What had changed in J&K since revocation of Article 370 and 35A



What had changed in J&K since revocation of Article 370 and 35A

What had changed in J&K since revocation of Article 370 and 35A

It also allowed the state government and the state legislature to define the permanent residents of the state under Article 35A, and subsequently provide them special rights and privileges, which is denied to outsiders. So such special provisions were provided to the state of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, and under Article 35A  by keeping in mind the difficult circumstances under which J&K became a part of the Indian union. But over the years critics of these provisions have argued that the special status has promoted terrorism. It has blocked development in Jammu and Kashmir. And more importantly, it has affected the complete integration of J&K with the Indian union, thereby threatening the unity and the integrity of India.

So on these grounds. Last year, the Government of India decided to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, and under Article 35A. And it not only brought the special status to an end. But it also decided to reorganize the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the union territory of j&k and the union territory of Ladakh. 

The center decided to revoke the special status through an executive decision. instead of doing it to a constitutional amendment. And as the controversial position was expected to create a security challenge. And as it was expected to trigger massive protests and violence in j&k. The center decided to place massive restrictions, including the suspension of several fundamental rights. These restrictions were brought in a few days before the special status was revoked. And as a part of these restrictions. Several mainstream political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir were arrested and detained. And they were even placed under house arrest under the controversial provisions of the Public Safety Act. Along with this internet and communication services were suspended and large scale restrictions on movement were placed along with the massive mobilization of paramilitary forces. 

These restrictions, continue to remain in place, even a year later, and hence it argues that the time has come to unlock and restore democratic fundamental rights in Jammu and Kashmir, several political leaders, continue to be under detention, and they continue to be placed under house arrest. 

The suspension of high-speed internet and communication services has not been completely withdrawn. The continuation of these restrictions for one year has had a severe impact on the aspirations of the local people and as well as other local economies. 

So this being the domestic impact of these decisions. The judiciary is yet to take a look at the constitutional validity of these decisions. But in all likelihood, the judiciary is unlikely to interfere with these decisions that have been made by the executive and the parliament.

The suspension of a few fundamental rights in j&k and the alleged violation of the human rights of the people of j&k has affected India's standing at the global level.

These decisions have led to questions against India's commitment to constitutional democracy and India's commitment to upholding democratic rights, such as fundamental rights and human rights.

Even though foreign governments, such as the United States, European countries, Russia, etc. have referred to this as an internal matter of India, their respective legislatures parliamentary committees Congressional and Senate Committees have questioned, India, over the alleged violation of fundamental rights and human rights, and they express concerns over the year-long continuation of these restrictions similar concerns have been raised by the United Nations, its institutions, and several other international organizations as well.

A few strategic experts have even argued that the decision to reorganize Jammu and Kashmir could be one of the reasons, which could have motivated China to display border aggression in a Ladakh region.

The center would be to lift all these restrictions on basic fundamental rights and restore all communication and internet services and release all the political prisoners and engage with the local people of Jammu and Kashmir. To address their genuine demands. And asking the Government of India to restore the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir because the pride of the people has been affected as no state has ever been downgraded to the status of a union territory.

So by restoring complete statehood. And by restoring political and fundamental rights, and by re-establishing federalism. The center can hope to heal the emotional and psychological wounds suffered by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. And that would provide the right stage to progress towards normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir. 

The myths surrounding article 370 and article 35A

The critics of these provisions which provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir have always argued that these special provisions have led to the promotion of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. They have argued that these special provisions have stalled economic development. And more importantly, they have blocked the complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir, with the Indian Union.

These arguments of the critics are just a myth.  These special provisions only provided greater flexibility and autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, to promote its socio-economic development within the ambit of the Indian union, and within the ambit of the Indian Constitution.

Article 370 and Article 35A were constitutional tools, aimed at conflict resolution in Jammu and Kashmir aimed at healing the wounds and complexities of history.

Article 370 and 35A had no role in the promotion of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, and radicalism and militancy that we have seen in Jammu and Kashmir is more a result of homegrown disaffection against the neglect of the political and economic demands of the people of Jammu and Kashmir by the center. and the exploitation of this disaffection by hostile countries such as Pakistan, which we're looking to sponsor terrorism against India. 

These special provisions were a constitutional tool, through which such disaffection could be contained, leading to better integration of the conflict region with the Indian Union. The flexibility and autonomy, provided by these special provisions, is led to socio-economic development in J&K. This is the reason why Jammu and Kashmir have better education and healthcare infrastructure, as compared to many other Indian states. 

The critics of these special provisions have pointed out that Article 35A prevented outsiders from purchasing land in Jammu and Kashmir. This was a roadblock for economic development because industries found it difficult to set up base in Jammu and Kashmir.

But this ultimate levels as a myth,  because industrial development could not take root on a large scale in Jammu and Kashmir, because of militancy and violence in the state. And not because of restrictions on the purchase of land.

Despite the restrictions of Article 35A private industries could still leave the land, and public industries could always go for land acquisition. And hence, the provisions of Article 35A was not a restriction on industrial development.

It was designed to protect individual land rights and prove its demographic change in Jammu and Kashmir. This is how these special provisions were containing disaffection in Jammu and Kashmir, and hence they were playing a role in containing terrorism and not promoting terrorism. 

Critics of these special provisions have also pointed out that the special status of J&K has resulted in the unfair flow of funds from the center to Jammu and Kashmir. J&K indeed used to receive a higher share of financial support from the center, but this was mainly to address the state's deficit, created by paying huge salaries and pensions, to its bloated bureaucracy. Apart from this compensation paid by the center to address the state's deficit. The other flow of funds was similar and proportionate as compared to the flow of funds to the other states. Apart from this, J&K used to receive a routine transfer of funds from the central divisible pool of taxes, just like any other state. And of course, upon this J&K used to receive a higher allocation, because of its status of bigger special category state. But the special category status is not exclusive to Jammu and Kashmir, and it has nothing to do with article 370 or article 35. Because special category status has been extended to all the states with the international border added with difficult terrain.

The critics of these special provisions have always argued that the special status of J&K has become a roadblock for development that is socio-economic development, and thereby a roadblock for conflict resolution and complete integration of J&K with India. But promoting socio-economic development alone does not resolve a conflict. That is conflict resolution cannot be achieved. Just through the promotion of socio-economic development. Yes, the promotion of economic activities and industrial activities is bound to create more livelihood opportunities, and bring in numerous socio-economic benefits, which can help address local disaffection, but to resolve such a deep-rooted complex conflict, you would need much more than just economic development, because if you study conflict resolution, from anywhere in the world, you would know that conflict resolution requires the addressing of historical grievances, the acknowledgment, and implementation of key political demands the recognition of the concerns of the local people. And of course, along with this, need to show economic development. To stabilize and restore normalcy to the conflict region.

These are the lessons that can be drawn by studying conflict resolution from any part of the world. Beat the Vietnam War, beat the Israel, Palestine conflict. Beat the civil war in Afghanistan, or beat the conflict in Northern Ireland. In all these conflict zones. It has been well established the conflict has to be resolved. 

You need a combination of social-economic development, along with the address of historical grievances and political demands that support this in Jammu and Kashmir.

We witness religious radicalization as well. The radicalization of the youth is directly contributing to the rise of terrorism and militancy, and along with this, we have an excellent factor, wherein hostile countries, such as Pakistan and China to an extent are directly interfering in the internal affairs of J&K.

If such a complex conflict has to be resolved, and that the conflict region has to be completely integrated genuinely integrated with the Indian union that they need to respect the political and economic aspirations of the local people and provide them with the required flexibility and autonomy to help them achieve these aspirations.

But instead, what we are witnessing is a stereotyping of the ordinary Kashmiri, and the labeling of Kashmiris in general as an anti-national terrorist, and there has been very little empathy that has been shown by the rest of India, towards the plight of ordinary Kashmiris. 

Revocation of the special status of J&K under Article 370 and 35A has undone, the very basic step in conflict resolution. And contrary to the claims made by the government. There has been an uptick in violence and terror-related incidents in J&K ever since article 370 was revoked.

The revocation of Article 370 and the special status of J&K has undermined federalism and inclusion. See proponents of the revocation of the special status of J&K have argued that this would result in the complete integration of J&K with the Indian union and bring peace and stability to the region. 

But we need is not just a physical and territorial integration of J&K with the Indian union. But we also need an emotional integration of the local people of J&K with India. If a conflict has to be resolved and if peace has to be brought to a conflict region, then what we need is a full-fledged implementation of democratic rights and federalism.

The roadblock for the integration of J&K with the Indian union, there is the emotional integration is not article 370, but the lack of genuine democracy. Again the central government that is the subsequent governments have violated democratic norms, and they've repeatedly snatched away fundamental rights, leading to greater disaffection on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Between the 1950s and 1990s, the central government was accused of supporting a single party rule in J&K through alleged rigging and manipulation of elections. Over the last 70 odd years, the central government and its security agencies have repeatedly violated civil liberties and fundamental rights, through controversial laws, such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The Public Safety Act, and with construct restriction of movement and communication. 

If a large and diverse union, such as the Indian union needs to sustain itself. Then we need to be a liberal and accommodative constitution that provides for regional autonomy, flexibility, and administration. And if required the accommodation of even a separate flag or a separate constitution too truly provide legal autonomy within the ambit of the Indian Union and the Indian Constitution. The Indian Constitution does have such provisions, and it does seem to be a liberal and accommodated Constitution, which provides special powers and special status to several such regions including the northeastern states.

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