Kashmir issue has always been a tool for all the mainstream political parties in general and BJP in particular to invoke it for the consolidation of Hindu vote bank. After doing all the wrongs with the state of Jammu and Kashmir from overthrowing Sheikh Abdullah from the office in 1953 to Election rigging of 1987; abrogation of Article 370 was the last nail in the coffin by New Delhi.
On the 5th of August 2019, Modi led BJP government not only ripped off Special Status of Jammu and Kashmir but also bifurcated an old state into two Union Territories. Although, the Article 370 provided special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir had been reduced to an empty shell by the successive governments over the years. Out of 395 articles of Indian constitution, 260 were already operative and out of 97 Items of the Union List 94 were already operative there. Despite of this dilution, Article 370 had a symbolic value for the people of Jammu and Kashmir because they thought that our ancestor had signed Instrument of Accession on the basis of compromise with Indian Union that it will provide Autonomy to the Jammu & Kashmir state.
The irony is Jammu and Kashmir’s reorganization bill has been introduced on 5th August, on the same day it was passed in Rajya Sabha. On the next day 6th of August, it was passed by Lok Sabha and on 9th of August it received assent of the president of India. After its abrogation, blistering debates have been done in media (Print, Broadcasting, and Social media) but for whom this decision had been taken were under communication blackout and clampdown. The government stated that article 370 was not only facilitating terrorism but it was also hindering development of the state.
This statement is factually incorrect because of two reasons first, for countering terror activities in the state government of India has executed laws like Armed Force Special Power Act (AFSPA) and has started various counter-militancy operations second, from developmental point of view Jammu and Kashmir State leads in all development indicators among the other states of India. Basically, this was the long-cherished dream of Right-wing political party since its inception to abrogate this article which was made true when it came to the power after the completion of its first term.
Kashmir issue has always been a tool for all the mainstream political parties in general and BJP in particular to invoke it for the consolidation of Hindu vote bank. After doing all the wrongs with the state of Jammu and Kashmir from overthrowing Sheikh Abdullah from the office in 1953 to Election rigging of 1987; abrogation of Article 370 was the last nail in the coffin by New Delhi. This move not only legitimized the stance of separatists but also isolated people of the state from the mainstream. Now, the twin district of Pir Panjal (Poonch Rajouri) and Chenab Valley (Doda, Kishtwar) which to a large extent have been calm might embrace the ideology of separatists because they feel that they have been deceived. They have the apprehensions that after the abrogation of Article 370 demography of the region might get changed. They are also reeling under this fear that if the Right-wing political party in the Centre could take such a significant decision without being taking people of the state into consideration it could take any such decision on their behalf in future. Moreover, after the rise of BJP in power Hindutva ideology got strengthened which resulted into the isolation of Muslims and made them politically irrelevant in the sphere of electoral politics.
The more Hindutva would get consolidated the more Muslims would become politically irrelevant; this would certainly affect the psyche of Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir. Reiteratedly, government officials stated that we kept valley calm without even being fired a single bullet but foreign media revealed a different story that hundreds of protestors received pellets and several casualties were also reported after the abrogation of Article 370. For the purpose of eliminating terrorism and enhancement of development, this article had been abrogated but neither terrorism stopped nor any developmental initiative taken for the former state. It is interesting to know that how New Delhi would enable normalcy in the state when all restrictions would be lifted from the valley. Moreover, this is the moot question that concerns all people of Jammu & Kashmir what stand mainstream political parties would take when all the detained political leaders would be released and how people of J&K would react to their call when all the restriction will be taken off.
Zulafqar Ahmed is Research Scholar at the Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University. Writer is from Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir Emailfirstname.lastname@example.org