It has been two years since the present, PM Modi led NDA government on 5th August 2019, took a historical move by revoking decades-long controversial Article 370 and Article 35A in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). It ensured everyone in J&K come at par with the rest of the nation by securing all the rights and privileges accessible to the citizens of the country. The articles proved to be an inhibitor for the growth and development of the region.
With its annulment, the region is witnessing a rapid pace of all-around growth and development. Although with regard to the overall political situation in Kashmir valley, some might argue that it has been a slow and long path since the abrogation of disputed articles. The recent all party meeting in New Delhi on June 24th 2021 with PM Modi gave hopes to all the stakeholders. However, at present, the center is looking forward to start the next level of political transition-assembly elections- in the UT. Also, to seek support for the legitimacy of the delimitation process.
Amidst all this, it is hard to overlook the positive changes in the social and economical fronts since the abrogation of the disputed articles. Gender equality, equal rights to West Pakistan refugees (WPR) along with equal rights to SC, ST and other backwards sections of society have become major tools for development.
Concerning gender equality, things have changed a lot. New opportunities, have opened up for women in the region in a safer environment towards personal and social development. Kashmiri women are at par with Kashmiri men as their ‘State Subject Status’ and their property rights are in their hands.
The refugees from West Pakistan, deprived of the citizenship of the state and not issued the permanent resident certificate (PRC). Similarly, the sanitation workers brought to the state in 1953 to quell protests were also deprived of their citizenship rights. The Abrogation of Article 370 ushered in a new ray of hope for these marginalized sections by providing them citizenship.
In this ‘changing Kashmir’, the youth have moved far from the ‘stone-pelting Fridays’ to talks of education, business and development. The unemployment rate has reduced significantly, wherein thousands of young aspiring entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the government’s financial support. The central government has also taken steps in establishing premium Indian educational institutes like IIT, IIM and AIIMS in the region. This assures the betterment of youth and to channelize them towards education.
With regard to mega projects in the erstwhile state, the central government has sanctioned funds. These are essential for fast and sustained development in the region. As many as 15 power projects inaugurated and the foundation stone for 20 others worth Rupees ten thousand crores laid. Increasing the power production capacity of J&K to 20,000 MW.
Separately, the Jammu Baramula Railway Line fast-tracked and is nearing its completion. The world’s highest railway bridge over river Chenab made, considered to be an engineering marvel. Also on Jan 7, 2021, the central government approved an industrial development project worth Rupees 28,400 crore for the UT.
Tourism and other businesses:
Furthermore, the government has reiterated its focus on tourism for the land to be known as ‘heaven on earth’. With easing rules for both small businessmen and tourists on all fronts by approving a business revival package of Rupees 1,352.99 crore. The government also initiated the new Wool Processing, Handicrafts and Handloom Policy, 2020. This revives the horticulture and handicraft industries, which providing livelihood to about 30 lakh people directly and indirectly in Kashmir.
Moving our focus to terrorism, incidents of violence have reduced significantly in Kashmir valley. According to the MHA report, security forces have achieved major success against terrorists. Terror-related activities also reduced to one-third in the valley after the abrogation of Article 370. A 40% decrease of involvement of brainwashed local youth of Kashmir valley to take up arms against India.
Although the road from abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A has been rough politically. Due to many external and internal entities, the step of integration of people to people by revocation of the articles has proven to be a maiden step towards equality for citizens of J&K. This ensures of providing equal rights to deprived sections, at par with citizens of rest of the country. Further, also proved to be a milestone in the assimilation of J&K with rest of India. This abrogation acts as a foundation stone for the new J&K along with a bridge connecting the region with the rest of India in its truest sense.
(The writer is a Research Scholar of ICFAI University and can be contacted on Email ID [email protected] )
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