Article 370 polarising, rightly removed: Congressman

Article 370 might have worked well for those with political connections, but it denied economic opportunities for the people: George Holding

US Congressman George Holding has praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to end the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by repealing Article 370 of the Constitution. According to him, this will enable long-term stability in the region.

Holding told the second North Carolina state congressional delegation on Thursday that Jammu and Kashmir residents deserved more benefits and that bringing peace and stability to those areas was essential. He strongly condemned Pakistan for trying to create unrest in the Valley.

The US Congressman said the special status discriminated between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India. According to him, in the last few decades, thousands of people have died in terrorist attacks. Several militant groups, based in Pakistan, have crossed the border to invade India. The economy of the region has weakened due to this.

According to Holding, the Modi government had to make a decision between sticking to the old policy and taking new steps for development.

Holding said the steps that Prime Minister Modi and Parliament have taken were needed; they were good for the long-term stability of the region, and they should be applauded. The Republican lawmaker said Parliament passed the legislation changing the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and amended provisions that were an “obstacle to economic development and promoted a sense of separatism.” “Up until recently, Kashmir had been governed by Article 370, which was an outdated provision of law that the Indian constitution recognised as temporary. Article 370 might have worked well for those with political connections, but it denied economic opportunities for the people,” he said.

The temporary provision of the Indian constitution, he said, also created a “polarising environment” that was exploited politically and during the past decades, thousands of people lost their lives due to terrorist attacks. Several groups based in Pakistan were able to carry out cross-border terrorism that wreaked havoc on individuals and families, and led to a morbid economy, Holding said. Hence, the Modi government had to make a decision on whether to continue with the old policy or to pursue progress by changing the region’s legal status, the Congressman asserted.

“Madam Speaker, the people of Jammu and Kashmir deserve better and Prime Minister Modi was right to take bold steps to address this situation. Changes to the status of Jammu and Kashmir passed by Parliament by a two-thirds majority, which highlights the consensus on the need for this reform”, Holding said. Even with these changes, those seeking to cause disruption have continued to promote violence, he said.

Pakistan-based terror groups have recently floated posters warning common citizens against venturing out, going to work, and visiting public places, Holding said. “The groups have continued to engage in cross-border terrorism and have attacked civilians and children. These militant groups have also attacked migrant workers and those who are involved in the apple business, which is the chief crop of Kashmir,” said the Republican Congressman.

For Jammu and Kashmir to flourish, there must be peace and stability. Individuals and families need to feel safe when they leave their homes for work, Holding added.

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