Kashmir is a Himalayan region known for its scenic beauty. It is often acknowledged as ‘Heaven on Earth. Unfortunately enough, this heaven has always witnessed unrest and insurgency. It has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan for long. “Under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act, Kashmir was free to accede to either India or Pakistan. The ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, initially wanted Kashmir to become independent; but in October 1947 chose to join India, in return for its help against an invasion of tribesmen from Pakistan.” Pakistan refused to accept this and since then both countries have had many wars due to this territorial dispute. Even today, Delhi and Islamabad claim the entire region of Kashmir but actually have control of some of the territories only.
The portion of Kashmir administrated by India has seen continuous armed revolts by separatist militants and India accuses Pakistan of backing these militant groups. These groups remain active throughout and have managed to create a situation of unrest in the valley. The militants brainwash the youth and manipulate them to wage war against their own country.
Religion propaganda too comes into play to further aggravate the issue. Kashmiri region is a Muslim-dominated region and Pakistan, being a Muslim country, uses it as a tool to play with the sentiments of the Kashmiri people and arouse a feeling of hatred amongst them against India.
“Article 370” of the Indian Constitution granted the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir a special and autonomous status. Parliament needs the Jammu & Kashmir government’s approval for applying laws in the state — except in cases of defence, foreign affairs, finance, and communications. The law of citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights of the residents of Jammu & Kashmir is different from the residents living in rest of India. Under Article 370, citizens from other states cannot buy property in Jammu & Kashmir. The State of Jammu and Kashmir has its own different flag and Constitution. The presidential rule cannot be imposed in the state, only the Governor’s rule can be proclaimed. The Government of India cannot declare a financial emergency under Article 360 in the state. Only a national emergency can be imposed in matters of external aggression or war. The state has its own Criminal code titled as Ranbir Penal Code. The citizens in the state have dual citizenship. The term of other Indian state Legislators is 5 years whereas, for Kashmir, it was 6 years.
REPEAL OF ARTICLE 370
The current government had been opposing “Article 370” for long and revoking it was included in the party’s election manifesto of 2019. It was of the view that scrapping the article is necessary in order to integrate Kashmir with India and bring it to a common stance with the other states.
“At the beginning of August, there were indications that a big change was going to happen. A large number of additional troops were deployed, internet services were shut down and tourists were ordered to vacate the place. Moreover, prominent political leaders like Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were put under house arrest.
Speculations ran about the revocation of “Article 35A”. But on 5 August 2019, BJP played its move and Home Minister Amit Shah announced the revocation of “Article 370”. This announcement received condemnation from the political leaders of Kashmir and the countries of Pakistan and China which was definitely expected. The major point to be added here is that apart from certain exceptions, this move did not receive overt international criticism.”
IMPLICATIONS OF ABROGATION OF ARTICE 370
The primary reason for the government to repeal the article was Terrorism. It was of the view that the special status accorded to the valley eventually hinders the process of terror elimination. BJP contended that the surge in militants and terror operations can be controlled only by abrogating “Article 370”.
“The data provided by the home ministry shows that there has been a drastic decrease in militancy operations and terror activities since the repeal.”
“According to the home ministry, the number of terrorist incidents has reduced by 59% in 2020 as compared to 2019. The incidents reduced by a further 32% till June 2021 compared to 2020.”
- REHABILITATION OF MIGRANTS
“As per government records, 3841 Kashmiri youths have returned back to Kashmir in recent years who had earlier fled the valley due to security concerns.” Under Prime Minister’s rehabilitation package, these youngsters have taken up jobs and settled in the valley.
Since the abrogation, the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir have witnessed development with new industries being launched and massive projects on the table. Before the repeal, development at a large scale was not possible due to the stringent laws. Outsiders were not allowed to buy a piece of land in the valley. This led to a state of stagnancy. But now that those provisions have been scrapped off, people are free to buy land there, new businesses are being encouraged and big giants are being brought to transform the pre-abrogation situation. “Centre approved an Industrial Development Scheme for Jammu and Kashmir with an outlay of Rs 28,400 crores to boost industries. Several MoUs worth Rs 23,152 crores had been signed till March 2021 with potential investors.”
- DOMICILE CERTIFICATES
“The Government decided to issue domicile certificates to the men who did not belong to the state but married the local women. This move allowed them to appear for government jobs.”
HAS THE REPEAL SERVED ITS PURPOSE?
“There has been a 600 per cent decline in law and order incidents between three years before August 5, 2019, and three years after the abrogation. There has been also a success in the killing of militants’ top commanders belonging to Pakistan-based terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.” These statistics definitely indicate that the abrogation has proved to be fruitful but it did lag behind in serving its purpose in a few contexts.
“Three years down the lane, there has been no elected government in Jammu and Kashmir. Targeted killings keep on happening at a high pace. Although the cases of violence have reduced sharply, they have not been eliminated completely. Records given by the central government indicate the initiation of large-scale development, but the ground reality may differ.” It has been more than 3 years since the revocation took place, but the valley has not witnessed any significant large-scale development. A Period of 3 years should have been enough for the BJP government to make people see the transformation the party shouted about but somewhere it has failed to do so. It seems as if the BJP government has made this move just to fulfil the promises of their election manifesto.
The abrogation was indeed a controversial move but highly important at the same time. It was necessary to repeal this article in order to prevent Kashmir from becoming a militancy base camp because the special status accorded to it always came in way when the central government tried to take any action. Now that this grave step has been taken by the BJP government, it should ensure that it culminates in success. There is a long way to go if the repeal has to serve its true purpose.
Author(s) Name: Ravneet Kaur (Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab)
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