With 370 rendered ineffective, 35A consigned to the flames and a separate constitution for the state becoming part of history, every citizen of Jammu & Kashmir will now lead a life of equality, honour and prestige. Ratan Sharda, an eminent freelance columnist, author and editor refers to them as “unseen orphans of partition.” Regretfully, politicians with vested interest in status quo are not happy with the newly achieved freedom by the so-far neglected sections of the society and hence are busy misleading the people through motivated and provocative statements. Their attitude has added salt to the wounds and hurt pride of the hapless West Pakistan refugees, Gurkhas and Valmikis who number almost three to four lakh and have lived a life of humiliation and inequality for generations. They will be free citizens of free India literally after 72 years of independence. They have been the victim of worst form of human rights abuse without much hue and cry by the numerous human rights organisations. They suffered in silence with Bharatiya Janata Party, being the only political organisation which not only shared their grief but also promised them justice one day. Now that the justice has been delivered, those who exploited them as a mere vote bank till now rather than explaining the positive aspects and plus points of the bold and historic decision of the Modi government are trying to spread negative propaganda and create an atmosphere of scare and despair.
Every citizen will now enjoy similar benefits and privileges and none will be treated as a “second rate” because of not being a permanent resident, an anarchic, farcical and discriminatory practice prevalent in the state. They will now be able to participate in the panchayat, local bodies and assembly elections, own, buy and sell properties, apply for government jobs, enjoy benefits of the reservations in jobs and academic institutions. Their children will be like the other children and enjoy same benefits like them. They will be able to contest elections and represent their people in various democratic fora. Unfortunately, the majority of them also belong to SC/ST groups and were denied their attendant benefits also so far. They will now enjoy benefits of all the concessions and privileges to which members of these communities are entitled across the country. All citizens will also be now governed by the Constitution of India which guarantees human rights in form of Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties which were conspicuous by their absence from the Constitution of J&K. The National Minority Commission will now have jurisdiction over the state. The state will be bifurcated into two distinct administrative units namely Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K UT) and Union Territory of Ladakh (Ladakh UT) with effect from 31st October 2019. This will bring to end an era of blatant regional discrimination which had subjugated the people of Jammu & Ladakh regions.
The gender discrimination will no more exist and all daughters of the soil will be treated equally. Earlier the local daughters who married non-permanent residents could enjoy her existing property in the State but could not will to her inheritors because her family lost the right to inheritance. But now not only she but her husband as long as he is an Indian citizen will enjoy full rights over her property in the state as well as the children will be able to inherit the same. No Pakistani or a foreign origin lady will be able to obtain Indian citizenship merely by marrying a Kashmiri. In other words the state will witness end of cronyism, favouritism and nepotism with equality and justice being the new buzzwords.
It is travesty of history that the present government is being blamed for “murder of democracy.” How can one forget 1951 when Sheikh Abdullah played the biggest constitutional fraud with the people of J&K by composing a Constituent Assembly without any member from the opposition? The nomination papers of all candidates not belonging to National Conference, Abdulah’s party, were rejected on flimsy grounds and were declared ineligible to contest. To protest against this authoritarian attitude of Sheikh Praja Parishad, the only major opposition party, decided to boycott the elections. The same Constituent Assembly went on to frame a Constitution for the state that catered for the aspirations and interests of a particular region only thus granting constitutional validity to regional discrimination and scuttling the aspirations and hopes of the 2/3rd of the State. Now that the days of discrimination and partiality are over and the citizens are seeing a new ray of hope, the vested interests who have been the beneficiaries of restrictive and discriminatory provisions of the state constitution are busy issuing statements critical of the government in order to create unrest and disturb law and order.
Under the garb of 370 and 35A, these leaders have amassed huge personal wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income. Many of them, already are facing charges of corruption and misuse of public funds against them. A sense of insecurity haunts them due to the ongoing war on corruption unleashed by the present administration. The people now are much more aware and conscious and hence are unlikely to fall prey to their machinations. People will hold them accountable for their sins and misdeeds if everything is normal and hence their attempt to create chaos through a planned disinformation campaign based on presumptions like loss of identity, land and jobs. To achieve their sinister aim they are also resorting to rumour mongering and fake news. A disturbed environment rather than peace suits them. Their attempt to scare the people is misplaced and deliberate.
Their allegation that reorganisation of the state is a blow to Dogra identity and pride is full of dichotomy. The very people who through a deliberate plan and misuse of administrative machinery left no stone unturned to make extinct all signs of Dogra identity and heritage are today shedding crocodile tears over loss of Dogra pride in order to emotionally blackmail the innocent citizens in order to create anti-government hysteria. It is highly ironical but in politics there is no holds barred and for their political survival the opposition parties will go to any extent. However, good governance and passage of time will not only prove them wrong but compel them to face the reality and accept the dawn of a new era on the political horizon of this region.
While some of the apprehensions may be ill-founded, some may be genuine as well. The government will do well to frame new laws to protect the demographic and cultural interests of the people similar to Article 371 for other states. In order to ensure the safety of jobs and employment to the locals the clause of “domicile” needs to be introduced. The government also needs to address the issues of illegal migrants and Rohangiyas as they pose a serious challenge to safety and security.