article 370

It was 5th August, last year, when Narendra Modi led Bhartiya Janta party (BJP) government stripped off special status of erstwhile state. It was done in the pretext of development, good governance, and peace. It was argued that abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A will open the floodgates for development and prosperity. The former princely state was bifurcated into two federally administrated union territories. Nearly all mainstream leaders and dissenters were arrested after the revocation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir. It is estimated that nearly 7,000 people were arrested in Kashmir. All important means of communication were cut off; people of the erstwhile state are still deprived of from the high speed internet which causes lots of sufferings to the people. In the pretext of durable peace and development Civil liberties and rights of the people were crushed out.

A year has passed since the abrogation of article 370 but nothing has been changed on the ground. In fact, anxieties, miseries, and sufferings of the people are augmented. People of Kashmir are feeling that they have been betrayed and cheated, their pride and identity has been ripped off. Now, the fear of settler colonialism is hunting the people of erstwhile state which is being strengthened in the form of new Domicile laws (this allows people outside the state to become residents of Jammu and Kashmir). The abrogation of article 370 came up after paying the high price in the form of disappearance of mainstream politics. A new kind of separatism has taken shape in minds and hearts of the youth of erstwhile state. The experts have opinion that  the silence which people of erstwhile state has taken after the abrogation of article 370 is quite dangerous similar to the volcano which is to be exploded. The key players of the state NC and PDP have lost their legitimacy because they have betrayed, cheated, and sold out fake promises just for their vested interests. The former chief minister of the state Mehbooba Mufti reiteratively has said that our outmost priority is to safeguard the special status of the state. Ironically, she made alliance with those whose priority was to strip off special status of the state. The NC’s father-son duos had said that after the abrogation of article 370, no further political development is acceptable until, both, Statehood and Article 370 is not restored. Surprisingly, Omar Abdullah recently said that he will not contest elections till the time J&K remains a Union Territory. He deliberatively ignored the demand of restoration of special status. The new players like, (Apni Party & Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference) that have recently entered into the political arena of Jammu & Kashmir don’t have much credibility because they are being taunted as ‘B’ teams of BJP. Recently, veteran separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani resigned from the All Party Hurriyat Confernce (APHC). Now, the moot question is which political alternative is left for New Delhi whom they could invoke for politically engagement?

The most disgusting part of abrogation of Article 370 was that the people of native state were locked up without any communication, whereas, the rest of the country was rejoicing this decision of BJP government. The intelligentsias of society that either spoke or wrote something against this decision were only worried about the tempering of ‘Indian constitution’ or ‘Cooperative federalism’. In the flow of these narratives, miseries and sufferings of the common masses of Jammu & Kashmir were being ignored.

The false narrative was concocted by the BJP government that article 370 is stumbling block in the path of development of Kashmir stands today untrue. According to The Jammu and Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JKCCI) whose latest figures estimated that the overall losses in J&K is around Rs.40,000 crore. According to the report of Civil Rights Group Forum of Human Rights of Jammu & Kashmir, in the last four months of lockdown, Industries in the state lost Rs.17,878.18 crore, while 5 lakhs jobs have been lost in the last one year. The number of violent incidents has also increased after the abrogation of Article 370. The J&K Coalition of Civil Society, a human rights body, estimated that so far in this year, 157 militants have been killed of which only 17 were foreigners. Total deaths of local militants have been reported as 88% in security operations compared to 79% in 2019. These figures show the continued trend in local recruitment from the last one year. Briefly, almost every sector of the development got affected with the elongated lockdown; be it trade, industry, tourism, and education etc.

The abrogation of Article 370 demystified one long standing myth that Kashmir is a developmental issue’ rather than a ‘political issue’. If Kashmir had been a developmental issue then it would have been resolved earlier. So, it is better for the interest of New Delhi to acknowledge Kashmir as a political issue that could be resolved only through dialogues and deliberations.

Zulafqar Ahmed is Research Scholar (PhD) at the Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University. 



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