-Prof. Rasal Singh
Mehbooba Mufti, the president of the People's Democratic Party and former chief minister of JK, recently sparked another controversy with her remarks on Article 370 and 35A being abrogated. She was heard making an inflammatory statement on the 22nd Foundation Day of her party while condemning the central government, "Whatever the central government took away from Kashmiris on August 5, 2019; will be taken back with interest."
Earlier, she pledged not to unfurl the national flag, Tiranga until J&K regains its former status. This irresponsible statement landed her in widespread criticism from within and outside of her own party, ultimately leading to her withdrawing it. She has been propagating separatism and extremism in J&K is a matter of fact. Post-August 5, 2019, developments have made her vulnerable and the PDP on the brink of extinction. Many prominent members of the Gupkar Alliance seemed to adapt to the current situation on the day of their meeting with the Prime Minister in Delhi on 24th June. However, she continued to emit separatist slang synonymous with autonomy, anarchy and violence due to which she was alienated.
In J&K, discrimination has been widespread, and it is being swept under the shield of J&K's special status. The discrimination ranged from corruption in development schemes to unequal participation in the government machinery and disregard for the constitutional rights of marginalized groups and women. Abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A was welcomed by the people of JK, especially from Jammu Division. The unification of J&K with the rest of the nation is an outcome of sacrifices of great figures like Amar Balidani Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Shere- Duggar Pandit Premnath Dogra, Maharaja Harisingh, Brigadier Rajinder Singh, and Brigadier Mohammad Usman. The justice for marginalized sections has finally begun following the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A. J&K has entered a new era of equality and development. Many significant movements by Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Pandit Premnath Dogra made Jammu and Kashmir a focal point of national concern. To ensure justice and equality for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, they had intensified public awareness campaigns all over India.
Today, UT of Jammu & Kashmir is undergoing on-the-ground reforms. A portion of the work has been completed, but there is still much to be done. All these development projects and transformations are being implemented under the able leadership of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and the direction of visionary Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A major change is the implementation of three-tier Panchayati Raj systems in the UT, after a long delay of 28 years. Local bodies have been empowered and provided with resources available to them throughout the country. There has been political reservation for ST classes like Gujar Bakkarwal, Gaddi, Sippy, etc., allowing these classes to develop. By participating in elections for Gram Panchayats, Block Development Councils, and District Development Councils, STs have made significant contributions to grassroots democracy. Reservations have been granted to the Other Backward Classes in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure social justice. Architect of Indian Constitution, Dr. Bhimrao Ambdkar dreamt of an equal and just society throughout the country without any discrimination based on caste, race, religion, or region etc. Abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 A will pave the way for a unified India as envisioned by Dr. B R Ambedkar.
Women who used to get married outside of the state (and were deprived of their basic rights earlier) have welcomed this move. In independent India, this gender-based discrimination was a shameful example of the constitution failing to ensure equal rights to all citizens. The adoption of Universal Adult Suffrage at the time of Independence has set precedents for many new democracies and was a manifestation of a progressive outlook and democratic values. Throughout the framing of the constitution, liberty, equality, and fraternity served as the guiding principles. The previous governments in J&K relied on the special status to ignore these principles. Nonetheless, this new constitutional amendment will result in radical socio-economic changes in the UT of JK. The new provisions will ensure that millions of settled Dalits (especially Valmiki Samaj, displaced persons of West Pakistan, Gorkhas, and PoJK displaced persons) will have access to basic rights and facilities.
The new industrial policy has been implemented and investor conclaves are organized. This will ensure massive employment opportunities to the local people. To bridge the gap and connect the local people with the mainstream, the new Language Policy has been introduced and Dogri, Kashmiri, and Hindi, the mother tongues of most J&K residents are given official language status. Tourism is also being revamped as it has been subject to frequent terrorist attacks and government negligence. The govt. is paying special attention to potential new locations that were previously ignored. Jointly, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam are constructing Sri Venkateshwar Bhagwan temple, revitalizing the holy river Devika and the Shiv Khori Cave, etc. To combat widespread corruption in government agencies, strict measures have been taken against many officials. It is believed that many officials worked hand-in-hand with terrorists and were involved in anti-national activities. This action put the lives of the locals at risk and bit the very hands which liberated them. There have been many terminations or investigations related to these cases. Especially noteworthy is that terror activities have decreased to 59% after Article 370 was abrogated.
Roads, electricity, water, health, and education are being provided at a very fast pace, especially in remote and inaccessible areas of J&K. The Prime Minister's Employment Package includes employment and housing arrangements for the needy displaced Kashmiris. Approval has been given to construct a residential complex that is safe and has all amenities for rehabilitating Kashmiri displaced persons. All govt. documents and files have been e-filed in place of the costly and heavy "Darbar Move" exercise. The "Citizens Charter" has been implemented to ensure the timely completion of various projects and the resolution of problems. Government officials who have become inactive and deferential will be made responsive thereby speeding up the implementation of development schemes. Efforts are being made to eradicate corruption in government jobs, admissions to medical, engineering, and management institutions and development schemes. Responsibility has been fixed and culprits are being prosecuted for the Roshani act land Scam and arms license scam.
As part of the delimitation process, efforts are being made to create demographically and democratically balanced and justified electoral constituencies. Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai chairs the delimitation commission. It is noteworthy that The National Conference is supporting this exercise, which boycotted it earlier.
'Ekatmata Diwas' honors the sacrifices of great sons and daughters of mother India who made the dream of integration and development come true. Their true homage can only be given by being dedicated to the unity and integrity of India. "Ek Nishan, ek Vidhan; Sabko Samata aur Samman" should not only be the basis of J&K policies, but of all Indian policies. As a part of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir that was acceded to the dominion of India by Maharaja Hari Singh on October 26, 1948, the PoJK is no exception to this path of integration and development. Therefore, it automatically became part of unified India. Pakistan's Army and ISI must no longer be spared for their indiscriminate atrocities against the civilian population of Gilgit-Baltistan. The pain and misery of these people must not be ignored or left unheard any more. With the second anniversary of EKATMATA DIWAS, we must commit to strive for unity in diversity and make India a land of harmony, equality and prosperity.
(The author is Dean,Students' Welfare,Central University of Jammu)