By Anya Daftary
Kashmir has always been a disputed territory.
During partition, each kingdom was meant to choose which side of the border they would like to be a part of. Kashmir being a border state, with a Hindu ruler and Muslim majority was unclear on what they wanted to do. Due to an imminent attack from the north the ruler of Kashmir (part) accessed to India on four base topics which the central government-controlled and the rest being left up to the state with an ultimate goal of a plebiscite which never occurred due to a variety of complications including a complicated shift of the population’s minorities. A Kashmiri parliament was formed to address this matter further and in 1954, article 370 and 35A were formed. Subsequently, being the only Muslim majority state in the country, Kashmir goes on to become and be used in political battles over the years for parties vying for a Muslim vote. This undecided/ special status o Kashmir left it susceptible to terrorism and strife as well as limited development. Thus, Kashmir was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
On 5 August 2019, President Ram Nath Kovind issued a constitutional order outmoding the 1954 order, and securing all the prerequisites of the Indian constitution relevant to Jammu and Kashmir. Following the resolutions passed in both houses of the parliament, he issued a further order on 6 August declaring all the clauses of Article 370 excluding clause 1, to be inoperative. Additionally, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act was passed by the parliament, installing the division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories to be called Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh. The reorganisation is scheduled to take place on 31 October 2019.
This is the first step to India truly claiming J&K.
The world had a lot to say, calling India a right nationalist, Hindutva supremacy. The Pakistani Minister for Human Rights called India’s move as an “illegal annexation of a militarily-Occupied territory and completely unacceptable. British Lord, Nazir Ahmed of Kashmiri descent had equally scathing comments. As per the UN Press Release, “The Security Council considered the volatile situation surrounding Kashmir on Friday, addressing the issue in a meeting focused solely on the dispute, within the UN body dedicated to resolving matters of international peace and security, for the first time since 1965.” The conference took place behind closed doors however, Chinese ambassador, Zhan Jhun urged India and Pakistan to“refrain from taking any unilateral action which might further aggravate.” USA Donald Trump offered to mediate which India rejected. Trump then made it clear that his offer of mediation on Kashmir was completely of the table, says the Indian Ambassador to the USA. most countries have said that foreign aid is completely unnecessary as this is an internal conflict.
There have been an additional 3500 troops stationed there, for whom Kashmir has always been treated with child gloves, while the men at the border take the repercussions. With a predominant Buddhist and Hindu population, dividing Kashmir now puts Leh and Ladakh completely out of this situation. During partition, we saw a few other states and cities like Hyderabad choose to go with Pakistan but were denied due to a variety of reasons. The question of the plebiscite not happening is a matter of our government’s neglect for doing what was once a problem. For the first time, the government has taken a stand to say that, this is a part of India. This is huge! It is a recognition that India fully recognises Kashmir, no special powers. Only unity. But was does that mean for Kashmiris today?
People in Kashmir have had no contact with the outside for a while now, major festivals like eid, usually spent with family have left many lingering. The government may have justified the lack of communication due to the imminent threat of war but, for how long? Children do not know if their parents are dead and vice versa. Allegations of violence from the armed forces have spread around the media, but at what cost? The total communication blockade means more for some Indians, how will this change the way we view our country, the hierarchy of ourselves? Was it worth not knowing if your mother is alive?
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