Neither gaali nor goli is way ahead in Kashmir: Modi

In the backdrop of heated and contentious debates on communal harmony, faith and identity politics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used his Independence Day speech to make a strong pitch against violence in the name of faith that he said is harmful for the social fabric.

“Sometimes in the name of faith, some people due to lack of patience end up destroying the social fabric. The country is governed by peace, harmony and unity. The poison of casteism and communalism can never benefit the country,“ the PM said from the ram parts of the Red Fort.

“This is the land of Gandhi and Buddha, we have to move forward taking everyone along. This is part of our country's culture and tradition. We have to successfully carry it forward and that is why in the name of faith, violence cannot be allowed,“ he further said.

Though he did not elaborate, Modi's remarks can be seen in the context of his admonition to selfstyled `gau rakshaks' for indulging in violence against cattle transporters who have often been Muslims, something which has led opponents to question the sincerity of PM's “sabka saath, sabka vikas“ promise. By focusing on it again in his Red Fort speech, the PM has put the concern on a different pedestal. In his fourth Independence Day address as Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned violence in the name of communalism and casteism.

Unlike earlier references to “gau rakshaks“, Tuesday's remarks appeared to be directed against all kinds of zealots and extremists.

After more than a year of operations which seem to have given security forces an upper hand, the PM hinted at dialogue in Jammu - Kashmir, saying neither “gaali (abuse)“ nor “goli (bullet)“ is the way ahead.

“There are a lot of charges and counter-charges... everyone is busy abusing everyone else... My mind is clear on how to win this battle. Change will happen by embracing every Kashmiri. Such is the legacy of 125 crore Indians. And we are moving forward with this resolve,“ Modi added.

He also spoke about J-K's development and progress being the responsibility of the country as a whole, and not merely the state government's. He did, however, say there would be no slackening of security operations.

“There is no question of being soft on terrorism. We have been asking the extremists to join the mainstream. Democracy provides equal opportunity and rights to be heard by all. The process of engagement can take place only by their joining the mainstream,“ he said.

The emphasis was clear enough. Separatists -under investigation for their links with Pakistan and stonepelters -could become part of the dialogue process if they demonstrably distanced themselves from violence and considered joining the political mainstream.

Modi also called for a positive outlook to nation-building, saying it was time to give up an indifferent “chalta hai“ (business as usual) attitude and adopt a “can do“ or a “change is possible“ outlook to build a new India that celebrates togetherness and progress of all.

He quoted a sanskrit shlok to say that if action is not taken at the right time, the expected results are not obtained.

The speech, Modi's shortest Independence Day address so far, did not mention, even obliquely, the tensions with China over Doklam, and was marked by an absence of foreign policy references as he set out a domestic agenda in the five years to India's 75th anniversary .

He linked the issues of security to India's global stature, which he said was rising. “Be it hawala or any inputs on terrorism, the global community is supporting us with critical information,“ he said.

Modi also said the government would complete some 99 schemes, including several to improve agriculture, by 2019, when the Lok Sabha elections are due.

He highlighted initiatives against corruption such as demonetisation and GST, and dwelled on the need to create more self-employment rather than regular jobs.

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