London: In a statement issued on 5th of August 2020 Kashmir Voice International (KVI) London said that the BJP government is hailing its decision to strip the J & K state of its autonomy after seven decades and will celebrate the 5th August but it is a black day for Kashmiris. It should also be a sad day for the sane voices and advocates of democracy and constitution. This day the skeleton of our autonomous status was dismantled (process of erosion started right in 50’s).
The state flag and the constitution with which people of J & K state were emotionally attached were done away with. Abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A could be a victory for RSS but is a catastrophic step for the people of J & K. A fraud has been committed with the people of the state by unconstitutional and illegal means. It may have scored some political benefit and mileage for BJP but the decision has shaken the very foundation of relationship between the State and the Centre and given a serious blow to the very promise that the people were given at the time of accession.
No doubt the President could affect changes in the state laws but only with the concurrence of the elected state government which in turn had to seek the assent of the State Constituent Assembly (which was dissolved in 1957 and does not exist).
The People of J & K feel that the revocation of the special status has humiliated them and hurt their honor, pride and dignity. It has caused disaffection, a betrayal handed out to them. A series of steps taken after 5th August 2019 has added fuel to the fire and led to the unconscionable depression of civil and democratic rights. The imposition of strict clampdown, no proper internet facilities, complete media blockade, no freedom of opinion, no right to free assembly, no peaceful protests, and gage on the mouths of all – all this is unprecedented and unheard of in the history of J & K.
The people of Jammu & Kashmir pin their hope with the Supreme Court but they feel the behavior of judiciary regarding J & K is disappointing. Treating J & K a security problem the judiciary denied even 4G internet access to the people of the state who need it most in the pandemic period.
Prior to the abrogation of these articles tens of thousands of additional troops were rushed to Kashmir. The Hindu Pilgrimage (Yatra) was cancelled. Educational institutions were closed. Tourists were ordered to leave. Telephone and internet was suspended and all the political leaders were placed under house arrest. Kashmiris question the necessity of these measures when India has a claim of normalcy in Kashmir. Thus they feel that the environment created by the government looked as if India had to conquer Kashmir.
It was claimed by the Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah in the Parliament on 5th August 2019 while piloting the bill for the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A that J & K state will have increased job opportunities, businesspeople will invest in Kashmir leading to the creation of large number of jobs for the local people. Quality of education will improve and corruption will end. Nothing like that has happened instead things have worsened, business has destroyed, educational institutions remain closed for last one year and unemployment is at its peak. All the developmental promises proved hoax, BJP government instead is in hurry to implement its anti- J & K state agenda although the local BJP has reservations about it.
It wants ultimately to change the demographic character of Jammu & Kashmir. With fast speed domicile is issued to a large number of non-locals and outsiders who with domicile shall be able to buy land and property and deprive locals of jobs. The attempt to change the demographic character should prove counterproductive and will exacerbate the situation. The abrogation of these Articles has further embittered the already bitter relations. Some states like Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, Skim and Nagaland enjoy privileges and no Indian citizen from other states can buy land in these states. None of them have faced this kind of treatment but J & K state alone was made the target for obvious reason because it is a Muslim majority state.
Given the experience of the last thirty years and before, it is evident that the people of J & K have faith in their just cause. No amount of pressure, deceit or suppression will force them to give up. They will continue peaceful struggle for their rights including the right to freedom which they have lost in 1586. KVI believes that this short sighted move has consequences for our people who are pushed further to alienation and are never likely to reconcile. The basis of accession was that India would not go beyond the limits of conditions laid down in the Accession Document. KVI believes that abrogation of Article 370 has not affected the status of Kashmir problem. KVI advocates that the only way forward is a meaningful dialogue with flexible approach in order to explore a solution acceptable to the people of Jammu & Kashmir.