OPINIONS

How the Abrogation of Article 370 Will End the Toxic Political Monopoly in Jammu and Kashmir

abrogation of article 370

With the Article 370 gone, the biggest uproar came from certain political sections. It is understandable why it is so since it is a certain political class that has reaped the benefit from the article as the common people suffered.

Simply put, because of Article 370 and 35A, it has become impossible for the reforms to reach the state of Jammu and Kashmir, though the same reforms transformed the lives of Indians in the rest parts of India.  This is how Abdullah and Mufti of the state along with some separatists in the valley had the monopoly of political discourse in the state.

Politicians Flourished, No Prosperity to People

If you are an Indian with a skill, you can migrate to any place within India to find your business and livelihood there. This led to economic and cultural blend which benefitted individuals and the state. But with the different set of laws for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, people from other parts of the country couldn’t go there, purchase land and do business.

On the other hand, the political leaders from political families such as Abdullah and Mufti always prospered while the state went poorer. With the different set of laws, the political class and separatists had shut down the state for others and provoked some sections in the society to indulge in violence, so that they can blackmail the Centre for more funds that eventually land up in their coppers.

See, how they prospered all the while.

Missing Discourse about the Underprivileged

Can you name a prominent Dalit leader from the valley? The negative answer to this speaks volume about how the valley has undermined the concerns of underprivileged in its political discourse. Because of Article 370, it was left to the same set of politicians to decide who will vote and who get due representation.

The voice of the Shias and Buddhists of Ladakh, Hindus and Sikhs of Jammu as well as Gujjars and Bakarwals were sidelined. While Gujjars, Bakerwals and Gaddies were given ST status in 1991 and form 11 percent of the population but have no political reservation. Some 20,000 families who came from Pakistan were not given voting rights.

The Delimitation Game

There is no proper representation of people in the state. While the whole country realigned people’s representation through delimitation process, the politicians of Jammu and Kashmir made the state valley centric ignoring the nationalistic population of Jammu and Ladakh.

The last time a delimitation exercise took place in the state was also under President’s Rule, as far back as 1995. Though the various states have carried delimitation process to acknowledge the new demographic realities, Jammu and Kashmir has remained an exception to this.

The Administration Taken to Hostage

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is majorly dependent on the Centre’s fund. But these funds never utilized for the developmental works and for the public good. Because the politics of the valley has not really evolved the institutions to bring about the changes on the ground. The Panchayats in the state had not seen the election regularly. Even if they are elected in a few instances in the past, their powers were curtailed. Only recently, the present government has passed an amendment which gave the Panchayats the required power and also ensured that Sarpanches to the 35,000 Panchayats got elected after 7 years and heads to the 1,100 Urban Local Bodies after 13 years. You can read more about this development in our article Back to the Village – Is the Monopoly of Abdullahs and Muftis Being Ended by Governance?. To sustain all these efforts, it was imperative that Article 370 should go, which precisely happened now.

Revoking Article 370 means ending the political hegemony of certain section and the process of strengthening the nationalist forces in the valley that include lakhs of original inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir – the Pandits- who were forcefully thrown out from their places, has just begun.

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