GP Insights # 118, 10 August 2019
During this week, on 5 August 2019, the Home Minister of India, Amit Shah had successfully moved a resolution in the Rajya Sabha to introduce a Bill that revokes all provisions of Article 370. President Ram Nath Kovind has approved this bill. Article 370 of the Constitution provided special status to the region of Jammu and Kashmir allowing the separate Constitution, a state flag and also autonomy regarding the internal administration of the State.
Shah also introduced bills to bifurcate the State into Ladakh as a Union Territory without a legislature; and Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory with an Assembly. The third bill introduced by him was on the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019.
Following this announcement, there was a massive protest by the Opposition, which led the Rajya Sabha to be immediately adjourned.
What is the background?
Addressing the Kashmir issue was one of the crucial electoral agenda for Modi government when he returned to power this year. His previous tenure was marred with the resurgence of violence in Kashmir valley after a period of silence in the valley. Through these resolutions, the Modi government seem to have addressed their electoral promise. This decision was welcomed by a certain section and criticized by others.
Kashmir valley has vehemently opposed this decision; the Kashmiris consider this as betrayal and undemocratic. On the other hand, both Ladakh and Jammu regions have welcomed this decision.
The three regions who were clubbed together to be one state of Jammu and Kashmir are different in several aspects. The recognition as a separate Union territory has been a pending demand from Ladakh for a long time. Hence, they are happy with this decision. The latest move by Delhi also reflects the difference between three regions of J&K.
What does it mean?
Firstly, through these resolutions, the BJP has not only lived up to its electoral promise but also asserted its Kashmir position. As well expressed in shah's Statement, “I want to make it very clear once again that J&K is an integral and inseparable part of India. There is absolutely no doubt over it, and there is no legal dispute on this," as said in Lok Sabha. As aforementioned, this has also assisted them to please their vote bank in Jammu and Ladakh region. However, this has made other states and regions, especially Northeast India, wary of this government's next move.
Secondly, although there have been several criticisms regarding this decision domestically, internationally no country except for Pakistan have questioned this move. Russia has supported the government and claimed this decision to be constitutional. In the case of India and Pakistan relation, it has seen a downward steep since the last tenure of this government; this issue has just worsened it further.
Thirdly and most importantly, the impact of this implication in Kashmir Valley will be only be understood after the removal of curfew. The valley is brewing although may seem to be peaceful to many; it could just be the peace of the graveyard.