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J&K Lens: Dream of statehood for J&K lost in ifs and buts

16/02/2021 at 5:57 PM

By Arun Joshi

 Union Home Minister  Amit Shah  has yet again stated  that the statehood would be given to Jammu and  Kashmir at an appropriate time  that , he qualified  would be  the hour when development would find itself on the track. This has caused a great disappointment among the political parties that were hoping that the promised statehood would be restored to  J&K , sooner than later.  There, however, is another section , especially concentrated in the Hindu dominated parts of the plains of Jammu , that is happy with the UT status for it believes that it would help neutralize all the anti-national forces in the erstwhile state, particularly in the Valley , which is entirely Muslim .

The status of  the state of  J&K was downgraded to a Union  Territory following division of the state. Ladakh was separated from the original J&K  on October 31, 2019, and made a separate UT. While there was a concerted demand for the UT  status by the Buddhists of Ladakh , there was no such demand either from the Kashmir Valley or Jammu region.   The announcement of making two UTs out of J&K was made on August 5, 2019, when the Government of India had also scrapped special status of Jammu and Kashmir by removing Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

Primarily , Home Minister was making two points in the Parliament on February 13  that Delhi would  shift the focus of the  people from the superfluous political slogans to the development  of infrastructure and enrichment of the human resources .The larger point, however, was that while the Centre would need unhindered control of the territory and the people till such an objective is achieved, it cannot take risk of granting absolute powers to those who have ruled the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the past . He blamed them for ruining the place and blocking opportunities for a bright future of youngsters.

J&K that sits on the map as one of the hot spots in South Asia,  the region where terrorism has gained ascendency  and from where it has been  exported to as far off places as the United States of America – 9/11 originated from Afghanistan  and Pakistan .

Seen against  what Home Minister had stated  at the time of announcing the bifurcation of the state of J&K into two Union territories and abolition of Article 370 , there are many points to ponder . One , it was said that the Article 370 had given rise to secessionism in J&K and it had led to the growth of terrorism  that had hurt the  Indian nation . That, he had said with regard to the special status of the state , but , the state, as such was not  a problem . Though he did not say, but the idea was that if J&K stayed as state, there would be a clamour for the Assembly elections – the legislative Assembly elected in 2014 and that had its tenure until the end of 2020, for the life of the Assembly in J&K was six years – and that would lead to the transfer of the power to the elected government . That again , it was feared would not be able to check the growth of terrorism. Under the current arrangement  in the UT of J&K, all these powers are concentrated in the hands of the Government of India lieutenant Governor , and even if the  Assembly elections are held, the members would have no powers . The Government of  India has already notified this .

As of now the people in Kashmir Valley are watching everything in silence . They are not saying anything on the subject,  for they are conscious of the fact that Delhi has a particular viewpoint about the Valley  and as such that is not going to be changed   even if they protest and post- August 5, 2019 , when security forces dotted all the streets, roads and barricaded Kashmir to prevent suspected trouble , the scope for protests has been  voluntarily discarded by the people.

There are two meanings of the statehood in J&K – one , the UT of J&K as it exists in the new map with 10 districts  to get the statehood, second is related to the whole of the region, including Ladakh, and the third is J&K and the Muslim dominated district of Kargil of Ladakh region. There, however, is another category that seeks to get the statehood for Jammu region , and leave the Kashmir Valley as the UT.

These theories are not new, but these have gained a new lease of life  after the bifurcation of the state  into two UTs, now every section believes that it can have its say and get its own geographical unit , independent of the other parts of the erstwhile state of J&K.  This is a new difficulty that cannot be addressed so easily.

The Government of India has increased its own challenges in this regard, and the only way out is  to go in for dialogue with all sections , weighing all pros  and cons of each and every step that is being suggested . It is imperative  given the situation in the place where silence is not allowing the real sentiment to come out.

About the Author:

Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express and The Tribune.

He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.

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This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com

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