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Borders Redrawn! Will it provide solution?

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on August 16, 2019 with No Comments

 “Kashmir se Kanyakumari tak” is commonly used phrase to t describe India’s expanse. Students in the school are taught the same, and at the same time, the most used slogan to garner votes in the name of peace. For Kashmir, peace has been a brief armistice in the permanent state of unrest. However, every week the Kashmiri now mainly Muslims would come to remind India through stone pelting of their concerns, and how the neighboring Pakistan was evoking sentiments against India.

An overpowering section within the Indian constitution – Article 370 allowed Jammu and Kashmir’s legislature autonomy over drafting their own laws, except in the key areas of defense, foreign affairs, communication and finance. Coupled with another article, it also ensured that non-permanent residents of Kashmir could not buy land or have voting rights, even if they had lived in the state for decades.  Kashmir also enjoyed an unusual status that also permitted the state to have its own constitution and flag — one that flew alongside the Indian tricolor on all government buildings. An obvious question – Why did India let this become part of its constitution? One- to keep the uniqueness of Kashmir intact; Two- to keep Kashmiris blissful, while rejecting the secessionist insurgency and terrorism funneled through it by Pakistan. However, over the years various governments were not able to keep the uniqueness intact –as the flow of the tourist to the state came down due to unrest, and only think that grew was Pakistan sponsored insurgency.

It required a leader like Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to take an unusual steps to address the problem. In less than one hour, without any real debate inside India’s Parliament, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought to an end 72 years of policy and changed the course of Kashmir’s history. To ensure the safety of those visiting Kashmir and to maintain peace, two days before the bill was introduced, the tourist were told to move out of the state and section 144 was imposed and almost anyone who had anything to do with politics was put under house arrest including three former Chief Ministers of the state.  The state of Jammu and Kashmir now stands bifurcated into two union territories. Jammu and Kashmir one that would have a legislature and Ladakh without a legislature. The step has come as a dream come true for the residents of Ladakh who have been asking for the same as this would enable them to get funds from the centre exclusively for the region. For the region of Jammu and Kashmir, it is a serious gamble-which eitherway could be a game changer. Prime Minister Narendra Modi gains a lot of ground as one of the election promise addressing the 72 year old problem has been fulfilled. With the exception of only a handful, most political parties have backed the government for what it has called the “integration of Kashmir into the mainstream.” His resolve to work through the Rajya Sabha where BJP doesn’t have a majority shows that this government has a better floor management. Also the present political condition in state where the assembly is dissolved allowed the central government to move the bill without seeking the consent of the legislature. The international politics also had a role to play. President Trump’s cozying up to Pakistan’s Imran Khan and his offer to mediate on Kashmir acted as a catalyst for Prime Minister Modi to act.

How will the union terrority of Jammu & Kashmir benefit from the move? The government has projected better investment in infrastructure, tourism and has even asked the co-operates and Bollywood to come forward. These efforts may lead to development and employment generation there, however the government needs to control the development to ensure that Jammu & Kashmir doesn’t become any other hill state of India that have witnessed unprecedented and uncontrolled construction leading to destruction of forest cover leading to pollution and floods.  But an average Kashmiri might ask if all this progress can be a reason to reduce their autonomy. Kashmiri youth are looking for gainful involvement and employment, for which the Narendra Modi government does have a plan in place. However, the government has not been able to provide a reason for keeping the three former chief ministers under house arrest. Its’ assertion that they have been tweeting about the situation in Jammu & Kashmir seems off track. The real test would come in the form of dissuading the youth from the Pakistan’s agenda of making them fight against India. To stop the interference of Pakistan in Jammu & Kashmir would be yet another task to be handled on priority.

 

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