Jammu & Kashmir, one of India’s most popular tourist attractions is under lockdown for about a year now. It’s been a year since the Indian government abrogated article 370; in the hope of a better life for people of J&K.
1 year down the line, how is J&K doing? Have the government succeeded in keeping their promise? Let’s peek into the data and see what it tells about the life of people in the newest union territory after the revocation of article 370.
What is article 370?
Jammu & Kashmir, according to the Indian constitution’s article 370; had an appendage that granted the state with a special status. During the independence of India, all the princely states were sent an invitation to join the nation as one; including Jammu & Kashmir.
Most of the states agreed to be a part and accepted to follow the constitution of India. The representatives of Jammu & Kashmir too agreed to be a part but; because of the discord between constitutional laws and princely law; they repudiated to follow the entire constitution. Instead, J&K wanted only the provision corresponding to the instrument of accession to be applied to the state.
The conclusion was; J&K will be granted a temporary, special status that enables the ruler of the state to make a decision; until the state has its written constitution on 17 October 1949. But on 25 January 1957, the state dissolved into India, thus following all laws of the constitution of India. But there was no recommendation for rescinding nor any amendment of the special status; thus becoming article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
Why was the article 370 abrogated from Jammu & Kashmir?
Article 370 and Article 35A gave special rights to the citizen of Jammu & Kashmir; related to ownership of property and fundamental rights; which is a little bit different from all the other residents of the country.
The supreme court of India in April 2018 adjudicated that article 370 has become perennial; which at the time of formation was only for a short period of time. The government of India proffer article 370 ‘inoperative’. Therefore article 370 and article 35A was abrogated from J&K.
How was this one year for Jammu & Kashmir?
The state of J&K embodies colossal part of Kashmir; which is the most disputed region between India and Pakistan. The main reason behind the abolition of Article 370 was to stop terrorist infiltration. Youths of J&K are indulged in terrorist activities because of which the area has always been major tension between India and neighbouring Pakistan.
By abrogation of article 370, the government aimed to provide better job opportunities, quality education and peace in the valley. But the reality differs a bit from the promised theory.
The state has been in lockdown ever since article 370 and 35A have been abrogated; for sake of controlling violence in the state, as the government says.
Losses of Jammu & Kashmir
According to a report released by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the economy of Jammu & Kashmir has gone through huge financial damage. In December 2019 the report said that there was a loss of 17,878 Crore INR because of the closure of almost all the economic activities in the state.
Between August 2019 to December 2019 the valley has lost 5 lakh jobs. This is creating a dire state of joblessness, hiking the unemployment rate more than the countries average rate of unemployment.
In July 2020, The Forum for Human Rights in Jammu & Kashmir released a report on ‘The Impact of Lockdowns on Human Rights’ from august 2019 to July 2020. The report says that; because of the continuous lock down the state has incurred a loss of 5.3 billion USD in a year.
Tourism Industry is one of the most money-making industries of Jammu & Kashmir. But due to the lockdown in the past one year, it is badly hit. The tourism sector has incurred a loss of 9000 Crores INR with more than 74,000 jobs gone.
Above all this, the internet connection in the valley was closed for a long time. Now internet connectivity is restored but with the 2G speed. In the pandemic, when the internet is the only way we are staying connected; this low speed is a nightmare.
Schools in the valley have been shut, before due to the government lockdown and now due to the pandemic. Students in the rest of the country have access to the high-speed net; but not in J&K causing a huge problem for the future of these children.
Abrogation: a double-edged sword
According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) due to the lockdown and heavy presence of the army in the disputed area; fatalities due to ever-going terrorism activities in the valley have decreased.
The data dictates the story, the government have failed in maximum places to keep its promise. But all the load of failure can not be put on the government’s shoulders alone. The pandemic has made a bad situation worse.
Even though it seems that not a lot of success is achieved by abrogation of article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir. But it takes time to change things. The people of J&K have lived in fear of terrorism for more than 70 years. Making them a complete part of the country would open a new door for these people. They will live fearless and with equal rights and equal opportunities as citizens of the rest of the country.