Over the past couple of days, one kept hearing about the possibility of abrogating Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. It is Article 370 which accorded special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The BJP had mentioned in its manifesto in 2014 & in 2019 that the party would abrogate the article if it comes to power in the general elections.
There was a lot of hue and cry when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, mentioned during his campaign in Jammu, that there should be a debate over the pros and cons of Article 370. Finally, after coming to power for the 2nd term, BJP has stuck to its words and the government has taken a decision about Jammu and Kashmir on the 5th of August, 2019. Article 370 has been revoked and Home Minister Amit Shah proposed a bill to split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. But the question here is – what are the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the country getting from the scrapping of Article 370?
Before analyzing this, let’s first see how this Article came into existence. During the time of independence, the unification of the Indian republic was taking place. As many as 565 princely states were integrated into India under the dynamic leadership of Sardar Patel, who was the then Home Minister and deputy PM. I strongly feel Kashmir could also have been one of these if not Nehru. Sheikh Abdullah, on the other hand, an ambitious leader, was the architect of Article 370, along with Nehru. Jawaharlal Nehru appointed him the Prime Minister of J&K in 1948. The main purpose of this article was to ensure that the distinct identity of J&K’s population was preserved. Though the Article was introduced as a temporary provision that was to be removed in due course of time, that had never happened, even after 71 years of independence.
I strongly feel that the provisions mentioned in Article 370 separated J&K from India in the name of making it a part of it. The state had its own constitution and flag and the laws of the Indian constitution ceased to have an effect there. Another aspect I want to highlight within this Article is that the Central government had to seek the state’s concurrence to apply any law in the state. People of India have one citizenship, whereas the people of J&K had dual citizenship. Citizens from the rest of India couldn’t buy property in J&K.
Over the years, no political party has ever tried to work on Article 370, fearing a loss of their vote bank. If we ponder upon what special benefits this Article has given to the people of J&K, I am of the opinion that we won’t be able to find much. To me, it seems like economic growth hasn’t been up to the mark. Further, every other day we hear about attacks by terrorists in the state which might have led people to live in fear.
As other citizens are not allowed to buy property in the state, it is not able to get the benefits of private investments. I strongly feel this is affecting the economic growth of the state to a great extent. Which in turn is affecting the youth.
If it ceases to be a part of India, will it be able to survive independently? Let’s have a look at the aide provided by the central government to the state of J&K. It has been said that J&K has not been able to generate sufficient revenues from its own resources and has been facing serious financial problems.
I feel the general sentiment in the country is that Article 370 is doing no benefit to the people of J&K, and nor is it of any help to others. I think it has just become a barrier in the path of development of the state and the country and benefiting only those who are trying to make benefits out of the power they were given to serve people.
I strongly feel that the government has taken a bold and historic decision on Jammu and Kashmir. To take such historic decisions, one needs bravery, and at the same time, a deep understanding of issues. In my opinion, Amit Shah has displayed extraordinary political skills. However, having said that, I am neither a bhakt nor a hater of BJP. But yes, today I am one among those who appreciate the bold decision taken by the government.