Op-Ed: A Bold Step

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Modi government’s decision to scrap article 370 conferring special status on Jammu and Kashmir and to split the state into union territories, one with a legislature and another without one, has evoked a flood of contrasting reactions across the country.

The J&K itself seems to be in a ferment with the valley, faced with a curfew like situation, ready to burst anytime. The non-BJP parties in the state have denounced the move with People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader and former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti describing it as the “ darkest day in Indian democracy.”

“ Decision of J&K leadership to reject 2 nation theory in 1947 & align with India has backfired. Unilateral decision of GOI to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K,” she said adding that it will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent.

Kashmiri Pandits, on the other hand, hailed the decision hoping that they would now be able to return home. Confident that the move would boost Kashmir’s economy they have congratulated Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and home minister, Amit Shah. Their sentiments also mirror the feelings of a majority of people in the rest of the country who have been reading newspaper reports about rising militancy in the valley with growing concern.

They find the daily bloodshed in what was once famously described by a celebrated poet as the “heaven on earth” as nauseating. Politicians may differ but for the common Indian the special status of J&K is a kind of anachronism that they find hard to comprehend.

The harsh truth is that article 370 that grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir has been one of the biggest impediments to its development. While creating a huge gulf between the people of Kashmir and the rest of the country it has pushed the state’s economy backwards. Even tourism that is said to be the mainstay of J&K’s economy has been badly hit by militancy.

Downward spiral of the economy resulting in huge unemployment is one of the most important factors contributing to the growth of militancy. With no jobs available the youth in the valley is easily attracted by the slogans of separatists.

Hence there is merit in the argument that scrapping of article 370 would ensure economic prosperity of Jammu and Kashmir and the resultant social amalgamation will bring down the threat of militancy. Most importantly it will give India an upper hand in dealing with terrorists sponsored by Pakistan.

But having taken a brave decision it is now upto government of India to implement it in a firm but sensitive manner. The coming few weeks are going to be extremely difficult with the situation in the valley quite volatile. Politicians of various hues, instead of fishing in the troubled waters of Kashmir, should act in a sane manner upholding the interests of the country. There is no denying the fact J&K has always been the elephant in the room which successive governments have deliberately chosen to look away from. We must congratulate the Modi government for showing the courage to bite the bullet.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)