Village & Post: Nighasan Kheri, 262903 City: Lakhimpur Kheri, 262701

THREAT TO RIGHTS IN LIEU OF ABROGATION: PLEA FOR EARLY ARTICLE 370 HEARING

Article 370 - Eshita Jain

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The history of violence in Kashmir can be traced back to the partition year of India and Pakistan i.e. the year 1947. When the partition long back in 1947 took place, Kashmir became such a region upon which both India and Pakistan claimed their control. It joined India in the year 1947 soon after partition but Pakistan took this as its defeat and subsequently waged war with India for its control, as a result of which different parts of the territory came to be occupied by both. Since then, citizens of the territory have witnessed numerous instances of violence in the State.

LEGISLATIVE MOVE OF ABROGATION

One year ago, a remarkable change has been brought by the Government of India in the lives of citizens of erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir by the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India and its subsidiary Article 35A which was a source of special status, a special power and special privileges being accorded to the residents of the State. Article 370 was a source by which special status used to be enjoyed in terms of autonomy and formulation of laws by the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir for its permanent residents. Autonomy was enjoyed in terms of a separate Constitution, liberty to formulate laws, having its own flag, restricting outsiders to purchase property, and many others to name a few. The government by its action of scrapping the special status has scrapped its separate Constitution and brought the Kashmiris at the same pedestal as that of other Indian citizens and divided the erstwhile State into two Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir. Kashmir no longer enjoys a separate Constitution but has to now abide by the Indian Constitution, much like any other citizen of India. Article 370 of the Constitution of India even after being abrogated is still a topic of debate amongst many.

POLITICAL CHANGES AFFECTING FUTURE OF TERRITORY

It is a myth of many that after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, the situation for the residents of Jammu & Kashmir has changed in a positive way in the sense of being granted an opportunity of equality of treatment in every manner in which a citizen governed by the Constitution of India had been enjoying.

The resident of Jammu & Kashmir seems dissatisfied not only by a snatch of their power of special status but by the rights that have been curtailed of their own in a significant manner subsequent to the abrogation. During the move of the Government, various Kashmiri politicians were arrested, numerous security troops were deployed, and Internet connectivity and all other sorts of communication had been banned. For at least five complete months, there was a complete blockade on the internet connection, with slow 2G speed connectivity granted thereafter. As far as telecommunication is concerned, not only during the move but the restrictions are still prevailing even after one year of abrogation with people facing tremendous complexities. The rights of the people of the two Union Territories are constantly deprived of being enjoyed. The territory has lost its normalcy and faith in the Indian government. Formerly, many times, Article 370 had been diluted but this has always been done with the consent of the erstwhile State Government of Jammu & Kashmir. The abrogation of autonomy without the consent of Kashmiris has put them under the threat of their identity being lost. Since after abrogation, outsiders have been allowed to come to the valley for developmental works, there is a constant threat persisting amongst people of Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

EFFECTS OF ABROGATION

It seems like Article 370 was not only the symbol of independence for Kashmiris but was also a symbol of emotional significance for the people of the erstwhile State. Though India’s move to abrogate Article 370 was intended as a positive remarkable move towards the welfare of the people, it is quite ironic that for the people of the erstwhile State, it appears like a betrayal, with political parties using the erstwhile State as a tool to accomplish their ulterior tactics and playing with the emotions of the residents in enforcing their political agendas.

EPILOGUE

A slew of petitions has been moved to Apex Court by the residents of the union territory Jammu & Kashmir challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and restructuring their special status of their erstwhile State. Since the increasing threats to the security of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir are on the verge, there has been a remarkable change brought about in the way residents of erstwhile State used to enjoy their rights.

Since the day of abrogation i.e. 5 August 2019, the Centre is engaged in implementing a number of measures impacting the rights of the residents of the erstwhile State and other citizens of India which are responsible for diluting the safeguards earlier available to them, property issue being major of them. Many rights of the erstwhile State residents have been impacted too much an extent, by allowing the outsiders to visit the valley to carry out developmental works. The protections being offered to such people prior to abrogation by various Jammu & Kashmir Acts have been significantly curtailed, to name a few. Though there had been numerous petitions underlying the Court since abrogation, the ongoing pandemic has brought a halt to the hearing of all those petitions.

This has led to the citizens of erstwhile State move the Supreme Court, pleading for “early hearing” of their petitions by the Apex Body and disposing of them urgently, failing which as contended, an ‘irreparable impact’ will be leftover on the rights of such people. Let us look for what Supreme Court’s verdict comes in since the decision of the Apex Court is much awaited, hoping to bring landmark decisional solution between the tussle of the plight of the people of erstwhile State and the Government’s move to bring equanimity in the nation.

Author(s) Name: Eshita Jain (Himachal Pradesh National Law University, Shimla)

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