Kashmir rejected terrorism and embraced tourism, which technically means Kashmir rejected the Pakistan’s interference and embraced India wholeheartedly
On August 5, 2019, the Indian Government revoked the special status granted under Article-370 of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir, that buried the brutal past, and facilitated a new Kashmir by integrating it into the mainstream of Indian governance.
India’s Supreme Court this week upheld the validity of the Union Government’s 2019 decision to abolish the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) under Article-370 of the Constitution.
As every medicine tastes bitter, the decision initially met with resistance and protests, but has brought about a paradigm shift in Kashmir, with positive changes evident in various aspects of governance.
Prominent Kashmiri voice and human-rights activist Shehla Rashid initially opposed and criticized the decision to rescind Article-370. However, in the later years, she changed her stance, and praised India’s Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Home Minister Shri Amit Shah, and also the Lieutenant Governor of Kashmir Shri Manoj Sinha. It exudes her intellectual capacity to learn, relearn, and unlearn, to evolve into a better version of oneself.
According to Shehla, “The revocation of Article-370 in Jammu and Kashmir has brought about a significant shift, propelling the region towards development and progress. However, it is essential to acknowledge that the removal of Article-370 alone did not achieve this transformation. It is the result of consistent efforts by the Central government, the Lieutenant Governor Administration, and the security forces and police, over the past few years that have fostered an environment of peace, goodwill, and productivity”.
Shehla said, “For the first time in thirty years, the full academic calendar was followed. There have been no protests, curfews or strikes. Schools and colleges have been able to function without disruption”.
“On a side note, the academic session has been synced with the March session followed in the rest of India, as opposed to the earlier system which caused students from J&K to lose a year compared to their counterparts in the rest of the country”, she added.
Moreover, the recent incident in NIT Srinagar involving protests over an alleged blasphemy incident was carefully handled by the police and administration, with the Director General of Police Mr. R. R. Swain assuring people that the honor of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) is as important as the honor of the nation.
According to Kashmiri youth-icon Wajahat Farooq Bhat, Chairman of Save Youth Save Future NGO, “A notable feature of the post-abrogation atmosphere is the concentrated effort on the youth of Kashmir. In contrast to previous periods marked by unrest, the last four years have witnessed a notable absence of violence”.
He said, “The positive transformation in Kashmir has not escaped global attention. The newfound stability and development have created a favorable environment for hosting international events. The successful hosting of the G20 summit and international cricket matches stands as a testament to the positive transformation in Kashmir”.
Eventually, Kashmir rejected terrorism and embraced tourism, which technically means Kashmir rejected the Pakistan’s interference and embraced India wholeheartedly.
The valley witnessed a significant surge in tourism, and the stone-pelting incidents dropped overwhelmingly. Schools and Colleges started functioning regularly. Protest-calendars vanished, and militancy started to shrink.
The Kashmiris started participating in sports and arts. The food processing plants started setting up, and the biggest event G20 took place. Moreover, foreign investments started flowing in.
Eventually a sense of belonging prevailed, and India won Kashmir by winning Kashmiris. The exclusion of Kashmiris was the food for Pakistani establishment to nurture the hate against India, and to sow the separatist mindset, which India was able to pushback strategically.
Following are the impactful factors explained by the Kashmiri Muslims and the activists, which are worth pondering.
Peace and Security
The removal of Article-370 has disrupted the networks that supported and enabled terrorist activities, that led to an overwhelming decline in the acts of terror, resulting in fewer civilian and security personnel casualties.
With stricter security measures and enhanced intelligence capabilities, the security forces have been successful in thwarting potential attacks and apprehending individuals involved in militant activities.
Moreover, the recruitment of local youth into militant ranks has significantly reduced. The removal of Article-370 has dismantled the narrative propagated by extremist elements, which often exploited the special status to fuel separatist sentiments and recruit vulnerable individuals.
The government’s efforts to engage with the youth through skill development programs, education, and job opportunities have provided alternative avenues and prevented them from falling into the trap of militancy.
The State Investigation Agency has also intensified its crackdown on terror funding. By targeting the financial networks that sustain terrorist activities, the authorities have dealt a severe blow to the infrastructure of terrorism. This has not only disrupted their operations but also weakened their influence in the region.
Overall, the abrogation of Article-370 has contributed to a substantial sense of security and peace in Kashmir.
Transparency and Accountability
The revocation of Article-370 in Jammu and Kashmir has brought about significant changes in governance, streamlining government processes, and making institutions more accessible to the people.
One of the notable improvements has been the implementation of transparent and efficient recruitment procedures. This has ensured fair selection for various positions, reducing favoritism and nepotism in the hiring process.
Merit-based recruitment has enabled qualified individuals to secure jobs based on their skills and qualifications rather than personal connections or ‘Waasta’.
The Lieutenant Governor Administration has also taken steps to address concerns about the integrity of exams. The introduction of measures such as online exams and the integration of technology has minimized the scope for malpractice and manipulation. This has not only enhanced the credibility of the examination system but has also provided equal opportunities for all candidates.
In addition to these changes, the integration of online services with a feedback system has empowered citizens to voice their opinions and share their experiences with government institutions. This feedback mechanism allows authorities to identify areas for improvement and address grievances promptly.
Even the government critics acknowledged the transparency of the institutions. The emphasis on fairness, efficiency, and accessibility has earned recognition for the positive changes implemented in governance.
Further, the removal of bureaucracy has boosted trust between the administration and the people, leading to a more inclusive and participatory system.
Community Power and Grassroots Democracy
Revocation of Article-370 has also had an impact on grassroots democracy, empowering local communities and enabling them to actively participate in decision-making processes.
The elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) have played a crucial role in this empowerment. These institutions, at the village, block, and district levels, provide a platform for the people to elect their representatives and voice their concerns.
The participation of over 27,000 stakeholders in the PRI elections is a testament to the success of grassroots democracy in Kashmir. These elected representatives, who are from the local communities themselves, understand the ground realities and the needs of the people they serve. They act as a bridge between the government and the citizens, advocating for their rights and addressing their grievances.
According to Shehla, “Over 9,000 of these representatives are women, thereby ushering in a critical mass of grassroots women leaders who, in the future, will form cohort of empowered women seeking representation in legislatures once the 106th Constitutional Amendment Act comes into force”.
Through the PRIs, local communities have gained decision-making powers in areas such as education, healthcare, infrastructure development, and social welfare schemes. This decentralization of power has allowed for more targeted and effective governance, as decisions are made at the grassroots level, taking into consideration the specific needs and aspirations of the local people.
Moreover, the active participation of local communities in decision-making processes has fostered a sense of ownership and responsibility. It has encouraged individuals to take an active interest in the development of their villages and to contribute to the betterment of their communities. This bottom-up approach to governance has not only empowered the people but has also resulted in more inclusive and sustainable development.
As Kashmiris move forward, the whopping transformation the Valley witnessed with the revocation of Article-370 serves as a testament to the resilience and determination of its people.
With peace, progress, and active participation from the local Kashmiri populace, a new era of harmony is anticipated to shine upon the region of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Kashmiris would enjoy its fruits.