Jammu and Kashmir after Articles 370 and 35a: A look at what happened over the past three weeks

  • On 5 August, 2019, the Centre abrogated Articles 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, which gave special status to the state, and also proposed the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced the move amid protest by Opposition lawmakers in both Houses of Parliament over the move.

  • The government was accused of not consulting stakeholders while making its decision.

On 5 August, 2019, the Centre abrogated Articles 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, which gave special status to the state, and also proposed the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced the move amid protest by Opposition lawmakers in both Houses of Parliament over the move. The government was accused of not consulting stakeholders while making its decision.

 Jammu and Kashmir after Articles 370 and 35a: A look at what happened over the past three weeks

Paramilitary soldiers prepare to block a road with barbed wires during security lockdown in Srinagar, Kashmir last week. AP

Meanwhile, several experts and critiques questioned the legality of that decision. Many also criticised the move, calling it a plan to further the RSS/BJP vision of a 'Hindu India'. Just before the step was to be implemented, there were reports of intensive military action, and more troops being sent into Kashmir as a preventive measure. The Indian Air Force flew 326 tourists out of Srinagar, Press Trust of India reported. Of 11,301 tourists, only 1,652 remained on Saturday, PTI added.

Thousands of Indian students, visitors and poor migrant workers fled the area over the weekend after the government ordered tourists and Hindu pilgrims on the Amarnath yatra to 'curtail their stay' in the disputed territory, citing security concerns.

Several leaders like Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah were kept on house arrest during this entire time, and atleast 2,300 people, mostly young men, were detained.

Military lockdowns, communication, network disruption amid Eid, Independence day celebrations

There was a lockdown in the state by security and military forces. Forces were deployed in view of the reactions to the decision.

Cellphones, landlines, and major communication devices were shut down after the scrapping of Article 370. Streets with shuttered shops were deserted, steel barricades and razor wire were set up, cutting off neighbourhoods and movement in the state.

Various human rights commissions called this act 'barbaric' due to the separation and miscommunication between families during the holy time of Eid.

Shops, schools, colleges, markets and other stores were forced to close down and kept that way. Vehicles and people were thoroughly frisked.

Amid the severe lockdown, Eid celebrations rolled in, for which banks, ATMs and quite a few markets remained open, and restrictions were eased allowing people to come out to shop, while the administration took steps to facilitate the availability of food and other items and offering of prayers in mosques. The usual hustle-bustle and liveliness of the festival was clearly missing amid the fear and the unrest in the city.

On Independence Day, the state witnessed low-key celebrations, due to the curfew staying in place.

Incidents of stone-pelting

More than 100 people, included political leaders and activists, have been arrested as part of the lockdown for being a threat to the peace in the Himalayan valley, officials told the Press Trust of India. Massive protests and stone-pelting incidents took place 6 August onwards after the decision prevailed.

Over 100 were arrested and some injured after these incidents began, which led security forces to use tear gas against these stone-throwing local residents, after a third straight week of protests despite the imposition of tight restrictions.

A truck driver died after being hit by stones during stone-pelting in Bhijbhera in Kashmir on Sunday evening. The deceased has been identified as Noor Mohammad, a resident of Zradipora Urnhall Bhijbhera. The accused stone-pelter has been identified and arrested.

Political turmoil among Indian politicians

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi along with Opposition members planned to visit the state to review the ground situation since the article abrogation. Governor Satya Pal Malik offered to arrange an aircraft for him, so he could visit the Kashmir Valley.

The Congress leader said he would take up his invitation, but requested the 'freedom to travel and meet the people, mainstream leaders and our soldiers stationed there'.

In a tweet addressed to Malik, Gandhi said he along with a delegation of Opposition leaders would take up his 'gracious invitation' to visit Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, but added they don’t need the aircraft.

"Dear Governor Malik, A delegation of opposition leaders & I will take you up on your gracious invitation to visit J&K and Ladakh. We won’t need an aircraft but please ensure us the freedom to travel & meet the people, mainstream leaders and our soldiers stationed over there," Gandhi tweeted.

Malik had extended an invitation to Rahul to visit Jammu and Kashmir after Gandhi made remarks of violence in the Valley.

The governor chided him for his remarks, saying, "I have invited Rahul Gandhi to come here. I will send you a plane, to observe (the situation) and then speak up. You are a responsible person and you should not speak like this."

A joint Ppposition protest organised by DMK demanding the immediate release of political leaders under preventive detention was held at the Jantar Mantar and party president MK Stalin called the abrogation of Articles 35a and 370 a 'murder of democracy'.

Imran Khan's attempts to garner international mediation

Pakistan condemned and rejected this decision and vowed to exercise 'all possible options' to counter India's 'illegal and unilateral' step.

He visited various countries in an attempt to garner mediation from international leaders. After failure on various fronts, he said his country is no longer interested in a dialogue with India.

"There is no point in talking to them. I mean, I have done all the talking. Unfortunately, now when I look back, all the overtures that I was making for peace and dialogue, I think they took it for appeasement. There is nothing more that we can do," said Khan in an interview published in The New York Times.

Recently, France and Sweden had also advised Pakistan to engage in talks with India.

This comes after various leaders around the world asked Pakistan to engage bilaterally with India to end tensions in Kashmir. India has repeatedly made it clear that talks with Pakistan are only possible after Islamabad stops sponsoring terror.

Countries like the UK, US, and Russia encouraged bilateral talks between India and Pakistan.

What is happening at present?

In a continuation of the Gandhi-Malik tiff, the government on Saturday barred several Opposition leaders including the former Congress president from visiting Kashmir to assess the situation created by the massive security crackdown. Authorities sent the opposition leaders back to New Delhi after they waited for several hours at the airport in Srinagar.

Mayawati condemned the incident — even though the BSP was one of the first political parties to support the Centre's decision to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A — saying "Under such circumstances, is this step of the leaders of Congress and other parties going to Kashmir without permission, not giving the Centre and governor of that state an opportunity to do politics?" Mayawati asked, "It would have been appropriate if it was also taken into consideration before going there."

The communication curbs in Kashmir have been eased to some extent and landline telephone services restored in most places across the Valley in view of the improving situation, officials said on Sunday.

No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the Valley on Saturday, they said, adding the restrictions on communication were eased in view of the improving situation. Landline telephone services have been restored in most areas across the length and breadth of the Valley, the officials said.

A high-level team of the Ministry of Minority Affairs including four-five members will visit Kashmir on August 27-28 to explore the development possibilities in the area. The team will be led by secretary of the ministry, known as Sailesh.

"A high-level team of the ministry, including secretary, will visit Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The team will be in Srinagar on 27-28 August from there the team will also visit Kargil, Leh and Jammu. It will explore areas where development has not reached," Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 26, 2019 15:40:42 IST