22-May-2024  Srinagar booked.net

KashmirReportage

Four Years Later, How Post-Abrogated Realities Define 'Naya Kashmir'

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Renovated Ghanta Ghar| Photo By Basit Zargar


Srinagar: As four years have passed since the Government of India, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), revoked the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir by scrapping Article 370, The Himalayan Post delves into the significant changes that have shaped the region.
 
Domicile Law: One of the major changes brought about by the abrogation was the introduction of a domicile law in 2020. Article 370 had previously barred outsiders from settling permanently or acquiring property in Jammu and Kashmir.
 
However, with the new domicile law, individuals who have resided in the region for 15 years or studied there for seven years can apply for a domicile certificate, which allows them to seek land and job opportunities.
 
Delimitation: The electoral map of Jammu and Kashmir underwent a significant transformation through a delimitation exercise. The move resulted in the creation of six new assembly seats allocated to Jammu and a single seat, Trehgam, to Kashmir. As a result, Jammu's seat share increased to 43 from the previous 37.
 
Voting Rights: Another noteworthy change was the extension of voting rights to any Indian citizen who is ordinarily living in Jammu and Kashmir. This decision was implemented last year, with experts saying it aims to foster greater democratic participation in a region known for boycotting elections.  
 
Property Tax: For the first time in history, property tax was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir under the Lieutenant Governor's administration. The tax was claimed to exempt the poor, specifically residential houses with a built-up area of up to 1000 square feet (3.8 Marlas).
 
However, concerns were raised in the Kashmir valley, where even the poorest houses are built on more than 5 marlas of land, making them ineligible for exemption.
 
Critics, including former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, questioned the imposition of property tax without any representation in the decision-making process.
 
Land to Homeless Families: Last month, the LG administration announced a plan to provide five marlas of land to two lakh homeless families in Jammu and Kashmir. However, Kashmiri activists and politicians expressed suspicions about the accuracy of the numbers, pointing to discrepancies between the 2011 and 2001 census figures of homeless individuals in the region. The figures of the 2011 census and those of 2001 shows the number of homeless people in Jammu and Kashmir was 2,130 in the 2001 census and 3,076 in 2011.
 
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti accused the government of using this initiative as a facade for a "demographic change."
 
Militancy: Following the 2019 clampdown, India intensified anti-militancy operations in the Kashmir valley.
 
Militancy also expanded to other restive parts of Rajouri-Poonch as the government revived the VDG militia.
 
As part of its measures, the government prohibited the handing over of militant bodies to their families and instead buried them in remote villages.
 
The rise of "hybrids," a term coined by the J&K Police, described individuals or overground workers (OGWs) operating as sleeper cells.
 
Anniversary Celebrations and Ongoing Actions: The government justified its actions by claiming an end to the era of "stone-throwing protests."
 
Citing normalcy, the LG administration recently lifted ban on Muharram Processions after three decades. 
 
However, raids against supporters, sympathizers, and OGWs and seizure of properties belonging to accused OGWs or any person associated with militancy.continue. 
 
Additionally, individuals associated with separatism have been terminated from government jobs.
 
Kashmir mainstream parties are urging for fresh elections as the region is under central rule since 2019. 
 
Moreover, After four years, the Supreme Court has begun hearing a clutch of petitions from 2 August, challenging the constitutionality and legality of the abrogation.
 
What was Article 370?
 
Article 370 was the foundation of Jammu and Kashmir's accession to the Indian union in 1947 when princely states had the choice to join either India or Pakistan after gaining independence from British rule. This article, effective from 1949, exempted Jammu and Kashmir from most provisions of the Indian constitution, allowing the region to make its own laws in all matters except finance, defense, foreign affairs, and communications. It also established a separate constitution and flag for the region and restricted property rights to outsiders.