First things first, My fellow countrymen! Indians! we are stupid stupid creatures! We’ve ruined everything!! Everything by giving power to a seemingly totalitarian regime!! OK now that the outburst is out of the way, lets get on with the meat of the matter. This post is about the wrongs that were done in order to pass a motion in the parliament to repeal the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
Let’s recall the contour tread by the BJP to do this.
1. They bring an amendment into Article 368 of the constitution of India that defines how to read Article 370. In this amendment, they say let’s replace the words “Constituent Assembly” with Legislative assembly since the constituent assembly doesn’t exist any more. OK
2. They say, since the state of J&K is under president’s rule, the word of the governor of the state will act as the word of the legislative assembly. The governor is an appointee of the central government and hence its their word.
So basically, if A has become B and B has become C then its perfectly ok to see A as C?
What does this mean? This means, the governor’s rule in J&K which is actually the central govt is advising itself about what to do. It’s like saying, take my word! I’m saying that I’m right!
So where does this leave us? There are 2 counts of shaky legal ground here.
- You apply transitive property to advice yourself to change lives and livelihoods of people and pass it yourself. Without consulting those who are affected. This is not entirely wrong as per the form or letters of the law, but definitely lacks moral patronage and is far from the keeping the spirit of the law.
- The constitution of India says that the President of India cannot change Article 1 and Article 370, and it also says that what cannot be changed directly can also not be done indirectly. So the maneuvers done are all on shaky ground.
By August 1st, the central government had ordered 35,000 fresh troops into the state of J&K. This added to the already existing troops going upto 8 Lakh who are placed in the different places along the LOC and otherwise. Along with this, there were notifications to the J&K police to stand guard and perform an assessment of their riot preparedness. Did any one ask why was this massive mobilisation done? Ofcourse, and the answer? Terror threat!
Yes, there was a widespread news circulating that there was an eminent terror threat in Kashmir, the reason for this deduction? A Rifle and a land mine. That’s right. On behest of this, the annual hindu pilgrimage to lord Amarnath was cancelled and the pilgrims asked to return from wherever they were. The next day, on August 3rd, a few photos of dead bodies were shared on whatsapp to all media houses and more panic was created. It was said they were Pakistani army and that a major operation was planned.
Today no one talks of the terror threat and no more rifles and land mines have appeared.
3 days after the passing of the bill, the NSA Ajit Doval, the most important person in the security of the nation is seen in Kashmir and is having food on the street with some supposedly locals. Not sure if this is an operation or the most important man in national security is always like this.
By far the worst thing that can happen in a democracy. Massive mobilization of para military forces was followed by the unprecedented cutting short of the Amarnath Yatra. The next day, on Aug 3rd the governor’s office issues advisories to stop the annual pilgrims to Machail mata. This act of curtailing pilgrims from the annual pilgrimage had never happened in history. Even at the heights of communal distress in Kashmir, peaceful pilgrims were welcomed and looked after by the natives.
The lock down was escalated by the house arrest of prominent leaders of J&K Farooq Abdullah , Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. It was later revealed that there were over 800 small and big politicians and leaders were held under such and other forms of arrests. All this while the state was under complete clamp down with a virtual curfew enforced. Mobile phones, internet and broadband facilities, cable TVs and even land line phones were shut off. There was absolutely no way to communicate with each other, leave alone the outside world. Tourists from other parts of the country were asked to leave, and even students from outside the state were asked to clear out from their hostels and dormitories. Is this a way a consultative democracy works?
While first of all they navigated away from consulting the state government, putting elected leaders in house arrest and putting a complete lock down on the state leaves no room for anyone to express themselves.
The home minister, along with the revoking of special status of the state brought in another presidential order – this was to bifurcate the state into two union territories. Firstly, the president needs to consult the state legislation and a resolution needs to be passed in the state assembly whose boundary needs to be redrawn. Since the state was under president’s rule, this became easy, he just had to ask himself if he was ok with what he intended to do. I’m guessing it wasn’t too hard to disagree with himself.
Let’s forget the legality of the matter, the whole episode of revoking of the special status is a punch in the gut to the people of kashmiris. Though the article 370 has been eroded over time and now is nothing but a shell, it still holds some pride and emotional connection with the natives of the state. So revoking the special status under Article 370 was a big blow. To make it worse, the central govt decided to down grade the state to a union territory. This is like saying to your flatmate that he doesn’t get his own room and has to sleep in the hall from now, and to add more insults, you say that he doesn’t get to keep his own key to the apartment.
Was adding insult to injury part of the master plan?
With the news breaking that the legislation was passed in the houses of the parliament, the whole country emerged in euphoria. The media showed clips of people dancing on the streets and distributing sweets to each other. There were people bursting crackers and telling each other they can now buy land in J&K and marry girls from the state. I mean seriously?? this is the level of celebration we’ve reached to? People were even celebrating the fact that there wont be a J&K flag anymore. Is this something to celebrate? Karnataka has a flag of its own and we in our state are proud of our flag even though the constitution has nothing to do with it. The constitution of India explicitly mentions it doesn’t recognize any flags of states or organisations as official flags of the nation, but its left to the sentiments of the region or state or organisation to have their own flag. Couldn’t we control ourselves over this?
Through the week, people celebrated and paraded over the fact that Kashmir is finally integrated with India. Seriously? was it not a part of India all this while? Or did you not have the ability to see it as a part of India with the special status? Point of information: 10 other states in the country have special status and the newly formed Andhra is fighting for special status.
The fact of the matter is that the special status of J&K has been hollowed over the years and now was merely an emotional or a symbolic tool of pride and autonomy to the natives of the state. There was minimal real life significant difference the special status made to anyone. By picking a fight that was not needed to be picked, the central government just ripped a bandage in one swift move before the skin over the wounds had completely regrown. It remains to be seen how far reaching are the consequences of this obsession of the BJP with article 370.
Doing the right things the wrong way is not right, it is just a sign of weakness.