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Gilded Cage


After the debate in both houses of Parliament, it has become clear that Article 370 was little more than a gilded cage for the people of J&K. Home Minister Amit Shah’s list of reformatory legislation – as basic as a minimum age for marriage – that was not applicable to the state must have come as a shock to everybody. It is not a surprise that despite being a tourism paradise, the state’s per capita income is lower than the national average and social backwardness at an all time high. It is understandable that this Indian initiative has greatly disturbed the plans of the Pakistanis on Kashmir, despite their own excision of Gilgit- Baltistan from POK. More than anybody else, they were pleased with the artificial divide that the Article created between the valley and the rest of India. With the Centre now directly ruling the newly formed Union Territory, the necessary measures will be possible not just regarding security matters, but also on rejuvenating the economy and quality of life, particularly for women. It is inexplicable, though, that even after the overwhelming opinion of Parliament, the Congress continues to harp on the Article as the ‘constitutional recognition of J&K‘s accession’. It seems that, as in the past, tokenism carries greater importance for the party than recognition of reality. It is no wonder that contrary voices have begun to emerge from within, with one member even resigning from the Rajya Sabha in protest. It is ironic that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has described the abrogation of Article 370 as an attempt by India to change the demography of Kashmir. In fact, the actual demographic change that took place in the valley was the violent purge of the Kashmiri Pandits and other minorities between 1989 and ‘90. All those shedding copious tears for Kashmir today continued on at that time as though nothing had happened. This sin has come around to strike the erstwhile political establishment. Imran Khan has not refrained from using the ‘N’ word in anticipating the events to come. Having some idea of how the ISI and the terror factories work, he expects more Pulwama like incidents leading on to conventional war between the two countries and then a nuclear holocaust. He is clearly hinting that things are not under his control, which requires India to focus harder on Pakistan’s military establishment. Having cut the political Gordian knot, the Indian Government will need to be unrelenting on the security front for some time to come.