/What actually happened in Kashmir? – a Student’s point of view

What actually happened in Kashmir? – a Student’s point of view

“Gar Firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin asto.” These were the words of Mughal Emperor Jehangir when he visited Kashmir in the 17th century. They mean that ‘if there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.’ This famous quote aptly describes the beauty of Kashmir which, in the recent past, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

The state of Jammu & Kashmir became a part of India after the 1947 Independence movement when each state was given the option to accede to either India or Pakistan. Maharaja Hari Singh, the erstwhile ruler of the state, on 26 October 1947, signed the instrument of accession and by so doing agreed to make Jammu & Kashmir a part of India. Subsequently, the constitution of India, through Article 370 – which was supposed to be temporary and transitional – gave significant autonomy to the state, including its own constitution, a separate flag, and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defence, and communications.

Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, stemming from Article 370, also gave power to the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to define permanent residents of the state, their special rights, and privileges. Through this article, non-permanent residents were not allowed to buy immovable property in the state, receive state government employment or aid, etc. Even the children of Kashmiri women married to non-permanent members were treated as non-permanent members of the state, thereby losing the right of ancestral property, et cetera.

The Indian population and the current government believed that Article 370 and 35A posed a hindrance to the integration of the state with India. This also prevented the people of Kashmir from getting the full benefit of the economic growth of the country as major central government schemes were not introduced to the state, including the reservation in central government jobs for residents. It also gave opportunities only to a few political parties to maintain their grip on the state and, in the process, deprived the people of the benefits of development through large scale corruption.

The situation was compounded by the fact that Pakistan, a neighboring country, backed by China as well as a powerful ally with the convergence of interests, was hellbent on fuelling the fires of insurgency by facilitating terrorist activity in the state. For nations like Pakistan, sponsoring militancy was considered a low-cost and high-profit tool to offset existing Indian power and economic superiority.

To remove this barrier and further integrate the state with India, the government, on August 5, 2019, through presidential order and with a simple resolution in both houses of Parliament, abrogated Article 370 and with it, Article 35A. To prevent any untoward incident in the state, the government had to rush in additional forces and also put various restrictions on the movement of people, use of phones etc.

Since this declaration, the Pakistani government has been going ballistic trying to convince whoever will listen that this is an unlawful act. Thus far the international community has maintained that this is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and has hence decided to stay out of it, aside from offering to help mediate discussions.

This has again been opposed by China, Pakistan’s powerful ally. Meanwhile, the people in Kashmir have had to suffer hardship due to various restrictions put on them. There is a rising concern for the betterment of the situation in the state itself, with the ideal goal being a return to the normal way of life with the added benefits offered by the complete integration of Kashmir into India. This would ideally allow an area that is positioned for a thriving tourist economy as well as a region known for

its craftsmanship to start getting the fruits of economic development. This would now be possible with the increased economic activities, once again making the state heaven on earth.

Student, Pathways World School, Gurgaon