August 5, 2019, a notorious day in the history of independent India for Jammu & Kashmir, as it was stripped of its autonomy as a state-granted to it by the Constitution of India. For almost seventy years, Article 370 and Article 35 A, have elucidated J&K’s relationship with the Indian State and was rendered infructuous with the aid of using the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order 2019, (C.O. 272) issued by President Ramnath Kovind on August 5 superseding the 1954 Presidential Order.
Article 370 gave J&K in terms of autonomy, its power to formulate laws for its permanent residents and the Fundamental Rights in the Constitution were made applicable to the state with a few exceptions. The revocation of Article 370 has been a political misadventure which has been disguised as a long-neglected necessity to cover up the truth that there are presently eight million Kashmiris under siege, placed under lockdown in their homes for the past three hundred and sixty-six days.
Article 370 was drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution: Temporary, Transitional and Special Assembly. This article in addition to Article 35 A described that the residents of the state of Jammu & Kashmir live under a separate set of legal guidelines, as compared to the residents of other Indian states. On August 5, 2019, after the President made all provisions of the Indian Constitution applicable to the state, thus, revoking the special status given to the state. On August 6, 2019, all the clauses of Article 370 had been declared to be inoperative. Along with this, the region was stripped of their status as a state due to the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Act enacting the division of the state into two Union Territories namely Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh.
Post-Independence, whilst the Instrument of Accession was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh, Clause 7 declared that the state could not be pressured into accepting any future Constitution of India. The state was within its rights to draft its own Constitution, have its own flag and Article 370 protected those rights. The scrapping of Article 370 is a war on the Fundamental Rights of the Kashmiris. Even though the article was originally drafted as a temporary provision, on April 3, 2018, the Supreme Court of India declared that Article 370 had obtained a permanent position; because the Constituent Assembly had ceased to exist, the President of India might now no longer be capable of satisfying the provisions required for its abrogation.
The implementation of the abrogation of Article 370 has caused drastic outcomes and disrupted the regular functioning of the life of Kashmiris. A communication lockdown for almost seven months and restricting Kashmir with 2G connectivity, which became the longest internet shutdown to ever occur in India. Politicians have been detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) 1978, and put under house arrest, curfew being imposed on the whole region every other day, the economy has crippled and the people are coping with heavy losses as Kashmir plunges further into darkness. There is not much indication of improvement. This is a humanitarian crisis and it challenges the basis of the very fundamentals of our democracy. Kashmir, the world’s most militarized zone has perpetually been an area of conflict. As per reports, there is one Indian soldier for every eight Kashmiris. What kind of development is this, when the people are not happy when their hopes have been dashed and nobody cares about their opinions? Basic amenities like food and medicine, to get medical attention on time, has become a luxury in Kashmir, which few people can afford. There have been so many reports of pellet gun atrocities, lynchings and firing on the public by the Army, and yet this kind of situation is being reported as “normal” by the government-controlled media.
We as members of a democratic, secular republic have let down Kashmir and her people.
This is the result of virtually chipping away on the autonomy which was constitutionally guaranteed to the Kashmiris under the grand concept of India’s federalism.
Many people termed it as the “final solution”, and were extraordinarily thrilled at the possibility of purchasing land in Kashmir and marrying the “fair and innocent” Kashmiri girl. Gas chambers were the “final solution” in Hitler’s Nazi regime. To disguise fascism as neo-liberalism and telling the world how beneficial it is for the state is plain discrimination and islamophobic in nature for the only Muslim-majority region in the country, as it steers forward towards a massive demographic change. This is extremism disguised as “national welfare”.
The very beliefs on which our country was established are being attacked, our secularism is at stake. Quelling the dissent of people who have opposed the abrogation and robbing the Kashmiris of their rights with brute force is a war on humanity. This is a crisis and normalcy must be restored at once, it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. This is a massacre of human rights of Kashmiris, this is a collapse of civilization. With the scrapping of Article 370, once a Muslim-majority state will become a minority in their own homeland. A place where disconnected phones, curfews and strip searches are “normal”, a place with zero fundamental rights, a place where children as young as eleven years are being detained by the security forces, and the youth join militant organizations to avenge themselves.
There have been more than four thousand arrests, custodial torture and nocturnal raids. So, even as the Central Government maintains that there have been no casualties, no arrests have been made, no bullets have been fired by the forces, reports by the international media state otherwise.
This is a bombardment of statist narratives, much like the Hutu journalism of genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda or the German Third Reich’s propaganda by Goebbels, it validates the hatred towards the Kashmiris. Kashmir has seen decades of militancy, it has seen rigged elections, it has lived through the exodus of a whole community, it has endured uprisings and curfews and seen civilian deaths reduced to statistics. The discrepancies, the altered truths which are being fed to the rest of the country is a war on the Kashmiris which they did not seek. This isn’t how democracies function, the dearth of transparency and the deceptive statistics being propagated throughout the country while the state itself is on lockdown is nothing short of a political misadventure, a decision made in haste without consultation, attacking the very ideals of Indian democracy and the Constitution of India. As the Indian State continues on with the illegal occupation of Kashmiri land and its “garrison governance”, the Paradise on Earth has come to be the Valley of Discontent and Death.