Prof. Rasal Singh

Mehbooba Mufti, The president of People’s Democratic Party and former chief minister of JK, recently sparked another controversy with her remarks on Article 370 and 35A being abrogated. The central government, she said, has “to be paid with interest” for the things taken away from Kashmiris on August 5th. Earlier, she had pledged not to raise the national flag until J&K regained its former status. Her irresponsible statement earned her widespread criticism both within and outside her own party, which ultimately led to her withdrawing the statement. As a matter of fact, she has propagated separatism and extremism in J&K. Recent developments have left her vulnerable post-August 5, 2019. After their meeting with the Prime Minister in Delhi on 24th June, many prominent members of the Gupkar Alliance appeared to be adapting to the current situation. Even so, she continues to use separatist slangs synonymous with autonomy, anarchy, and violence, for which she became alienated. She is becoming more frustrated and desperate as a result.

J&K has been the scene of widespread discrimination that is being swept under the rug by its special status. Discrimination ranged from corruption in development schemes to unequal participation in government machinery, as well as disregard for the constitutional rights of marginalized groups and women. The abolition of Article 370 and 35A was welcomed by the people of JK, especially in Jammu Division. As a result of sacrifices made by famous figures like Shere duggar Pandit Premnath Dogra, Maharaja Harisingh, Rajinder Singh, and Mohammad Usman, J&K was united with the rest of the nation. The abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A has finally brought justice to marginalized sections. As the era of equality and development enters a new phase, J&K is entering a new phase. Many significant movements led by Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Pandit Premnath Dogra made Jammu and Kashmir a focal point of national concern. In order to ensure justice and equality for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, they had intensified public awareness campaigns throughout the country.

As of today, the UT of Jammu & Kashmir is undergoing reforms on the ground. Though some of the work has been completed, there is still much to be done. All of these development projects and transformations are being implemented under the able leadership of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After a long delay of 28 years, the UT has implemented three tiers of Panchayati Raj. Resources are being provided to local bodies throughout the country to empower them. ST classes like Gujar Bakkarwal, Gaddi, Sippy, etc., have benefited from political reservation. STs have contributed to grassroots democracy by participating in elections for Gram Panchayats, Block Development Councils, and District Development Councils. The Other Backward Classes in Jammu and Kashmir have been given reservations to ensure social justice. Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, who devised the Indian Constitution, dreamed of a just and equal society throughout the country, free of any discrimination based on caste, race, religion, or region. Abolition of Articles 370 and 35 A would lead to a unified India as envisioned by Dr. B R Ambedkar.

Women who used to get married outside of the state (and were deprived of their basic rights earlier) have welcomed this move. In independent India, this gender-based discrimination was a shameful example of the constitution failing to ensure equal rights to all citizens. The adoption of Universal Adult Suffrage at the time of Independence has set precedents for many new democracies and was manifestation of progressive outlook and democratic values. Throughout the framing of the constitution, liberty, equality, and fraternity served as the guiding principles. The previous governments in J&K relied on the special status to ignore these principles. Nonetheless, this new constitutional amendment will result in radical socio-economic changes in the UT of JK. The new provisions will ensure that millions of settled Dalits (especially Valmiki Samaj, displaced persons of West Pakistan, Gorkhas, and PoJK displaced persons) will have access to basic rights and facilities.

The new industrial policy have been implemented and investor conclaves are organized. This will ensure massive employment opportunities to the local people. To bridge the gap and connect the local people with the mainstream, the new Language Policy has been introduced and Dogri, Kashmiri, and Hindi, the mother tongues of most J&K residents are given official language status. Tourism is also being revamped as it has been subject to frequent terrorist attacks and government negligence. The govt. is paying special attention to potential new locations that were previously ignored. Jointly, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam are constructing Sri Venkateshwar Bhagwan temple, revitalizing the holy river Devika and the Shiv Khori Cave, etc. To combat widespread corruption in government agencies, strict measures have been taken against many officials. It is believed that many officials worked hand-in-hand with terrorists and were involved in anti-national activities. This action put the lives of the locals at risk and bit the very hands which liberated them. There have been many terminations or investigations related to these cases. Especially noteworthy is that terror activities have decreased to 59% after Article 370 was abrogated.

Roads, electricity, water, health, and education are being provided at a very fast pace, especially in remote and inaccessible areas of J&K. The Prime Minister’s Employment Package includes employment and housing arrangements for the needy displaced Kashmiris. An approval has been given to construct a residential complex that is safe and has all amenities for rehabilitating Kashmiri displaced persons. All govt. documents and files have been e-filed in place of the costly and heavy “Darbar Move” exercise. The “Citizens Charter” has been implemented to ensure the timely completion of various projects and the resolution of problems. Government officials who have become inactive and deferential will be made responsive thereby speeding up the implementation of development schemes. Efforts are being made to eradicate corruption in government jobs, admissions to medical, engineering, and management institutions and development schemes. Responsibility has been fixed and culprits are being prosecuted for the Roshani act land Scam and arms license scam.

As part of the delimitation process, efforts are being made to create demographically and democratically balanced and justified electoral constituencies. Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai chairs the delimitation commission. It is noteworthy that The National Conference is supporting this exercise, which boycotted it earlier.
However, there are a few challenges ahead. Peaceful and participatory elections for the assembly are of utmost importance. The threat of terrorism in Kashmir Valley is being re-escalated by developments in neighboring Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban. The present dispensation must be cautious about issues that may alienate the youth. These organizations will want to mislead and misuse them against innocent people and the Indian state. A bloodbath is no longer wanted by the common Kashmiris. There is a hunger for peace, development, and opportunity among them.

(The author is Dean, Students’ Welfare, Central University of Jammu)