India has moved to revoke Kashmir’s special status. But the decision has costs.
To integrate its only Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country, Indian government scrapped Article 370.
Since its inception, India’s ruling party had promised to abrogate special status to Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.
While keeping the promise, New Delhi has also divided region, separating the Buddhist-dominated Ladakh from the Muslim-majority Kashmir and Hindu-majority Jammu.
For many Kashmiris, special status was the main justification for being a part of India. By revoking Article 370, the Bharatiya Janata Party has changed India's relationship with Kashmir, for forever.
The division of the state will put huge Muslim populations in Kargil sub-regions – who look toward Kashmir Valley for their “political and social empowerment” – to a major disadvantage.
New Delhi has also repealed Article 35-A that gave special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of Kashmir. Indian citizens of other states could purchase land or property and found it difficult in getting jobs in Jammu and Kashmir.
The 1952 Delhi Agreement, between then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Kashmiri leader Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah, has explicitly given the solemn pledge to protect identity and culture of Kashmiri people by preventing outsiders to own land in the disputed region as well as to protect its demographic character in the Hindu majority India, an identical reason that compelled Hindu ruler to enact the law in 1923, according to Noorani.
“So, the present government of Kashmir is very anxious to preserve that right because they are afraid that Kashmir would be overrun by people whose sole qualification might be the possession of too much money and nothing else, who might buy up, and get the delectable places,” Nehru told Indian parliament in 1952.
The ongoing crackdown has instilled fear in Kashmiri people’s mind that the state may become a Hindu majority state from Muslim majority state. Now anyone from India will be able to buy land and permanently settle in the unions, claimed The Economic Times of India.
There were repeated allegations of violations by government forces in Jammu and Kashmir during security operations. The first-ever UN human rights report 2018 on Kashmir called for international inquiry into multiple violations.
The report described impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice, and noted that the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) impede accountability for human rights violations.
The state's former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said the revocation of Article 370 effectively has made India an occupying force and have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent.
“Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy,” the state's former chief minister Mehbooba said, adding that the government's “unilateral decision” was “illegal and unconstitutional.”
The move will disempower Muslims and make them second class citizens in their own state, she said.
Former Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is under house arrest, condemned the decision as “a total betrayal of trust that the Jammu and Kashmir people had in India during the partition in 1947.”
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had argued that the division was the "best solution to resolve the vexed Kashmir issue.”
Pakistan has condemned India's decision to revoke the special status of its part of Kashmir as illegal, saying it would “exercise all possible options” to counter it.
In 1949, a special provision was added to the constitution providing autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir.
Article 370 allows the state to have its own constitution, a separate flag and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defence and communications.