- Article 370 was root of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, said Amit Shah
- It won't be allowed to turn into another Kosovo, the Home Minister said
- He said full statehood will be restored to J&K at "appropriate time"
Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, had to go as it was the root of terrorism in the state and was the biggest hurdle to normalcy, Home Minister Amit Shah said on Monday, replying to a debate on the government's move to reorganize the state and bifurcate it into two union territories.
"Nothing will happen... It won't be allowed to turn into another Kosovo," Amit Shah said, addressing concerns raised by various opposition leaders. "It was heaven on earth and will remain so."
He said full statehood will be restored to Jammu and Kashmir at "appropriate time" and after "normalcy" returns.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, for the state's bifurcation was passed in the Rajya Sabha on Monday as the government, which is in a minority in the house, won the support of various regional parties.
"Article 370 was the root of terror in Jammu and Kashmir. It is time for it to go... if it doesn't go today, we can't remove terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir," Amit Shah said in the upper house, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present for the vote. PM Modi tweeted Amit Shah's speech later, praising it as "extensive and insightful" and saying it "accurately highlighted the monumental injustices of the past and coherently presented our vision for the sisters and brothers of J&K."
Article 370, said the Home Minister, had ruined Jammu and Kashmir, stalled its development, prevented proper health care and education and blocked industries.
The "obstacle of Article 370" had to be removed to integrate the region with the rest of India and develop it, he said.
"It needed strong political will to end Article 370, to rise above vote-bank politics. Narendra Modi had the will to do it," he said to loud desk-thumping from the government benches.
"Jammu and Kashmir is the mukut-mani (jewel in the crown) of India. Give us five years, we will make it the country's most developed state," Amit Shah said, assuring transformation of the state under BJP rule.
Earlier, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, said Jammu and Kashmir was being "broken into pieces" and the people of the state were not with the Centre.
"We went from Prime Minister to Chief Minister, now we're at Lieutenant Governor. You've made the Governor a clerk. You've made Jammu and Kashmir a non-entity. Bring this to your state and see what happens," he told Amit Shah.
Mr Azad also warned the government: "Don't be intoxicated with power."
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien said that it was a "dark Monday" and a mockery of the Constitution has been made. He appealed to leaders of other regional parties to oppose the way government had brought the resolution and bills pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir. "Trinamool is against the constitutional immorality and procedural harakiri committed today," Mr O'Brien said.