September 29, 2022

J&K’s demand for statehood turned into a political movement

A political movement has been set in motion for the restoration of statehood in Jammu and Kashmir, which since October 31, 2019, has been reeling from its downgraded status as a union territory, following the split of the former state into two union territories of J&K and Ladakh. . The bifurcation was announced on August 5, 2019, the day when only the special status of the Muslim-majority state was removed, along with the inherent privileges of enshrined natives in India’s constitution.

This movement, first conceived by the Apni Party when it was born in March 2020, has now taken the form of a public movement with the party in the lead, as it felt that the people were losing their rights in the absence of political empowerment, perpetuated by continued central domination. He instructed his executives to mount a peaceful campaign by telling the bureaucracy within J&K that UT’s current status was unacceptable not only because it was undemocratic in nature, but also because of its distance and its differences among the masses.

The Apni party, now present in all regions, sub-regions, districts and blocs of J&K, outstripped other political parties including the National Conference, Congress and a few other groups calling for the restoration of the state. The party has not only taken the lead, but also taken ownership of the issue and its resolution as part of its political commitment since the day of its founding on March 8, 2020. It has gone beyond speeches, declarations and press conferences, he put a stamp of appropriation on the issue and, in a smart move, he also laid out an agenda for political contestants to follow, because no one can oppose it – the status of State is the issue at the heart of more than 13 million J&K people.

After the party adopted the resolution at its extraordinary meeting in Srinagar on Friday, its chairman Syed Altaf Bukhari, said the time had come to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to keep their promise to restore statehood to J&K. , and also to relaunch a results-oriented process for Assembly elections in the region.

The Apni party’s push on statehood and elections is a middle way policy it was considering at the time of its formation in March 2020 – acknowledging that the abolition of Article 370 by the Indian Parliament in August 2019 cannot be reversed without the approval of parliament, and Kashmir did not even have a double-digit number in the highest legislative institution to reverse course. At the same time, he had expressed concern that the degradation of J&K as a union territory had sparked fears of legitimizing the unelected dispensation, in addition to sparking new fears that the change demographic be on the anvil.

Altaf Bukhari had led a delegation from his newly formed party to meet the Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior in March 2020, explaining all the difficulties, concerns and also the consequences that this could entail. But, now, after witnessing a protracted delay in the implementation of the two promises, which were central to allaying the feelings of the people after seeing that they had landed in an era of uncertainty where nothing only performed to take care of their political rights, which were also linked to their ethnic, religious, linguistic and economic identities.

Why is statehood crucial for J&K? First, there was no justification for dismantling the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir, even if the Center wanted to meet the demand of Ladakh Buddhists for the union territory. UT status for Ladakh also did not work out in favor of the Center as Delhi had hoped when making this decision. His argument was that direct federal control was essential to curb secessionism, terrorism and all other anti-national activities, and therefore the restoration of the state was conditional – that it would be restored in due time. The definition of the appropriate time was not specified, which raised doubts in people’s minds.

It is also a question of the Centre’s credibility. If the situation hasn’t improved until the ‘appropriate time’, even three years after the repeal of Section 370, which has been plagued as the mother of all J&K ills, it begs the question. to know what went wrong? Delhi must come up with answers as it insists the situation in the region has improved to the point of normal. He also claims that a decisive battle is underway against terrorism and its ecosystem, and that people were enjoying the fruits of newfound freedom from fear of disruption in their lives. There is no doubt that there are very strong and visible points of normality in Kashmir, but what irritates people is the latent fear that this normality will be used to deny them what is due to them in terms of rights. policies. Tourists are descending in unprecedented numbers, enriching the economy linked to tourism and trade, but is that all Kashmir wanted, these questions are being asked profusely. That’s good, but political rights are the soul of their desires and aspirations.

Statehood and elections are seen as necessary elements to strengthen Jammu and Kashmir and keep its geographical and political unity on track as the voices of the split in this UT have also emerged and are being heard strong enough. Some voices are calling for a separate state for the Hindu-dominated region of Jammu, separating it from the valley. Any further division and the politics of disintegration could embarrass the Center and allow anti-Indian elements across the border and within J&K to exploit the emotional disconnect that is developing among the people.

As the Apni party and especially its President Altaf Bukhari have noted that restoring the state and holding elections will serve as a peacemaker for communal conflicts and solving so many other related issues as it would help the communities and regions come together. It will also help the Center develop a template for developing a policy for resolving and preventing disputes arising from disagreements.