Uneasy Calm Prevails in Jammu and Kashmir

With the abrogation of Article 370 the Narendra Modi lead BJP government has reversed the ambiguous stand of erstwhile governments over Jammu and Kashmir and moved ahead for the integration of the state in India.

The government move has enthused a large section of the people of India but has caused dissatisfaction among the people of Jammu and Kashmir due to the loss of their unique identity. Though locals primarily Hindus and Muslim traders welcomed revocation of the special status but have expressed apprehensions that a massive influx of other state people would aggravate unemployment situations in the Jammu & Kashmir. The majority of Muslim populace of the state views the action as loss of their identity. Some said, “It seems the move is aimed at changing the demography of Kashmir.” Womenfolk of the state seemed to be in favor of the decision as the repeal of Article 370 restores their citizenship and other rights in case of marriage with people of other states. The main political parties of the region the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) led by Farooq Abdullah, the PDP headed by Mehbooba Mufti, and the separatists lead by All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), have vehemently opposed the revocation of Article 370 and the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference has even approached the Supreme Court against repeal of Article 370.

The exciting aspect of Kashmir is rebels have been fighting Pakistan rule in the portion administered by Pakistan and Indian rule in part governed by India for decades. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but both claim the entirety of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Some sections of the people neither want to live under India nor Pakistan rule and advocate a separate nation of  Jammu & Kashmir which neither Indian nor Pakistan will let it happen. Whereas some other wants to keep the issue burning to derive maximum political benefit from it.

 It may be recalled that Kashmir Valley was initially known as Kashyapmar or the abode of great Hindi saint Kashyap Rishi who with his spear struck Bramullah Mountains for draining out the water from the Valley. The name was afterward changed into Kashmar and from Kashmar to Kashmir. Kashmir was a Hindu dominated region. The Hindus were gradually converted into Muslims, and it became a Muslim dominated state; therefore, Hindus of India are emotionally attached with Kashmir.

At the time of India’s independence in August 1947, Kashmir was a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. Kashmir was given the option to accede to India or Pakistan under the partition plan of the Indian Independence Act. The ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, was Hindu while the majority of the people were Muslim. Unable to decide Hari Singh chose to remain neutral. But his hopes of staying autonomous came to an end on October 1947, as Pakistan sent in troops and Pashtun tribesmen to capture Kashmir. Hari Singh fled to India and appealed to the Indian government for military assistance. He signed the Accession agreement, ceding Kashmir to India on October 26, 1947, thereby Kashmir became a part of India.

Indian and Pakistani forces fought over Kashmir in 1947-48. Prime Minister Nehru referred the dispute to the United Nations on January 01, 1948. The UN in a resolution dated August 13, 1948, stated Kashmir’s future would be decided as per the will of the people, but it also mandated that first Pakistan will have to vacate its troops from the state.

But Pakistan continued fighting. Both the nations agreed on a ceasefire on January 01, 1949, with 65 percent of the territory coming under Indian control and the remainder under Pakistan. Kashmir was formally incorporated into the Indian Union in 1957, with a special status under Article 370 of India’s constitution. Article 370, ensured that non-Kashmiri Indians could not buy property there, work there, or vote in state elections along with other conditions. The Article 370 became an instrument in the hands of Muslim politicians of Kashmir who exploited the provision of the Article to establish their fiefdom over the Kashmir valley and organized mass carnage in 1991 with the help of Pakistani sponsored terrorists to drive out Hindus from the Kashmir valley. The erstwhile Congress governments due to its Muslim appeasement policy merely pandered to whims and fancies of Kashmiri politicians and the Hurriyat leaders who were advocating Kashmir separation from India which annoyed the Hindu populace of Kashmir. Although Congress was also in favor of Kashmir’s accession to India due to its Muslim appeasement policy was hesitant to annoy the Muslim folk and the Hurriyat leaders. With BJP coming to power, which is widely acknowledged as a Hindu party, the government moved in swiftly to complete the long-pending demand for integration of Kashmir in India.

The government’s move of abrogation of Article 370 caused a rift in the Congress party with the Congress chief whip in Rajya Sabha Bhubaneswar Kalita resigning from the party over Congress stand and youth leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia and old guard Janardan Dwivedi hailing the decision as need of the hour.

Meanwhile, as Hindus and Kashmiri Pundits from across India are rejoicing over the abrogation of Article 370, Pakistan has ended diplomatic and trade ties with India. According to political observers in the backdrop of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s understanding with the USA President Donald Trump for a quid-pro-quo over Kashmir in lieu of Pakistan’s support to the USA for its exit from Afghanistan, India was left with no choice but to act swiftly to nullify Pakistan’s gameplan to increase insurgency in Kashmir with the tacit support of the USA.

It is believed that neither India nor Pakistan can leave their claim over Jammu & Kashmir, the only amicable solution is both the nations accept the status quo and the Line of Control be recognized as the de facto border between the two countries.

Meanwhile, with relaxations in clampdown, the state is slowly limping back to normalcy. On the outskirts of Jammu, city normalcy had almost returned, as most of the shopkeepers had opened shops. Private vehicles are plying in Srinagar and some other parts of the Valley, with bakery, grocery stores, and meat shops open in some areas. Locals were seen purchasing essential, as well as bakery and meat.  On the occasion of Eid, more than 10,000 Muslim gathered at the Jama Masjid of Baramulla and apart from sporadic incidents of demonstrations and stone pelting no untoward incident has been reported in last one week.

It remains to be seen how the people of the state and political class reacts once the restrictions are lifted and the three former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are freed. With promises of large-scale employment opportunities for youth, trade, and business opportunities will the people of state whole-heartedly embrace revocation of Article 370 or turn more hostile is a million-dollar question that can be best answered by time only.