Kashmir was constantly under dispute between India and Pakistan since 1947. There were major wars between the two nations which came to an end after each conquering different territories with a cease-fire line in common which was later termed Line of Control since 1972. Even after that, there was an unrest in the state over decades caused by the local terror groups. This long-drawn conflict in Kashmir has claimed thousands of lives, resulted in economic instability and posed serious threat to India’s security. In order to bring a conclusion to the chaotic situation, on Aug 5 2019, Government of India revoked Article 370 and removed the Special status which was implied on the state since Independence. It was then bifurcated into two Union Territories namely Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh. The swift and surprising move by the Government has let the people to reap the benefits of Central Laws and other rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.
To start with Article 370 was built around the sentimental and psychological aspects of the Kashmiri people to create a divide with rest of India and foster the thoughts of separatism. Article 370 was used as a tool by perpetrators to indulge in nefarious activities and exploit the rights of poor and gullible Kashmiri people. Common masses were under the false impression that they were empowered whilst ignoring the underlying reality. The very existence of Article 370 resulted in lack of appropriate financial legislation in the State, created economic inequality and has ensured the common public are denied equal rights, economic justice and opportunities to prosper. Some of the repercussions of Article 370 are listed below.
Since the education/job opportunities were applicable only for the state people, it had impacted largely on the state’s development due to lack of professionals from other states who could guide the locals in various fields. The major impact was on young minds as they were lagging behind in education and did not have a proper guidance about the future. As a result, some of the youth were misled to choose the path of terrorism. Local laws were least concerned about child rights and domestic violence.
When a woman from J&K gets married to a person from the other state, she would be considered as an outsider and cannot hold property in the state. Besides, local ownership
rules discouraged external investment, artificially increased the cost of land and inflated the business expenses. This proves that the state has been obsolescent.
Valmikies from Punjab were residents of the state since 1957, but have been denied of permanent resident certificate over the past decades, due to which they lacked the right to vote which is the utmost basic right of every citizen. The youth were denied right to education/job in government institutions despite of the talent they possessed. This is why the law yet again proves to be an outdated, discriminatory and a historical mistake.
The presence of weaker economic sections in Kashmir was exploited to fuel separatist sentiments among some quarters. This ideally fits the strategy of vested elements to propagate terrorism and prevent prosperity in Kashmir.
A NEW ERA UNFOLDS – TRANSFORMATION THROUGH GROWTH
To address the aforementioned challenges, a decisive decision was announced by the Government to reorganize the province and repeal Article 370 thereby correcting a historic wrong. This move has opened the doors to restore a declining economy, promote traditional handicrafts, horticulture, tourism and an onset of better governance and development.
First and foremost, peace and harmony in the UT is restituted. Violence has significantly reduced in the Kashmir Valley, infiltrations dropped by 33% and terror incidents have declined by 61 %. The youths who had been indulging in Anti-Indian activities is seen transforming and getting geared up for a new life.
48 new institutions have been made functional with 6700 students. Construction of Medical and Nursing colleges have also been approved paving way for a better tomorrow. Several vacancies from Service selection board has been reported to the Government of India by the UT.
Creation of more job and earning opportunities for the locals. The scenic spots in Kashmir are a vital destination for Film shootings, adventure tourism and will allow religious tourism to grow. Re-envisioning Infrastructure and Industrial Growth
The removal of restrictions will allow industrial and private investment. This will spur growth, multiply job opportunities for the locals and in turn boost the economy of Kashmir. Industrialization will help local horticulture and handicraft industries to collaborate both nationally and internationally. The National Highway infrastructure department has invested to construct five tunnels in the UT which will be completed by 2024, of which a 14.15 km long tunnel constructed under Zozila pass since Oct 2020 is a significant progress. This tunnel connects Srinagar valley and Leh via Dras and Kargil, paving way for economic and sociocultural development in the UT. Construction of Shahpur-Kandi dam has begun after four decades. Ratle Hydropower project has been kick started again.
Transformation through empowerment and transparent democracy
Women will now have the access to complete authority on legal and land rights. Central Acts and Laws that protect the rights of women and children are fully applicable in the UT. Right to education will provide access to universal education and adequate protection of young people. Constitutional status has been provided to local self-Governments in rural and urbans, which will ensure transparency and more accountability. The presence of Panchayats will enable people to decide their developmental priorities, thereby strengthening democracy at grassroots level.
The abrogation of Article 370 has been instrumental in delivering social and economic justice to the region that was denied for decades. It has instilled a new hope for Kashmir, embarking on the ideals to function as a democratic society, enhanced the lives and created job opportunities. There is a new reality in the making, driven by economic development, women empowerment, modernity whilst eliminating the intimidation from terrorists. To realize the vision of new and modern India, Kashmiris are congruent in working together, adopting new methods to become stronger and retain their magnificent heritage.