New Delhi: The scrapping of Article 370 and rights granted to the people of Jammu and Kashmir is a slap on Indian Democracy and the values of the Constitution.
Today the Government of India unilaterally decided to revoke Article 370 and Article 35A. The decision will sabotage Indian Democracy and is a clear violation of Human Rights. These provisions were included by the then Prime Minister Nehru after a long negotiation with the people of Kashmir and Kashmiri Leader Shiekh Abdullah.
For a long time now, the ruling government has been pushing a false narrative that the people of Jammu and Kashmir enjoy a special status over and above that of Indian citizens. A part of this propaganda is that Kashmiris have some sort of ‘dual’ citizenship and that the rights of Kashmiri women are trampled under Art 370.
Based on this propaganda vigilante groups and Hindutva affiliated outfits have unleashed a spate of violent attacks against Kashmiris living in other parts of India. Today, the BJP government has latched onto the same propaganda to nullify Art 370 and the rights given to Kashmiri people under Article 35A.
The truth is that the special status of Kashmir under Art 370 is not an exception but a feature of the Indian constitution. Similar special status has been given to various other states, including Nagaland, Manipur and Assam.
Special privilege with regards to property is also given to residents of states like Himachal Pradesh. This does not mean the residents of these states have dual citizenship or that the constitution of India does not apply to them. It merely means that these states have a unique regional and cultural identity which they wish to protect, and the constitution of India recognizes their right to protect and promote their language, customs and culture.
The scrapping of Art 370 and 35A, that too without any process of consultation with the people of the state, is an undemocratic move and goes against the very spirit of the Indian constitution. It will only serve to further the trust deficit between the government of India and the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The government of India must restore the provisions of Article 370 & 35A, and take immediate steps to build trust among the people of Jammu and Kashmir. This decades-old conflict cannot be solved by deploying more soldiers in the valley or trying to forcefully change the demographics of the state.
Any honest effort must begin with dialogue, the rebuilding of trust and the restoration of a democratic process.