The Indian government surprisingly revoked the special autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim majority state. The revocation of Article 370 shocked residents of the region. On 5th August, last Wednesday of this week witnessed the first anniversary of the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and conversion of the erstwhile state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
For the first time after seven decades, the Indian Constitution and all the 890 Central laws are fully applicable to J&K. This has meant the application of 170 more Central laws to J&K, including progressive laws such as the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1954, the Whistle-Blowers Protection Act, 2014, the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forests Rights) Act, 2007, the National Commission for Minorities Act, and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
Earlier, Article 370 of the Indian constitution gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, a region located in the northern part of Indian subcontinent which was administered by India as a state from 1954 to 31 October 2019 and a part of the larger region of Kashmir which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan and China since 1947, conferring it with the power to have a separate constitution, a state flag, and autonomy over the internal administration of the state.
This article, along with Article 35A, defined that the Jammu and Kashmir state's residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to residents of other Indian states. As a result of this provision, Indian citizens from other states could not purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir.
However, in this article we will focus on, 'What has been gained'? The domains in which claims and counterclaims are being made include development, infrastructure, grassroots democracy, anti-corruption measures, tourism, creation of jobs, relative freedom, quality of life, and perhaps a few more.
Out of 354 State laws in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir, 164 laws have been repealed, 138 laws modified while 170 central laws have been made applicable.
There has been a 262% increase in minority scholarships. Also, five corporations have been set up to unbundle power department corporations, and government funds worth Rs 1000 crores parked outside have been located and channeled into the consolidated fund.
Terrorist Elimination: Incidents of violence have reduced significantly in Kashmir valley after August 5 and security forces have achieved major success against terrorists, according to Union Ministry of Home Affairs report, which also noted that terror-related activities have reduced by around 36% in the valley after the abrogation of Article 370.
188 terror-related incidences were recorded in Kashmir valley from January 1 till July 15, 2019, and this number has reduced to 120 in 2020, said the MHA report, adding that 126 terrorists were killed in Kashmir during the same period in 2019 while 136 terrorists were eliminated during the same time period in 2020.
A total of 110 local terrorists have been killed in Kashmir in 2020 so far, including over 50 from Hizbul Mujahideen and around 20 each from Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. At least 14 terrorists from ISJK and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind were also eliminated by security forces during the same period.
Some wanted terrorists like Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo, Lashkar commander Haider, Jaish commander Kari Yasir and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind Burhan Koka have been killed by security forces in 2020. The security forces have also busted 22 terror hideouts till July 15 besides recovering 190 weapons, including several AK 47 rifles.
Horticulture and Handicrafts: Horticulture provides livelihood to 30 lakh people directly and indirectly in Kashmir. Handicrafts industry employs more than 2.5 lakh artisans. Most of these artisans lost their jobs as the lockdown disrupted access to raw material and exports.
Tourism: The two factors have resulted in the loss of lakhs of jobs and the borrowers of financial institutions have lost the capacity to fulfill their commitments, according to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). "The tourism sector is in shambles. Artisans and weavers are jobless. The losses are more than Rs 1,056 crore. It was multiplied further by the pandemic,” KCCI stated.
There have been 144,500 job losses in Kashmir’s tourism and handicrafts sector – mostly dependent on earnings from travelers – since August 5, 2019, as per an estimate of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The number of Tourists in Kashmir also came down by 86% in August-December 2019, according to an RTI.
Package: In January 2020, the Modi government granted a package of Rs 80,000 crore for development works in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory. It will include the revival of the schemes pending for decades. The package would help establish the educational institutions like IIT, IIM, and AIIMS. The new release of funds will also help in the development of road transport, energy, and irrigation schemes.
Kashmiri Pandits: 3,000 government jobs created for the Kashmiri migrants at an outlay of Rs 1,080 crores. As per the information provided by the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, the selection process has been concluded in respect of 1781 posts and 604 candidates have joined in different departments as on 22nd February 2020. These jobs are in addition to the 3000 state government jobs approved under the Prime Minister's package-2008, against which 2,905 jobs have been filled, according to MoS for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy.
Construction of 6,000 transit accommodations at an outlay of Rs 920 crores for accommodating 3000 Kashmiri migrants employed under PMRP- 2008 and for 3000 additional migrants under PMDP-2015. 849 flats have already been constructed.
The Centre also reimburses monthly cash relief to the eligible Kashmiri migrants settled in Jammu. Since the year 2014, the monthly cash relief has been enhanced twice i.e. from Rs 6600/- per family to Rs 10,000/- per family in 2015 and to Rs 13,000/- per family in 2018. In addition, the dry ration is also provided to these Kashmiri migrants.
Domicile certificate issued: Over 4 lakh people in Jammu and Kashmir have been issued domicile certificates--official document to prove that a person is a resident of a particular state/Union Territory.
Job vacancies: Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal said that over 10,000 vacancies at all levels have been identified for recruitment in various departments in the first phase. Notably, the administrative council has approved a simple and efficient procedure for filling up of class IV vacancies.
Reservation: The Union Territory administration has decided to provide reservations to Pahari-speaking people (four percent) and economically weaker sections (10 percent). So far, the reservation was available only to people living in villages on the Line of Control, but it has been extended to those living on the international border, benefiting nearly 70,000 families.
7th pay commission salary: More than three lakh Jammu and Kashmir government employees are now getting benefits under the 7th Central Pay Commission.
Big projects: The world’s highest railway bridge over river Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir will be ready by next year, and is expected to connect the Valley with the rest of India by train for the first time by 2022. The bridge, which has a central span of 467 meters, is being built at a height of 359 meters from the bed level.
However, "the real measure of the progressive effectiveness of overall security is the success gained against networks which actually ran and perhaps are partially even now running J&K", stated by the Wire.
Material benefits of good governance will flow in their time. What we should be concerned about is the future of politics in the Union Territory, the meeting of minds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir regions, the creation of conditions for the return of the Kashmiri Pandits with dignity and honor, and promotion of the aspirations of the youth. When conditions improve in the domain of physical security, automatically freedoms will progressively restore and people will have more to aspire for.