Article 370 that came into force from 17 November 1952 was a contested issue then and it is still now even after it is revoked along with Article 35. At that time though Maharaja Hari Singh did not want to merge with the Indian Union. But after confiscating a part of Kashmir by Pakistan backed ‘Azad Kashmir Army’ on October 20, 1947, Hari Singh signed the “Instruments of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India’ on October 26, 1947. The provision allows Jammu and Kashmir, the Muslim-majority state to have their own constitution, a separate flag and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, communications, and defence. It can also bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there.
During the elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to revoke Article 370. Going by the bookish rules or currently by the new changes stamped in the constitution after the abolition of Article 370: bifurcate the state into two Union Territories- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. While J&K will have a state legislature Ladakh will be centrally governed; the governor of Jammu and Kashmir will now become Lieutenant Governor; SC/ST/minorities will get reservations in government jobs and admission in colleges and universities; every resident of J&K will enjoy just single citizenship like the rest of the country; the tenure of the J&K Legislative Assembly is reduced to 5 years from 6 years.
Thousands of additional soldiers were sent to J&K prior to the 5th August announcement, entailing curfew, telecommunication and internet lockdown and arrested hundreds of activists, trade unionists and political leaders among which include ex-chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. Which means the masses were not aware when the state went to total lockdown. Many young men including minor were imprisoned to avoid protests.
What is changed then? Kashmir will no longer have a separate constitution but will have to abide by the Indian constitution like the rest of the states. The law that deterred people outside the state to buy lands can now easily do so. This has instilled fear in the minds of the Kashmiris. they feel the demographic attributes will change now from majority Muslim state to majority Hindu state.
Home Minister Amit Shah says because of these sections the state could not fully develop, democracy was never fully implemented and protest against the government were always raging leading to the insecurity of the life of the people. Then what about Bihar, Assam, Chattisgarh, Kerala, etc what great these states achieved under the Central Government. These states are consistently lowest in unemployment, development rate and highest in corruption rate.
The India government has launched an advertising campaign in order to convince the Kashmiris of the supposed merits of its decision in revoking article 370. The predictions include improvement in the quality of education especially for girls, extend tourism and education sectors, benefit from industry and private investment earlier which was restricted which will, as a result, increase growth and employment leading to prosperity for all. Previously development was constrained as a result no large industries developed in the state. Increase in land prices like the rest of the country for those who wish to sell their land. Also to become a medical tourism hub for patients from the Middle East and East Asia.
Residents of Kashmir, however, are of different notion. They believe these are mere propaganda. “It is now an occupation on our land, on our homes and even a threat to our religious identity and insecurity for our women”, says a local spokesperson from the main city of Srinagar.