By Promod Puri
Some action is better than no action. But this action is a big one, shaking the very status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The dillydallying over the Kashmir problem for over 70 years got some kick from the government of India with the announcement that Article 370 is removed from the Constitution. This very article gave special status within the union of India. This special status meant significant autonomy to J and K, which no other state in India has.
Besides the abrogation of Article 370, the Indian government has also bifurcated the state into two central-controlled Union Territories. One is the Jammu-Kashmir region, and the other is Ladakh.
Was Article 370 ever help the people of the state in terms of socio-economic conditions. Or did it ever give some autonomy to Jammu and Ladakh regions within the state? Did Article 370 help in resolving the Kashmir problem. The answer is NO.
Not because anything wrong with the article, rather I support it. Even to the extent that this kind of provision should be granted to every state in India. Autonomy is the key which can guarantee the unity of India by respecting its linguistic and cultural diversities.
The special status under Article 370, instead of honoring its intents, has been exploited by the Kashmiri leadership, more precisely by the Valley. And over the years the Kashmir Problem has become a full-fledged industry controlled by the few families of the Valley and terrorists within the state and across from Pakistan.
Will, the removal of Article 370, will result in big migration of people to the state from the rest of the country over the years? Hitherto, only the subjects can buy properties in the state. This kind of law has been in existence in a few other states of India. But no major migration has so far occurred there. So, there should not be any fear that the removal of the status will result in changing the demographics of the state from Muslim majority to minority.
Although, we can condemn the repealing of Article 370 from the Constitution as the way it got presented in the parliament without any discussion at all, which is not a democratic way. But the whole dramatic exercise is to be considered in the context that over the years the politicians, both in the opposition and in power, talked and talked and talked without resolving the Kashmir Problem.
Now, we have some action, but no talk.
Will all this solve the perennial Kashmir Problem? The answer is no. Because Jammu and Kashmir are two separate identities. Keeping them together without giving regional autonomy to Jammu region will keep the frustrations of this region alive. Jammu could be the clue to the Kashmir tangle if it gets a fair share of the power within the state. And then there is the “Azad Kashmir” factor also, which is still legally part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Anyway, no action is better than some action to keep the ball rolling. Hopefully, it will stop somewhere, sometime.
Promod Puri, Vancouver, BC, is native of Jammu, journalist, writer, and author of “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions.”