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Decisive Step Towards Resolving Kashmir Issue?

Jammu Kashmir Ladakh Modi

With PM Modi’s big move of making Ladakh a separate administrative division and giving it more autonomy, a solution to India’s seemingly never-ending problem of Jammu & Kashmir appears possible.

Fulfilling the long-standing demand of the local people, the Governor-led state administration of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has approved the formation of an administrative and revenue division of Ladakh, making it the third such division (region) after Jammu and Kashmir. Till this decision by the state administration, Ladakh was the part of Kashmir division and administratively managed through a local autonomous council. This new administrative division of Ladakh will comprise of two districts of Leh and Kargil with its headquarters at Leh.

Image: Regional leaders at a press conference thanking PM Modi and Governor of J&K
Source: Twitter

The decision will end the hegemony of a certain vested interests from Kashmir valley over the Ladakh region of the state. This step by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also being seen as the decisive step towards a possible resolution to the problem of Jammu & Kashmir. But before we try to decode one of the most talked about solutions, let’s take a look at what history has to offer.

A Look Back in History
  • After the partition in 1947, India couldn’t drive all the Pakistani militants out from all the regions of the state due to the soft and idealistic stance of the first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru.
  • Instead, India had accepted the ceasefire on January 09, 1949. As a result, these militants or rather disguised Pakistani army men held on to the positions they were standing at. Thus, a large swathe of India’s state of J&K was illegally captured by Pakistan which is now called Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).
  • This colossal misjudgement by the Prime Minister Nehru had led to the nation incurring a huge cost not only in terms of defence budget but also in terms of the precious lives of Indian soldiers.
  • The expansionist Pakistan has been waging a proxy war in India since then, especially in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Under this policy, Pakistan has been funding the separatists in the state who perpetually keep the valley on the boil. Because of this, a major portion of Central government’s funding has to be diverted to only one region of J&K, leaving Jammu and Ladakh under resource crunch.
  • The crux of the problem today is that due to the chaos created by vested interests in the Kashmir division of J&K and despite the region getting more funds, the imposition of articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution in the entire state prevents scope for external investment in the region or set up industries. Thus, people of Jammu and Ladakh don’t get much support from either the government or the private sector.
  • Furthermore, people from Jammu and Ladakh feel unduly dominated by Kashmiri leaders. This can also be seen in the state’s evolution into a somewhat two-party system, either the National Conference (NC) or the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) generally forms the government in the state. Both the parties have leaderships that mostly represent the valley or the Kashmir division. It is only recently that Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has started making some inroads into the state.
A Possible Solution

In light of the background as presented above, one of the most talked about solutions to the problem of J&K has been to approach all the three culturally different regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh separately. This is because people in each of these regions have their own set of problems and aspirations.

One region shouldn’t suffer for the doings of the vested interests in another region. Therefore, Jammu and Ladakh should be given more autonomy and more resources bypassing the vested interests in the Kashmir valley. This will ensure the equitable development across the state. The remaining area of Kashmir valley can then be focussed upon. This will help the Central government deal with articles 370 or 35A more effectively.

It is in this respect that giving more autonomy to Ladakh by making it a separate division appears to be decisive and bold step by Prime Minister Narendra Modi towards a solution to the problem of J&K.