NEW DELHI: In the back drop of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) being stripped of its special status and the Himalayan valley being brought to a standstill, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come out saying that the decision was taken to to free it from "terrorism and separatism which was encouraged by Pakistan."
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In his first comments on the constitutional bombshell carried out while IOK was under a military lockdown, Modi insisted that his government had made a "historic decision".
The Hindu nationalist government rushed through a presidential decree Monday to ditch the Muslim-majority region's constitutionally-guaranteed status.
Parliament also passed a law splitting the state into two territories. Pakistan has expelled India's ambassador and suspended all trade in protest at the move.
"Friends, I have full belief that we will be able to free Jammu and Kashmir from terrorism and separatism under this system," Modi said.
"I have full faith that the people of Jammu and Kashmir, after defeating separatism, will move forward with new hopes and aspirations."
The Indian leader said nuclear rival Pakistan used the special status "as a weapon against the country to inflame the passions of some people" against the Indian state.
Internet and telephone connections in IOK have been cut since Monday and a curfew imposed as the authorities feared trouble when the decision was announced.
Modi said the special status has "not given anything other than terrorism, separatism, nepotism and big corruption."
Modi said he respected opposition politicians and prominent Kashmiris who have opposed the government's strongarm tactics.
"We are working to answer their points but I request them to act to keep India's interests and help Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh," he said.
"I want to assure my Jammu and Kashmir colleagues that slowly things will become normal and their problems will reduce."