On August 5, 2019, the BJP-led NDA government revoked the special status of Jammu & Kashmir and bifurcated the state into union territories. In future, this day will be recognized as a “black day” for the Indian constitution—as we remember the Emergency of 1975. Article 370 and 35A have their own history since independence and after a special status was provided to Kashmir post the signing of the Instrument of Accession by both the parties—Nehru (representing India) and Maharaja Hari Singh from Kashmir.
Article 370 was the only bridge working between the two territories. Removing this article had been necessary for long, but how the government carried out the process was totally unconstitutional. Article 370 not only contains its own history and demands, but it is also necessary to understand its three aspects: the constitutional, moral and ideological aspects. To understand the constitutional aspect, I would like to quote Article 1 of the Indian constitution, which states that Bharat shall be a union of states, which means the states are the fundamental units of the union of India.
Hence, the bifurcation of J&K damaged the federal structure of India. The second aspect is the moral aspect. The Instrument of Accession states that the provision is temporary unless a Plebiscite is held in the valley—which was impossible to conduct for the last 70 years as our PM said. But having an abnormal situation does not give you the right to take power in your hands; this could help you for a while but will also have unpleasant long-lasting effects.
Last and the most important aspect is the ideological aspect of the abrogation of the special status of J&K—in this modern era, our country is now facing the old communal distress. Those who talk about Hindu rashtra must know the truth that India is not made up of Hindus only. These steps taken by the government seem to be targeting only the Muslim majority states of India. Kashmir issue is not just about Kashmir; it is somehow related to the context of the UAPA, NRC and communalism.
A majority of us believe that the decision taken by the NDA government is good and necessary, but I would like to ask you a question: what about the Kashmiris? Without taking the consent of anybody from Kashmir, how can a “democratic” government take such a step? Not just the lack of consent but the subsequent communication shutdown and the application of Section 144 are also cruel ways to implement such decisions. Democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people, but is it really so? Can India be called democratic after all this?
Election and the right to vote are not the only parameters to define democracy; they are just one of the many features of democracy. Are we heading towards becoming an authoritarian state? Is the government’s propaganda above human rights? While we are enjoying our freedom of speech and expression by tweeting and all, the Kashmiris are literally dying in their homes for the past one month and more. Who gave such power in the hands of the government? Maybe today it is the Kashmiris, but tomorrow it could be us. I don’t know much about the consequences, but it is clear that we care more about Kashmir than the Kashmiris.