Connecting Regions of Asia.

Kashmir On the Cusp of Change

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For those in Kashmir who dream of merger with Pakistan, it is time to look east . If Bengali Muslims , being sixty percent of undivided Pakistan’s population , could not justice and suffered the 1971 genocide, what can Kashmiri Muslims get because they will be much smaller in numbers if they went over to Pakistan.
Look at Bangladesh’s amazing economic turnaround and Pakistan’s nosedive into the abyss where even PM Imran Khan cannot pay the PMO’s electricity bills on time.
So following the Bangladesh example, all resource rich but economically backward regions of Pakistan , like Balochistan and Sindh are looking to break away, justifying Bangladesh PM  Sheikh Hasina’s description of Pakistan as the’ sinking ship.’
So no sensible Kashmiri would be looking to buy the separatist logic of merger with Pakistan.
Even Art 370 gave Kashmir the illusion of special autonomy but actually blocked development because it deterred big ticket investments in the conflict -ravaged state.
On 5th August 2019, the Union Home Minister announced in the parliament, the introduction of the bill for the re-organisation of Jammu and Kashmir treating to the bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
Article 370 had proved to be an inhibition for the growth and development of the region and with its annulment the region is witnessing a rapid pace of all round growth and development. 
Several indicators are confirming that the region is witnessing a fast pace of all round growth.
The newly carved union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed an unprecedented level of growth and development in multiple sectors since the abrogation of article 370. 
In the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir the women were deprived and other backward castes of the society were heavily discriminated against.  
The property rights in the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir were heavily biased against the women. Women in the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir, if married ourside the state , were deprived of all the property rights. Even their state citizenship was cancelled once she had married outside the state. 
One of the major advantage of the abrogation of the Article 370 has been the unblocking of the chains of —- of women allowing them an equal social status in the society. With the scrapping of the controversial Article-370 by the Government of India, the women would no longer be deprived of their property rights in J & K if they get married to a non-resident.
 Article 35A which enabled from Article 370 prohibited them, to be property owners if they marry an outsider. Article 35A also empowered the J & K government to decide who could be a permanent resident. Only a permanent resident could acquire land get a government job and settle in the state etc.
Section of the society, which deprivation continued unabated till the abrogation of Article 370 are the refugees from the West Pakistan. They had been deprived of the citizenship of the state and were not issued the permanent resident certificate (PRC). Similarly, the migrant workers brought in the state in 1953  were also deprived of their citizenship rights. 
Both of these marginalised sections of the society were unable to got employed in the state and were also deprived admission in the state run educational institutions due to being deprived of the citizenship of the state. 
Abrogation of article 370 of the Indian Constitution ushered in anew ray of hope for those two marginalised sections of the society. The severe discrimination against the refuges of West Pakistan. In the field of jobs employment, education, governmental schemes which was perpetrated by the Article 370 is now a thing of the past. 
With the abrogation of the controversial Article, these people can now avail the handfuls of the central reservation reserved for the people belonging to the scheduled and other backward casts from which they had been deprived till now.
Also, the refugees from West Pakistan are now having an equal right over the employment opportunities in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir which was not the case till Article 370 enabled. 
 They can now avail the vast opportunities especially in the field of education, employment and other amenities for the betterment of their future.
For the first time since their displacement, the refugees from West Pakistan are made to believe themselves as being equal citizens of the land on which they live and work 
The sky is the limit for the new generation youth of the West Pakistan refugees as the change of the bondage has been finally unshielded and their wings have been set free to live the life of their dreams. A particularof the controversial Article 370 of the Indian Constitution barred outsiders to acquire property in the state. Citizenship was denied to outsiders irrespective of the numbers of years he had spent in the state.
By imposing such restrictions, Article 370 made integration of J&K with the rest of India difficult. Also, being denied the rights to acquire property in the state led to sense of alienation among people coming from outside.
 Social science experts have also maintained that among several drawbacks of the Article-370, the most under talked has been the threat posed to the concept of social inclusion.
 When an individual from outside J&K and living in J&K is discriminated against , he is bound to carry the sentiment back to his own village’, observed an expert from Jammu region. 
Similarly, the heavily restrictive land laws restricted the free flow of invest mention the rest of the country into J&K. The region, thus, missed an opportunity to be a part of India’s growth story with the implementation of the central laws in the Union territory of J&K following the abrogation of Article-370. 
The Right to Education (RTE) shall be applicable in the region thus allowing the children belonging to the deprived sections of the society to have access to high quality education free of caste. Additionally, several other central laws extending to the marginalised sections of the society shall also be now implemented in J&K. 
Abrogation of the Article-370 provides a unique opportunity for the youth women along with the marginalised sections of the society to be a partner in the growth and development of the state by linking advantage of the immense opportunities which have now been made available in the region.
Post Kashmir reorganisation, not only has law and order in Kashmir improved sharply , primarily becaise locals have isolated Pakistani militants and informed the army and police . The improving law and order has encouraged investments and job market is improving. Kashmiris are able to more freely tap into the huge Indian job market. Even Kashmiri girls are flying as pilots in private airlines. 
And Ladakh , so long neglected by the Kashmir valley elites, is witnessing unprecendented growth, specially in the tourism sector. Kashmir may soon regain its statehood once the development initiatives of the Centre start bearing fruit.

Author-Shabbir Barkat

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