Article 370 Removed: The India- Kashmir Issue - Seeker's Thoughts

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Article 370 Removed: The India- Kashmir Issue

Due to the removal of article 370, the Indian government will have greater authority over Jammu and Kashmir.  Jammu and Kashmir will be separated and considered as Union Territory. Ladakh will also be separated and turned into a union territory.

Article 370 gave Jammu and Kashmir its own constitution and decision-making rights for all matters barring defence, communications, and foreign affairs. Its removal ends special status for Kashmir, which was key to its accession to India in 1947. 

India got her freedom in 1947, and the root cause of Kashmir’s problem started from that time.

The problem with India was that India was divided into various states, politically. Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel has played an important role in convincing states to Join India post-independence. 

Indian Constitution wrote provisions of running the country, and the article 370 was the special article which promised to grant ‘autonomous’ status to Jammu and Kashmir. Article 370 limited the parliament’s powers to make laws in matters of union and concurrent lists in consultation with the state government.

In effect, Article 370 says that Parliament will need the state government’s concurrence for applying any law, except those that fall in the domains of defence, foreign affairs, finance, and communications. Issues like ownership of property, fundamental rights, and citizenship are covered under a separate law for Jammu and Kashmir.

     Article 370: Jammu Kashmir Privileges
·       Article 370 gives greater autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir compared to the other States of India.
·       The State has its own Constitution.
·       All provisions of the Indian Constitution are not applicable to the State.
·       Laws passed by the Parliament apply to J&K only if the State agrees.
·       Non-Kashmiri Indians cannot buy property in Kashmir.

The provision was temporary in nature, and due to various contradicting political reasons, the State of Jammu Kashmir held the special privileges even in 2019.

Jammu Kashmir faced terrorism, the conflicts between citizens and army, lesser employment opportunities, etc.

Therefore, in 2019, the BJP government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi passed certain amendments to article 370 which seemed politically crucial.

What has been changed?

Special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution has been removed by a presidential order that would come into force "at once", Home Minister Amit Shah announced on  5th August 2019.

Due to the change, the Indian government will have greater authority over Jammu and Kashmir.  Jammu and Kashmir will be separated and considered as Union Territory. Ladakh will also be separated and turned into a union territory.
Union territories are different from the states, as they are more under control of the central government of India.

Therefore, due to the removal of article 370, the Jammu and Kashmir( J&K) no longer remain a state. 

The RTI (Right to Information Act) will be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir as due to article 370 it was not applicable in the state.

People from other states will be able to buy properties in Jammu and Kashmir, as the state did not allow any India to buy any property in J&K earlier. 

Also, Read on Seeker's Thoughts 

India and Kashmir: Conflicts

After 1987, the pro-India sentiments of Kashmiri people got tilted heavily towards Kashmiri Separatism. Pakistan, of course, added fuel to the fire – by giving moral and financial support to terrorists, militants, and insurgents. As a result, Kashmir frequently witnessed violence, curfew, stone-pelting, and firing between the troops of India and Pakistan across Line of Control (LoC).
Thousands of soldiers, civilians, and militants have been killed in the uprising and the Indian crackdown since 1989.

Even though state elections are conducted, Kashmir has not returned to the normalcy before 1987.

Assembly elections in the State were held only in 1996 in which the National Conference led by Farooq Abdullah came to power with a demand for regional autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir.

J&K experienced a very fair election in 2002. The National Conference failed to win a majority and was replaced by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Congress coalition government.

In 2015, India’s ruling BJP party is sworn into government in Indian-administered Kashmir for the first time in coalition with local People’s Democratic Party, with the latter’s Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as chief minister (followed by Mehbooba Mufti because of the death of her father and party founder). However, this coalition didn’t last for long.

Even though the Government of India is taking many steps to stop the insurgency and bring Kashmir back to normalcy, the terrorist attacks like that in Pulwama has seriously hindered the peace process.

The Kashmir issue – which was once a simple one, has now turned a complex problem to solve. It has multiple dimensions – external and internal; inter-state as well as intra-state. Not even the separatists are on the same ground – their demands are different.

The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir which was under the control of British India – is now not entirely with India. Pakistan and China too now occupy a significant portion of the terrorists of the erstwhile princely state.

Of course, the Kashmir problem also includes the issue of Kashmiri identity known as Kashmiriyat. However, almost every state in India has its own identity – Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal or Kerala. However, the people in each of these states even when seeing themselves as Tamilians, Kannadagans, Bengalis or Malayalis are also able to see the bigger picture – they identify themselves as Indians.

Jammu and Kashmir is one of the living examples of plural society and politics. Not only are there diversities of all kind (religious, cultural, linguistic, ethnic, tribal) but there are also divergent political aspirations.

Unfortunately, from the perspective of the youth of Kashmir, there is a growing trust-deficit. It’s a hard reality that Jammu and Kashmir never functioned like other Indian states since its accession to India. It had given higher autonomy initially, however it got eroded in practice.

The first step to solve the Kashmir issue is to identify the problems behind the alienation of Kashmir. Here are some of them:

·       Mishandling of the Kashmir Issue by the successive Central governments of India – which includes frequent dismissal of State Assemblies.

·       The state governments of Kashmir failed to distribute the benefits of growth and development to every area of the Kashmir.

·       The terrorist and military outfits in Pakistan has been distancing the youth of Kashmir from the democratic form of the Indian government.

·       The regular presence of the Indian Armed Force or CAPF in the Kashmir interiors, and the misuse of provisions like ASFPA.

To find a solution to Kashmir issue – all stakeholders should be considered.
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Kashmir was and still is an integral part of India. It has a plural and secular culture – just like the rest of India. Urgent steps should be taken to bridge the gaps of trust deficit in the minds of Kashmiri youth. All Kashmiris should get the due share in the growth story of India. Like all other states in India, there should be adequate political autonomy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Violence, terrorism, and killings are never the answer – be it on any side. What do you think?
The Union government’s move is also politically crucial because it comes in the backdrop of vociferous protests by opposition parties, including the Congress and regional parties from the state like the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC).

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