Allay people’s fears

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The new political reality is that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is split into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, on the midnight of the October 31 two ne UTs were carved, nearly three months after the announcement in this regard was made in Rajya Sabha.

There are numerous examples of a UT becoming a full state or a state being split into two states, but this is for the first time that a state has been converted into two UTs. The Narendra Modi government’s decision and subsequent approval of Parliament to abrogate the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and its bifurcation into two UTs was taken to redraw the map and future of a region at the centre of a protracted militancy movement.

The August 05 decision was taken 72 years after the then ruler of the princely state, Maharaja Hari Singh, executed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947, making it part of the Union of India. The Centre is in direct control of the police and the law and order in Jammu and Kashmir while the land will be under the elected government here — as and when that takes shape. As of now, when no elected government is in place, everything is in the UT of J&K like in the UT of Ladakh, is under the direct control of the Central government.

While moving the resolution in the Rajya Sabha to abrogate J&K special status under Article 370, which allowed Jammu and Kashmir to have its own Constitution and prohibited outsiders from buying land and property in the state, Home Minister Amit Shah said these provisions will no longer be applicable and that the Central government will restore J&K’s statehood at “appropriate time” and after “normalcy” returns.

This decision of splitting the state into two UTs has not gone down well with a substantive chunk of the population in the erstwhile state, which sees this split as a sort of downgrading status. But the government has stuck to its guns, maintaining that the decision was taken in the larger interests and benefits of the people of the erstwhile state. Now it remains to be seen what all will follow from the government as would bring about the “promised” progress and welfare of the people, and take this region out from the recesses of conflict trap it has been caught for a long time now. Let’s see how quickly are that “appropriate time” and “normalcy” reached so that the place gets back its statehood.

But until that time is reached, the government will have to try and address other popular fears in the UT with regard to people’s rights over their land and jobs. Indeed this is an area wherein there is some sort of consensus between both Jammu and Valley regions, where the political opinion on most of other things otherwise remains deeply polarized. However, so far not much has been said or done with regard to allaying these fears, which is becoming a cause of big disease and discomfiture. That people are not so vocal about it is because in the changed political situation and circumstance they are not sure about the safety of a medium for public expression of their views. It is for the government to gauge and ascertain people’s dilemma and do whatever is needed to bring them out of this morass of uncertainty.

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