It’s been two years since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35a and while BJP claims the people are elated, there is a different story inside.
Changes That The BJP is Happy About
The BJP now says that people from outside Jammu and Kashmir can buy land there, non-local spouses of J&K women get domicile status to allow them to buy land or property or apply for government jobs. All people who have resided in the Union Territory for 15 years, or have studied for seven years and appeared in Class 10 or 12 examinations in an educational institution in the region, and their children, are eligible for a grant of domicile status. The separate flag of Jammu and Kashmir no longer exists. There is also no security clearance for a passport to stone pelters claiming peace in the valley. There is also now the formation of the Gupkar alliance with aims to work for the restoration of the region’s special status.
What Kashmiris Feel:
Not Given Freedom of Expression
Despite the elated claims from the Center, the Kashmir viewpoint appears to be different with many groups and people stating their grievances. Police can just pick up anyone under UAPA, even if they are simply protesting absolutely removing personal liberties from Jammu and Kashmir.
Today is August 5th and while Kashmiris planned to walk in protests, the government restricts them
Protest and Kashmir traders are threatened with dire consequences if they keep their shops closed. They are not even given the freedom to express themselves in a bid from the Central government to show the world that the Kashmiris are happy with the abrogation of 370 and 35a.
The clampdown, continuous restrictions on the movement and association of people, and gagging of the media “have resulted in forced silence” which is building up resentment.
The Gupkar Alliance spokesman M.Y Tarigami said, “The recent participation of J&K leaders with the Prime Minister was a leap of faith but none of the measures required to begin rebuilding the shattered confidence of people has been taken. J&K remains as far from Delhi and from the heart of India as it has ever been. Rather the distances are further widening and disheartening is deepening,” he added.
Mr. Tarigami appealed to all sections of people “to remain united and not to fall prey to the false and slanderous campaigns and divisive attempts aimed at dividing and disarming our people”.
Kashmiris Regard Abrogation of Article of 370 and 35a as a Dark Day in the Indian Constitution
It has now been two years since that dark day in Kashmiri history, August 5th and Kashmiris echo that they cannot ever forget this say. Many express that it was a black day for the Indian Constitution when they abrogated Article 370 and 35a without Kashmir’s consent as according to the treaty, this cannot be done without Kashmir’s permission and agreement. The people who did this were throwing stones at the Indian Constitution.
Kashmiris ask the Supreme Court that if democracy is still alive in India, they should give pure justice and hold on to the issues still alive in the courts and give a proper verdict for J&K legally and until then, the Supreme Court should not allow the Center to do as it pleases and wills. Metaphorically, some express that they feel darkness is enshrouding Jammu and Kashmir, a sense of alienation and feeling of protection being removed.
Sajad Lone’s J&K Peoples Conference said the August 5, 2019 move would perpetually be remembered as a dark day and a day of disempowerment in the history of J&K.
“The decisions taken on August 5 are spiteful and contrary to ideals and values of democracy, the federal character of the Indian State. These decisions contravene the very ideas of justice and dignity that form the core of the political system and constitutional philosophy of the Republic of India,” its spokesman Adnan Ashraf Mir said.
Apni Party president Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari said the August 5 action not only snatched the special status of J&K but also incremented the trust deficit and sense of alienation among the people to an exponential level.
“There exists no substitute to the special status to J&K. But we strongly hope and believe that the Supreme Court of India will reciprocate to the people’s collective demand and deliver justice. We believe that the solution to the socio-economic and political problems faced by the people in J&K lies with New Delhi so it will be unwise to disengage or dissociate ourselves from pursuing the redressal,” he said.
It is important to listen to Kashmiri voices, they are the people living in the region and what they feel and express should be taken into uttermost importance.
There are Constant Encounters and Killings, Where is the Peace?
While there have many Army jawans killed since 2016, starting with the Uri attack, the deadliest attack ever on the Indian Army, there have been over 150 militants killed along with jawans since 2019.
Officials saying more local young people are being drawn toward militancy. A senior security officer, who wished to remain anonymous, told the BBC that of 200 currently active militants, 80 are believed to be from Pakistan and more than 120 are locals.
“Between January and July this year, 76 Kashmiris have picked up arms and the number is anticipated to increase,” the official said.
He said that no new foreign militant had been added to the list of active militants in Kashmir this year.
“But the names of locals are being added every day.”
Ripped Off Jobs and Rights over Their Natural Resources:
Thousands of Kashmiris have been ripped off jobs. The Peoples Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of five Jammu and Kashmir parties, including the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Wednesday said the past two years, after ending J&K’s special status in 2019, saw “people being divided into smaller units, silenced, ripped off their jobs and rights over the natural resources”.
Issuing a statement on the eve of the second anniversary of the reading down of Article 370, Gupkar alliance spokesman M.Y. Tarigami said, “Unconscionable suppression of civil and democratic rights continues unabated, indiscriminate arrests and harassment of all sections of our people, including employees on different pretexts continues. An ‘adverse police report’ cannot be a substitute for being found guilty in a court of law. This amounts to a violation of the most sacred principles of the justice system”.
The alliance shall not succumb but continue the struggle in defense of rights using every opportunity through peaceful and legal means, he stressed. Mr. Tarigami said the BJP’s ‘Naya Kashmir’ slogan “is a joke now”. “By demolishing the constitution of J&K, it has crossed all the limits of constitutionality. Protection of jobs and land rights were removed arbitrarily, which has deepened the alienation and sense of insecurity in all the regions. The economy of J&K has virtually collapsed, as tourism, trade, agriculture, horticulture, and handicraft sectors were badly hit,” he stated.
Economy on a Death Bed Called The Great Depression in Kashmir
Kashmir’s economy suffered losses of ₹15,000 crores since August the trade body says. People are in heavy depth and cannot pay off loans because no new money is generated.
Now, Kashmir is in its third lockdown since August 2019, over three years of lockdown has reduced the princely state to a begging bowl literally.
There is no sector of Kashmir’s economy — be it tourism, horticulture, transport, or trade — that hasn’t suffered losses in the past two years. “Economy was already on its deathbed,” said Sheikh Ashiq, President of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). “Somehow we were trying to survive, then came the pandemic.”
What are Article 370 and Article 35a?
Article 370 of the Indian constitution gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, a region located in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent which was administered by India as a state from 1954 to 31 October 2019, conferring it with the power to have a separate constitution, a state flag, and autonomy over the internal administration of the state.
Article 35A of the Indian Constitution was an article that empowered the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them. It was added to the Constitution through a Presidential Order, i.e., The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 – issued by the President of India under Article 370.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir defined these privileges to include the ability to purchase land and immovable property, the ability to vote and contest elections, seeking government employment, and availing other state benefits such as higher education and health care. Non-permanent residents of the state, even if Indian citizens, were not entitled to this ‘ privileges’ of the larger region of Kashmir which has been a subject of dispute since 1947 between India, Pakistan, and, partly, China.
While the government may have stopped literal stone pelting, anger rages in Kashmiri hearts, and mental stone pelting continues silently because of the authoritarian methods of the government, removing their rights to land and natural resources, while saying doing it in the name of development, until now, there is no new developments and the economy lies on a deathbed gasping for life. People have been reduced to poverty with no growth, absolutely zero developments in trade, tourism with businesses crushed, and no industrial growth, while quick arrests and detainments on the other side aim to muffle Kashmiri voices. Moving in this direction will keep on sabotaging any plans for future development and progress in Jammu and Kashmir.
In conclusion, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35a may have brought some secret benefits for the government but nothing for the people. Is this the way a government is to rule? Is not the government under the Indian Constitution for the people, of the people, and by the people? Do not the people have to considered and should not there be growth, development, and industry and not just new imposed restrictions every day?