A year after 370 was removed, the question is whether it has attained its objective? Before answering that, another relevant question arises that why Art 370 was brought into existence? It was incorporated as the temporary, transitional and special provision as mentioned under Part XXI of the Constitution. Reading from the title of the provision it’s applicability was very well- projected to last till the formulation and adoption of the State’s constitution. It was basically inserted with the idea to end insurgency and violence after partition. But that failed in its entirety.
Abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A:
Decades of the escalated conflict in Kashmir made the government finally to adopt hard measures like “Operation All-Out” in 2019 to flush out all the militants and terrorists in the state until final peace is established. The BJP-led government used the escalated conflict in the Valley as an excuse to fulfil the dream of its ideologue Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to abrogate Article 370 and Article 35A. Mukherjee, who died while leading a protest against the special status of J&K in 1953, had stressed that there cannot be two constitutions, two prime ministers, and two flags in one nation.
It is also essential to understand the feeling of the people behind the repealing of Art 370. The abrogation was without the consent of the people of the valley. So it developed a sense of fear and suspicion regarding their identity and culture issues such as religion, customs, and usage.
Therefore let us now observe the issues and record the changes took place in a state after a year Art 370 had left us:-
The foremost issue of terrorism that stood as the main reason behind removal has literally made no difference. Overall, 148 terrorists have been killed this year in the Valley as of 30 July, but of these, 116 have been killed since April with the highest being in June, which saw 49 terrorists being killed in encounters. This shows terrorism still remains the main problem even after a year of the special status of the state was scrapped.
Coming onto the economy, it has observed a steep decline due to the communication blockade, militant threats, and curfews. It has lost around 178.78 billion rupees and more than 90,000 jobs in the prominent sectors of handicraft, tourism, and information technology. The apple industry is worst affected which constitutes around 8% GDP of the J&K. Due to militancy, it was crippled down during the harvesting season, and finally when the government intervened damage was already done.
The internet shutdown has severely affected college and university students. University libraries devoid of internet facilities has made students to stand in long queues outside district headquarters, only where public access to the internet is allowed. With wastage of time and efforts, students also have to spend around 100-200 rs per online submissions made.
Which is why in Jan 2020 after entertaining several pleas from J&K, the SC asked the administration to review the curb on the internet. It held that right to the internet is a right guaranteed under the Right to freedom of speech and expression and can only be reasonably restricted as provided under Art 19(2) be it internet ban or imposition of Sec 144 of CrPC. The court particularly observed that restrictions cannot be used to suppress the legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights.
Under new Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules 2020, individuals who have resided in J&K for 15 years or have studied for seven years or appeared in examinations for class 10th or 12th can be eligible for the grant of a domicile certificate.
With that next is corruption, when interviewed by ORF the interviewees especially the farmers told that local administration has turned more corrupt after repealing Art 370. They particularly highlighted the misery faced in selling products in the markets run by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED), a government-run market area. Therefore, claiming to give a corruption-free Kashmir is simply a rhetoric concept.
Conclusion and Recommendation:
The move has made common Kashmiris to lose faith in the government. They believe now that each of them is labeled as separatists. For them, it is now felt as living in a colony and being denied of their basic rights. The infiltration of the terrorists has no matter continued, however, seen as an uprising. Kashmiris very much believe that parliament has avoided their sentiments, basic constitutional ethos and tried to form anarchist way of governance.
Therefore, it is recommended: -
a) to retain the trust that has been annulled after 370. Due to distrust, the prior pro-establishment parties have also gone on back foot who used to have a neutral stance before.
b) Due attention should be given to the economic crisis in the state. The government shouldn’t forget it’s own promises like when formulating the bill, Amit Shah mentioned in the parliament, that bill will bridge the gap of economic instability persists in the state.
c) The government has already taken much of the hard approach and now it is the time to soften it. It can be done by introducing special provisions for the people out there.
d) It is also the time for Kashmiri’s to learn that our nation has now attained an integrational approach therefore they have to stop their separatist and militancy nature. And if they want constitutional safeguards from the government then they also have to stop preying to the Pro-Pakistan propaganda.
e) The Centre must realise to engage Kashmiri’s by serious and serious interlocution measures. They shouldn’t be left as to themselves as before and also Kashmiri’s while practicing or enabling their constitutional right shouldn’t use Pakistani flag or other pro-Pakistani agenda. It is a two-way phenomena. Each of the parties should take positive steps to integrate with each other peacefully and completely.