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Modi: Changes in Kashmir will free it from ‘terrorism’

Reuters

People watch as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers an address to the nation on a TV screen in Ahmedabad, India, on Thursday.

The Associated Press NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the nation Thursday night that he stripped the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir of its statehood and special constitutional status to free the disputed region of “terrorism and separatism.”

Modi’s Hindu-led nationalist government imposed an unprecedented security lockdown and a near-total communications blackout in the Muslim-majority region since Sunday night, arresting more than 500 people.

Kashmir is claimed in full by both India and its archrival Pakistan, although each controls only a part of it and rebels have been fighting Indian rule in the portion it administers for decades. This week, India downgraded the Himalayan region from statehood to a territory, limited its decision-making power and eliminated its right to its own constitution.

In his first nationally broadcast speech on the decision, Modi described the changes for Jammu and Kashmir, as the region is formally known, as historic. He assured its residents that the situation will soon “return to normal gradually,” although he gave no specifics.

Modi said the “mainstreaming” of the Kashmiri people with the rest of the nation would expedite development and create new jobs with investment from public and private companies.

He accused neighboring Pakistan of using the past arrangement “as a weapon to incite people of the region against India.”

“I have complete faith under this new system we all will be able to free Jammu and Kashmir of terrorism and separatism,” Modi said, referring to ending the region’s special status granted under Articles 370 and 35A of India’s Constitution.

Those provisions “gave Jammu and Kashmir nothing but terrorism, separatism, dynasticism and large-scale spread of corruption,” and they were “used as a weapon by Pakistan to incite anti-national feelings against some people in our country,” he said.

Modi added: “This heaven on earth, our Jammu and Kashmir, will once again reach new heights of development and attract the whole world toward it. Ease of living will increase for our citizens. Citizens will receive all the benefits they deserve without any obstacles or challenges.”

Pakistan said it would downgrade diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expel the Indian ambassador and suspend trade and a key train service with India. Speech

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