August 8, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether Jammu & Kashmir has benefitted since the scrapping of Article 370. We also look at the ultimatum given by farmers in Himachal Pradesh, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Three Years Since Article 370 Got Scrapped – Are Things Better Off For J&K?
The Jammu & Kashmir region has always been a hotbed of intense political activity for decades. It’s a bit ironic that a place with scenic beauty and seen as a tourist destination has gone through pretty bad turbulent times. Not to mention the precarious security situation in the region.
The turning point came when the BJP government at the Centre scrapped Article 370 three years ago. What followed was chaos – local political leaders were put under house arrest, internet and mobile services were curtailed, and Section 144 was imposed. At the time, the government said the move was necessary to ensure the sovereignty and security of the state. Three years on, has the state and region benefitted? Are things stable? Or was it a mistake?
Before we dive into whether the government’s decision was right, we need to understand Article 370 and its history. To put it simply, Article 370 of the Indian constitution was a temporary provision that gave Jammu & Kashmir special status. It was deemed temporary because the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir had the right to modify, delete or retain it. It was included in the constitution on October 17, 1949.
It helped the state have control over 94 of the 97 items of the Union List except for defence, foreign affairs, finance, and communication. The constitution of Jammu & Kashmir was adopted on November 17, 1956, and came into effect the following year. It was the only state to have its own constitution and special status.
When it comes to the politics of it all, the BJP and RSS have pretty much been in lockstep on this issue. The RSS has always held that Article 370 is a provision to break Kashmir from Bharat. They’ve wanted its removal for a while now. Concerning any divisions of the state, the RSS has been in support of this idea dating back to 1995. At the time, it demanded in its resolution that the Jammu region be granted an autonomous council. In 2002, it passed a resolution to divide the state.
As far as the BJP is concerned, things changed in June 2018 when it pulled out of its alliance with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In November, the legislative assembly was dissolved. After the BJP won a second term in 2019, the situation began to change. There were reports of a large number of Indian troops being moved into the state and Amarnath pilgrims were asked to return. On August 4, Kashmiri leaders including former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were under house arrest.
On August 5, Home Minister Amit Shah proposed a presidential order to repeal Article 370. The plan was to bifurcate the state into two union territories – Ladakh, which would be centrally administered, and J&K with its own legislative assembly. On August 6, Parliament approved a resolution to repeal Article 370.
The reaction was swift. The congress laid into the BJP and said history would prove them wrong. Congress leader P Chidambaram called it a “black day”. From Pakistan, the reaction was less than positive. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi condemned the move calling it nefarious.
As we mark three years since that defining period, has the government’s decision paid off?
VIEW: The government has been vindicated
Perhaps the main issue that the region faced was security. The government’s view was scrapping Article 370 would help improve the situation. It has. As Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Vijay Kumar recently said, the decision to scrap Article 370 has ended frequent strikes and stone pelting incidents. Things are normal.
There are statistics to back that up. Over the past three years, there has been a downward trend in violence in the region. Police data showed more than 3,600 law and order incidents between August 2016 and 2019. In the following three years, there were only 438 incidents recorded. There were 930 terror incidents from August 2016 to 2019. In the three years since Article 370 was repealed, it was 617.
Some might point to the plight of Kashmiri pundits and the targeted killings. While no doubt tragic, the scrapping of Article 370 doesn’t have anything to do with this since it happened earlier as well. As Mir Junaid, president of the Jammu and Kashmir Workers Party, wrote, the Modi-led BJP has accelerated welfare schemes and infrastructure development.
There have been some who have even questioned the legality and constitutionality of the decision. However, both arguments have no merit. As Senior advocate Arvind Datar recently said at a book launch on the history of Article 370, there was nothing illegal about it.
COUNTERVIEW: Can’t ignore human rights violations
Three years after the government’s decision, political leaders marked the occasion by demanding the restoration of special status. While the Modi government hailed the decision as a win for human rights and democracy, the reality was anything but. The valley reeled under an intense lockdown. Internet was suspended, and the region was cut off from the rest of the country for several months. Those who criticised the government’s move were detained.
There are statistics to back this up too. Since Article 370 was repealed, over 2,300 people have been booked in more than 1,200 cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). 954 people have been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA). While the UAPA is a draconian law, the PSA is specific to J&K. This piece explains how this preventive detention law is problematic and is used to curb press freedom.
Speaking of security, the government faces a problem of Dalit and Pandit workers in the region protesting and demanding they be relocated for fear of being killed. They don’t feel safe in the valley. This is despite the number of security forces increasing manifold since 2019. What this increased militarisation has done is put governance to the side. As journalist Nazir Masoodi wrote, talk of investment and development doesn’t match the ground reality.
People of the valley continue to live in fear. Mainstream politics has been marginalised. Political leaders have been detained, and the press has been under attack. Ladakhis want their own representatives to rule and govern and not outsiders. In some aspects, Jammu has been neglected. All this has brought unwanted international attention.
What’s your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) Jammu & Kashmir is better off since the scrapping of Article 370.
b) Jammu & Kashmir is worse off since the scrapping of Article 370.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Indians Love Their Tiranga, Modiji, Do Not Use It To Cover Up Your Failings
For the Left:
The Frivolous Idea Of Bollywood Boycott
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Farmers’ ultimatum (Himachal Pradesh) – Various farmer organisations in the state gave an ultimatum to the state government that if their demands aren’t met, they will launch a Jail Bharo Andolan on August 17. The protesting farmers were organised under the Sanyukt Kisan Manch (SKM). Representatives of the organisation met with the government but were left unsure about whether their demands will be implemented. One of the convenors said the government didn’t seem serious about their concerns.
Why it matters: Due to the widespread protests, the state government was forced to meet under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary. Among the demands was implementing a Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) similar to the one in Kashmir and increasing the import duty on apples to 100%. They also want GST on packaging material to be scrapped as farmers have been struggling with high prices.
Won’t wait for central compensation (Kerala) – The state government said it would compensate pig farmers in Wayanad and Kannur districts affected by African Swine fever. It said the full amount would be given without waiting for allocation from the Centre. In these districts, pigs had been culled following an outbreak. The compensation will be given from the corpus fund of the Animal Disease Control Project of the Animal Husbandry and Dairy Department.
Why it matters: The government stated it had taken precautionary measures following reports of an outbreak in Bihar and northeastern states. Per the Centre’s plan, pigs on farms within a one-kilometre radius should be culled. More than 700 pigs in Wayanad and 247 in Kannur have been culled. Normally, compensation is shared between the state and the Centre.
Kho Kho sponsorship (Odisha) – ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India has partnered with the Odisha Sports Development and Promotion Company (OSDPC) to become the principal sponsor of the state’s Kho Kho franchise called Odisha Juggernauts. The announcement was made ahead of the inaugural Ultimate Kho Kho League, beginning on August 14. Sports Secretary and OSDPC Chairman R Vineel Krishna said the state is excited about the tournament and the partnership with Arcelor Mittal.
Why it matters: In June, the state government took ownership of the team. It was the second direct sports venture for the government that previously owned the Kalinga Lancers in the now defunct Hockey India League. Kho Kho is a popular sport in the state and has the potential to be developed across Odisha.
Bharat Net almost complete (Gujarat) – The Bharat Net project in Gujarat is nearing completion. The project involves connecting gram panchayats with fibre optics. As of July 27, more than 21,000 Fibre to Home connections and more than 3,900 WiFi hotspots have been set up in the state. To expedite the implementation, the department of telecommunications is monitoring the progress. More than 14,000 gram panchayats are already service ready.
Why it matters: Last month, the Gujarat government informed the Centre that it had connected 99% of the state’s 14,265 gram panchayats across 33 districts. Under the BharatNet project, underground cables spread across more than 35,000 km have been laid in the state. Bharat Net Phase-2 is being implemented in 9 states of the country. People living in remote areas will now be able to avail the benefits of government services easier.
Disability Rehabilitation Centres (Tripura) – The state government has a proposal to set up four new District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs). Currently, there are four operational DDRCs for the eight districts of the state. The Tripura Social Welfare and Social Education department has sent the proposal to the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The government said the state is taking steps to ensure persons with disabilities get benefits through unique IDs and special camps.
Why it matters: In the current financial year, about 4,000 different types of equipment have been distributed. In the last three years, more than 33,000 beneficiaries have been added to pension schemes. More than 27,000 persons with disabilities have been given Unique ID cards to help them avail special benefits from the state.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
28 – The number of companies SEBI approved to launch IPOs in the April-July period. Combined, they’re expected to raise ₹45,000 crores. Among the companies are FabIndia, Cloudnine, and TVS Supply Chain Solutions.