There is a lament amongst the Khan Market Gang that the revocation of Article 370 and Article 35A has removed the special status on the basis of which the state of Jammu & Kashmir acceded to Bharat. That these articles had nothing to do with the process of accession has been written about by others, I will deal with the issue of the special status itself.
The primary question is how exactly has the ‘special status’ benefited the people of Jammu and Kashmir? Given the history of the state, it is clear that all that it has done is to enable 2-3 families of the Kashmir valley to enrich themselves tremendously, as well as those who call themselves ‘separatists’. Of course, this process of enrichment was facilitated by the political leadership at the centre in New Delhi. At least until May 2014.
There have been political leaders in other states who have used their position to enrich themselves. At the same time, the people at large did move forward in social and economic terms – not as much as they should have without the enrichment, but significantly forward nevertheless. The same cannot be said of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, particularly the Jammu and the Ladakh regions and also the non-Sunni Muslims. The worst section that were adversely affected were the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of the state, who were nearly completely bypassed from the benefits of the state schemes.
There has been only one chief minister of the state from the regions outside of the Kashmir valley – Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress party. There has been no non-Muslim chief minister. For this, and many other reasons, there has been a clamour for the removal of these two articles from the Jammu and Ladakh regions for a very long time.
Another point to be considered is PoJK (Pakistan occupied J&K) i.e. the area of Jammu and Kashmir that is under the occupation of Pakistan. There are two regions here – Gilgit-Baltistan and what Pakistan calls ‘Azad’ Kashmir. This area has been directly ruled by the Punjabi military and civilian elite based in the capital of Pakistan. A long time back, Gilgit-Baltistan was administratively separated. This Pakistan occupied area (PoJK) has no real special status within the political scheme of Pakistan. Perhaps the only ‘special’ status is that the views of the people of the area do not matter to the military and civilian elite sitting in Punjab.
It should be recognized that the political objective of Pakistan is to extend the annexation of Gilgit- Baltistan and ‘Azad’ Kashmir to the whole state of Jammu & Kashmir, or at least the Kashmir Valley. Contrary to what the Khan Market Gang wants to project, in Pakistan’s scheme there is no question of independence for the state. Hence the slogan – Kashmir banega Pakistan (Kashmir will become Pakistan), in which case the military and civilian elite based in the capital of Pakistan will treat the ‘acquired’ area in the same way as they do the area presently under their occupation – effectively, as a colony.
If Pakistan were to be successful in this objective, the separatists and the mainstream politicians of the Kashmir Valley would continue to enrich themselves; but given the current economic and social position of the people of PoJK, the people of the rest of the state would be far worse off than they are at present.
With the revocation of Article 370 and Article 35A, the people of Jammu & Kashmir now have a serious opportunity to participate in the social and economic progress that the whole of Bharat has to offer to the people of our country.
(Featured Image credit: jammukashmirnow.com)
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