PAYING glowing tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on National Unity Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday defended the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, saying the Special Status provision only bred terrorism in the erstwhile State. He also hailed India’s unity in diversity, calling it the biggest challenge for the country’s enemies.
Attending a function at the Statue of Unity here on Patel’s 144th birth anniversary, Modi led the gathering in taking the ‘national unity pledge’ on National Unity Day. “The new system in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh is not meant to draw a line on the land (to draw a boundary) but to build a strong link of trust,” the Prime Minister said in the wake of the bifurcation of the State into Union Territories which came into existence from October 31.
Inspired by Patel, his Government is working for “emotional, economic and constitutional integration” of the country, without which it would be difficult to imagine a powerful India in the 21st century, he said. In a swipe at Pakistan, he said those “who cannot win wars” against India are trying to destroy its unity. “The country took the decision to scrap Article 370 (which provided Special Status to J&K), which had only given separatism and terrorism to that State,” Modi said.
“Over 40,000 people lost their lives in three decades of terrorism,” he said, adding it was Patel’s inspiration which made him take the decision to revoke Article 370. The PM said he dedicates the Centre’s August 5 decison to scrap the controversial provision of the Constutution “at the feet of” independent India’s first Home Minister. The Prime Minister termed Article 370 as a “wall” that separated people. He watched ‘Ekta parade’ in which personnel of the Gujarat Police, Jammu & Kashmir Police, Central Reserve Police Force and Border Security Force took part.