had vested interests in keeping alive separatist sentiments," he said.
Relations between India and Pakistan have been strained since the government decided to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divide it into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh.
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