Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that there was “utter silence” when women and Dalits were denied fundamental rights, but now, human rights has become a “global buzzword” following the revocation of Article 370.

Delivering a lecture on the ‘Indian Economy: Challenges and Prospects’ organised by the Deepak and Neera Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Sitharaman said that before the revocation of the temporary constitutional provision, the women of Jammu and Kashmir were denied property rights.

She further said that the temporary Article 370 denied the Scheduled Castes of the state a constitutional right for affirmative action.

“Denying a woman inheritance from her father, for instance, just because she married somebody else from somewhere outside of her state was also a serious human rights violation, about which none of us spoke till now. Remove Article 370 (and) human rights becomes a global buzzword? Where were we when women have been all these years denied property rights, where were we when Scheduled Castes were denied affirmative action.”

“So I think if people are worried about the economy of Jammu and Kashmir, they should be happy for it now because at least everybody will get the same facility and as much investment for the development of the state as it’s available for the rest of the states of India,” she said to a huge applause by the audience.

On August 5, the Centre abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated the state into Union territories

On the massive restrictions placed in the state, the Finance Minister claimed that it was only for the first week after the removal of Article 370.

“I don’t understand what is meant by lockdown. There was nothing imposed. There was never a protest for which a firing or a shootout should happen, nothing of that happened later.”

About 99 per cent areas in Jammu and Kashmir are free from restrictions on the movement of people.

Postpaid mobile services resumed in Kashmir after over two months on Monday noon, but without any internet services.

Explaining the reason for the internet shutdown, Sitharaman said that Pakistan was interfering in Kashmir and paying money to people – a majority of them school students – pelting stones at the security forces.

The Government has affirmed that restrictions in Kashmir were aimed at preventing Pakistan from creating trouble through proxies and terrorists.