The first anniversary of the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was celebrated recently (August 5). After waiting for 71 years and infusing lot of funds for the development of Kasmir at the cost of tax payers of other states of India, Government of India remained perturbed over the draining of its assistance, No proper and visible development work seen in the state, no jump in employment of youth while sharp increase in terrorist activities in connivance with many political leaders and separatist groups operating in the State of jammu & Kashmir took the toll of thousands of lives. Laddakh region has suffered most of the negligence of the State Government.
As a result and fed up with the working style of the State Government, political leaders supporting separatists and terrorists, the government of India revoked the special status of the State of Jammu & Kashmir on August 5, 2019 through a Presidential Order and the passage of a resolution in Parliament.
On 5 August 2019, Honourable President of india Ram Nath Kovind issued a constitutional order superseding the 1954 order. The order made all the provisions of the Indian constitution applicable to Jammu & Kashmir. Both houses of Parliament have also passed the resolutions. A further order from the President was issued on 6 August declaring all the clauses of Article 370 except clause 1 to be inoperative.
Besides, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act was passed by the parliament, enacting the division the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories namely Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Laddakh. The reorganisation became effective from October 31, 2019.
The abrogation of Article 370 states, ‘All provisions of this Constitution, as amended from time to time, without any modifications or exceptions, shall apply to the State of Jammu and Kashmir notwithstanding anything contrary contained in article 152 or article 308 or any other article of this Constitution or any other provision of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir or any law, document, judgement, ordinance, order, by-law, rule, regulation, notification, custom or usage having the force of law in the territory of India, or any other instrument, treaty or agreement as envisaged under article 363 or otherwise.’
On the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has outlined a plan to empower people through the newly constituted panchayats. A report in Zeenews lists the major initiatives that have taken place in the Jammu and Kashmir as:
Major changes: 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 per cent 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 channelled into the consolidated fund.
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.
51 grenade attacks took place in Kashmir from January 1 till July 15, 2019, while in 2020 the number has reduced to just 21.
In 2019, 75 security personnel and 23 civilians were killed from January 1 till July 15 in Kashmir valley, while 35 jawans and 22 civilians were killed in the same time period in 2020.
The number of IED attacks has also reduced significantly as only one IED attack took place in Kashmir from January 1 till July 15, 2020. The number of IED attacks during the same period in 2019 was six.
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 Laskhar-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.
Overall, 148 terrorists have been killed since January 2020 in the Valley as of July 30. Of these, 48 terrorists were killed in the month of June alone.
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 rifle.
Less youth joining militancy: There has been a 40 per cent decrease of involvement of local youth in terrorist organizations as only 67 youths of Kashmir valley were brainwashed and made to pick up guns against India.
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.
A total of 3,68,500 domicile certificates were issued in Jammu and 79,300 in Kashmir Valley. Interestingly, nearly 3.7 lakh persons granted domicile certificates are already permanent residents of the Union Territory. A significant proportion has been given out to those who despite living or serving in the state for years were not considered the residents of the state due to the provisions of Artice 35A, which now stands repealed.
Job vacancies: Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal said that over 10,000 vacancies at all the 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 reservation to Pahari-speaking people (four percent) and economically weaker sections (10 percent). So far, 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 metres, is being built at a height of 359 metres from the bed level.
July 2020: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated six bridges in border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, and asserted that development of remote areas in the region will continue to be a “key priority” for the NDA government. Work on Shahpur-Kandi, an electricity and irrigation project hanging for five decades, has started. The Ujh project has been fast-tracked. And the metro rail is on its way to Srinagar and Jammu.
Jammu and Kashmir has recouped Rs 100 crore from stamp duty and registration fee after reform in the land registration process. Urban local bodies are also changing. Municipal committees can now approve projects of up to Rs five crore. Transparent e-tendering has also been made mandatory.
Other schemes: The government introduced an array of insurances schemes including the Atal Pension Yojana has also been introduced in the newly carved Union Territory. The Centre launched 85 people-oriented development schemes, like PM-KISAN, PM-KISAN-Pension, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Stand-Up India in Jammu and Kashmir.
Power projects: Union Power Minister RK Singh and Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik jointly inaugurated 15 power projects and laid the foundation stone for 20 others worth Rs 10,000 crore on September 2019.
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.
Farmers: The central government has approved a nearly Rs 6,000 crore multi-purpose project in Feb 2020 to provide uninterrupted water for irrigation to farmers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district and to produce power, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said.
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. New release of funds will also help in the development of road transport, energy and irrigation schemes.
BJP gained members in Kashmir: The BJP has consolidated its organisational structure, especially in Kashmir, where it has never won a parliamentary or assembly seat, and managed to double its membership to 2.5 lakh.
J&K BJP spokesperson and head of panchayat affairs Altaf Thakur said if there is any party that remained active after August 5, it was the BJP. “As a result of this, we have managed to increase our membership in the Valley from 4.5 lakh to seven lakh. We have 14 municipal councils in the Valley and 63 block development chairpersons. We are now the biggest mainstream political party in J&K. Until 2019, in Kashmir, we did not have even one elected representative… Now, we have 1,266 panches and sarpanches.”
Back to Village
In a first of its kind, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has embarked on an ambitious and extensive programme of reaching out to the people at the grassroots level to create in the rural masses an earnest desire for decent standard of living. The ‘Back to Village’ programme is aimed to involve the people of the state and government officials in a joint effort to deliver the mission of equitable development. The programme is aimed at energizing Panchayats and directing development efforts in rural areas through community participation.
As part of this programme, civil servants will have to reach out to each Panchayat of the State, where they will stay for a specific period to interact and obtain feedback from the grassroots so as to tailor government efforts in improving delivery of village-specific services. The ‘Back to Village’ programme has been conceived with the objective of ensuring that developmental initiatives are built on the feedback and cooperation of the people, thus being more result oriented with greater probability of success than those which are top down.
The programme revolves around the concept that while the official machinery has to guide and assist, the primary responsibility to improve local conditions rests with the people themselves. Therefore, they must be encouraged to own a programme so that benefits are maximized. The life of a person living in a rural area is not cut into segments in the way the Government activities are prone to be. The approach at the village level, therefore, has to be a coordinated, touching all aspects of village life. Such an approach has to be made, not through a multiplicity of departmental officials, but through Panchayats.
The essence of the ‘Back to Village’ programme is to emphasize the importance of ensuring, right from the beginning, people’s participation, not merely as an agent in the execution of the development works but as owners of the entire programme.
It has been blamed that Article 370 led to the separatist movement in the state. Government has opined that terrorism cannot be eliminated in J-K until Article 370 and 35A were in existence. The articles not only hindered development and bred corruption but also responsible for the denial of the right to education and reservation for minorities.
As no outsiders could have bought land, it had prevented the building of adequate healthcare services/industry. The government’s decision to revoke Article 370 would ensure stability, market access, and predictable laws in the state, which could help it gaining investment, especially in key sectors like tourism, agriculture, IT, healthcare among others.
The economic growth cannot happen in a closed environment in today’s world. Hence open minds and open markets will ensure that the youth of the region will put it on the path of greater progress. The integration also gives a boost to investment, innovation and incomes. With the opening of top educational institutes like IIT, IIM, AIIMs, people of the state would not only get better educational opportunities, they would also get a better workforce environment.
With several road, airport and rail line projects in the pipeline in the state, the ease of doing business in the state would improve. Ending the discrimination against women deprived of property rights after marrying outside the valley is also a welcome step. If the decision helps in resettling the uprooted Kashmiri Pandits back home, it will be a big win.
By Nilabh Krishna