Imagine a skilled carpet weaver, Abdul, living in Srinagar who works at a meager $1.5 daily wage at a local carpet factory. His three children also work in the same factory. Abdul
wanted to sell his ancestral property located in the city to start a small carpet factory but unfortunately, the prices of land are not good enough. He cannot avail the benefits of
reservation in government jobs despite belonging to a tribal community. Recently he lost his job as the factory was shut down for weeks due to the violent protest and stone pelting by separatists.
The fundamental reason behind his misery was Article 370, because of which the people of J&K had fewer opportunities as compared to other states. There is lack of interest by
the industry to invest in the state, land prices are low and economic opportunity limited because Art 370 denies property rights to non-residents. The state largely survives on the
massive subsidies pumped by the central government. The high youth unemployment presents opportunity to the separatists for recruitment to perpetuate well-organized
stone pelting & violence.
But now the article 370 except 370(1) has been abrogated and all provisions of the Indian constitution apply to the state of Jammu & Kashmir including article 3 which paved the
way to redefine the geographical territory of the J&K state. Article 370 was meant to be a temporary provision to decide working relations between the union and the state until the framing of the constitution of the Jammu & Kashmir. Due to political unwillingness to repeal it, it became a de-facto permanent tool in the hands of separatists and opportunists to create unrest and panic in the valley by nurturing dreams of complete independence.
The Instrument of Accession was signed by the Maharaja Hari Singh when Jammu & Kashmir was being invaded by the Pakistan and it was same as the instrument of accession signed by other princely states. Art 370 was never a part of the Instrument of accession. The Art 370 was granted as a special provision due to the extraordinary wartime conditions of accession of the Kingdom of Jammu & Kashmir and as recognition of the fact that the Kingdom consisted of diverse sub-regions. It was temporary, but became an
instrument of concentration of power in the few districts of the Kashmir valley that comprise just 16% of the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
Later 'Article 35A' was added to the Indian Constitution in 1954, which denied Permanent residency to a large number of people mostly to those belonging to the backward castes and Dalits. They were denied residency and property rights. Tribals and Dalits were denied reservation in government jobs available to them in rest of the India. Dalits were not allowed to take up any jobs except that of sanitation workers. The amendment of Art 370 and full integration of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is also an act of emancipation as the Indian constitution & Republican laws now fully apply in the union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
The unique culture & script of the Ladakh region was suppressed with attempts to change the demography. Now Ladakh is a separate union territory in fulfilment of the longstanding demand of the people. In fact, Northern Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh have received the change in the status quo positively. While the Sunni hardliners of the few districts of the southern and central Kashmir are to oppose it. It must be mentioned that separatist movement in Kashmir is confined to these districts and does not enjoy support
in the entire region as is normally assumed. The Art 370 also fueled the competitive politics of forcing the central government to grant more and more concessions that made
youth an easy prey for radicalization. Now with the end of ambiguities, one hopes the local politics will restructure itself as space of separatists & radicals shrinks.
The apprehensions about demographic change in the valley are unfounded. Indian state does not have any track record of causing such a change in any part of the country that
has faced similar insurgencies or separatist movements. But such rumors and conspiracy theories are being circulated to create panic and unrest in the valley. It is being argued
that abrogation of special rights will be detrimental to the Muslim population of the valley. But if the Indian constitution and secular laws are good for 250 million Muslims in
the rest of the India then they are good for 6 million Muslims of the valley unless one is arguing for an Islamic state. And indeed, the current insurgency in the valley has less to
do with the Kashmir but is inspired by the pan-Islamism seeking to create a theocratic state. Even the Pulwama suicide bomber did not speak about the Kashmir but jihad
against all non-Muslims. And with Pakistan fueling this insurgency and trying to direct mujahedeen towards Kashmir once the Afghanistan peace deal is clinched, India did not
have the window to wait for another 70 years to maintain the status-quo. There was a need to put an end to the ambiguities by taking accession of the Jammu & Kashmir to its
It is the birth of an undivided Kashmir. A new Kashmir, free from the sense of alienation, free from the restricted economy in this globalised world.
(Ujjwal Virendra Deepak & Abhinav Prakash)