Indian PM Modi Uses Independence Day Speech to Defend Revoking Kashmir’s Special Status to Prevent Further ‘Corruption and Nepotism’; However Didn’t Address Reports of Cross-Border Fighting with Pakistan that Allegedly Left 8 Dead, Including 5 Indian Troops

  • Using an Independence Day speech, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended his decision to remove Kashmir’s special status, which granted the state semi-autonomy as the region remains locked down for an 11th consecutive day.
  • The region’s approximately 7 million people have been essentially cut off from the rest of the world with landline and mobile phone networks cut, as well as no access to the internet.
  • In his speech, Modi said “a new approach was needed on the territory, ownership over which has long been disputed with neighboring Pakistan, as efforts by Indian governments over the past 70 years did not bear results.”
  • Modi said: “One Nation, one constitution — this spirit has become a reality and India is proud of it. We think differently… we neither nurse problems nor keep them pending.”
  • There has long been tension between India and Pakistan over Kashmir with each side claiming ownership, and the revocation of Kashmir’s status under Article 370 has led to cross-border fighting, which left at least eight people dead on Thursday, according to reports.
  • On “India’s 73rd Independence Day from the ramparts of the iconic 17th century Red Fort in Delhi,” Modi said “Article 370 and Article 35A, the constitutional provisions that had given Jammu and Kashmir state significant autonomy had only encouraged corruption and nepotism.”
  • Under Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir was granted “its own constitution and law-making rights for everything but foreign affairs, communications, and defense.”
  • Article 35A was implemented to prevent “Indians from outside the state from settling permanently there and buying land.”
  • However, both articles were revoked on August 5 and divided “the state into two territories that will be directly controlled by the federal government, amid a security and communications crackdown on the residents of Kashmir.”
  • Critics believed this is an attempt “by Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government to shift the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir by allowing Hindu people to settle there.”
  • While the region’s citizens have been kept mostly indoors and barred from outside contact, the Indian government insists that things are calm while the media has reported that there have been mass demonstrations, which the police have acted against.
  • On Wednesday, Pakistan said it “would teach India a lesson,” and shortly after Modi’s speech on Thursday, “Pakistan claimed three of its soldiers were killed at the border dividing Kashmir by Indian forces, and said five Indian troops were also killed in the exchange of fire,” but India has denied these claims.

Reference Links

  • The Hindu: Indian Army rejects as ‘fictitious’ Pakistan military’s claim of killing 5 Indian soldiers along LoC in Jammu and Kashmir READ
  • AP: India’s Modi defends Kashmir policy amid clash with Pakistan READ
  • BBC: India PM Narendra Modi vows to ‘restore’ Kashmir’s ‘past glory’ READ
  • CBS: India’s PM Modi silent on Kashmir crackdown as Pakistan says troops killed in cross-border fire READ

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