Article-370

Article 370: Can Jammu and Kashmir regain statehood? Possible options

For an otherwise reunification of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to happen, the terror and cross-border security situation needs to be comfortable for India. By creating Ladakh as a separate Union Territory, the Modi government largely limited the disputes with Pakistan and China to one administrative unit.  

oon after the Centre announced and Parliament passed resolutions for abrogating the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 last year and converting the state into two Union Territories, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said it was a “temporary” situation.

PM Modi said statehood of Jammu and Kashmir would be restored at “some point of time”. He has repeated his assurance a few times since then.

In March this year, PM Modi told a visiting delegation of politicians from Kashmir that “the government will work with all sections of the population to realise the hopes of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir at an early opportunity”.

PM Modi spoke about “janbhagidaari” (participation of people) in the process of restoration of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Meeting the same delegation, Union Home Minister Amit Shah told Jammu and Kashmir leaders that “visible changes will be seen on the ground in the next few months”.

However, around 10 days after PM Modi and Home Minister Shah gave assurance to the visiting Kashmiri politicians in New Delhi, the coronavirus lockdown had to be imposed across the country.

As unlock phases progressed, speculation began that the Modi government may announce the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

The speculation was based on the release of political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir — National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who said he would not contest election till statehood was restored, and senior Congress leader from Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad meeting PM Modi to press for the same demand.

Another Congress leader Tariq Hamid Karra — a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) — claimed last week that a “decision [has] already taken by a chosen few at the Centre” for restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir and “for which the timeline fixed is August 15, 2020”. By the way, he also claimed 4G internet services were to be restored on August 5.

The BJP, on the other hand, rolled out a dampener saying statehood will not be restored to Jammu and Kashmir until guns fall silent. While the Modi government has not officially responded to the statements by politicians, there seem to be three options before Jammu and Kashmir.

STATEHOOD WILL NOT BE RESTORED

Terrorism has been a major issue for Jammu and Kashmir, and a big hindrance to a change of stand of the Modi government on the question of statehood restoration. Recent reports from the Union Territory point to a big spike in terror recruitment even during the coronavirus lockdown.

Local security agencies estimate that there are over 140 terrorists active in the Kashmir Valley. Of them, around 55 are foreigners and the rest local. This is the first time in over a decade that local militants have outnumbered foreign terrorists in the Kashmir Valley. The local’s number has doubled since last year.

However, the number of terrorists killed in operations has dropped a little this year compared to 2019. In the first five months of 2019, 101 terrorists had been killed in the Kashmir Valley. This year, the number stood at 78. Similarly, the number of terror incidents stood at 223 for the January-May period in 2019 compared to 78 in the first five months this year.

Normally, a fewer number of terrorists being killed would indicate an improvement in countering the insurgency situation. But the Kashmir Valley has witnessed a spike in terror recruitment.

This is likely to dissuade the Modi government from restoring statehood to Jammu and Kashmir particularly at a time when both China and Pakistan are trying to escalate the security situation in the region.

Pakistan has become more vocal about its support to separatists and terrorist groups in the Kashmir Valley. China too has upped its ante along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. Jammu and Kashmir has been a troubled border state — now Union Territory — for India. Restoration of statehood may not be a straightforward option for the Modi government especially when elections can be held to the legislative assembly of this Union Territory.

STATEHOOD TO J&K WITHOUT LADAKH

The Modi government did two things to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Modi government took away its statehood and bifurcated it.

Leading political figures – Abdullah, Azad and Karra – have demanded restoration of statehood and calling an election to the state assembly. Omar Abdullah, in fact, said he would not contest election until statehood is restored.

If the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – whose leader Mehbooba Mufti is still under house arrest – don’t participate in the election to Jammu and Kashmir assembly, it would impact the poll process in the state.

This is a strong political reason for the Modi government to restore statehood to Jammu and Kashmir but without annulling the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir. That is, there would be no assembly election in Ladakh — a point indirectly indicated by PM Modi in his August 8 video posted on Twitter.

STATEHOOD WITH REUNIFICATION

This is an ideal resolution that Kashmiri politicians have been demanding from the Modi government. They additionally also want restoration of Article 370 and Article 35A. The latter demand is, however, not possible under this BJP-led government at the Centre or till the BJP enjoys such numbers in Parliament as is required to stall a resolution to this effect.

For an otherwise reunification of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to happen, the terror and cross-border security situation needs to be comfortable for India. By creating Ladakh as a separate Union Territory, the Modi government largely limited the disputes with Pakistan and China to one administrative unit.

Ladakh includes Aksai Chin and large parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This was a strategic move of the Modi government when it announced bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir.

This means that when situation normalizes in the Kashmir Valley, the heavy presence of armed forces may be restricted to Ladakh only along the LAC with China and the LoC with Pakistan. But this also means that a reunified Jammu and Kashmir is a distant dream.

Reference Link: https://www.indiatoday.in/news-analysis/story/jammu-and-kashmir-statehood-options-article-370-abrogation-1st-anniversary-1707862-2020-08-05

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s