The Jammu and Kashmir- Now the Union Territory. - Seeker's Thoughts

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The Jammu and Kashmir- Now the Union Territory.

India has 28 states after Jammu and Kashmir officially declared to be bifurcated into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on October 31st, 2019. The date was declared on August 5th

Since August 5th to 31st October the time period has been used by the state administration and home ministry to put a basic bureaucratic structure in place to implement the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act.

The supreme court heard the petitions on 30 September 2019. It allowed the central government to submit its replies to the petitions in 30 days and fixed 14 November 2019 as the next date of hearing. 
 The petitioners wanted the court to issue an injunction against reorganisation of the state into two union territories but the court declined to issue any injunction. This means that the two union territories come into existence on 31 October 2019 as planned.

AS per the constitutional provisions of India, the state will be ruled by  the Lieutenant Governors of the two UTs , post the oath of office along with the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. 

The Union government appointed serving IAS officer of Gujarat cadre Girish Chandra Murmu as the LG of Jammu and Kashmir, and retired bureaucrat of Tripura cadre Radha Krishna Mathur as LG of Ladakh.
Since the Indian government has announced the removal of article 370, the Kashmir has been going through an uneasy situation.

Kashmiri people support an ‘independent’ Kashmir, as they do not want to be associated with Pakistan or India. However, some of the people in Kashmir have a ‘pro-Pakistan’ mind. 

Fewer of the people support India as well. The land has been under military for a longer time due to conflict between state government which was elected by the people of Kashmir, and separatist who do not support the ruling machineries.

The Kashmir People are in under the most militarized zone

A law made by the Indian parliament can be challenged in the court, therefore, the scrapping of article 370 made people approach the court.

People have been facing restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC and people were asked not to venture outside and barricades have been placed. 

The landline telephone services have resumed partially but mobile services and internet services stayed suspended since 5th August.

Even the separatist’s politicians have been into preventive custody as well as mainstream leaders including the former Chief ministers- Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been detained and placed under house arrest.

There are questions that to bifurcate a state of Jammu and Kashmir, the state legislative assembly’s permission should be obtained. But the state has been under governor’s rule. Therefore, the centre government has taken its’ own permission to as the governor represents the central government in the state.

According to the Article 3 of the Indian Constitution, The Parliament does have the power to alter boundaries of a state or bifurcate it, but it requires the President to obtain the ‘concurrence’ of the J&K State Assembly before parliament introduced such bill.

The State of Jammu and Kashmir has been under the President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir on December 19, 2018, therefor the state assembly was suspended.

The second question is, Jammu Kashmir has been under the status of an Indian state, and it has been reduced to the status of the Union Territory.

The petition provided many reasons for challenging the removal of article 370, as the order of 1954 which set out the constitutional provisions for J&K, and It was suspended.

On January 1st 1948 India urged the United Nation’s Security Council to discuss the conflict that started when Pakistan sent tribal and camouflaged soldiers into Kashmir. 

Those tribal, and irregulars unleashed violence on the local population, therefore India submitted the matter to the United Nations. It was the foundation of ‘Jammu and Kashmir Question’.

Under resolution 39 on January 20, 1948, the UNSC set up the three-member UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). Due to a disagreement between India and Pakistan, the commission failed.  

Again, under resolution 47, the commission was reconstituted with five members on April 21, 1948, and it was mandated to plan a mechanism to ensure a plebiscite in the State.

The UNSC Resolution 47 passed on this date urged India and Pakistan to hold a plebiscite after the restoration of law and order. The UNCIP passed a resolution on January 5, 1949, that provided the mechanism for holding a “free and impartial plebiscite” in Kashmir.

At this juncture, Pakistan managed to get an upper hand as the UNSC, under the influence of the United Kingdom, agreed to a ceasefire proposal without first ensuring Pakistan’s withdrawal from the area that it had gained during the early tribal raid in Kashmir.

This allowed Pakistan to hold on to territory that would ultimately contribute to undermining the terms of the plebiscite itself.

The 1947-48 India-Pakistan war ended in a ceasefire but the Kashmir solution remained elusive. 

A key condition for the plebiscite was the withdrawal of Pakistan from the areas under its control and India withdrawing individuals who were not residents of the State. However, neither of this happened. 

Instead, both sides firmed up their presence in the areas under their control. India took the Kashmir issue to the UN for “prompt and effective action” but as pointed out by scholars, the big powers ensured that the issue lingered on and became a part of the global concern on conflicts.

Under the Simla Agreement of July 2, 1972, India gained Pakistan’s commitment that the Kashmir conflict would be resolved bilaterally. Pakistan, however, kept the issue alive by hosting the Islamic Summit of 1974 where Pakistan began courting the Islamic world for its major foreign policy goals. 
After the Simla Agreement, Pakistan proceeded to further entrench the territorial status quo as Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on November 7, 1973, ruled out an independent status for Azad Kashmir.

The Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir were territories of the princely Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir that were awaiting plebiscite but the case for “accession” ruined the chance of Pakistan acting in accordance with the conditions of the plebiscite, writes Aman M. Hingorani in Unravelling the Kashmir Knot.

Under these circumstances, Kashmir as a legal problem appears far more daunting than Kashmir as a political problem that can be addressed by two powers of South Asia.

 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 remains 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.

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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