5 August 2019 is now etched in India’s independent history as the day that truly unified the country by bringing Kashmir firmly into the arms of India. A historical wrong, as is being said, has been corrected. Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir was tethering on the rope of allegiance; closer to India but still an arm’s-length away with Pakistan making concerted efforts to pull it towards its own side. That rope has been cut and Jammu and Kashmir has been brought to our side.
There’s a lot to write. Numerous topics to cover to make this article a holistic view of everything that transpired. Let me start off by stating very broadly what Article 370 and 35A ensured for the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- A separate constitution
- Dual citizenship
- Separate flag
- Article 360 (financial emergency) not applicable
- Indians cannot buy land or property
- RTI not applicable
- Legislative assembly of 6 years
- RTE not applicable
- Panchayats have no rights
- No rights to West Pakistan refugees like Dogras and Bakarwals
- Bars females from property rights if they marry a non-Kashmiri; this extends to the woman’s children as well
Basically, the state was being held ransom by a few who found it commercially and ideologically profitable to keep it distanced constitutionally from India, and use the two Articles to blackmail the government. Threaten violence. Warn of sanguinary consequences by portraying Article 370 and 35A as sacred. And enjoy an ornate lifestyle.
After reading what the two Articles bestowed upon Jammu and Kashmir – obviously against the ethos of India – I don’t think any patriotic Indian would deny that these gross blunders had to be done away with.
What the Narendra Modi Government Did
Article 370 provides for extending provisions of the Constitution from time to time. In 1954, through a Presidential order, certain provisions of the Constitution were extended to 370. Along with this 35A was introduced.
Article 35A was challenged in the Supreme Court. Despite terming it discriminatory, the court upheld 35A saying that it was a ‘political decision’. The Modi government superseded that Presidential order with another one exercising the very powers given under 370.
Through this order the entire Indian Constitution was applied to Jammu and Kashmir. With this Article 2 and 3 came into play that allow for the reorganization of a state. This requires for the legislative assembly to recommend to the Parliament a reorganization. But with there being governor rule in Jammu and Kashmir, the Parliament is disposing the powers of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.
Thus, the Parliament acting as the Jammu and Kashmir assembly first recommended a state reorganization, and then the Parliament exercising its own powers accepted the recommendation. This turned the bill into an act leading to the acceptance of a reorganization.
Has This Happened Before?
Two times in the past the same method has been used to bring amendments or to extend provisions of Article 370. In 1952, Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah had agreed on the Delhi Agreement providing special privileges to the people of Kashmir on matters of property ownership on the principles of hereditary. A Presidential Order was also implemented in 1965.
No Consultations With Kashmiri ‘Stakeholders’
Some people are opposing the manner in which people – I won’t call them leaders – like Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah weren’t taken into confidence before taking such a massive decision. On the contrary there was news that they were detained hours before the Parliament got running on August 5.
Those who believe the government should’ve discussed the decision and its ramifications with these people are either unaware of the real nature of these political families or are simply against the decision. Or maybe want to present a different view altogether as being with the consensus doesn’t bode well for their ego.
A recent article stated that Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti spent a cumulative 50 crore rupees on renovating their bungalows in Srinagar which they are entitled to occupy rent-free even post losing power. Farooq Abdullah still occupies two bungalows. Did they reveal to the local population that they were spending such an exorbitant amount on their lavish lifestyle while the common man suffered for basic necessities?
Between 2000 and 2016, Jammu and Kashmir (1% of total population) received 10% (Rs. 1.14 lakh crore) of central government grants; Uttar Pradesh with 13% of the country’s population got just 8.2% of central grants. Despite this, the state remains severely under-developed, the per capita gross income much lower than the national average, fiscal deficit high and corruption rampant. All this under decades of rule of these families. And they ought to be talked with?
Both Mehbooba and Farooq have from time-to-time spoken against India, the forces and expressed their sympathies for Pakistan. Pray tell, what would’ve come out of discussions with those who’s loyalties lie across the border? Haven’t we discussed and only discussed for 70 years without any conceivable result?
Terror in Kashmir has cost India 41,894 lives, most of whom have been our soldiers and policemen. It is also no secret that stone-pelters thrived in areas where the Abdullahs and Muftis had greater presence as they had tacit support of workers of these two leaders. Proof of this is evident in the figures of stone-pelting incidents:
- 2016: 2,653
- 2017: 1,412
- 2018 (Governor rule began in June): 1,458
- 2019 (first six months): 40
So who is it we should’ve talked to? People who’s ouster immediately led to incidents of our soldiers being targeted falling dramatically?
The Kashmiri Pandit exodus during the 1990s was the most shameful of occurrences in India’s independent history along with the 1975 Emergency and 1984 Sikh genocide. It is said that a force of just 10,000 soldiers would’ve stopped the exodus, but the central government didn’t send the required force to Kashmir. The two political families of Kashmir did nothing to stop the rape, murder and exodus of Pandits, nor did they, since then, want the Pandits to come back as the ensuing demography suited their politics and ideology. And it is these people we should sit across from and deliberate?
Let me also state here how 35A was nothing but a measure of sickening convenience. Omar Abdullah, the son of a Britisher, is allowed buy property in Jammu and Kashmir. Despite marrying a non-Kashmiri his children were entitled to owning property as well. Omar’s sister married a non-Kashmiri too but her children didn’t have the same rights. Is this what our India stands for?
Mehbooba Mufti is being questioned by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) regarding some appointments made in the Jammu and Kashmir Bank during her tenure. There are charges of backdoor appointments, nepotism and irregularities. The ED is grilling Farooq Abdullah in a Rs. 112 crore money laundering and embezzlement scam from the time he was the president of the J&K Cricket Association. What moral standing do they possess to be talked to for something that concerns national security?
I shouldn’t delve into talking about separatists as they don’t deserve an iota of attention. But simply to let people know what these anti-nationals have done over the years I’ll give one example. Yasin Malik, one of the foremost separatist leaders, is being probed by the NIA. The NIA found 12 properties – including a mall – belonging to Malik located in Srinagar worth a whopping Rs. 15 crore! Some are also in the name of his relatives which means they’re benami.
Those who still believe these people are stakeholders in Kashmir should sincerely review their stand.
Implications of Abrogating Article 370
The immediate and long-term impact of this historic decision is wide-ranging. It affects not just our internal politics and security but even our geopolitics and foreign policy. Moreover, it would be a mistake to identify the abrogation as merely a security move; it possibly has more socio-economic ramifications.
- No More Human Rights Cribbing – We all know considerably well how our soldiers in Kashmir were targeted by human rights watchdogs over concocted violations to present a false picture to the world of India trampling local Kashmiris. This will now end because supporters of those who revel in anti-India propaganda have lost significance and, fake human rights brigades will have lesser access to Kashmir.
- Pride of Soldiers Intact – Hordes of stone-pelters taking to the streets and raining stones on our soldiers, sometimes grievously injuring them is now a thing of the past. We all remember too well those images when a soldier was kicked and abused by a Kashmiri and yet the soldier kept walking maintaining unnatural composure because for him discipline and duty to the nation was supreme. This too is not likely to happen anymore. Reason being that those who backed these stone-pelters are themselves trying to save their skin. Their funding is being cut, and the forces have more power.
- Local Terrorism Will Die Out – Many of these so called ‘mainstream’ Kashmiri politicians are in politics simply to provide terrorism a legitimate political front. Just like Jamaat-e-Islami – which was banned by the Modi government sometime back – was an ideological front for terrorism, many of the Kashmiri politicians act as a political front. With such politicians suddenly losing their ‘armor’ of Article 370, local terrorism is bound to take a massive hit.
- Strong Message to Anti-Nationals – Dealing with Article 370 was by far the greatest challenge for Prime Minister Modi because of its deep history, embedded interests, foreign funding into destabilizing the state, attempts to internationalize the matter and terrorism. He dealt with the matter with utmost calm and diligence. What this does is it creates a fear in the hearts of people even elsewhere who work with a secret agenda against India. They now know that the government can take any step in national interest without succumbing to any pressure.
- Child Marriage Gone – It is faintly believable that child marriage was allowed in Jammu and Kashmir! With 370 dead this social evil is gone for good.
- Anti Corruption Bureau in Place – While the state constitution was effective, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) had no powers. This is why Jammu and Kashmir didn’t see development; money flowing in from the center was looted due to zero accountability and no fear of being nabbed. But now this won’t happen.
- Rights for Valmiki Community – In 1957, people from the Valmiki community were brought to Kashmir when local safai karamcharis went on strike. Ever since, the only job they or their kids are entitled to is cleaning! This was surely not the India our freedom fighters fought for. Now, this gross evil has also been corrected.
- Rights for West Pakistan Refugees – Communities like Dogras and Bakarwals were given no rights despite making Jammu and Kashmir their home for decades. Over 20 lakh residents of the state didn’t even have the right to vote. This has changed. All these communities will get jobs, equal status and a much better life.
- Door Open for Kashmiri Pandit Rehabilitation – It’s been nearly 30 years of Kashmiri Pandits living in decrepit conditions in various parts of the country after being raped, murdered and thrown out of their homes. With extremism reigning supreme in Kashmir under the state constitution and it being politically viable for certain elements to maintain the existing demographic, it was nearly impossible for Kashmiri Pandits to be rehabilitated anytime soon. However, now the situation has changed. Firm steps can soon be taken to give Pandits their homes back.
- Benefits Seize to Exist – As written earlier ex-CMs live in lavish residences and separatists have amassed inordinate wealth. The Home Ministry had recently taken out a list of over 210 relatives of separatists who are living in other countries. It was also found out that 112 children of separatists are studying abroad. With anti-corruption and intelligence agencies increasing their grasp on the illegal and anti-national activities of these people, benefits such as taxpayer-paid mansions, medical facilities, bulletproof vehicles, driver, retinue of staff, etc., can be taken away.
- Pakistan Stumped – How Pakistan has been dealt an eternal blow with the abrogation of 370 is something to discuss in detail in another article. In brief, this move by India has left Pakistan with no options at all. On the world stage not one major power has come out in open support of Pakistan. Even China has raised objections only to India changing the status of Ladakh and refused to interfere on Pakistan’s side against India on the issue of Kashmir. Economically Pakistan cannot hurt India as part of its retaliatory approach. India’s economy is 10 times that of Pakistan; foreign reserves are a whopping 55 times; and in 2018-19, Indo-Pak trade was barely 0.1% of India’s total trade. Militarily Pakistan has long accepted – even though tacitly – that it cannot match India in a conventional conflict which is why it took to breeding terrorism. If Pakistan endeavors to carry-out a major terror attack on Indian soil then the retaliation by India is something it cannot predict after it failed to preempt the surgical and air strikes. And this is something Pakistan cannot risk either because India’s response will be conventional that again puts its military in the limelight for another humiliating drubbing. Overall, the Pakistani establishment has simply no idea what to do to reassure its people that the hyperbole it dished out for decades of the invincibility of its military and the Kashmir Banega Pakistan slogan were not meant to fool them and get votes and funds but had some iota of reality.
- Focus Shifts Away from Kashmir – Earlier each stone pelted on our soldiers in Kashmir was shown as a reaction of ‘subjugated’ Kashmiris against the Indian state. All eyes remained on Kashmir. But now that India has firmly sent this message to the world that Kashmir is ours in all essence, the focus of the international community and media will slowly shift to where India wants it to be – PoK, and even Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. Even Pakistan, now having seen that its proxies in Kashmir will soon go extinct and it can do nothing to incite Kashmiris against India, will become worried about India’s plans for PoK.
- A Robust India – The international community has once again seen that today’s India is truly a changed India. From the surgical strikes to the air strikes, from the ASAT test to the removal of 370, India didn’t consult or inform any nation beforehand about its upcoming path-breaking moves. Not to forget the stand India took against China at Doklam. The world sees that India cannot be pressurized into behaving like they want. This has immense consequences. For one, India’s enemies won’t take us lightly anymore. Secondly, nations in our neighborhood will see that India can stand up for its own rights; only when a nation stands up for itself can it support someone else. This will raise the trust smaller neighbors have in us and lead to better relations. Thirdly, powers like the US and Russia will want to further improve relations with India as in a multi-polar world with both pitted against each other India becomes a crucial geopolitical and strategic pivot.
The Kashmir ‘issue’ that was rankling for 70 years has been largely solved. With Kashmir now like any other Indian state, Pakistan’s propaganda and covert warfare have been dealt a memorable blow.
It is now for India to develop Jammu and Kashmir along the lines it deserves to be, and for Pakistan to cry hoarse and placate its population who’ve been brainwashed for decades into believing that Pakistan’s existence is exclusively for Kashmir. Imran Khan sure wouldn’t have imagined that Narendra Modi would do something so drastic and change the entire geopolitics of the region in less than an hours time. The Pathan needs to do some serious and logical introspection.