Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Wednesday expressed happiness over the abrogation of Article 370, saying the nation would celebrate this Independence day along with an “independent Kashmir”.
Speaking at a celebration ahead of Independence Day in Chhota Udepur at a Yuva Samm-elan (youth conference), Rupani equated the removal of special status of Jammu and Kashmir with it becoming independent, and congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for the “historical” step. He also said Kashmir was now “an integral part of the country in a true sense”.
Reminding the youth of the independence struggle and its leaders such as Subhash Chandra Bose, VD Savarkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Rupani recalled the history of how they “fought against British rule, sacrificed their lives during the struggle, were arrested, lathi-charged and shot at. But they faced all of this to fulfill their dreams of a free India.”
Emphasising the role of Gujarat’s own Sardar Patel, Rupani recalled, “He helped unify the nation, from Junagadh to Nizam of Hyderabad. If that had not happened, today you and I would be taking visas to go to Junagadh or Hyderabad.”
However, at the same time “the issue of Kashmir was dragged on till today”, he said. “But I am happy that today when we celebrate the 73rd Independence day even Kashmir is independent today after the abrogation of Article 370.”
On the occasion, Rupani announced that army schools will be opened in tribal districts to help prepare tribal youth to get inducted into the Indian Army. “The tribal youth of the country have the potential to be inducted into the Indian Army but to help them become eligible and skilled to join the Indian Army in large numbers, sainik schools will be set up across the tribal districts of the state,” Rupani said, adding how the state government helped establish medical and technical colleges in the tribal districts of the state including Banaskantha, Dahod, Tapi, Valsad.
“Around 10 years ago, our state had only 10 universities, today we have more than 60 universities in the state apart from universities for sports, forensic science, yoga, petroleum, and railway which is eventually making the youth skilled enough for future employment opportunities,” he said. “Last year more than 1.5 lakh youth were given employment, along with 33% reservation for women which even gave employment opportunities for women a boost,” he said, speaking of the advances brought about in society. “Every year, under the state government’s apprenticeship scheme, over 1 lakh youth are being trained,” he added. He said that providing students with tablet computers, Wi-Fi at educational institutions and organising the Vibrant Gujarat summits once in two years had also provided youth with a platform.