Abrogation of Article 370: A boon for. By Samuel Baid

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The provision of Article 370 in the Indian Constitution, to give a special status to Kashmir in the country and the Delhi Accord of July 24, 1952, between Kashmiri leaders and New Delhi, had once upset Pakistan so much that it rushed to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to complain that India was trying to evade the Council’s resolution for plebiscite in the State. Now, after about seven decades, Pakistan in hysterically upset for an opposite reason: India has abrogated Article 370. Article 370 had been opposed from the day one. Jammu-based Praja Parishad’s Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, had bitterly opposed granting of a special status to Kashmir. But, were India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah religiously committed to them? Some utterances of these two leaders, as quoted by former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mir Qasim in his autobiography “My Life And Times”, create doubts. Sheikh Abdullah quoted Mr. Nehru as saying that “Article 370 would gradually fade away”. Mir Qasim writes that Sheikh Abdullah had sought common citizenship of Kashmiris with the rest of the people of the country. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru ignored the warnings of many of his colleagues and got Article 370 incorporated in the Constitution.

 All hell broke loose on August 5, 2019 when this Article was laid to rest. Furious reactions for and against this action were mostly blindly emotional and partisan reflecting anti-government or essentially anti-Muslim frenzy. But can anyone quantify the benefits to Kashmir’s common people from the State’s special status and Article 370 in the past about seven decades? In fact, it has helped only crooks, who egg on poor daily wage earners to go on strike frequently and instigate young people to confront security forces ignoring their education. These crooks thus make name and money. This action needs to be pondered over coolly. How did the Article 370’s special status marginalize the poor, common Kashmiri?This special status favored the growth of parasites and vested interests who masqueraded as Kashmiri leaders with financial and goons’ support.

They made the enemy’s agenda against India theirs, thus threatening India’s security support. They very frequently gave strike calls to shut all businesses forcing poor daily wage earners and their children to starve. Pakistan is opposed to the idea of Azadi for Kashmir, but its agents make poor Kashmiris shout Azadi slogans during hartals. Whenever a hartal call was given, goons would go around to make sure that nobody stayed home. Students could not go to their schools or colleges. They were used as fodder to give weight to the propaganda of human rights violations by India in Kashmir. The 1996 State Assembly elections proved beyond doubt that the “mobs” for the agitations were stage-managed by Huriyyat leaders with the backing of Pak-sponsored terrorists. These terrorists warned the voters that their fingers would be chopped off if they cast their votes. Yet a very large number of voters turned out to give a strong message to such terrorists.The special status was given to them to develop among other things Kashmiriyet. But they inflicted isolation on themselves that got them into a ghetto mentality – always suspicious of their benefactor.

Pakistan has been taking advantage of this ghetto mentality to beguile Kashmiris into believing that it is their Messiah and thus pursues its agenda against India. Of course, Kashmiris understand the falsity of this Messiah, but there is an atmosphere of terror and fear of religious wrath.The present government must have made a realistic assessment of the impact of Article 370 and Article 35A on Kashmir in the past 70 years and concluded that the impact, despite all the expenditure incurred on this State, was negative. They had caused isolation of the people of Kashmir from the rest of the people of India. Now with the abrogation of Article 370, the people of Kashmir will benefit from the central laws which will be applicable to the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. It will benefit from the National Commission of Minorities and various central beneficiary schemes like Ayushman Bharat, Minimum Wages Bill, and Right to Information and Reservation for Tribals and Dalits. One argument, by leftist colleagues of Sheikh Abdullah in favour of Article 370, was that it wouldkeep big industrialists like Birla and Tata out of Kashmir. They argued that they would grab all the land in Kashmir. This specious argument kept the State industry-less, backward and poor. Kashmir’s shawls, carpets, walnuts and apple could not prove to be a viable alternative to fast growing industrialization of the State. One argument in favour of Article 370 has been that it protects Kashmiri culture and traditions. The fact is that the Kashmiri culture and traditions were safe even when there was no Article 370.

For example, the reorganization and bifurcation of Indian States after the 1950s did not disturb regional cultures, traditions and languages. But Kashmiri culture and tradition suffered in spite of Article 370 with theconnivance of Kashmiris during the Pak engineered insurgency in the 1990s. Sunni terrorists, who considered Kashmiri culture and traditions un-Islamic, came from Pakistan to Kashmir to destroy Durgahs venerated by Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus alike. Kashmiri women were planted in front of foreign TV cameras to unabashedly complain of non-existent rape by Army men. It was shocking. No Kashmiri woman, even if a prostitute, would publicize her rape to be broadcast in the world on TV. Kashmiris in India should learn a lesson from the plight of Kashmiris in Pakistan occupied Kashmir where about 44 years ago their puppet President Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan forced Kashmiri women to wear Punjabi dress – Salwar Kamiz – as their national dress. In schools, children are still not told anything about their Kashmiri culture. Teaching of Kashmir’s history, mention of Kashmiri heroes and singing of Kashmiri national songs are crimes in Pakistan occupied Kashmir’s schools. Incidentally, Pakistan, who is pretending to be hurt by the abrogation of Article 370, made no laws to safeguard Kashmiris’ cultural and economic interests in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan keeps occupied Kashmir as a very backward area.Kashmir is surely to gain a lot now that the hindrances placed by Article 370 are gone as it will be able to fully reap the benefits of India’s burgeoning economy.

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