Author:- Khyati Relan
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution provided a special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which was conceded to it through the Presidential Order of 1954. Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir, sent the standstill agreement to Pakistan and India which stated that until the decision is made regarding the political future of Kashmir, the outgoing arrangements in Kashmir would remain the same. In between Pakistan attacked Kashmir and military assistance was given to Kashmir, by India, for which Kashmir signed an instrument of accession according to which Kashmir joined India. This issue was referred to the United Nations and it proposed that Kashmir will decide its political future by signing a referendum. This resulted in the creation of Article 370. The existence of Article 370 not only permitted Jammu and Kashmir to make its constitution but also enabled it to hoist separate flag until the dispute is settled by plebiscite. According to this provision, the central government had no right to make decisions on state subjects apart from defence, external affairs and communication without consulting the government of Kashmir.
Enclosed within Article 370 was Article 35A, which allowed the state to acknowledge its permanent residents and deliberated special rights, like government jobs and land acquisition. However, somewhere people were still deprived of their Fundamental Rights; also, minorities were not given protection in the Constitution of Kashmir. In addition to all this, there exists a broad discrimination in terms of gender rights; women were not given equal property and educational rights. Moreover, if a woman marries a non-resident of Kashmir, then she had to give up her rights to the entitlement of property in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This led to communal clashes and gave rise to jeopardy to the relationship between India and Kashmir.
Abrogation of Article 370
5th August, the day would always be remembered for the remarkable abrogation of Article 370 from the Indian Constitution. This led to the bifurcation of the Jammu and Kashmir in two union territories Jammu and Kashmir (with legislature) and Ladakh (without legislature). It was a correction of historical blunders. This step was taken to maintain peace and tranquillity in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir and to bring the people out of the influence of militants and separatists. Due to this rescindment, the doors for private investment in Jammu &Kashmir opened which would, in turn, boost the socio-economic infrastructure in the state. This would also help the citizens of India to avail of educational and employment benefits. Union government had bet the ranch to ensure union territory get a sense of the democratic principles that are firmly entrenched in the Indian constitution. Now the Legislative Assembly may make or amend laws for the whole or any part of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir concerning the matters explicated in the state list except on subjects related to “public order” and “police”, these subjects would remain in the domain of the Centre. In case of any inconsistency between laws made by Parliament and laws made by the Legislative Assembly, former law shall prevail, and latter shall become void.
This strategy of integrating Kashmir with rest of India to defeat Kashmiri nationalism, violence and terror has often accompanied it; however, it could not fill the political vacuum and civil liberties. However, after so many years of isolation, Jammu and Kashmir joined the national mainstream, so obviously it would take time to recover the loss which occurred in past years.
Many progressive laws are applicable in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, like Whistle-blower protection act 2014, National commission for minority’s act, Right to free and compulsory education act 2009. Apart from these, an average of 1600km road stretch is completed annually under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. Not only this, to ensure the proper development of students in Kashmir, 50 new colleges and one state cancer institute has been set up in Kashmir. Attempts are made by the centre to improve the power sector infrastructure of Jammu and Kashmir; as a result, the life of people in Keran and Mundian has lightened up. Another initiative by installing LED street lights between Jammu and Srinagar has saved Rs 57 crore in power bills for municipalities. There has been an extraordinary drive by the government, by the creation of angel investors and venture capital funds network for funding innovative start-up companies in Jammu and Kashmir. Even after president rule, democracy is thriving at grass root level in Kashmir. Counter-terror operations are gradually decreasing due to the proper implementation of laws and proper coordination between security forces in Kashmir. The casualties of civilians and soldiers have slackened in the past one year. Civilians and youth take no part in terrorism, thus contributing to the development of Kashmir. Also, The Anti-Corruption Bureau of India has excavated several large-scale financial scams, including land mafia scam in the last year. The refugees that came from West Pakistan have been given domicile rights and financial assistance. Also, domicile certificate is given to people of Jammu and Kashmir because of which unprivileged beneficiary is getting benefited. Government has introduced a new media policy to make sure that no hatred and violence can disseminate among the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Many beneficiaries in Kashmir valley have set up their businesses, thus contributing to self-reliance project launched recently by Prime Minister Modi.
It was the year of hope and despair at the same time, as along with developments and introduction of many schemes people suffered massive financial loss because of reduction in tourism, local employment is at a standstill . Horticulture has also suffered due to which export of fruits from the valley has reduced. No proper internet facilities are available in Jammu and Kashmir even in this pandemic situation due to which students have lost out on at least one year of education, thus violating the constitutional right to education. Not only the students Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh are affected because of low internet speed, but the cottage and tourism industry reliant on 4 G networks are also affected. Youth Package Scheme was introduced after the abrogation of article 370, but no job notification regarding this scheme has been released until now in Jammu and Kashmir. There is no apparent source of providing any information to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. Also till now, people of Kashmir are victimized by the blatant and rapacious campaign of cross border terrorism. The Judiciary was also criticized for not being proactive enough for making decisions on the detention and habeas corpus writ petitions. The practical impact of the judgments is significantly less in the valley. Moreover, some security analyst believed that Chinese intrusion in Ladakh has increased due to the change in the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir.
It was believed to be a very skilful and opportune act by the parliament to give a new course to the proxy amalgam war troubled state, but later on, it turned out to be a house of cards. It would not be impartial and fair to blame the government of India for this because not only the Kashmir, maximum people in the country is forced to live hand to mouth due to COVID-19 pandemic. In just one year, the government cannot bring a massive change in the development of Jammu and Kashmir. However, they should be provided with necessities like 4G internet services and education facilities so that telecommunications and online consultations could be possible, especially in the pandemic situation. Though high internet speed would cause terror threat, the areas with low terror intensity should get proper internet facilities.
Aim of the government is to fit Kashmir completely into the vision of India and for that, all possible moves are taken. Manoj Sinha, who was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor, stated that it would be the mission and the main aim to ensure peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir. The people of Jammu and Kashmir need to trust the government. Citizens of Jammu and Kashmir were not happy with the decision of abrogation of Article 370 taken by the government of India by their own, as it affected their life and sentiments and it reveals a contemptuous disregard of democratic norms. So, in order to regain the trust of Kashmiris, acceleration in development projects is required, along with that centre should directly address citizens’ problems in Jammu and Kashmir.
The government hit the nail on the head by abrogating article 370. However, more efforts should be made to ensure that democracy and secularism are adequately practised in the Jammu and Kashmir; at least they should be provided with necessary facilities like other states and union territories gets. Their grievances should be solved as soon as possible; one of the methods to resolve the problem is to fill the political vacuum in Jammu and Kashmir. Ladhakis welcomed the decision of making Ladakh a union territory, so improvement in their living conditions should be made beyond their expectations. It is essential to maintain peace and security in Jammu and Kashmir for the unemployed youth because they are forced to join militant outfits to earn their livings.
Patience and all-round pragmatism to absorb temporary setbacks will enhance the chances of eventual success, so citizens of Jammu and Kashmir should support the government of India so that maximum development can be done. Earlier, politicians, bureaucracy, business people, judiciary, have misused Article 370 for their egregious purposes, by exploiting the poor and the down-trodden people of the state . Article 370 was used to deny a fair share of the economic pie to both Ladakh and Jammu region. The abolition of Article 370 is projected as a cataclysmic event that will lead to the assimilation of Kashmiris into the national mainstream. As birds of a feather flock together, citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and the centre should work together in the same direction for proper development of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh.
 INDIA CONSTI. art. 370
 Erin Blakemore, The Kashmir conflict: How did it start? (MARCH 2, 2019) https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/03/kashmir-conflict-how-did-it-start/
 INDIA CONSTI. art. 35A
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Source of feature image:- https://www.dailyo.in/politics/article-370-jammu-and-kashmir-latest-news-amit-shah-article-370-article-370-explained-jammu-and-kashmir-article-370-article-370-revoked/story/1/31857.html