Kashmir is at the center of attention while Kashmiris are still silenced

The Kashmir lockdown has damaged the relations between the people and the state

Credit : Al Jazeera

The Government of India, on 5 August 2019, revoked Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. Article 370 was like a bridge which was connecting J&K with India and by revoking it, the Modi government has actually changed the relationship of India with the state. Despite strong opposition from several political parties, the government passed a resolution to abrogate Article 370 and 35A with a two-third majority. The Government not only removed the special status but bifurcated the state into two Union Territories. 

The decision got the mixed responses from the politicians present in the house, with some called it “undemocratic, anti-people” and some praised it as a historic step. No one was interested rather bothered about the opinions of the people of J&K. In reality, the Modi government was well aware that the move will not be well received in Kashmir. Therefore, in the days preceding it deployed thousands of more troops to the territory, evacuated tourists and pilgrims. After the announcement, it imposed a curfew on residents, placed prominent local politicians (who immediately denounced the move) under house arrest; and imposed total communication blackout.

Today is the 55th day and yet people are not allowed to come out, don’t have access to internet and Phone services. The people are suffering so much that it is difficult for patients to visit doctors besides that there is a shortage of medicines, baby foods and everything else. 

Kashmiris are reportedly living a miserable life with heavy militarization. The security forces under draconian laws have tortured hundreds of youth and have arrested 13,000 during night raids. How long you will be able to keep almost 80 lakh people under house arrest. These policies rather inhuman tactics are not going to work in Kashmir rather in any part of world for that matter. 

In my opinion, abrogation of article 370 will never be accepted by the people of Kashmir. Additionally, the way Indian state treated the people of Kashmir after the removal of article 370 will not only increase the differences but will push more youth towards armed struggle.

The BJP government justified the decision of abrogation of article 370 and 35A by saying that it was a hurdle in the process of development in Jammu and Kashmir as investors were not able invest in J&K. The ruling government also claimed that special status is a cause of terrorism in J&K and was also discrimination with the rest of the people of India. After analyzing the claims made by the BJP Government, it is crystal clear that abrogation of article 370 has nothing to do with development. It was the agenda of RSS backed BJP since 1947 and they did it for the vote bank otherwise many states in India do have the special provisions.

The argument is absurd that now investors will invest in J&K. Where were the investors when Jammu and Kashmir government offered a 90-year lease to any industry willing to set up there and at very low rates? Rather they shut down the HMT unit, Sericulture industry and joinery mills in Srinagar Jammu and Kashmir. Despite living in a politically disputed state which often faces lockdowns and curfews for months together, the state has much better socio-economic indicators than the most developed states of India. 

The poverty rate in J&K is 10.35 percent, which is almost half of the national average of around 21 percent. In literacy rate, J&K stand at 15th number among the 36 states of India. In life expectancy out of 22 states, J&K ranked 3rd with 73.5 years. Apart from these socio-economic indicators, Kashmir also has the lowest infant mortality rates.

I think the gamble BJP government played by abrogating article 370 has not gone in their favor rather it has once again internationally highlighted the Kashmir dispute. Right from the day article 370 and 35A was removed, J&K got the fullest international attention. This is almost the first time in the history of Kashmir that its narrative has been represented by the international media like BBC, Aljazeera, New York Times, Guardian and Reuters to the international forums. 

For the first time, the world’s most powerful countries have shown interest in J&K dispute. American president Donald Trump has shown his concern about the current situation in Kashmir by saying 3 times that he is ready to intervene to solve the dispute. Imagine on 16th August 2019, a closed door meeting was held at UNSC to discuss J&K issue. This meeting came almost after 54 years and thus certifies the disputed nature of J&K. 

The Pakistani premier Imran Khan on the other hand, on 27 September 2019 addressed the J&K issue at UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) and alarmed the world about the chances of confrontation of the two nuclear countries if efforts are not made to solve the J&K issue. 

J&K was debated by UK MPs in UK parliament. Mark Christopher Field, a British politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cities of London and Westminster since 2001 has said that the UK is deeply concerned about rising tensions between India and Pakistan and is ready to mediate to solve the J&K dispute. France, one of the permanent members of the united Security Council, has, for the first time ever in history, discussed the J&K issue. 

A symposium was organized by Mr. Jean Bernard Sempastous in French parliament to discuss the J&K dispute. Jean Bernard during his speech mentioned that the conflict in Kashmir between Pakistan & India is 70 years old and had caused thousands of deaths. He also stated that France had little knowledge about the Kashmir conflict but after abrogation of Article 370, this old international conflict deserves France's full attention. He also stressed for an early resolution of the J&K dispute and restoration of fundamental freedoms of the people of J&K. 

On 25 September 2019, prominent members of OIC namely Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Azerbajan and Niger have asked India to reverse its unilateral decision on article 370 and abide by the UN Security Council Resolutions. Apart from the Heads and the parliamentarians of various countries who spoke about the J&K dispute, the common people across the globe have also started raising their voices in favor of J&K. 

It is also important to mention here that two IAS officers namely Kannan Gopinathan and S Sasikanth Senthil have resigned from their jobs just to register a protest against the undemocratic methods especially against the unilateral decision of abrogating article 370. After the abrogation of article 370, there is a section of people within India who thinks that India is changing from a democratic to a dictatorship regime.

The current situation in J&K is not normal as there is a sense of fear, insecurity and uncertainty all around. Government is not lifting the curfew as it expects a strong reaction from the people. People will react because you have not only taken away the special status but the identity of Kashmiri people by bifurcating the state into two UTs. Let’s hope for peace and peaceful political solution of the J&K dispute in near future.

The author is a research scholar at the Savitribai Phule Pune University.

The views expressed by the author are his personal. Indie Journal does not 'necessarily' subscribe to them.