The Aftermath of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir

by Nimra Javed
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution grants Jammu and Kashmir a unique status as the only state that can define its own accession term and receive this treatment. In order to legislate and establish other contacts with the Indian Union, the state assembly and government were granted this unique status under the constitution. Article 370 was included in the Indian constitution following discussions between Kashmiri and Indian government officials. This unique status was, however, eroded over time by a number of Draconian measures. To draft its own constitution and approve applicable sections of the Indian Constitution, the IIOJK Constituent Assembly was founded in 1950. Importantly, Article 35A was included to ensure the continuation of the Maharaja’s state subject rule by giving the state government the authority to establish its own definition of permanent residents and place limits on the ability of non-residents to purchase property in the state. Despite being subjected to Indian aggression, brutality, and tyranny, the people of Jammu and Kashmir were able to maintain their unique culture and identity because of Article 370. It gave the state legislature the power to make laws for Jammu and Kashmir, with the exclusion of the military, the media, and international relations. Article 370’s third clause stated that the J&K constitutional assembly’s approval was needed to alter or repeal the article. Since the legislature was dissolved on January 26, 1957, however, it is impossible to constitutionally revoke the special status. The BJP government unilaterally repealed this law, turning the state into a de facto prison, despite the fact that it had a permanent status. While New Delhi promised that this change would bring prosperity to the state, the reality shows otherwise. Significant shifts and difficulties have resulted from the repeal. Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are now two independent union regions after the removal of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. With this change, the territory was no longer granted any kind of special status and instead fell under the direct control of the Indian federal government. Concerns were voiced regarding how the elimination of Article 370 would affect the demographic make-up of the area. Mass migration and settlement by a certain group can shift the demographic balance, as was the case with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, which drew criticism from many. The repeal was interpreted as an effort to domesticize the international debate over Kashmir within India. As a result, the unlawful union territory authority in Jammu and Kashmir issued up to 3.5 million bogus residence certificates to foreigners.People who had previously worked for 10 years in various capacities in the territory, such as at colleges, banks, or other jobs, were now able to claim domicile under the new rules for claiming domicile in J&K. Domicile eligibility was extended to include offspring of J&K service personnel and those who had completed high school (grades 11 and 12). Some people aren’t happy with all the domiciles being given out, especially to former soldiers known as Sainiks. This has prompted concerns among locals about a possible effort to manipulate the area’s population composition and threatens their safety. Some people are worried that the ruling party, the BJP, is trying to control the region’s majority Muslim population by settling extremist Hindus in the valley, which could lead to ethnic cleansing and the emergence of new conflicts. As a precautionary step following the revocation, some Jammu and Kashmir political figures were detained or placed under house arrest. Syed Ali Gillani, Yasin Malik, Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti are just some of the prominent regional party leaders that were threatened with detention. The goal of this action was to silence the Kashmiri government. While visiting New York, Indian author Arundhati Roy declared, “The biggest myth of all times is that India is a democracy.” Actually, it’s not the case. Several Indian states are dangerously close to civil conflict. The number of reported rapes has been steadily rising since article 370 was repealed. IIOJK is notorious for its use of torture, sexual assault, kidnapping, nighttime raids, disappearances, and mass graves. Human rights abuses have been systematic and pervasive in J&K for at least 40 years, according to UNHCR findings from 2018 and 2019. Khurram Parvez, three of his accomplices, and Parveena Ahanger were among the prominent human rights activists whose homes and offices were raided by the NIA on various occasions in 2020. Ajay Kumar Mishra, minister of state for the home, said in the Rajya Sabha, “the cost of pursuing journalism in Jammu & Kashmir is huge.” The executive editor of The Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin, told the wire that they are under constant observation and that government policies have all but muzzled the media. Journalists in Kashmir are often subjected to ‘police verification’ requests, which can take the form of either a verbal’ summons’ and questioning, or a physical raid. She writes about the persecution of Kashmiri journalists in her book, “A Dismantled State” (The Untold Story of Kashmir after Article 379), which was written after Article 370 was revoked. This book details the ‘Orwellian policy’ of punishing, jailing, and otherwise intimidating journalists into silence, and the damage done to the fourth pillar of democracy as a result. It’s now difficult for journalists to operate without interference.There has been a surge in the number of extrajudicial executions committed by armed organizations in the region. The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCC) has reported that since August 5th of this year, 165 people have been killed in Indian-led search and cordon operations. The economy and job market in the area have also been significantly impacted by the repeal of Article 370. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) reports that the jobless rate has risen to 16.2 percent, which is more than twice as high as the 6.7 percent unemployment rate in the Indian Union. The withdrawal of special status has had severe economic ramifications for the people of Jammu & Kashmir, with an estimated 500,000 people losing their jobs. Kashmir’s business community, according to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), lost almost 40,000 crore rupees due to the current adverse environment. The Indian government has claimed that Article 370 is to blame for the state’s lack of economic progress, although the truth appears to be more nuanced and complex. Significant difficulties have arisen as a result of the abrogation, which has had an effect on the economy and other facets of regional life. The Indian government opted to hold online auctions for mineral extraction bids during the communication shutdown in Kashmir. This, however, prevented Kashmiris from applying, therefore almost all of the permits went to Indians rather than Kashmiris. Sand, boulders, gravel, and other riverbed materials were made available for mining in over 200 mineral blocks along the Jhelum River and its tributaries, spread over all 10 districts of the region. In an interview with Anadolu Agency, local contractor Abdul Ahad voiced his concerns, saying, “It is not injustice but murder with us and our families.” Because of this, a record-breaking 70% of all mining contracts went to Native Americans. There are still many unknowns and unanswered questions concerning the future of the region as a result of these shifts. The situation in Kashmir requires our care and attention. Only sincere diplomatic efforts, with human rights and the aspirations of the people as their top priorities, will bring peace and stability to the region. As global citizens, we have a responsibility to keep an eye on the situation in Kashmir and work toward a peaceful resolution that protects the region’s distinct culture and the future of its people. True peace and reconciliation in Kashmir can only be achieved in a world where ideals of justice and fairness reign supreme and no one’s suffering goes ignored or neglected.
Nimra Javed is Researcher at CISS AJK and working on Nuclear Politics & Disarmament, Emerging Technologies and New Trends in Warfare. Writer can be reached at: @NimrahJaved_

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Center for International Strategic Studies AJK, King Abdullah Campus Chatter kalas Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir