Abrogation of Article 370: A Year of Hope and Despair
The abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India is a corollary of the twin themes of peace and development that have been guided by the Prime Minister’s Jammu and Kashmir policies. On August 5 and 6 last year, the Narendra Modi administration took two bold steps in order to cease the unabated terrorist activities and the exacerbated slogans of “azaadi” itinerant withering away the peace of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and hence of India.
These steps have fundamentally altered the lives of the people of J&K, nullifying Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that provided special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and enacting the Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation Act, demoting and dividing the state of J&K into two Union Territories i.e. Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
These two steps promised equal rights to the people of J&K as that of other citizens of India and a pristine step towards development at a swift pace with the people started fantasizing of the dawn of peace. In this one year, the erstwhile state has gone through several ups and downs. The political decision of the Modi government to divide the state of J&K into union territories has actually altered the contours of national security but there are several other things that should be put an eye fixed onto.
PERQUISITE OF THE NULLIFICATION OF ARTICLE 370
The decision of abrogation of Article 370 brought a hope in the eyes of Indians as the sanctity of the step can be seen with the decline in the number of civilian casualties in the erstwhile state of J&K. Though 22 civilians have been killed by the terrorists in the last six months, there has not been a single civilian casualty at the hands of the security forces in the last one year. Internally, there has been a dip of 30% in casualties within one year of the dilution of Article 370 as compared to the preceding year when Article 370 was not nullified. Moreover, there has been almost an 80% dip in the violent incidents in the Union Territories after the rescindment of Article 370.
The terrorist incidents in the Union territories have declined sharply after the nullification of Article 370. In comparison to the total number of 51 terrorist attacks in the erstwhile state of J&K, the attacks have drastically come down to 21[i]. Even the terrorist seems scared to initiate incidents as since January, 136 militants have been killed in different encounters across Kashmir. Moreover, the security forces have succeeded in neutralizing over 180 terrorist attacks in last year. In June, the security forces have killed 48 terrorists in various encounters, mostly in south Kashmir, clearly showing the eminence of the dilution of Article 370[ii]. Moreover, there has been a 40% plunge in terror incidents.
The end of Article 370 has also put an end to the injustice faced by different sections of the society as the Scheduled Castes, Schedules Tribes, women, refugees and the LGBT community have now secured their civic and political rights including reservations. The abrogation of Article 370 will also end the dominance of a couple of families in politics and give rise to Dogra, Pahari or a Gujjar who can now aspire to the highest positions.
The infrastructure projects such as roads, entertainment projects, power projects and irrigation works have picked up momentum as 50% of the Prime Minister’s Development Package of Rs. 80,000 crores are being utilized by the administration to expedite several projects[iii]. Moreover, five medical colleges, of which two are All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, have been inaugurated and colleges of nursing sanctioned. The Lieutenant Governor has time and again sanctioned a host of hydel projects in the power-deficit state[iv].
IMPEDIMENTS OF DILUTING ARTICLE 370
Though the abrogation of Article 370 has been efficacious in dealing with several glitches halting the development of J&K, it has given rise to several other hitches that have the capacity to pause the development of the erstwhile state. According to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, businesses across all sectors of the economy have gone down facing a loss of Rs. 40,000 crores in the valley alone. Even if these figures are discounted, the economic loss to the former state as a whole will be even more.
Similarly, health and education are facing grave losses. With only 2G networks allowed in J&K, it has made the occurrence of online classes dysfunctional. As per the reports issued by the Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir, the teachers and researchers are facing grave difficulties as they cannot participate in conferences or send their research papers for publications.
Moreover, the students often miss their admissions in the universities situated in J&K. The health care professionals are facing more grave problems as they could not seek specialist advice and the pandemic is making the condition miserable. In the first few months after August, the pharmacies could not even get deliveries of the medicines and clinics were also shut.
Though the internal security of J&K improved, the abrogation of Article 370 led Pakistan to violate ceasefire at regular instances. Not only the cross-border firing has increased sharply, India is also struggling to reverse the Chinese incursions in Ladakh. The media too is not able to make an exception as it also has been deeply affected, both financially and editorially. Although there is some reporting on the dramatic occurrence of the August actions, there is no comment on it.
Tourism, which is the mainstay of Kashmir economy, has suffered a great collapse as a result of which thousands of people involved in the tourism trade have been rendered unemployed. Ladakh too has been badly hit by the drop in tourism. Horticulture has also suffered and there has been a sharp drop in the exports of apples from the valley. Not only has the development been rolled back, but the fundamental right to speech and expression, bail and speedy trial, protection against arrest and attendant rights, all have been denied[v].
The dramatic abrogation of Article 370 has raised hopes in the heart of every Indian that it will lower the instances of violation of the ceasefire by Pakistan and will give the people of Kashmir equal rights as are enjoyed by every citizen of India. After a year of its nullification has passed, the breaking of J&K into two Union Territories provides a mixed picture of hope and despair. With the passage of time, the dilution of Article 370 is reducing to cipher.
On one hand, it has helped in reducing the terrorist activities and violent incidents in the state of Jammu and Kashmir but on the other, it has led to a tremendous disruption in the lives of Kashmiri people. A year later, there is a little doubt that the entire administrative, constitutional and legal rejig of J&K has cemented the control of the state over the territory.
The detention of the political leaders, the curtailment of the civil liberties, including the mobility and the connectivity has left the streets of J&K alienated. Though, the new Kashmir is embarking on the new journey of prosperity, progress and development, the democratic project now needs to work in order to make the dreams of a peaceful and prosperous J&K come true.
ENDNOTES [i] Ram Madhav, The eclipse of separatist politics, the dawn of peace, Hindustan Times, https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/the-eclipse-of-separatist-politics-the-dawn-of-peace/story-uzsXB5N9g1xQySDcReZ7tL.html [ii] 6 terrorists killed in Jammu and Kashmir in 24 hours, Hindustan Times, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/6-terrorists-killed-in-jammu-and-kashmir-in-24-hours/story-xdiLUU1GwuQQ3AG4He596N.html [iii] Ram Madhav, The eclipse of separatist politics, the dawn of peace, Hindustan Times, https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/the-eclipse-of-separatist-politics-the-dawn-of-peace/story-uzsXB5N9g1xQySDcReZ7tL.html [iv] Wajahat Habibullah, To win the trust of the people of J&K, trust them, Hindustan Times, https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/to-win-the-trust-of-the-people-of-j-k-trust-them-analysis/story-AOb4sl6p853Hln1QDe2PkI.html [v] Radha Kumar, In Jammu and Kashmir, a year of loss and suffering, Hindustan Times, https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/in-jammu-and-kashmir-a-year-of-loss-and-suffering/story-4uf3FWMltzj7GkTpAWjdpK.html ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This blog has been authored by Paras Gupta who is a 3rd Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) student at Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra & Vrinda Jindal who is a 3rd Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) student at ChanderPrabhu Jain College of Higher Studies and School of Law, Narela.
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