On August 5, 2019, the fascist regime in India revoked Article 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution, which granted special status to IIOJK. This was followed by the bifurcation of IIOJK into two union territories, namely Kashmir and Ladakh. AJK was shown in the union territory of Kashmir, whereas Gilgit-Baltistan was shown in the union territory of Ladakh. Accordingly, a new map was issued with the intention of changing the status of IIOJK.
The idea of Article 370 was conceived by Sheikh Abdullah and then Indian Prime Minister Nehru. It was drafted and advocated by the former Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Gopalaswami Ayyangar. Article 370 was enacted on October 17, 1949, giving a special status to IIOJK and allowing it to have its own flag and constitution. According to Article 370, the Indian government was given responsibilities for defense, communication, and external affairs. It was also stipulated under Article 370 that the Indian Parliament cannot alter the boundaries of IIOJK.
Article 35A was inserted through a presidential order in 1954 under Article 370. This article allowed the state assembly to define ‘Permanent Resident’ to safeguard the rights of the people of IIOJK. In 1927, under pressure from the people of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh formed a committee to define the state subject. The committee defined the state subject and barred non-Kashmiris from getting jobs, owning land, and acquiring property in Jammu and Kashmir. In 1956, the so-called constitution of IIOJK was adopted, which retained the definition of state subject from 1927. The IIOJK constitution of 1956 also prohibited non-permanent residents from settling in IIOJK, acquiring property/land, and government jobs.
With the BJP in power, it decided to abolish Article 370 from the constitution, terming the article a so-called favour given to the Muslims of IIOJK. In a planned and deliberate move, at least twenty petitions were filed in the Indian Supreme Court challenging Article 370, claiming it was against the unity of India. In 2018, the Indian government imposed governor’s rule, which was followed by presidential rule. Meanwhile, over 170,000 additional troops were sent to IIOJK to reinforce the existing 900,000 security forces. On August 5, 2019, Article 370 was revoked. This was done to gain control of the only Muslim-majority state by engineering demographic changes through settling Hindus from the mainland.
In this regard, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Order 2020 was a step to settle Hindus in IIOJK. This was achieved by changing the domicile law, making anyone who has resided in IIOJK for a period of 15 years or has studied for a period of 7 years or appeared in 10th/12th exams in educational institutions eligible for permanent residence status. According to media reports, 3.4 million domicile certificates have been issued by the government of India. Now, non-Kashmiris can purchase land, property, and apply for jobs. The abrogation of Article 370/35A has opened floodgates for Indian settlers to move to IIOJK. The fascist Modi-led government is following the Israeli model of settlements, as seen in the West Bank and elsewhere, to effect demographic change.
The Modi-led government also formed a delimitation commission for IIOJK with the aim of giving more assembly seats to the Hindu minority over the Muslim majority. The so-called commission submitted its recommendations, proposing 6 extra seats for the Jammu region and one seat for Kashmir. The commission also proposed redrawing 5 out of 8 assembly seats in Srinagar. The Habbakadal area of Srinagar is to be divided for 3 seats, paving the way for Kashmiri Pandits to get a seat. This plan will raise the Jammu division seats to 43 from the existing 37 and 47 in Kashmir from 46. The intentions are clear; through delimitation, the aim is to reduce the seats of the Muslim majority and increase the seats of the Hindu minority. The ultimate game plan is to install a Hindu chief minister.
August 5, 2019, is the darkest day in the history of IIOJK when the Kashmiri people were stripped of their rights. Thousands of Kashmiris, political party leaders, and Hurriyat leaders were put behind bars. Under the so-called Public Safety Act (PSA), anyone can be detained for two years without charge or trial. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are facing serious human rights violations such as torture, forced disappearances, rape, the use of pellet shotguns, extrajudicial killings, and perpetrated killings.
Peace and stability in South Asia are contingent upon finding a just solution to the Jammu and Kashmir issue in accordance with the UNSC resolution.