Supreme Court’s Article 370 Verdict in Kashmir

On 5 August 2019, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the President had signed a decree abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution, which had granted the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir substantial autonomy. Shah, a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), argued that Article 370 was anti-women, detrimental to the state’s development, and the root of terror in Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmiri political leaders Omar Abdullah and Mehboob Mufti expressed their outrage over the government’s decision, questioning its legal validity and implicating the BJP in causing further dissent in the region. The official Congress condemned the decision, which was echoed by the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party, Janata Dal, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress Party, and the Nationalist Congress party.

The abrogation of Article 370 escalated tensions and sparked nationwide dissent, with the government limiting political mobilization and civil liberties in Kashmir. Kashmiri Muslim residents are experiencing fear, anger, and shock due to the Supreme Court verdict, which has eroded trust and confidence in the Indian democratic system.

The verdict has also exacerbated local anxieties of state centralization over Kashmiri matters. Kashmiri political commentator Zafar Choudhary believes that there is no ground left now, and many Kashmiri Muslim residents have retained draconian preventive detention laws, causing an overt threat to the people.

The upcoming elections in April/May 2024 are the most pressing issue, and recent events have eroded trust and confidence in the Indian democratic system. Additionally, Kashmir has seen continued scuffles between separatists and Indian security services in Srinigar, and militants from the valley have increased the frequency of their attacks against Indian security forces in the last year.

The Kashmiri state’s unemployment rate has risen to 18.3%, surpassing the national average of 8%, despite the BJP’s promise to create more job opportunities. In December 2023, Kashmir experienced an 80% rain deficit, raising concerns about water shortages and food security. Climate change is affecting tourism and agricultural productivity, with the winter season becoming less cold, affecting farmers and fruit growers.

The 2020 domicile law allowing non-Kashmiri residents to settle permanently has raised concerns about discrimination and second-class citizenship. The upcoming elections will significantly impact Kashmiris, who face unpredictable political landscapes and constitutional status uncertainty. With panchayat tenure ending, there’s a lack of representation to address local problems, causing a complex future.

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