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S Jaishankar sets record straight on Article 370: ‘Kashmir was a mess before August 5’

Abhinav Ranjan
S Jaishankar, Kashmir news

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that Kashmir was a mess before August 5, the day the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government abrogated Article 370 which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Speaking at an interactive session with Frank G Wisner, a former US Ambassador to India, in New York, Jaishankar said that intention of the government behind this decision was to manage the situation in the Valley that saw a spike in violence following the killing of Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani in 2016.

Jaishankar said that the intention behind scrapping Article 370 was to manage the situation in Kashmir without loss of life and that the imposition of restrictions were intended to do just that. The EAM further noted that as many as 42,000 people had been killed in Jammu and Kashmir in the last 30 years.

"The level of intimidation had reached a height, where senior police officers were lynched on the streets of Srinagar. Journalists who wrote against separatism were assassinated, military personnel returning home for Eid were kidnapped and killed. So, pre-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 many restrictions have been eased. Landlines and some mobile towers have been restored and economic activity has resumed, he said.

"Particular efforts are being made to keep the supplies normal in the state. This is a harvest season for apples. Efforts are being made to procure apples so that farmers do not get victimised by these changes," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Jaishankar said addressing a gathering at an Asia Society event that New Delhi has no problem in holding talks with neighbouring Pakistan but has a prolem taking to ‘terroristan’. He thundered that Pakistan has created an entire industry of terrorism to deal with the Kashmir issue.

After New Delhi scrapped Article 370 from the state, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India. It expelled Indian High Commissioner and recalled its envoy from New Delhi. Its all-weather ally China too reacted and called upon the two countries to exercise restraint and act with caution. However, other countries including the US, UK, France and Russia and others have maintained that Kashmir was an internal matter of India and refused to interfere despite Pakistan’s several attempts to flag the issue at international forums.