Kashmir: After Two Years of Alleged Normalcy

Photo by Danish Siddiqui

On August 5, 2019 the government of India stripped Kashmir off its special status promised by the constitution with the abrogation of  Article 370 which gave some exclusive rights to the populace of Kashmir.

The move caused great political turmoil in the region. Politicians across the state were arrested including three chief ministers of state who see Kashmir as a part of India provided the article 370 intact. Internet across the state were throttled for months and the uncertainty in the fallout of article 370 abrogation still persists.

Normalcy as claimed by the BJP seems to be deliberate as many shop keepers are threatened to open the shops by the state police, according to a Kashmir based journalist, Mufti Islah and Syed Shahriyar.

Can’s Accept Kashmir sans 370

The political parties of Jammu and Kashmir is still not ready to accept Kashmir without article 370. Parties across the state has registered their protest against the move and demanded restoration of its special rights.

Gupkar alliance that advocates the status quo of Aug 4, 2019 in the region termed the abrogation as “a process of throttling of democracy and democratic rights, which have resulted in a forced silence” in the state.

“Unconscionable suppression of civil and democratic rights continues unabated. Indiscriminate arrests and harassment of all sections of our people, including government employees, on different pretexts continues”, the alliance said.

The Jammu Kashmir National Conference calls the annulment of article 370 “an unconstitutional move” and demands the restoration of J&K’s special status.

The Peoples Democratic Party of Jammu and Kashmir tags the day as “the day when the solemn promises made by Union to the people of Jammu and Kashmir were broken, the day when constitutional democracy was subverted and the day of utter humiliation”.

Human Rights in Question

Human rights in Jammu and Kashmir has always been in question since 1989 when the state saw violent insurgency. But since the removal of special status of the region reports on human rights are even alarming.

A recent report on J&K human rights published by Human Rights Forum Jammu and Kashmir and Indian civil society group said that the security affairs in the state has deteriorated post abrogation.

The report averred that “Indeed, new methods that endanger civilian security, political freedoms, government service, and media independence have been added. There appears to be little accountability for violations by the union government and security forces”.

Nothing Changed as Claimed

BJP has claimed that the abrogation of article 370 has paved the way for development of Kashmir and restored normalcy in the state. But situation on the ground is far from BJP’s perception.

Former Finance Minister of India and a member of Human Rights Forum Jammu and Kashmir, Yahwant Sinha told news agency Al Jazeera that there is a sense of indignation among the populace of Jammu and Kashmir.

After his visit to the state last week, Sinha told the Reuters that, “The trust deficit has deepened. It is a sullen silence. To tell you the truth, normalcy has not returned to the Kashmir valley. The fact that there is no stone-throwing in the streets and there are no demonstrations does not mean normalcy has returned”.

According to the Al Jazeera, more than 240 local youth have joined the rebellion in last two years.

Iqra, a resident of Kashmir said, “We’ve had more bloods washed up on roads than flowing in our veins”

Last election at the state level were held in 2015 when the Bhartiya Janta Party and Mehbooba Mufti’s the Peoples Democratic Party formed the government and only to leave the state helmless in 2018.

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