Thursday, 19 September, 2019

India's PM uses Independence Day to defend Kashmir changes

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Patty Aguilar | 16 August, 2019, 16:32

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"There is a need to have greater discussion and awareness on population explosion", said Prime Minister Modi, while addressing the nation on 73rd Independence Day from the Red Fort.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on India and Pakistan to refrain from any steps that could affect the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Aug. 5 decision by India blocks the right of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there. As part of Bukhari's appeal, overseas Pakistanis had been requested to hold protests outside Indian embassies in their respective countries to show solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir. More than a dozen Hindu activists were detained as they tried to march to the city centre to celebrate, according to police officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to reporters.

It was unclear how long the lockdown would last.

Modi in his sixth consecutive Independence Day speech suggested that India be more environmentally friendly and completely free of single-use plastic, urging startup entrepreneurs to come up with recycling ideas.

A Pakistani soldier was killed on Friday in retaliatory firing by the Indian Army after the neighbouring troops violated ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, taking the death toll to four. This means that neither Pakistan nor India will be there.

Earlier, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi described Modi as a key hurdle to peace and dialogue.

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"Restrictions will continue in some places of Kashmir for some time", he said.

Pro-Modi Indian groups, on the other hand, had initially announced to hold a counter-demonstration but changed their plans after realising that pro-Kashmir protestors would be huge in numbers and things could spiral out of control.

Major-General Asif Ghafoor, a spokesman for the Pakistan armed forces, said its three soldiers had died along with five of India's when Indian forces opened fire along the contested border known as the line of control.

The speech was Modi's sixth consecutive Independence Day, having been re-elected for his second term in May.

On Thursday, turning to his agenda to make India a $5 trillion economy in the next five years, Modi said that the changes in Kashmir will help the region contribute more to India's development.

"From 2014 to 2019, we became a $3 trillion economy. But today, I can say standing here at the Red Fort, with pride, that we are one nation and one constitution", said the 68-year-old Hindu nationalist leader.

Modi also said India would establish the post of chief of defense staff in order to coordinate the military's air, ground and naval branches.

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