Jammu and Kashmir is observing the three-year anniversary of abrogation of its particular constitutional standing by way of Article 370, and the bifurcation and downgrading of the state into two union territories.
Over the last three years, one factor that stands out is the dealing with, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities, of the curse of stone-pelting and frequent shutdowns in Kashmir.
It is after virtually three many years that faculties are functioning with out being pressured to close resulting from hartal calls by separatist teams. Faculties in Kashmir have opened since March this yr after remaining shut for practically three years resulting from lengthy curfews, the safety scenario and Covid-19 restrictions.
You’ll be able to transfer across the city and countryside in Kashmir with out concern of being caught in stone-pelting. The mob violence had made each place unsafe. Even mosques weren’t spared. Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid was was a weekly theatre of stone-pelting. A lot so a police officer waswithin the mosque premises on a sacred evening of the Islamic calendar.
Evidently period is over. Now, even a mere slogan is touchdown folks in jail beneath the stringent Public Security Act and the anti-terrorist legislation UAPA.
Separatist leaders, whose total political capital was based mostly on various shutdown calls and protests, have been pushed into oblivion.
However that is one facet of a really advanced downside. The concern of the gun has develop into extra profound and militancy has gone underground like by no means earlier than. Nobody is aware of who’s a militant and who subsequent will floor with a pistol or AK-47 rifle.
Since Could 12, when Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit worker, was killed whereas at work at a authorities workplace in Budgam, over 5,000 Kashmiri Pandit authorities staff should not exhibiting up at work resulting from concern. These Pandits had returned to the Valley as a part of the Prime Minister’s employment package deal since 2010. Most of them have returned to Hindu-majority Jammu, the place that they had migrated in 1990 after being pushed out of the Valley.
The focused killings of Hindus – at the very least six within the final six months – has pressured authorities staff from the Scheduled Solid group as nicely to desert their workplaces and shift again to Jammu. The Kashmir Valley has no SC inhabitants however as a part of a legislation handed by the erstwhile J&Ok meeting, Scheduled Caste candidates are entitled to eight% of jobs even in districts which have zero inhabitants of Dalits.
After the sequence of focused killings in Could and June, each Pandit and Dalit staff are protesting, demanding their relocation, with authorities jobs, to Jammu. None of them really feel secure within the Valley.
This deep sense of insecurity prevails regardless of the Valley being saturated with safety forces. The variety of forces deployed in Kashmir has elevated manifold since 2019.
The extra forces introduced in for the safety of the Amarnath Yatra reveals how critical the issues are – a number of dozen troops are deployed for the safety of every yatri. It is now inarguably the world’s most protected and guarded pilgrimage.
Such is the safety paranoia that no native resident is even allowed to stroll or drive when Yatra convoys transfer beneath a good safety. This militarization has critical drawbacks. Even the variety of pilgrims visiting the holy cave has drastically come down this yr: simply three lakh in opposition to the projected eight lakh yatris.
Because the complete focus is on safety, governance has taken a again seat. The claims of improvement and funding don’t match the fact on floor.
The disconnect between the folks and the union territory’s administration is just widening by the day. Lt Governor Manoj Sinha’s month-to-month radio speak “Awaam Ki Awaaz” appears to be the one medium of reach-out.
The revocation of J&Ok’s constitutional place and statehood was celebrated by BJP to finish corruption, misgovernance and household rule. The latest expose and cancellation of recruitment lists after protests over huge corruption in exams is only a pointer how corruption is alive and kicking.
Mockingly, it’s 1000’s of job-seekers in Jammu and Kashmir who needed to pay a worth, after all the recruitment course of was cancelled, and never the officers concerned within the scams.
Days after the revocation of 370, the federal government promised to fill 50,000 vacancies in varied authorities departments inside three months; three years on, the job promise has proved to be simply that – a promise.
With out an elected authorities, democracy seems to be in suspended animation. Kashmir has misplaced all its social areas. Commerce unions, rights our bodies and civil society teams have vanished. There is no such thing as a indication if and when meeting elections will likely be held, even after the controversial delimitation train was accomplished in Could to reconfigure constituencies.
Issues aside from inhabitants have been taken under consideration whereas allotting meeting seats. That is certain to have critical repercussions on public illustration and the equity of the democratic course of.
The final three years have additionally seen the marginalization of mainstream politics in Jammu and Kashmir. Like different sections of society, mainstream political events who had been face of pro-India politics within the area, are actually accused of being a part of the separatist or terror eco-system.
Whereas folks within the Kashmir Valley seem frozen in concern, Jammu is witnessing giant protests on governance issues, employment and corruption. Even the areas in Jammu and Ladakh, the place folks had celebrated the revocation of 370 three years in the past are feeling the warmth. Ladakhis are sad with the union territory since forms from exterior is ruling them as a substitute of their very own representatives. They demand a separate state. Jammu feels uncared for, forgotten and paying a worth for having been part of Kashmir.
(Nazir Masoodi is IHNS’s Srinagar Bureau Chief.)
Disclaimer: These are the private opinions of the writer.