Paradise lost, lest we forget! Mohammad Shafi Rather from Shumlarn Baramulla. - JK News Live

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Paradise lost, lest we forget! Mohammad Shafi Rather from Shumlarn Baramulla.



Jammu and Kashmir, a Himalayan region was a princely state during the British East India Company rule as well as the British Raj in India from 1846-1947. The Princely state was created after the first Anglo-Sikh war. At the end of the British Rule in India, Jammu and Kashmir acceded to Dominion of India on October 26, 1947.  India and Pakistan went to war over it and Pakistan
 Administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan passed to the control of Pakistan while the remaining territory remained under Indian Control as the Indian administered state of Jammu and Kashmir (Now UTs of J&K and Ladakh). This led to the rise of Kashmir conflict.

Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was the basis of Jammu and Kashmir’s relationship with India and it allowed the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir some amount of autonomy- its own constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make laws. As a result Jammu and Kashmir had its own laws related to the permanent residency, ownership of property etc. As per these laws no Indian living outside Jammu and Kashmir could purchase property or settle here.
Just before 5 August 2019, there was a gesticulation that something serious is going to happen in the region. After a series of advisories from Govt. of India, thousands of additional Indian troops were deployed to Kashmir valley, Amarnath Yatra (The Major Hindu Pilgrimage) was cancelled, schools and colleges were closed, tourists were ordered to vacate, telephone and internet services were suspended,  a large number of people were detained and curfews and lockdowns were imposed.
No Pundit was able to analyze the situation accurately. The whole region was under tight grip of fear.
On 5th August 2019, the Home Minister of India, Amit Shah astonished everyone by announcing that Govt. Of India is going to revoke Article 370 and Article 35A and split the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

Was it legal?

Article 370 (1) gave the power to the President of India to nullify the Article anytime but only in concurrence with the recommendation of state Govt of Jammu and Kashmir. As there was no Govt. for months in Jammu and Kashmir, so the order was passed in consultation with the Governor of the state. As per Article 155 of the Indian Constitution Governor of a state is appointed by the President of India and He works in a state as an agent of Union Govt. Hence in case of abrogation of Article 370 the decision was unilateral as Union Govt consulted only itself and not the state Govt, violating the principles of Article 370(1).
Presently, the case is pending in the supreme Court of India which will decide the legality of this decision of Govt of India

Public Perception.
Because of fear and cut-off communication, the reaction in the region was reduced to silence.
Scraping of special status of Jammu and Kashmir without the consent of local people has raised deception perception among the masses. Although Article 370 was diluted from time to time and it resembled a fig leaf but it had symbolic and emotional significance for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. People feel fear and suspicion regarding their identity as abrogation of Article 370 will bring outsiders to the region that will lead to cultural and demographic changes.

What has changed on the ground after abrogation of Article 370?
Jammu and Kashmir will no longer have a separate constitution and all Indian Laws will be applicable to the region. People living outside the region will be able to purchase property and outsiders having domicile of Jammu and Kashmir will be eligible for Govt jobs in Jammu and Kashmir.
Govt had said that abrogation of Article 370 will bring development to the region. Indian Home Minister, Amit Shah told Parliament,
“I want to tell the people of Jammu and Kashmir what damage Article 370 and Article 35A did to the state. It is because of these sections that democracy was never fully implemented, corruption increased in the state, and that no development could take place.”
Govt had also said that abrogation of Article 370 will help in curbing militancy in the region.
The Govt of India has constituted a delimitation Commission for redrawing Parliamentary and assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. The commission will function without any local participation from Kashmir as three National Conference (Regional Political Party) Lok Sabha MPs who were nominated by the Govt of India as the associated members of the commission have dissociated themselves from the commission.
As per the campaigners for the right to information, good governance and transparency in the Jammu and Kashmir Government, corruption remains as prevalent as it was when Jammu and Kashmir was a state.
Because of violence and political instability which emerged during the 1990s, no major industrial development has taken place in Jammu and Kashmir. Many outside entrepreneurs had already started their industrial units in Jammu and Kashmir during 1980s but because of the prevailing situation those units shut down and are lying sick. Experts opine that the abrogation of Article 370 would hardly incline any non-local investor to start an industrial unit in the Kashmir unless the ground situation normalizes.
According to a report by a civil society group of prominent Indians, including justice Madan Bhimarao Lokur, former judge of the Supreme Court of India, professor Radha Kumar, former interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, since 5th August 2019 Jammu and Kashmir has registered an economic loss of Rs. 40000 crore (USD 5.3 Billion).
After the abrogation of Article 370, local youth have not stopped joining militant ranks and encounters between militants and Indian forces have not stopped in the region.
The mobile internet is available at low 2G speed and 4G mobile internet service is still banned over a year now.
Abrogation of Article 370 has led to the Internationalization of Kashmir conflict despite India’s claim that Kashmir is its internal issue. After Pakistan’s involvement in this issue, the United Nation’s Security Council (UNSC) met two times for closed-door meetings on the situation in Kashmir. The US Congress passed two resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, condemning New Delhi’s decision. US President Donald Trump offered to mediate on the Kashmir issue if asked by both countries. Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the democratic front runners for the 2020 US Presidential election, strongly criticized the Indian Govt.’s handling of situation in Kashmir. China and Russia wanted India and Pakistan to settle the dispute in accordance with the UN Charter and Security Council’s resolution on Kashmir. Sensing some dent in its global image as a liberal democracy, India invited foreign diplomats of various nations for official visits to Jammu and Kashmir.
What Locals Want?
On 4th August 2019, an all-party meeting was held at Gupkar Srinagar to deliberate upon the situation that was prevailing in the state. It was unanimously resolved that all the parties would be united in their resolve to protect and defend the identity, autonomy and special status of Jammu and Kashmir against all attacks and onslaughts whatsoever. Right now local politicians seem to have backtracked from the Gupkar declaration as they didn’t show any stringent reaction against 5 August 2019 event. Instead they are pressing for restoration of statehood and holding of elections.
Common people see no benefit in restoration of statehood if all the laws passed by the Govt. after 5 August 2019 are not repealed off. People are concerned about the cultural identity of the region and have apprehensions about Domicile Law and amendments made to the Control of Building Operations Act, 1988 and Jammu and Kashmir Development Act, 1970 giving powers to the Cantonment Board and the Armed Forces to carry out construction activities beyond the Cantonments. Local people opine that these laws will lead to the demographic changes in the Muslim-majority region and will dilapidate cultural identity of Jammu and Kashmir. People want that statehood to the region should be restored with local autonomy as was granted earlier under Article 370 and Article 35A.

From decades local people aspire for peace and prosperity in the region. Because of continuous violence in the region from last three decades, the people of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering the worst. People of Jammu and Kashmir want all the stakeholders to shun arrogance and sit together to find a permanent and peaceful solution of Kashmir conflict.

(The author is a teacher and can be reached at msrshumlaran@gmail.com)

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