Article 370 was abrogated from the Indian Constitution on August 5, 2019.
On August 5, 2019, the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, issued a constitutional order revoking Article 370. The resolution was passed by the Upper House of the Indian Parliament on the same day, and by the Lower House on August 6. India’s Union Home Minister Amit Shah, on August 5, announced that Article 370 and 35-A will be scrapped.
It was said that this Article 370 is being revoked for the ‘betterment’ and ‘development’ of Kashmir and Kashmiri people, but, the sad truth is that Kashmiris have been locked and jailed in their homes since August 4, 2019.
Article 370 gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The laws and bills passed in the Parliament of India, except on matters related to defense, foreign affairs, and communications, were not applicable until the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir passed a bill regarding that in the State Assembly.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed certain privileges under Article 370. People from other parts of the country were not eligible to apply for jobs in Jammu and Kashmir and could not buy land or property in the state.
At the time of Partition, in 1947, the then Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir Hari Singh had initially decided to not join India or Pakistan.
On October 22, 1947, Pashtun tribal militias, from Pakistan, invaded the princely state in a bid to capture it. The then Maharaja then made a plea to India for assistance. India agreed to offer help on the condition that the princely state accedes to the Union of India. Hence an Instrument of Accession was signed between the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Maharaja Hari Singh.
On October 17, 1949, the Indian Constituent Assembly adopted Article 370, granting special status and internal autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. It was agreed upon in the Instrument of Accession that Indian jurisdiction in the state was only limited to areas of defense, foreign affairs, and communications.
It was clearly mentioned in the Instrument of Accession that the people of Kashmir, through their Constituent Assembly, would determine their internal Constitution and the nature of the jurisdiction of India over the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Now, after the scrapping of Article 370, the people of Kashmir feel that they have been deceived and betrayed by India. Revocation of article 370 also breached the terms of the Instrument of Accession.
Since the events of August 5, the day the Presidential order was issued and the resolution was passed in the India Parliament, Jammu and Kashmir has been under curfew, along with a communication blockade.
Mobile phones have not been working, and the internet connection has been snapped. People have not been allowed to wander out of their homes. People have also been barred from offering Friday prayers in Mosques, and, schools and colleges have been shut. The markets wear a deserted look and public transport has been off the roads.
It seems like life has come to a halt in Kashmir. One can clearly read fear and agony on the faces of the people in Kashmir. Uncertainty prevails in Kashmir. People have been detained and jailed. A fact-finding team consisting of five women recently visited Kashmir, and they reported that around 13,000 boys have been arrested in Kashmir. Leave the separatists aside, even ‘pro-Indian’ politicians have been jailed. Three former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir have also been arrested. Former CM and a member of Parliament, Farooq Abdullah has been detained under the darconian Public Safety Act (PSA). All other mainstream politicians have also been locked.
People have been suffering due to the communication blockade, and students and businessmen have probably been affected the worst. Students studying outside Kashmir have been in distress as they have not been able to talk to their families for 61 long days. People in Kashmir have been pushed back to the Stone Age. The mode of communication has returned to the early 90s when people used to write letters to one another. The common people of Kashmir are suffering due to this curfew and communication blockade. The local economy of Kashmir has seemingly collapsed. Winter is fast approaching and the people whose business would flourish in this season (and would store essentials for the winter) when tourism would flourish are suffering.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) abrogated Article 370 in haste to satisfy the ego of their people. If they had abrogated Article 370 for the betterment of the Kashmiri people, then why have Kashmiris been locked in their homes? Why don’t they trust their own people, who used to be their allies sometime back? The BJP has a majority and they have used it in the wrong direction. Majority legislators from the BJP probably don’t understand the nuances of Article 370.
BJP has choked the political space that the youth occupied. I feel that the abrogation of Article 370 will further alienate the people from the state. I am not fully aware of the constitutional validity of Article 370, but I would say that the way it was abrogated was unconstitutional and illegal. People of Kashmir should have been taken on board before taking this extreme step.
Let us now hope and pray for peace to return to Kashmir, and hope for an end to the misery of common Kashmiris.