Viewpoint – Scrapping Of Article 370 (Special Status) & Bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir

Scrapping 370 and bifurcation of J&K is definitely one of the many methods to integrate Kashmir to India. Ideally, I would have liked this to be done with consensus and in a positive spirit. But then when things have hit rock bottom like it is today (no point finger-pointing any more), that is the best time to go full throttle. I hope this gamble pays off, and I am confident that it will.

70 years on, we are a far more powerful nation than what we were at the time of independence. We have given an enormous mandate constitutionally in 2019 both at the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to carry out bold decisions. Politically, no other party so far has been so dominant at the centre with such unilateral powers, and that is a great time to get these done with. Good job, PM/Home Minister/Cabinet – finally the first good act in NDA-3.

In the same light, I will refrain from blaming the past of Nehru and Patel. They did what they believed right in that situation. The context and circumstances of us as a young nation were in early-days of independence are different from today. More so when we used different reasoning for Junagadh around the same time. Let bygones be bygones.

I continue to believe that Kashmiris are amazing people and want a peaceful solution. They are stuck between two political governments on both sides of the border who are using Kashmiris as pawns. In my interactions with aam-Kashmiris a couple of years ago, I clearly sensed that they wanted just peace. They were only against atrocities by the army on one side and militants on the other. The majority of Kashmiris are pulled between this political tussles, military and militant proxy war.

Also Read: Jammu And Kashmir’s Contentious Special Status, Article 370 Scrapped

Dear Kashmiris: we are with you. India is with you. Politicians have been using you in their proxy battles. With this move, I hope you will be a move closer to us. All the best.

Counter Viewpoint – Scrapping Of Special Status & Bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir

Article 1 of the Constitution, which Article 370 refers to, is very clear about J&K being a part of India. Article 370, Clause 3 further allows the President of India to null this Article 370 by a public notification – ‘provided that it is recommended by the Constituent Assembly of the State.’

What happened on 5th Aug 2019 in the Parliament was a blot to the letter and spirit of the very Constitutional provisions of which Article 370 was being protected. Article #370, temporary provision and the Constitution, itself has allowed for scrapping 370 and Article 2 and 3 allows for realignment of J&K or any other State or Union Territory.

Also Read: Path To Repeal Article 370, Lends A Blow To Indian Democracy

The earnest attempts and a Kashmir solution for over a decade were yielding results until 2014. Elections were being held regularly, and we had increased voter turnout. This is the foundation of the democracy that our constitution is founded on. Legitimate governments came to power, and in fact, the current ruling party did win handsomely in 2014 Assembly elections in the state.

In 2014, there were over a lot more commercial flights into the valley each week. It was estimated that terrorism was reduced significantly by 2014 than in the previous decade. It would have been logical to continue the peace initiatives of the previous governments.

Precisely why today’s abrogation of Article 370 disregards the very provision in the article ‘provided, that it is recommended by the Constituent Assembly of the State.’ A solution to Kashmir was long due, and yes, we were on the path to reconciliation and peace. Constitutionally as well as morally, we should have approached with consensus with the State Assembly and with a positive spirit in the State.

All long term sustained solutions work because of consensus, and the least preferable method powerful unilateral high-handed approach. This is not a us vs. them approach. This is us vs. us. I always prefer ’with’ to vs. . This is precisely the breach of trust that alienates the very people from whom we seek to trust and understanding. Only time will tell if this single act of chutzpah was a solution or cause of future problems.

On why Article 370 came into effect, is long sullied and the reality is little known for many citizens. The context and circumstances of us as a young nation were in the early days of independence are different from today. There were agreements signed, and it is only fair to expect that such contracts are adhered to in letter and spirit. That is ‘raj dharma’.

70 years on, we are a far more powerful nation than what we were at the time of independence. We have given an enormous mandate constitutionally in 2019 both at the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to carry out bold decisions. That also puts immense responsibility on us to demonstrate leadership and act responsibly in line with secession agreement and Article 370. One of the core tenets is to take the views of people of the valley along and work together with them to integrate into mainstream India.

Is this being fair to the fantastic Kashmiri people who want a peaceful solution? For decades, they were stuck between two federal governments on both sides of the border who were using Kashmiris as pawns. In my interactions with aam-Kashmiris a couple of years ago, I clearly sensed that they wanted just peace. They were only against atrocities by the army on one side and militants on the other. Most Kashmiris are pulled between this political tussles, military, and militant proxy war.

Just when they saw a seamless solution in the vicinity in 2014, the new disposition only exercised belligerence and hurry and worsened the situation. If things have hit rock bottom as it seems so today, it is the same muscular policy of the last 5 years that is to blame.

A right approach in my view would have been to use the 2014 and 2019 majority –

  1. To create more opportunities for development, increase tourism and provide better living conditions within the current framework with increased allocation to infrastructure, education, and employment
  2. Continue to take the local representative governance into confidence as well as the goodwill of its people
  3. Curbing army excesses including atrocities and rape against local citizens and work with locals to sniping out real militants from across the border with increased intelligence
  4. Focus on providing employment and transfer the promised development budget, including schemes like MGNREGA that will provide employment for the economy.
  5. Stop using Kashmir as a punching bag, to drive polarisations and political victories elsewhere in the country

Even if the objective is to scrap Article 370, there is a right way and do the right things. Ends do not justify means. A nation of such grandstanding and reputation would need to demonstrate honesty and transparent in its approach to garner international respect, and in one swipe, we may have lost decades of such admiration.

Would this scrapping stand judicial review? Is it unconstitutional? Have we now given extra leverage to Pakistan to take this up in the United Nations because India just receded on its own agreement? Will a third-party involvement be available?

Dear Kashmiris, we are with you. India is with you. Politicians have been using you in their proxy battles. The rest of India is watching!

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