"It is something that does not touch upon the Line of Control (LoC) or the international boundary and therefore, does not have any impact on our relationship with any other state. It is an internal matter of India," said India's envoy to the United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
Shringla told an audience at the Heritage Foundation that New Delhi has been very generous to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but it has been "exploited by a small group of individuals politically connected with that state." He said the decision to convert the state into two territories to be administered by the federal government is to ensure that development benefits go directly to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The envoy told the audience that President Donald Trump's offer to mediate on Kashmir with Pakistan is irrelevant and not "on the table any more" as India has not accepted it. Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar had categorically spurned the unsolicited remarks.
Shringla said the reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories with their own council and legislature is an administrative decision. "It is a decision which seeks to ensure that we provide for better governance, we ensure that the socio-economic benefits that every other Indian gets should also go to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir," he added.
Explaining the move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, Article 370 and 35A have given "nothing but secessionism, terrorism, nepotism and widespread corruption on a large scale to Jammu and Kashmir."
In an address to the nation last week, Modi claimed, these articles were used as a weapon by Pakistan to flare up people's emotions. "Due to this 42,000 people lost their lives in the last three decades," said Modi.
Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan since the countries gained freedom from British colonial rule in 1947. Both govern part of the region but claim it in full. They also fought two wars over Kashmir.