The Conflict in Kashmir

Ramani Arunachalam, Contributor

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In 1947, the partition of India and Pakistan forced millions of people to migrate between the two countries and leading to violence that killed hundreds of thousands of people. The status of Jammu and Kashmir (a state in the Himalayas), was left undecided. Fighting quickly broke out, and both countries eventually sent in troops, with Pakistan occupying about one-third of the state and India two-thirds. An agreement was signed for the territory to become part of India. Regional autonomy in the territory was formed, which meant that it could be ruled by its state government, separate from the Indian government, but it was still Indian territory. This was formalized as Article 370. 

The recently elected Indian government headed by Narendra Modi ,which has ⅔ majority, decided to remove Article 370 through a constitutional amendment. This has been widely criticized in the mainstream media. Despite the criticism, the government had a number of reasons to remove Article 370.

One of the prime reasons being that people from other parts of India can’t go and buy land in Kashmir. This is the same as telling you that if you live in Florida, you can’t buy land in Minnesota, even though Minnesota is a part of the United States.  Article 370 was preventing free movement of people and own part of land thereby preventing assimilation of Kashmiris within India. Also by allowing people of other states to settle in Kashmir it would help the creation of more jobs and local economy.

People from other parts of India cannot get a government job in Kashmir. Even if they are apart of the Indian Central Government, they cannot get a posting in J&K. This is a domicile issue, because the Indian Government won’t have their control in Jammu and Kashmir, even though it is a part of India under the Constitution of India.

People from other parts of India cannot start businesses in Kashmir. This means that there isn’t healthy competition for businesses, and people have to rely on only on local traders and businesses. Competition among businesses provides more choices for local citizens, reduces prices and improves quality.

People who live in Jammu and Kashmir for 10 or 20 years, even if they were born there, they can’t vote in Jammu and Kashmir elections. They can only vote in their native state. This is unfair to those who live in Jammu and Kashmir, because they should get to decide what happens in the place they live, not to a place where they don’t know the demographics of and what the situations are there.

Another reason why Article 370 was removed was Kashmiri pandits (a religious minority) because they were being discriminated against. This started in early 1989 and 1990s and it was called “Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus”; exodus means a mass departure of people. This happened because of the eruption of militancy, following persecution and threats by radical Islamists and militants. The events of 19 January 1990 were particularly vicious. On that day, mosques issued declarations that the Kashmiri Pandits were Kafirs(non-believers) and that the males had to leave Kashmir, convert to Islam or be killed. The Kashmiri Muslims were instructed to identify Pandit homes so they could be systematically targeted for conversion or killing. After the removal of Article 370, they now have a chance to return back to their homes.

 

Though this decision has been widely criticized in the mainstream media, the most essential part of removal of Article 370 has been a key to the end of the Kashmir conflict that has been happening since the partition. With this we hope for an end to bloodshed in the Jammu and Kashmir region.