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India

What Changed For J&K After Article 370 Was Abrogated?

In his first address after J&K’s special status was removed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also said in Jammu that “now the youth of J&K will not face the difficulties that their parents did”. But what has really changed for the erstwhile state of J&K after its special status was annulled.

CRPF personnel deployed during the first-ever Tiranga Bike rally
Srinagar: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel deployed around the Clock Tower during the first-ever Tiranga Bike rally flagged off by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National General Secretary Tarun Chugh from Ghanta Ghar, Lal Chowk to Kargil War Memorial to celebrate Kargil Vijay Diwas, in Srinagar on Monday, July 25, 2022. (ANI Photo)

The current regime at the Centre saw Article 370 as a major impediment to the development of Jammu and Kashmir. More recently, on July 25, many of its leaders, including BJP’s youth wing president Tejasvi Surya, called it a barrier to the cultural integration of the valley with the rest of the country.

In his first address after J&K’s special status was removed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also said in Jammu that “now the youth of J&K will not face the difficulties that their parents did”.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said in Rajya Sabha that the “abrogation of this Article will lead to the end of longstanding bloodshed” in Kashmir. He also added that almost 40,000 Kashmiris who lost lives due to conflict could have been saved if this Article would have been abrogated earlier.

But what has really changed for the erstwhile state of J&K after its special status was annulled.

Militancy: The number of foreign terrorists in the Kashmir valley has outnumbered the number of local militants operating here. Despite 125 militants being gunned down till June this year, the number of active militants in the valley still stands above 140 of which 82 are foreigners as per reports. The increasing number of foreign militants implies increased infiltration into the valley and the number of local active militants also substantiates that many youngsters are still taking to guns.

Besides this, a lot of new militant groups have surfaced in the union territory after the abrogation of Article 370. As per UNOCHA, this has been “fuelled by public fear and anger over the central government’s post-2019 attempts at demographic change”.

Militant groups like Kashmir Tigers, People’s Anti-Fascist Force (PAFF), and even The Resistance Front (TRF) saw their advent very recently. Also, more recently an attack in Srinagar’s Lal Bazar area has flagged the entry of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria into Kashmir.

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Experts have also argued that this constant loop of the number of active terrorists in Kashmir underlines the need to focus on plugging the recruitment rather than just going all guns blazing at the terrorists whose number more or less remains the same (between 140 to 200), no matter how many are killed.

Employment: There have been largely no improvement with regard to the employment statistics of Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370. A look into the data provided by the Centre For Monitoring Indian Economy suggests that unemployment status has more or less remained the same and even worsened at times after the abrogation.

Official data accessed by India Ahead about Jammu and Kashmir shows that the unemployment rate in the region in January 2016 was 15.79% per cent. This was for urban as well as rural, and for males as well as females. Next year, in January 2017, this rose to 17.86 per cent.

The figures receded 14.2 per cent in April 2018 when a local government was intact but once the government was gone and even the statehood was annulled, one of the highest unemployment figures surfaced. J&K witnessed an unemployment rate of 26.53 per cent in December 2019. This was months after a complete curfew was imposed in the valley and Jammu as well following the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.

The figures have not shown any great improvement and unemployment rate in Jammu and Kashmir have largely remained one of the highest in the whole country. In April 2020, the unemployment figures were 17.65 per cent. A year later, in April 2021, this figure was 15.92 per cent, and more recently in April 2022, the unemployment figure was 17.07 per cent. In March, this had even risen to over 25 per cent.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) also topped the country with regard to the number of youths who are unmarried. Experts relate this to employment as well, as it is a core source of income and thereby the lack of it is seen as a major reason behind the huge toll of unmarried youth here.

Education: With regard to the innovation index, Jammu and Kashmir has not fared well among the union territories, leave alone states. Jammu and Kashmir was ranked 6th among the union territories in India’s innovation index of 2021, and newly bifurcated Ladakh was at the last spot.

When compared with the scores of the innovation index secured by the states, J&K was below states like Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Goa, and many more. On the performance index, it scored less than most states and even small union territories like Puducherry.

Even the famous Kashmir university which ranked among the top 50 universities (47th rank in 2018) slipped down to 53 in 2019 end. In 2020, and 2021 this was at 78 and 76 respectively and unfortunately this year a big slip of 8 more spots put it at 84th rank. Since, the absence of a chief minister, the acting governor has been the chancellor of this university.

Safety Of Citizens: India Ahead has looked at reports on the attacks on non-locals in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019. The graph of attacks on non-locals seems to be climbing upward since then.

While there is no actual data on the number of attacks on the non-locals, maintained by the police or accessible to the press in general, India Ahead identified nearly 18 such attacks targeting specifically nonlocals most of them being street vendors or laborers.

All these attacks are post-August 2019 when the erstwhile state’s special status was revoked. Such a number of attacks has not been witnessed in past, even at the height of the militancy in the 1990s.

Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai also informed the Rajya Sabha in April 2022 that as many as 177 civilians and 406 security personnel were killed from May 2014 to August 4, 2019, in Jammu and Kashmir, and 87 civilians and 99 security personnel were killed just from August 5, 2019, to November 2021.

Kashmiri Pandits: The rehabilitation of Kashmiri pandits started with the scheme where jobs were allotted for the migrated individuals in the Kashmir valley. These were 3000 in number initially but later on more 3000 jobs were added to this list. The scheme was the brainchild of the first NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, later it was enacted by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government.

However, it was after the abrogation of Article 370 that a range of killings much like the 90s begin in Kashmir where targeted assaults were launched against the minorities. As many as 14 Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus were killed in the Kashmir valley since the abrogation of Article 370 as per data provided in the Rajya Sabha

In a separate answer, the government said in RS that from August 5, 2019, till July 9, 2022, 128 security force personnel and 118 civilians have been killed by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. “Out of 118 civilians killed, 5 were Kashmiri Pandits and 16 belonged to other Hindu/Sikh communities,” it added.

However, despite ground reports showing Pandit employees leaving back to Jammu en masse after killings, the government says that “no Kashmiri Pandit has reportedly migrated from the valley during the said period”.

Ranjan Joshi, who is a Kashmiri Pandit and PM Package employees’ union leader, says “under the dream of Naya Kashmir of PM Modi, we are being forced to leave our jobs”.

He added that not even 25 per cent of total recruited employees have government accommodation in the valley and despite this government spending 8 years in governance and with preceding years led by UPA as well, no major expansion in this was witnessed.