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A Year After: Is It A ‘New Kashmir?’ – OpEd

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By the time I finish this article, a year has almost passed on the abrogation of article 370 which was a key article linked India to Kashmir. The Bhartia Janta led government on this exact day a year ago decided that the only way to merge Kashmir and solve the issue of Kashmir, by stealing dreams and hopes of most.

On this very day, a very personal experience which I feel is worth sharing is the indoctrination of the students in a college classroom by the professors. It is given that every professor holds their views but blatant supporting the majority government and its views is a tough bet that too in a topmost university. The professor picks up the article 370 and speaks about the victory that is worth celebrating by India and Indians together that we have finally found an answer to the stalemate.

With no Kashmiri present in that class, the conversation turned out to be a more one-sided conversation with no opposition from the student. A very Kashmiri close friend of mine, who was passing by the window that very moment was crying as the state went in a complete network and physical curfew, no calls were transferable to the ‘State of Jammu and Kashmir’.

Following that incident my friend came into the class and asked for permission to speak up. The monologue that she delivered was from her own heart, the beating and the pain that the state repeatedly suffered at the hands of its perpetrators.

‘Opposition’ and ‘rebellion’ are two very different things, what I did in that class may seem close to the rebellion to the order and what my friend was the needful opposition which allowed the professor to reconsider her opinion. A year after I see, many students whom I knew celebrating the union of the state as a Union Territory of India. The situation seems as grim to me and to many of us who still considers the value of opposition.

A mark of protest for Kashmir on social media spurred up as the day closes. In New-York Bulletin Boards went up with Kashmiri Lives Matter and Default Pictures over the internet going red to paint the colour of blood that has been lost over the seventy years of conflict. Political authorities all over the country agreed with the view that it was a necessary move by the government that Article 370 and 35a had already lost their value long time back and it was similar to flogging a dead horse.

I protested against the abrogation, on the streets and front of colleges with the student organization, knowing fully that this article is irreversible. Political intelligentsia claimed for a long time that these are the two articles which were the core to ‘Anti-India’ sentiment; contrary to the popular belief to a personal Kashmiri it was a hope that they were still an autonomous region even if it was just in paper, which was the promise with which the Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir signed the ‘Instrument of accession’.

While today on 5th August 2019, part of India celebrates the full union of Kashmir a historic wrong that was corrected by the Prime Minister Mr Modi and the wrongdoing by the respected first Prime Minister of India Nehru, another half celebrates the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ ( land worship) for the Ayodha Temple. To explain the current political situation in India right now for this day is: While the Ayodha is painted with the fanatics of saffron, human lives are lost in the valley which still bleeds red.

A major promise that was made during the abrogation of the art.370 and art.35a was that of the industry and the economic boom. The state suffered a major blockade for being under curfew for more than six months and more. A network blockade for more than a year, the industrial boom is nowhere to be seen soon; with the winters approaching the working-class population in the valley will be hit badly. The state has been under Militancy since the year of 1990, a major claim for the ‘Naya Kashmir’ that was made in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House in the Parliament) claimed that the militancy will drop, a year later, houses are still being demolished suspecting them as a threat of militancy and families are left on the street with no food or shelter. *Kashmir reported 220 killings and 107 violent incidents. Of these, 143 involved militants compared to 120 in the corresponding period of 2019 and 108 in 2018.

The ceasefire violations grew as well in the past month with reports of more youth joining the militancy at a larger number.

The new Domicile law in the union makes a legal resident of the state a mere outsider to their homeland as well. The law claims that, the erstwhile permanent citizens of the state as the domicile status of Union Territory of J&K. The structural transformation that is being created in the state is havoc, and it is important to consider; that the term of domicile as defined as anyone who has stayed in the state for 15 years, children of government service officers served in the state for 10 years, passed higher secondary education from the state and registered migrants.

Considering these terms, the Center has enfranchised the state to ‘all’.

A special emphasis has been laid on the West Pakistani Refugees, which are majorly Hindu migrants from the neighbouring state who will be granted the domicile status in the state as well. This is significant, as the centre tries to woo the change in the demography of the largest ‘Muslim Majority’ state in India. Disenfranchisement of the state will further complicate the issue of the plebiscite which was promised to the state in 1948 by UN resolution and further dissolve the hopes and dreams of many. There are many other states in India as well who are granted for the protection of the land, especially the hill states, focusing on only one such state is a sheer determination to change the state forever. 

The argument that was given in case of the removal of art.35a was that the state required infrastructural growth, educational hubs, hospitals etc. which has been kept bereft of the population of the state by the art.35a what lacks in this argument is that, it also led to a structural transformation within the state.

From 1950-1973 the “Tiller Movement” which provided land to the rural population of Kashmir improved lives which wouldn’t have been possible under the Indian Constitution as Right to the property has been considered a fundamental right. The reason for private investment not coming into the state is a mere political excuse for the crisis that is ongoing. The land is available on the lease from the Indian government on a 90 year lease period which is extendable, that is how groups like Taj Vivanta, Lalit and other major hotel and educational groups have spurred in the valley.

Neglecting the political parties and discrediting the politics of the state, will have further repercussion. The political parties of the state were dismantled slowly. The president rule which was imposed on the state before the decision was made as part of the deal. The National Conference was rooted out as a pro-Pakistani, corrupted and nepotistic. However, these parties not only were the representatives of the people of the state but were also the voice in the mainland. Dismantling these parties meant that, dismantling the voices and a year later, no opposition party is there to voice the opinions from the Union Territory and blank plank where no oppositions are left to the people. A new party has also been launched called ‘Apni Party’ (Our Party) which has promised to work on the premise of the regulation sought out by the Supreme Court of India.

Loss of land has been a stagnant fear among the residents of the state.

While the majority of the domiciles will be reinstated in Jammu, they fear the loss of jobs and land. In Ladhak the situation seems grim so does in Kashmir. Both the regions are environmentally significant, reinstating more people in these regions would require forest covers and agricultural land cover to be depleted to accommodate the population. Major water sources and glaciers flow from this region.

The recent committee report by FAC (The Forest Advisory Committee) of the erstwhile Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir has authorized to make decisions on approval of projects passing through forested land in the former north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, during the 33 days from September 18, 2019, to October 21, 2019, the FAC approved the diversion of over 727 hectares of forested land. It also approved the felling of at least 1,847 trees (which includes 1471 forest-trees and 376 social forestry trees) as well as the felling of un-enumerated trees coming under the submerged area of a Pakuldul hydro-electricity project and other developmental projects.

Over 60% of the diverted land has been approved for diversion for construction of roads. 33% (243 hectares) of the diverted land has been approved for diversion for the utilisation of army and para-military forces in Pirpanjal. There’s a popular saying in Kashmiri “Ann poshi teli yeli wan poshi (food will last as long as forests last).” In the face of rising global warming and climate change, this action is deplorable.

The people and their land have seen centuries of war and conflict.

While the construction of a Hindu temple- Ram Mandir is being blatantly compared to the Independent struggle and saying ‘Ram is for everyone’. The Indian political heads are forgetting the secular values on which India was imagined, a free country which respects all forms of religion and allows every citizen to profess the same. The construction of Ram Mandir is being built on the land where the grand structure of Babri Masjid once stood, while it is being celebrated as the epitome of the new India, I fear the epitome is similar to what past extremists professed in their regions once.

The humane prophecies of people being there for each other or the values of ‘Unity in diversity’ is slowly being depleted in this situation. Right-wing terrorism is on the rise in India; the recent law of UAPA- Unlawful Prevention Act may very well regard this article as anti-India and consider me as a terrorist and sent to jail. But dissent is necessary than ever now for as long as we have the power of the voice and pen.

Kenneth Waltz, an imminent theorist in the International Relations, said there are three images of war: Man, State, and International System. While Kashmir is back on the International platform, Pakistan a few days back released a new political map of Kashmir, which included the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladhak and Siachen under its periphery. China is more impatient than ever, the recent stand-off between India and China in the Galwan Valley of Ladhak, which is claimed by both the state, and the acquisition of the land for the Belt Road Initiative. The future of the region is on its way to be changed, so is the new India.  

*Arjoma Moulick, Profession: Student University: University of Delhi 

References:

1.      Abrogation Widened Gap Between Myth and Reality of Kashmir- Aijaz Ashraf Wani

2.      Kashmir’s forests face the axe- Athar Parvaiz  

3.      The new domicile law of Jammu and Kashmir- Ministry of Home Affairs.

4.      Altaf Bukhari Interview with The Wire: One Year Since Article 370 Was Read Down, New Political Trends in J&K

One thought on “A Year After: Is It A ‘New Kashmir?’ – OpEd

  • Avatar
    August 7, 2020 at 8:25 pm
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    Modi like any authoritarian leader is using a hammer to achieve his ends. You need to win over people to your side not force them. The policy is no different than China’s policy in Xinjiang and Tibet. The majority population of Ladakh are Buddhists and have wanted to be part of India. It is shameful that Pakistan gave away part of Ladakh to the Chinese, now known as Aksai Chin,.

    Reply

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