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Ambassador's media briefing on Aug 19. 2019, on developments in Jammu and Kashmir

Posted on: August 21, 2019 | Back | Print

Regrouped Kashmir set for peace, progress: Indian envoy
India’s envoy to Turkey details steps taken to ensure 'peace and prosperity' in the disputed Muslim-majority region
Riyaz ul Khaliq   |20.08.2019


ANKARA
Restrictions are being eased in Jammu and Kashmir following India’s move to scrap the special status of the Muslim-majority state, according to India’s ambassador to Turkey.
Law and order is under control and more than 200 schools have reopened, said Sanjay Bhattacharyya on Monday.
The India-administered region has been facing a clampdown since Aug. 5, when the Indian government nixed Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which conferred it a special status. Hundreds of people, mostly political leaders, have been detained or arrested by authorities since the move.
Bhattacharyya argued the decision had "no external ramifications as none of these measures had [affected] any change on the external boundaries of India, the Line of Actual Control [LAC] with China, or the Line of Control [LoC] with Pakistan.”
“These measures were purely internal in nature … in the sense that they are administrative in nature, regarding improving governance as well as measures to deliver socioeconomic justice to the disadvantaged people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
With the new move, the Indian government further downgraded and divided the disputed region into two centrally controlled “union territories” or UT.
Reorganization of Indian-administered Kashmir
Bhattacharyya said the 1947 "accession" of the then-“princely state of Jammu and Kashmir” with the Union of India “was a legal process.”
“The accession that was signed by king [Maharaja] of Jammu and Kashmir was the same as the instrument of accession signed by 540 other princely states in India and in Pakistan because there were certain princely states that joined Pakistan,” he said.
After Britain left the Indian subcontinent, there were over 600 princely states that were asked to join either of the two new states -- India and Pakistan -- under a “partition plan” in 1947. Most of them joined India.
“We have had several reorganizations of the states [provinces] since 1953, and the most recent one before this [turning Jammu and Kashmir into a union territory] had been the reorganization of 2014, when the state of Andhra Pradesh was made into the two states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh,” he said.
After being divided into two union territories, the Jammu and Kashmir region will be controlled directly by the central government, unlike how it was previously run by the regional government.
“There is one unique difference that is there between states [provinces] and union territories, and that is that law and order in a union territory is looked after by the central government, whereas law and order in the states is the responsibility of the state [provincial] government,” he added.
“The changes in Article 370 are not unique or extraordinary but a normal process … that reflected a process of integration of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into India,” he said.
“There was wider acceptance in the global community that changes in Article 370 were an internal affair of India,” he claimed. “India is a mature democracy with the rule of law.”
The envoy also said that India received support from a “number of countries, including Islamic ones, because they realize that the Indian Union is a secular state.”
‘Restrictions eased, schools reopened’
Bhattacharyya said the district of Leh and Jammu “strongly welcomed” the removal of the special provisions.
“However, in the Kashmir division, we had to exercise Section 144 [which prohibits the assembly of more than four people in public places under law] until this last weekend,” he said.
The restriction “had been lifted on a gradual basis so people could pick up their civil supplies and daily requirements. It was also lifted for emergency cases. All government offices of course were open and all utilities were in place and there was a special relaxation for Eid celebrations, which were attended in large numbers.”
The state seemed to be in a "normal condition" and there were "not many untoward incidents,” he said, underlining that there were "no deaths during this period.”
“Over the weekend, we opened communication lines so that people can communicate with each other, and today, more than 200 schools have reopened in Srinagar in the Kashmir division.
“The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh union territories are looking forward to a period where they can have peace and stability … that they do not have the external negative influence of Pakistani-inspired and supported militancy and that they would be able to regain their lives,” he said.
He added that part of the reason communication had been stopped for a period was due to "fake news" and also because “we had seen how the Pakistanis had used social media to mobilize terrorist support in those areas.” 

UN Security Council meeting an ‘informal consultation’
On last week’s UN Security Council meeting which discussed Kashmir, Bhattacharyya said: "The UN secretary-general, as you know, had said that this issue was an internal matter of India, and if there are outstanding bilateral issues between India and Pakistan, they should be resolved in accordance with the [1972] Shimla Agreement.”
He called the Security Council meeting on Kashmir an “informal consultation process.”
Investment summits
Bhattacharyya said Jammu and Kashmir had missed out on economic and social development in a manner in which “the rest of the country had benefitted from, which has made India the [world’s] fastest-growing economy.”
He also said that due to Article 370, women in Jammu and Kashmir were at a disadvantage.
“They did not have the same inheritance rights… [They] did not have the same representation rights in village councils.”
He said a large number of education institutions specializing in science and technology, medicine, and management along with new hospitals are expected to be set up in the region that "will provide gainful employment and integration for the people."
In October, Bhattacharyya said, investment summits are planned for Jammu and Srinagar.
The summits will look not only at domestic investors but also at external investors, he said, adding the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has been commissioned as the coordinator for this process.
He also voiced concern over recent statements by Pakistani leadership targeting the Indian government over the Kashmir issue.
“We shall always remain open for peaceful solutions with our neighbor Pakistan. As for now, our energies are focused on bringing peace and stability, development, and social growth in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
Disputed history
From 1947 until this month, Jammu and Kashmir had special provisions under which it enacted its own laws. The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which prohibited outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.
The Himalayan region of Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971, two of them over Kashmir.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights groups, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.
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Over 200 schools reopen in Jammu and Kashmir: Envoy
Kashmiri people can fulfill their daily needs regularly, says India's ambassador to Turkey
News Service09:20 August 20, 2019AA


File photo
More than 200 schools have been reopened in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar, India’s Ambassador to Turkey said Monday, as restrictions were being eased following a security lockdown.
Speaking at a news conference, Sanjay Bhattacharyya said the restrictions are being gradually removed so that people can meet the daily needs.
"Of course all government offices are open, all public services are available…Over the past weekend, telephone lines were reopened for people to communicate with each other. Today, more than 200 schools reopened in Srinagar," Bhattacharyya said.
Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, has been facing a clampdown since Aug. 5, when the Indian government scrapped its special status. Hundreds of people -- mostly political leaders -- have been detained or arrested by the authorities.
Kashmiri leaders and residents fear this new status will change the demography of the state, where some groups are fighting for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.
Bhattacharyya said the Indian government’s decision is administrative and aims to improve good governance. He added that the decision is aimed at providing socioeconomic justice to disadvantaged areas by removing some non-operational provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution which granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
“The amendments to Article 370 are an internal matter of India,” Bhattacharyya said, adding union territories and states have been regulated in various ways since 1953 and most recently in 2014.
He noted that Article 370 is a normal process that expresses Jammu and Kashmir's integration into India.
“In its final decision, India received support from several countries, including some Muslim countries, because they are aware that the Indian Union is a secular state. Stories about Muslim or other community issues are not valid,” Bhattacharyya added, stressing that India is a democratic country.

  • India
  • Jammu and Kashmir
  • Kashmir
  • Sanjay Bhattacharyya

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