The Abrogation- Betrayal Or Justice
By: Disha Nigam
“J&K divided, disempowered and downgraded.”
This was the front page headline of the local daily “Greater Kashmir” on August 6, 2019, the first day of Kashmir after Article 370 was revoked. The article 370, as per the locals was the reason why the state was ceded towards India back in 1954.
Jammu and Kashmir and The Article 370
The history of article 370 and the state dates back to the year of independence. In October of 1947, the then maharaja of Kashmir had signed an Instrument of accession. This specified the three subjects on which Jammu and Kashmir would transfer its power to India: - defence, communication and foreign affairs.
In July 1949, Sheikh Abdullah (the prime minister of the interim government of the state) and three other colleagues joined the Indian Constituent assembly and negotiated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. This finally led to the adoption of the Article 370.
Under the article, the centre cannot declare a financial emergency in the state. The article also states that the parliament cannot impose its laws on the state except in the cases of finance, foreign affairs, communication and defence. The fundamental rights of the citizens, the ownership laws and the law of citizenship under the article are different from that of the rest of the Indian citizens. The article thus provides the state's constituent assembly to
make its own constitution, thereby, giving it an autonomous power.
Article 35(a) in the Constitution Of India 1949
The article gives the state the power to define the permanent residents of the state. A permanent resident as defined by the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is someone who was a state subject on May 14, 1954 or someone who has been a resident of the state for 10 years and has lawfully acquired a property. It also provides special rights and privileges to the people in the public sector jobs. It confers on scholarships and other public aid and welfare as well. The provision also mandates that no act of the legislature coming under it can be challenged for violating the act of the constitution or any other law of land.
Article 370 has been controversial ever since it was drafted. Dr BR Ambedkar, the father of the Indian constitution had refused to draft the article subjecting to its bias and unequal dispensations within the framework of a free India. The article owing to temporary nature was included in the Temporary and Transitional Provision in Part XXI.
“I want to tell the people of the Jammu and Kashmir what damage article 370 and 35(a) did to the state. It’s because of these sections that democracy was never fully implemented, corruption increased in the state, that no development could take place “
These are the words of the Home Minister of India, Mr Amit Shah after the articles were revoked at 11:18 IST on August 5, 2019.
However, what followed the act of upliftment was a curfew that soon changed into a severe lockdown. The announcement on one hand was a source of happiness for the most of the Indians, it had sent a wave of fear in the state.
“By the time we woke up this morning, the internet was gone and we now have no mobile connectivity. If people step out of their homes, they see paramilitary forces on every street. Almost every major road is blocked - we are hearing that more troops are being deployed. No one knows what is happening in other parts of the state - we can't talk to anyone else. People are concerned - they don't know what is happening, they don't know what is going to happen. It's an atmosphere of fear. People are scared to come out, they have stockpiled food for months. Kashmiris have always been willing to defend the state's special status. It looks like a long road ahead, and no-one knows what's next.” told Aamir Peerzaada , a resident of Srinagar to the reporter of BBC news.
August 6,2019 was an uncommon day for the people of Jammu and Kashmir as they woke up to the sirens of the police and the sounds of the trucks and vehicles of the troops. The annulment of the act was succeeded by the deployment of additional troops in the state, shutting down the schools and colleges, communicational and internet blackout for the people and moreover detention of the political leaders and many other individuals. What is questionable is that all was done as a preventive measure by the government. It was a paradox that on 15 August, 2019 when India celebrated its 79th year of independence, Kashmir was on its 10th day of lockdown.
The lockdown was severely questioned and criticised not only by the Indian political leaders like Priyanka Gandhi but also Amnesty international that had launched a campaign to end the blackout in Kashmir in September, 2019.
MUFTI and the GUPKAR ALLIANCE
“I feel a sense of relief as her detention was illegal in what is the world’s largest democracy. As a daughter and as a Kashmiri as a political leader would feel, Kashmir has been turned into an open air prison since August 2019.” said Itija Mufti on being questioned about the release of her mother, Mehbooba Mufti after 14 months of detention.
The first female prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti has always been adamant of the scrapping away of the article. She believes that it was the reason why the state was ceded towards India. “The people who participated in Democracy have been pushed against the wall. The decision has betrayed Kashmir’s decision to align with India in 1947.”
The mainstream political parties of Kashmir seemed to have sensed the tension at the centre regarding the autonomy of the state. The parties on 4th August 2019 , just a day prior to the revocation of the article had met at the Gupkar residence of Farooq Abdullah (former chief minister of Jammu And Kashmir) to discuss the situation triggered by the sudden presence of massive armed forces and removal of tourists from the valley. However, the next day they woke up to the loss of their liberty to self-rule.
On August 22, 2020 when Mufti was released, the six parties National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Indian National Congress, the J&K Peoples Conference ,the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Awami National Conference met again at the same place and signed the ‘Gupkar Declaration II' . With the declaration they pledged to fight for the restoration of the articles, the constitution of J&K clearing that any kind of
division will be unacceptable.
What do the people seek?
The answer to the Question is quite simple; 'PEACE' and 'JUSTICE'. The people do not want another night where they question themselves if they are going to wake up normal or to a curfew. The people do not want to lose their freedom and continue to be detained for a ‘preventive measure ' by the government. The people want to laugh freely, roam about freely and live in a state which respects their freedom. They want to be free of the barbed wires that surround not only their houses but also the neck of humanity and individuality.
The people seek identity. They demand their rights especially when they are ready to fulfil their duties. They want what every other common person does. They want their State to be found again. The State that they have lost to the two countries that are ready to slit throats for a dominating status. They want their freedom. They want to enjoy their festivities at each other’s homes and not on the ground of the battlefield. They want their motherland, their heaven and that is all they seek for.