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#RemoveArticle370: PM Modi’s poll promise in limbo?

The devastating attack on the CRPF Jawans on February 14 on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway, that caused the death of more than 40 Indian soldiers, is considered as one of the worst terror attacks of the century. However, in a fresh attack amid the talks of Indian politicians to retaliate, four soldiers, including a Major-rank officer, have been killed in an overnight encounter in Pulwama district on Monday morning which has shocked and compelled the whole nation to question the Centre and demand the abolition of Article 370.

BJP MLA Dina Nath Bhagat said, “The circumstances in Jammu and Kashmir did not allow Article 370 to be removed. It will take time and we stand by the demand of removing Article 370. Now, we will wait for the judiciary to take the call. If Article 370 is removed, militancy in the valley will reduce, facilities will improve, and the state will be developed. Jammu and Kashmir should be given equal rights like other states.”

On January 26, 1950, the Constitution of India came into force with a unique provision — Article 370. The special status accorded to the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the article means that its people can live under a different set of laws while being a part of the Indian Union. For all the laws apart from communication, foreign affairs, finance, and defence, the Indian Parliament depends upon the consensus of the state government. However, the Centre can’t declare a financial emergency under Article 360 in the state except for situations like war or external violence. In a conversation with Afternoon Voice, former PDP MLA Raja Manzoor Ahmad Khan asserted, “Article 370 should not be abrogated at all as it is the only constitutional link between the Government of India and the State of Jammu and Kashmir. To keep the state intact with the Union of India, this link of Article 370 is important. I and our party believe in the unity of the country and never believe in the separation of the state.”

He further added, “The government should support the people who are fighting to save the democracy. Any effort to remove Article 370 will add fuel to fire.”

February 18 was the fourth day of curfew in the valley which was imposed on Friday after mobs attacked some people and burnt public vehicles. However, four days passed since the attack and there are no reports of violence but the situation still seems to be tensed. More than 1,000 people have been displaced in the city who were later put up in the local mosques and madrasas. The encounter broke out on Monday morning in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district after the Pakistan based outfit’s Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants fired on the Indian security forces. Two terrorists were shot dead by the security forces.

Repealing Article 370 was one of the Narendra Modi’s calling cards in BJP’s 2014 Lok Sabha election manifesto: In June 2014, MoS Defence Jitendra Singh also stated that a plan to repeal the article was being worked upon by PM Narendra Modi, just days after the BJP came to the power. However, after almost five years, it is observed that PM Modi has done nothing regarding the same and been silent on the issue which again arises many questions! Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi expressed, “Congress stands by the army men, unlike BJP who is making the terror attack in Pulwama a political topic. We are supporting the Indian Army and our priority is national safety while Article 370 is not the priority at the moment.”

Moreover, it is reported that after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made their Jammu and Kashmir alliance official, the Centre was heard informing the Rajya Sabha that there was “no proposal under consideration” to repeal Article 370. However, leading to some conflicts, both the parties broke their alliance in 2018.

There has been rigorous efforts on both the sides of the argument which surrounds Article 370, where one section of the people believe that Article 370 is the only constitutional link between the state and the rest of India, there are many who insist that Article 370 is a stumbling block which continues to prevent J&K from being an integral part of India. Though legal and constitution factors are still burning since the creation of India, and the only sufferers are the people of Kashmir.

Observing the situation, Shiromani Akali Dal MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura said, “Article 370 is a sensitive issue and conflicts around the removal of the same cannot be solved immediately. Whenever a political party attempts to resolve the issue, the people of J&K start protesting and vandalising. PM Modi’s agenda was to remove Article 370 along with other agendas. Our country has been independent for the last 70 years and the issue is yet to be resolved which shows it’s nothing but a political game.”

After the spine-chilling terror attack in Pulwama, thousands of netizens on Twitter voiced out their views supporting the demand of abolishing Article 370. While a handle named @BaijuRathore said, “When we say #Kashmir is part of India, then why need a separate identity, if India spends money for the development as well as safety security, then India should have 100% control on Kashmir. We need to have one law and one constitution for entire India #RemoveArticle370,” @MentionMeAtThis wrote that “the BJP government couldn’t remove the article in the last 4.5 year. Let’s see, if it does anything now. #RemoveArticle370.” Another user @rahul_kala asked, “Dear @narendramodi Ji, you told that you have given free hand to Army. Army will do its job. Now it’s time to do your part as well, remove Article 370. We have high hopes from you. Don’t disappoint.” @IamPrashansa01 wrote, “Dear various parties, please keep your politics aside and don’t let our heaven burn!”


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