Guest's ViewOpinion

How the removal of Article 370 means the removal of Kashmir’s status as an apartheid state.

By Author: Preity Upala

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On August 5th 2019, a 72-­‐year wait was over. Prime minister Narendra Modi of India had reversed the political blunder committed by the first PM of India, Jawaharlal Nehru with regards to the state of Kashmir. It is a day that will be remembered as the day history was rewritten in India. People will be talking this decision and the way it happened for decades to come.

The Indian parliament has just voted to integrate the state of Kashmir fully and finally with the rest of India. Something the country has been longing for 72 years but one that previous governments have lacked the political will to do so. This move will pave the way for the full integration of Kashmir with the union of India.

The state has also been bifurcated and turned into two Union territories-­‐ Hindu majority Jammu and Muslim Majority Kashmir, which will be one entity and Ladakh, a Buddhist majority will be another. This ensures the central government has control over these regions and will treat Ladakh, which has long been neglected, as a separate territory.

In some ways, this is a huge leap forward toward global peace, dismantling the war-­‐like ambience of Kashmir and cutting off the lifelines of radical terrorism from across the border.

Kashmir has been Hindu land for over 5000 years and is the nucleas of the Vedas which gave birth o Vedic sciences such as Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda Vedanta etc. it get’s its name from Kashyap mir, an ancient Vedic Sage. It has only for the last several decades has become Muslim majority, eroding the cultural heritage which is matter of grave injustice for many who would like to preserve it.

To understand the nuances of this historic move, one needs to appreciate the complexity of the state of Kashmir. Pakistan did not exist till August 14th 1947 when there was a partition to create a Muslim state-­‐ Pakistan and a Hindu dominated secular state-­‐ India. In the last 72 years however there have been four wars instigated by Pakistan with India and numerous terrorist attacks. The main issue of contention between the two countries is the ownership of Kashmir-­‐ a state that was given the same choice as all the other princely states in 1947 to pick between India and Pakistan. The ruler of Kashmir at the time, Raja Hari Singh wanted more time to decide but when the Pakistani army sent in the tribals along with militants to occupy it, Hari Singh asked the Indian government for help which the Indian government agreed to, only in return for Kashmir’s accession into India. An Instrument of Accession was signed on October 26th 1947, which is a legal and legitimate document integrating Kashmir with the rest of India. So since 1947, Kashmir is a legitimate and lawful part of India. The Pakistani army however never fully retreated and even today occupied a territory illegally and has called it “Pakistan-­‐ occupied territory” POK or “Azaad Kashmir”.

No Indian army has ever fought to get this area back.

Upon accession of Kashmir into India, a new chief minister was appointed, Sheikh Abdullah and he introduced article 370 into the Indian constitution. This Article gives Kashmir “Special status”-­‐ it’s own constitution, own flag and anthem. This was only supposed to be a “Temporary and Transient” to be removed soon after, to this day however, was never revoked or altered.

For the past 70 years or so, Pakistani army has never come to terms with the reality that a Muslim majority state like Kashmir would actually go with Hindu India, and to this day, they feel Kashmir should be a part of Pakistan. It however has Zero moral or legal case over Kashmir. Because Kashmir borders Pakistan, there is sadly a regular dose of indoctrination, Islamic ideological support and a push for a separate state. Weapons and terrorism are regularly transported across the vulnerable border turning this into a war zone. The Loc-­‐ Line of Control between India and Pakistan is the most militarized zone in the world and a tragedy for a peaceful country like India to spend so much of its budget on defense on in the procurement of Nuclear weapons in the name of defense.

The articles that have been revoked recently are Articles 370 and Articles 35 A. 370 isolated Kashmir from the rest of the country. It let the state of Kashmir to be ruled by its own laws. It had turned into an Islamic enclave and Sharia law in many cases was followed. Article 35A was incredibly discriminatory, which only served a few families in power. Article 35 A does not allow a non-­‐ Kashmiri to buy land or own property in Kashmir. The majority of Kashmir is Muslim by design so this directly discriminated against the Hindus. Article 35A decided who is a Kashmiri and who is not. It discriminated not just on religion but also gender. A Kashmiri woman who marries a non-­‐ Kashmiri man will loose all her state, inheritance and property rights. However, a Kashmiri man could marry a non-­‐ Kashmiri woman, even a Pakistani woman and she will gain full state rights. Foreign investment was also not allowed into the state leaving the youth vulnerable to recruitment into ISIS and insurgent groups. But more important than the details of these bills, these articles isolated Kashmir from the rest of India creating lot of animosity, confusing of identity and a rising radical Islamic terrorism.

It must be noted that the removal of these articles were made in the Indian parliament, in a completely democratic process with an overwhelming two-­‐thirds majority in both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament. This demonstrates that it was approved across all party lines. Only a handful of political parties opposed this bill, manly the Congress Party and the Communist party of India as they had benefited from this political unrest in Kashmir. It did not serve their ideology. It was a masterstroke by the Modi government who were able to resolve this issue without firing a bullet, by a parliamentary vote.

There are actors who are unhappy with this decision-­‐ the secessionists, terrorists, Pakistani army and the subversives. In preparation for this watershed moment, the government had sent an additional 50,000 troops to Kashmir to ensure law and order. The move has been welcomed without any disapproval from the international community.

This comes just after US President Donald Trump met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran khan and said that he would like to “mediate between the two countries”. However he has no jurisprudence to do so and it has been well noted that any matter between India and Pakistan will be resolved bilaterally without any third party interference. The move by the Indian government affirms this and sends out a strong message that anything to do with specifically with Kashmir will now be an “Internal” matter only to be solved by India itself. During the same meeting Imran Khan also stated that there are atleast 45,000 terrorists in Pakistan. This comes right after US General Mattis issued a statement that Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world. The US gives billions in aid to Pakistan which in turn has its ISI and Taliban forces kills US troops in Afghanistan. On it’s final attempt to internationalize an internal matter in India, Pakistan took the issue of Kashmir to the UN, where it was unanimously rejected and in turn it was condemned for its human rights abuses in Balochistan.

No doubt there will be riots, civil unrest and curfews imposed for the next few months in Kashmir. There will be birthing pains but it will be worth it in the end. For too long, the power was only enjoyed by separatists and a few families in power. This move will right this historic wrong and relegate the Kashmiri leadership of the past into the dustbins of history forever, where they belong.

About the Author:

Preity Upala is a Journalist and an astute Political commentator based in Los Angeles. Her area of expertise is Geo-­‐Politics, International affairs, Diplomacy, Conflict-­‐resolution, Counter-­‐ terrorism and Religion. She has her own radio show and is an International speaker invited for speaking engagements around the world including WEF-­‐ Womens’ Economc Forum, India; HORASIS ,Vietnam; World Brain Summit in University of Zurich and Global Business Summit in Dubai.

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