New Delhi: India's Kashmir region was stripped of its autonomy to free it from "terrorism and separatism", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday.
In his first comments on the constitutional bombshell carried out while Kashmir was under a military lockdown, Modi insisted that his government had made a "historic decision".
The Indian 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.
"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."
He assured that the assembly elections to elect a new government in Jammu and Kashmir will be held in transparent manner, like the panchayat polls in 2018.
Modi also said that all vacant government posts in the new Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh Union Territories will be filled soon.
Terming the changes in Jammu and Kashmir the beginning of "new era", he said that people across the country now have the same rights.
He said that he wanted the local young leaders of the region to enter politics and participate in the polls.
The Prime Minister urged the J&K Governor to complete at the earliest formation of the block development councils, pending for the last two-three decades.
"I am confident that after the removal of Article 370, when these Panchayat members get a chance to work in the new system, they will do wonders. I am confident that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will defeat separatism and move forward with new hopes," he said.
Modi also asserted that the dream of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, B.R. Ambedkar, Syama Prasad Mookerjee and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajapyee has been fulfilled by abrogating Article 370.
"Like one family, one nation - we have taken a historic decision on Jammu and Kashmir. Such a system, due to which the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were deprived of many rights, which was a major obstacle in their development, have now gone away.
"The dream of Sardar Patel, Baba Ambedkar, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Atal Bihari Vajpayee and crores of patriots have been fulfilled," he said in his address.