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By: Dr. Adil Rasool Malik

Article 370 was instilled into the constitution as a temporary measure to acknowledge and then form the rules to govern the area of Jammu and Kashmir back in 1954. It was finally on 5th August 2019 that this process was concluded and the temporary measures were lifted to pave way for the future road towards development and progress. The government felt it was time to merge the Valley into the entire nation and make it one – removing all boundaries, demarcations and differences and giving a sense of inclusivity, hope and opportunity to each citizen. The transition like any change saw both the light and dark of it with increased militancy, temporary internet blackouts, intentional detention of various political leaders and doubts! Doubts that filled the heart and mind of every single person – regarding their future, their families and their region.

The central government had always propagated to remove Article 370 to include Jammu & Kashmir under its umbrella of benefits and opportunities. It was aimed as a step to match the pace of development in the valley with the rest of the nation while at the same time promoting inclusivity and sending the message of ‘One Nation, One Rule’ to all.

Although being a massive change, the people of the valley welcomed it with gleam in their eyes with a hope for a better tomorrow – a tomorrow free from violence and filled with peace. Being run by a disorganized and political unstable system the people always longed for a break from everything that had kept the region engulfed in itself and longed for something or someone to lay down new tracks to explore and enhance the lives of the people. However, the geopolitical conflicts revolving around the rights over the land between India, Pakistan and China; the administrative disengagement with only a few enjoying the power and no choice or chance reaching the citizen had wrecked the minds of the citizen instilling fears and leading to agony.

The abrogation of Article 370 and 35A opened a path towards speculated good times. The militancy came down, incidents of violence deescalated, opportunities increased amidst various other developments. Eventually just as people were getting used to these changes and we are celebrating broken ties from the earlier times came an unprecedented move which has raised various question in one’s mind.

According to reports, various leaders from different political parties in the valley have received an invitation to be a part of a high-level meeting to be held on 24th June 2021 in New Delhi.  At present 14 leaders have confirmed receiving the invitation, these include four former chief ministers amidst them. The meeting is to be chaired by Sh. Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and will be attended by various other dignitaries from the Central Government.

The first meeting post abrogation has received a mixed response with some leaders looking forward to the meeting like Bukhari of Apni Party was quoted on receiving the invitation as “Solutions to J&K’s problems lie at New Delhi, not Islamabad or London. Delhi’s invitation is a welcome development”. the meeting is presumably aimed at consultation before conducting the first assembly elections in the region by March next year after the Delimitation Commission headed by Justice (retd) Ranjana Desai completes its task of redrawing constituencies in the next few months.

On the other hand, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah reserved their participation until a careful look into the fore coming event. “I am yet to take a decision. I will discuss with my party members and take a final call,” she said. They wanted to prepare for the meeting, setting up their demands and questions before they embark towards a bigger platform with a motive at redressal.

The question thus looms, if the past dirty politics was what the Central Government aimed at freeing the citizen from, why go back to the same road now? Why did they detain the leaders and now are inviting them as collaborators? These amidst various other doubts have crossed every citizen’s mind in the valley, sending a minor tremor in the establishing faith in the system. The region under the governance of these past rulers had suffered immensely in all sphere. With the advent of life post abrogation, people had started acknowledging and appreciating the changes ensue.

In all this chaos, the supposed change makers and the rightful front runners are being side tracked- Yes the youth of Kashmir! In the recent times increased number of youth has showed eagerness towards being politically involved and active in the decision making of the state. Being young, energetic and creative, gives them an added advantage of bringing changes suited best for the people of the region. It has been increasingly noticed that causes aided by the young people are welcomed at a national and interntional level with credibility and thought attached to them. The youth doesn’t shy away from voicing their opinions regarding varied issues ranging from social and environmental justice to gender equality etc. The roots of this activism are also rooted in their experiences while growing up giving them a constant motivation to keep striving forward.

As a citizen, I’d like to tell the government that we as a community have vested our faith and got it tampered many times. Each one of us has filled our heart with hopes and prays for a better future every single day. The thoughts of the past still send a shiver down our spines and makes us worried for our generations that exist and the ones to follow. Whatever the agenda of the meeting, please think about us as more than a mere political circus – each citizen of Kashmir has a soul full of dreams and a mind full of scars – help us see better times embraced with growth and development. We believe only the right change makers can bring the right changes – so instead of just being a reunion of everything there was, it’s time to revamp the future of the region by bringing in the new force – the youth of Kashmir.

The author is a Dentist and works on various social issues especially related to youth. [email protected]

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