After days of mounting pressure in the Jammu and Kashmir region, Home Minister Amit Shah on August 5 proposed abrogation of Article 370 in the Rajya Sabha. This removes the special autonomous status granted to J&K by Article 370 under Part XXI of the Constitution, which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special provisions”.
Along with this, article 35A allowing, residents of Jammu and Kashmir to live under a separate set of laws as compared to a resident of other Indian states, also stands revoked. Article 35A encompasses laws including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights. Article 35A disempowered women of Kashmir by denying them property rights in case of inter-state marriages, now they will be able to retain their property rights and Indian citizenship even if they get married out of their state.
Impact Of Services Being Halted
The valley is under an indefinite curfew with telecom and internet services halted and political leaders put under house arrest. Talking about the situation back home after speaking to her family before the telecom services were halted, Baramulla-based entrepreneur Zahida Amin told SheThePeople.TV, “After 1-2 am at night the phone services stopped and I haven’t been able to connect with my family. I would say that this will further toughen the situation in the valley.” Amin has been stuck in New Delhi, and wanted to return to her town but couldn’t because of the situation.
Kashmiri Women On Abrogation Of Article 370 And 35A
“Kashmiris are habituated to curfews now. We can stay hungry for an entire year even but we will fight this,” said Amin.
Ridwana Sanam, who fought the Lok Sabha election as an independent candidate from South Kashmir, that this has shocked Kashmiris beyond belief. “The state is in turmoil, all prominent state leadership is put under the house arrest and curfew-like prohibitory order has been imposed upon, all over the state and central forces are ruling the street. People are worried about their safety and what next… The Government of India should have at least taken Kashmiri people into confidence.”
‘How Revoking Kashmir’s Special Status Will Reduce Terrorism?’
Amin questions how revoking Article 370 will help reduce cross-border terrorism? “I am extremely distressed over here and I want to go back to my people and fight against the system with them. If the central government is going to strip Kashmiris out of Kashmir, what will be left there?” she queried.
“Kashmir’s special status is gone. This has fuelled fear in the minds of Kashmiris. We are going to lose our identity, our culture, and our resources. We should have been at least taken into confidence prior to doing this,” a resident of Pahalgam in Anantnag district, Sanam added.
“The current government does not know how to embrace the Muslim community. If you embrace us, we aren’t as dangerous as you have made us look like. There haven’t been any bilateral talks between Kashmir constituent assembly and the Centre then how can you force an amendment on the people?”
Sanam agreed with Amin on keeping the identity as she said, “No doubt we all always want to keep our identity intact as it is established. People of Jammu & Kashmir want to know why they abolished statehood and proposed to make it into a Union Territory?”
“The impact will be more psychological than anything else, I fear that Kashmiris will now be more mistrustful than ever. We do have a good cause for the same. We’ve been suppressed for so long that suppression has found its way into our genetic makeup. Once fear and defencelessness take over, the consequences will be frustration, anger and a population that will never be able to trust its own governing body,” Sanam insisted.
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“Kashmir’s special status is gone. This has fuelled fear in the minds of Kashmiris. We are going to lose our identity, our culture, and our resources. We should have been at least taken into confidence prior to doing this”
What Do The Amendments Mean For Kashmir?
What this means for Jammu and Kashmir is that people from across the country would be able to buy land in the state and choose to permanently settle there. The proposal evoked by Home Minister Shah in the Rajya Sabha on August 5 contended that Jammu and Kashmir be made into a Union Territory with the legislature and Ladakh be made into another UT without legislature.
While Article 35A disempowered women of Kashmir by denying them property rights in case of inter-state marriages, now they will be able to retain their property rights and Indian citizenship even if they get married out of their state. Among other changes, minorities will be eligible for 16 per cent reservation, Right To Information Act will be applicable to J&K, Panchayats will have the same rights as in other states. Children will also benefit from the Right to Education act.
Kashmiri Pandits across the country have shown their enthusiasm and optimism in light of the scrapings. Prerna Koul Mishra in a DailyO article wrote, “Today is the day when I can give up this hate and resurrect. I never left Kashmir. I have been going there every single year — but as an outsider, with the laws of the land having stripped me of my state subject.
But from now, I shall go ‘home’.”
A Twitter user Renuka Dhar, who is an Associate Professor as per her Twitter Bio, wrote, “I am a Kashmiri & PM Modi just gave me back the life I lost 30 years ago! How dare u presume your Muslim friends are the only Kashmiris!”
Excuse me, I am a Kashmiri & PM Modi just gave me back the life I lost 30 years ago! How dare u presume your Muslim friends are the only Kashmiris! https://t.co/OQaEhF8pvu
— RD (@DharRenuka) August 5, 2019
A female Kashmiri Pandit resident of Srinagar, who now works as a journalist in New Delhi, and wanted to remain anonymous spoke to us about the issue from the perspective of Kashmiri Pandits, said, “The happiness of Kashmiri Pandits is justified because of the fact that they have gone through a lot in all these years. So, even if a Kashmiri has relocated to any part of the world, for them home only means Kashmir. They are feeling a sense of security now that they are safe and that they can go back without feeling like a minority. For all these years, nobody heard their concerns so there is definitely a sense of relief as well.”
She also feels empowered by the decision as it now allows her to inherit her father’s property back in Srinagar as the scraping of 35A allows her to do that despite that fact that she is going to marry a non-Kashmiri man. “As a woman I can now inherit my father’s property because I am going to marry a non-Kashmiri so for women it is definitely beneficial as now I have full rights over my father’s property which wasn’t the case earlier.” A previous petition, however, allowed women of Kashmir to inherit their father’s property even if they marry in an inter-state marriage but then their children wouldn’t be able to inherit the property of the woman. Now with Article 35A gone, a woman can inherit her father’s property in case of marriage with non-Kashmiri and then her children too can inherit her property.
However, the woman still feels that we need to wait until the developments start to roll out as she says that if this decision provides employment to Kashmiris, then it would benefit a large number of youth there. “Kashmir is really grappling with unemployment and if you go to villages in South Kashmir and remote areas then you will see that there are no avenues to generate employment there,” she added.