This is a huge and historic decision The special status of Jammu and Kashmir under article 370 has been revoked by a presidential order What does this mean? What impact does this have? You must have noticed that people are either fully supporting it or are completely against it In this article, I will tell you (about) both sides with a balanced approach The people that are supporting it, why are they doing so? And the people that are against it, why are they doing so? So that you can formulate your own opinion on this after hearing out both sides In the end, I shall also tell you my opinion on this Come, let’s see…
What is Article 370?
It has a long history, but summing up in short, When it was formulated, Article 370 was a medium of keeping Kashmir connected to India This article grants special status to Kashmir, due to which, Kashmir was able to maintain a constitution of its own, separate from the Indian constitution It could have a flag of its own, separate from the Indian flag The powers of the Indian central government would initially be applicable only in three areas: External affairs, defense and communications Besides this article 370, there was another article 35A which defined the permanent residents of Kashmir No outsider was permitted to buy land or property in Kashmir or avail educational scholarships or apply for government jobs.
What Happened Now?
The decision that has been taken right now hasn’t technically removed article 370 In contrast, it has made use of the article 370 itself to declare it null and void There is a clause in this article that reads that “this article can cease to exist” That is, this article can be declared null and void through a presidential order in consultation with constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir So the President and the State government of Jammu and Kashmir can take this decision jointly But the situation at present is that no state government exists there No state assembly exists either because Jammu and Kashmir has been brought under President’s rule So the powers of the State government got transferred to the Parliament of India So the Parliament of India, together, can make a decision after the Presidential order to declare article 370 null and void, and this is precisely what happened So, after the removal of article 370, article 35 disintegrates so, the clauses under article 35 also disintegrate.
What Does this mean?
This decision means that there’d be no separate constitution of Jammu and Kashmir There’d be no separate flag The rest of the Indians can buy land and property and avail educational scholarships there And can apply for government jobs I’m saying “technically” because it is yet not clear whether things like buying lands would be allowed or not Because there are a lot of states in our country, like, Himachal Pradesh and the northeastern states where the rest of the Indians are not allowed to buy land There are a lot of other reasons for this. For instance, environmental reasons But the biggest question here is whether doing this was constitutional? Was doing this right or wrong? Would do this lead to improved conditions in Kashmir or would it make things worse? Firstly, I’d like you to hear the arguments of the people who support this decision.
The people who support this decision
The people who support this decision maintain that conditions in Kashmir would improve This is a win-win situation for Kashmiris and Indians This is because the Indians can now buy land in Kashmir and invest there due to which the land prices in Kashmir would rise The local Kashmiris would get more money when they would lease out their lands or sell lands to others The companies would now come and invest in Kashmir There would be enhanced education opportunities when the rest of the Indians would come and avail the educational scholarships in the universities here or apply for government jobs and buy lands here Doing all this would lead to overall economic development which would create more jobs and increased employment and development would lead to a reduction in crime and terrorism Because, automatically, if people there would join jobs, there would be a decrease in the victims of terrorism Another advantage for the Kashmiris is that they would now come under Indian laws and avail benefits of things like Right to education and Right to information The rest of the arguments state that the Kashmiri pandits, who had to flee, are extremely happy that they would now be able to return to Kashmir Lastly, there’s an argument that states that this would create a psychological impact A single flag and a single constitution would cause the Kashmiris to be feel further integrated within India Now, let us see what the people who argue against this,
The people that are against this decision
The people that are against this decision have a very simple argument that the Kashmiris were not asked at all before doing this Hundreds of troops were called in, the internet was turned off, the landlines were turned off The Kashmiri politicians were placed under house arrest, the people were locked up inside their houses And the government took this decision without the apprising the Kashmiris about it People, therefore, say that this amounts to illegal occupation and this can be compared to Fascism That is, calling in the army and imposing this decision on them without asking them first Having dissolved the State assembly of Jammu and Kashmir and imposing President’s rule there Not conducting the re elections, Taking this step is no less than a dictatorship No body is paying heed to the people (of Jammu and Kashmir) No body is paying heed to the democratically elected politicians (of Jammu and Kashmir) Another argument is that doing this was unconstitutional and amounts to cheating Because we made use of a loophole: this decision was taken when the state assembly was non existent For example, Prasant Bhushan writes that this could not have been done and this was unconstitutional This amounts to cheating because the people were fooled that the 10,000 troops were being brought in because there was a threat of a terrorist attack However, there were no threats.
This was done because a decision had to be taken behind their backs So the people were misled. They were kept in the dark. The counter-argument to this is that had the people been informed, a lot of violence would have ensued Hence, bringing in the troops was necessary If it should have been done by previously informing the people and with discussions, this is what has been ongoing since the past 70 years This is the counter-argument to that Some separatists argue that article 370 was the sole medium of connection between Kashmir and India It was the sole legal medium, you could say Revoking this would mean that there remains no legal basis upon which Kashmir stays within India Due to which there could be problems world over and in the United Nations and They say that Kashmir has now become an Indian military occupied state The last point which argues against this is the haste with which this bill was passed There was no discussion or debate in the Parliament.
Jammu and Kashmir Union Territories
Another important decision has been taken that Jammu and Kashmir will be made a separate union territory and Ladakh will be made a separate union territory This is very significant because Jammu and Kashmir was a state that had been granted a special status Now, it has been reduced to a level even below a normal state The democracy of the union territories is even lesser than that of a normal state The central government has greater control over a union territory in comparison to a normal state The people arguing against this say that the democracy in Jammu and Kashmir would be further reduced now Because the people there would choose the government, but the elected state government would not be empowered to decide on all the fields And if it is a different party than the one in the center, then a lot of conflicts would arise as in the case of Delhi If they can do this with Jammu and Kashmir, they could do the same with any state in the future.
In my opinion,
as far as removal of article 370 goes, I lean more towards the first category That is, I believe that removal of article 370 would lead to more development in Kashmir There would be more economic development and people would get more jobs But the way it was done is not correct in my opinion Its difficult to gauge its impact in the long term Because if the people of Kashmir do not accept it and the integration and decisions are taken without asking them first, then the long term impact would not be good. What we want would not be achieved. The purpose behind the removal of article 370 is to integrate Kashmir with India But Kashmir will not be integrated with India until the local Kashmiris want to be integrated If something like this is thrust upon them forcefully and decisions are taken without asking them first, then integration would become even more difficult I am completely against the manner in which it was done But I support its removal So if the decision to remove article 370 would have been taken by consulting the Kashmiri people or at least in consultation with the Kashmiri politicians or the State Government, after conducting the elections, Then it would have been better The counter-argument to this is that taking such a decision would not have been possible I am not in favor of the decision to make Jammu and Kashmir a union territory Because it is clear that this diminishes democracy The government that the people choose is not able to exercise decision making in all the aspects And there are conflicts between the State government and the Central government This hampers development The development gets stalled Work cannot progress in the right manner.
So this was my opinion on this issue But here, I’d like to ask you what do you think? Was this decision right or wrong? You can write down in the comments below It is very difficult to predict what the impact on Kashmir would be Would Kashmir transform into a peaceful state where there would be more development? Would it become more integrated with India or would it become more distant? Would this decision turn out to be like the one on demonetization? where the intentions were correct but the implementation was ghastly Only time can tell I’d only like to say that it would be extremely essential to winning over the hearts of the Kashmiris in the coming times It will be very important to make them feel included within India For Kashmir to become like any other state, Kashmir will have to become a normal state in every aspect As of now, a large number of troops are present there Nobody likes to live in such a militarized area The area needs to be demilitarized The presence of the army needs to be reduced gradually so that Kashmir becomes like a normal state and so that economic development takes place.