Last month, the Government of India decided to abolish the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.
After this step of the government, the BBC told politicians of two opposing parties, BJP's Baijayant Jai Panda and Congress's Shashi Tharoor that both of them had their own separate discussion about what the Indian government's decision means and what will be its effect. Keep a different perspective.
Their views are completely different from each other and should not be seen as an answer to each other.
'Now Kashmir has immense opportunities for betterment'
(Baijayant Jai Panda has been a four-time MP. He is currently the national vice president of India's ruling party BJP.)
It is to be noted here that not only the staunch supporters of the BJP, but a large number of ordinary Indians are also excited by the Government of India's move on Kashmir. Even many opposition leaders have supported this move of the government.
However, Kashmiri separatists have also strongly opposed it. Whereas, many opposition parties of India have also protested on the government's footsteps. He claims that this step of the government is unconstitutional and its end will be sad.
But today, it is very difficult to guess that only Article 370 of the name of the Constitution will prove to be worse for the people of Kashmir than in the first few decades.
Over 40 thousand people died in Kashmir in the last decades. This led to two wars and a limited war between India and Pakistan.
Because of this, thousands of minority Hindus of Kashmir ie Kashmiri Pandits had to suffer. They had to leave the Kashmir Valley in the 1990s due to the expansion of Islamic extremism.
Now Kashmir has immense possibilities for its betterment.
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Due to Article 370 of the constitution, many rational decisions and laws of Indian courts were not applicable to Kashmir. These included laws such as abolition of child marriage, empowerment of Dalits (formerly untouchables), abolition of discrimination against women, and anti-corruption besides giving rights to LGBT community, which could not apply to Kashmir.
Pandit Nehru's government made a provision of Article 370 for Kashmir in the Constitution in 1949. Under this, Kashmir got its constitution, its flag and special rating. While this could not go on for a long time. Pandit Nehru himself said that Article 370 is a temporary provision.
In any case, it is true that Kashmir had decided to merge with India in October 1947. And that too under the same rules through which the remaining princely states were merged with India.
After this, Article 370 and amendments made in it were done under the Indian Parliament. Neither Pakistan nor anyone else had any legal intervention in this matter. This was the same as it would have been with any other state merging in India.
The important thing is that even after this change, the people of Kashmir have the same rights as those who live in any other area of India. They will still get the right to election. Constitutional rights will be equal. Like other 1.36 billion people of the country are mixed. These include 200 million Muslims of the country.
And, though Kashmir has now become a federally administered area, it will get less autonomous rights than other states. With this, the central government, along with the local administration, will be able to make better use of the resources here.
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From 1948 onwards, India provided massive financial support to Jammu and Kashmir. (This was four times higher than the per capita average of other states.) However, this financial support did not show much effect on the ground level.
However, Kashmir is at par with other regions of India on many socio-economic parameters. But, it is not because of its own development, but because of the help from the central government.
Because of the special status of Kashmir, it used to be manipulated in a big way from the funds it received from the central government. Apart from this, due to the lack of security conditions in the state, investment was also very low here, so that sustainable development of the local economy could occur.
Now this situation has changed dramatically after the end of special status. A big business meeting is going to be held in Kashmir in October. In this, many big companies of the country have indicated to announce a large investment in Kashmir. Not only big players, many more businessmen are also eager to invest here.
Land is an emotional issue for the entire Indian sub-continent. Due to Article 370 of the Constitution, people of other parts of India could not take land in Kashmir. Rather, even the Kashmiri women themselves were married to a non-Kashmiri, then their right to land in Kashmir would have been snatched away. There is no place for such discrimination in modern and progressive choice.
However, many other states also have such restrictions. But, there is a big difference between them and Kashmir. For example, in the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, only after staying for a certain time, citizens of other states can buy land there. That is, they have to show commitment to Himachal Pradesh first, then they can buy land there. That's a good thing But, restrictions in the name of gender and region only serve to cut off an area from the rest.
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Similar arguments are given to maintain the composition of the population of other Muslim majority states of India. This is like supporting Pakistan's two-nation theory. But, this argument of Pakistan is no longer considered because its eastern part has become a separate country due to linguistic and regional discrimination.
On the other hand, against the decreasing population of minorities in Pakistan, minorities are moving ahead in India. Muslims, who were only ten percent of the population at the time of Partition, have increased to 14 percent of India's total population today.
The Muslims of India have also seen all-round progress. He has attained high positions in the political, judicial and military systems. There are also many Muslim billionaires in the country.
The autonomy that Kashmiris dream of is already in our constitutional system. There is no other example of this in the history of humanity. After the complete merger in India, whether it is a union territory or a full-fledged state, Kashmir will be able to give a better life to its people.
As India's Ambassador to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin has said in very brilliant terms, the change in Article 370 of the Constitution will have no effect on anyone else.
The temporary security measures taken in Kashmir have prevented incidents of violence and loss of lives. And as far as talks with Pakistan are concerned, India is fully committed to the Shimla Agreement. Under which both countries have envisaged to prevent conflict and normalize mutual relations.
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'Government's step on Kashmir is betrayed by democracy'
(Currently Congress MP Shashi Tharoor is a former diplomat.)
Articles 370 and 35A of the constitution gave Kashmir the right to separate its residents from permanent citizens and the rest. This also prevented the purchase of property of other people in Kashmir. The decision to remove them should have been considered a bold move.
Those defending the government argue that it was due to autonomy that separatism was promoted in the Kashmir Valley. It also did not help in stopping mass violence in Kashmir.
They also say that because of these articles of the Constitution, the Kashmir Valley got Islamized. Because of this, the Kashmiri Pandits (upper caste Hindus) suffered terrible persecution and had to flee leaving their ancestral hideout. Due to the special status of Kashmir, the laws governing the progress of India such as the rights of Dalits and Scheduled Castes could not be implemented here.
All these things are true. However, this happened during Article 370 of the Constitution, not because of it.
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Those who support the withdrawal of special status of Kashmir say that this will lead to economic development of the state. Because non-Kashmiri people will also be free to buy land and invest there.
It is true that since the announcement of abolishing Article 370 and Article 35A, the Governor has invited investors from outside the state to join a conference. Big companies, including India's largest company Reliance, have expressed their intention that they are willing to start new projects in Kashmir. At the same time, Bollywood producers are competing to make blockbuster films based on Kashmir and shooting there.
The worst thing is that a senior politician from Haryana has also said that the ratio of men and women of his state can now be improved easily because now he will be able to get girls from Kashmir to Haryana.
However, many people are concerned that the losses caused by this step are more than the potential benefits.
The biggest thing is that the culture of violence has a permanent place in Indian democracy. The government has changed the basic constitutional relationship of the Republic of India with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. And before making this decision, he neither consulted the Kashmiri people nor spoke to the elected representatives of the state.
With this joke with the law, a message has been given to other states that if this happens with Jammu and Kashmir, it can happen to them also in future.
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The government's claim that it has taken the consent of the Kashmiri people for this constitutional amendment is absolutely wrong. Because at this time the center is directly ruled by Jammu and Kashmir. And in such a situation, it is absolutely unconstitutional to believe that the Governor appointed by the Center represents the State. Rather say that the Central Government has taken the consent of its own appointed Governor for this decision.
This decision was presented before Parliament. It passed easily due to the government having a majority in Parliament. It was neither consulted nor communicated with local political parties. The state assembly is dissolved. And the elected representatives of the state are under house arrest.
This decision pushed Kashmir into a blind well. And in this way this constitutional coup was done. Educational institutions of the state were closed. Exams were postponed. Shops and petrol pumps were closed. TV network transmission stopped. Communication mediums were cut. Telephone and mobile services were banned. Internet shutter was also down.
This constitutional change was made by forcing the people of Kashmir to remain completely isolated and live without contact with the rest of the world.
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Now, if the government's government convinces the Supreme Court (where this decision has been challenged) that it has followed the law, it is still a decision challenging the very foundation of Indian democracy. If we are calling this a military administration, then it is not wrong at all.
The economic impact of this decision is clearly visible. The tourism industry called Kashmir's lifeline has collapsed. The efforts of Indian governments of many decades to make the situation of Kashmir normal in the world have gone in vain. Now foreign governments are advising their citizens not to go to Kashmir. Whereas earlier governments used to give assurance to the countries of the world that their citizens can come to Kashmir to roam, because the conditions there are normal. Now all these efforts have become useless.
The most bizarre thing is that the Prime Minister who visited Kashmir in 2017, appealed to the youth of Kashmir (where the unemployment rate is 24.6 percent, which is double that of other states of India) to elect one of terrorism and tourism Do.
Tourism would have given jobs to many unemployed youth. But now the tourists are not coming to Kashmir. And due to restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, the people present there have been evicted.
Today many countries are issuing advisories to their citizens not to go to Kashmir again. Because of this, houseboats of Kashmir are deserted and business is at a standstill. The great artists of Kashmir associated with the handicrafts industry and making cleaners have been ruined.
Kashmir: allegations of harassment, denial of army
भारत की धर्मनिरपेक्षता की बड़ी मिसाल अमरनाथ यात्रा, जिसके तहत हर साल हज़ारों हिंदू यात्री उत्तरी कश्मीर में स्थित गुफ़ा की तीर्थयात्रा पर जाते हैं, उसे भी बीच में ही रोक दिया गया.
सबसे चिंता की बात तो ये है कि लोकतांत्रिक रूप से चुने गए नेताओं को नज़र बंद कर दिया गया. ऐसे में सरकार ने अलोकतांत्रिक ताक़तों के लिए जगह ख़ुद ही बना दी है.
जम्मू-कश्मीर को मिला विशेष दर्जा कश्मीर के बहुत से नेताओं को मुख्यधारा की राजनीति करने का मौक़ा और बहाना देता था. वो भारत के साथ रहकर राज्य की स्वायत्तता की वक़ालत करते थे.
लेकिन, अब ये आवरण भी उनसे छीन लिया गया है. इसलिए अब राज्य के नेता अप्रासंगिक साबित हो गए हैं और अब उनके पास चरमपंथ को रोकने की ताक़त नहीं बची है.
भारत सरकार का दावा है कि सरकार आतंकवाद के ख़िलाफ़ जंग जीत रही है. लेकिन, अब इस क़दम से आतंकवाद को नई ज़िंदगी मिल सकती है. अब आतंकवादी इस नई नाइंसाफ़ी का हवाला दे कर लोगों को जोड़ सकते हैं.
इससे कुछ भटके हुए युवा चरमपंथी संगठनों में शामिल हो सकते हैं. इससे भारत के बहादुर और चुनौती झेल रहे सैनिकों को और नुक़सान उठाना पड़ सकता है.
हालांकि अब तक तो भारत सरकार के इस क़दम की तारीफ़ हुई है. लेकिन अभी ये कहना जल्दबाज़ी होगी कि जब तमाम पाबंदियां उठा ली जाएंगी, तब क्या होगा. क्योंकि कभी न कभी तो एहतियाती क़दम पीछे खींचने ही होंगे.
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