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Wednesday, Aug 05, 2020 13:15 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Aug 05, 2020 07:44 [IST]

Abrogation of Article 370: Entry of Real Democracy

TIKA R. DAHAL
           It has been a year that Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was merged in the mainstream of Indian Constitution. 05th August 2019 is now referred as a glorious day on which the historic mistake, committed about 70 years ago during the course of the Constituent Assembly debates, has been set right. The unique case of a State Assembly enjoying superiority over laws, enacted by the Indian Parliament, came to an end. ‘Assimilation’ finally replaced separatist tendencies constitutionally.
           Abrogation of Article 370 has proved to be a major step towards Gender Equality as envisaged by our forefathers during Constitutional Assembly debates. After the abrogation, Article 16 of the Indian Constitution, which provides ‘affirmative actions’ for SC, ST and other downtrodden sections of the society, has been implemented and now the depressed classes of J&K are receiving their due share of constitutional rights and provisions.
           Earlier, any Kashmiri woman married to any non-Kashmiri man would lose her status of State Subject along with the right to property. Now these women are free to choose their life partners without the fear of losing their property or ‘State Subject’ status. For West Pakistani refugees, 05th August 2019 is like a rebirth, as a legislation of Parliament suddenly ended their status as refugees and landless, thus giving them the Right to Citizenship and Right to Property, along with the opportunity to contest Elections and become eligible for State Government jobs. This gave them parity with respect to other refugees of West Pakistan, who are settled in different parts of India. Senior citizens and differently abled of Kashmir are rejoicing the removal of Article 370 as they are now covered under the ambit of Senior Citizens Act and Multiple Disability Act, thus giving them parity with rest of the country.
           Now, the Kashmiri people have a bright future with social and economic prosperity. With the introduction of Prevention of Child Marriage Act, the practice of child marriage has stopped as it will attract stringent legal action, which was missing earlier. The abrogation of the Article 370 makes 86th Constitutional Amendment Act 2002 applicable in J&K, which provides free and compulsory education to all children between the age of six to fourteen years in the region.
           After the abrogation of Article 370, the Central Right to Information Act, 2005 was implemented in J&K, thereby, empowering the local residents to seek any information from their J&K State Government. The whistleblowers and RTI activists, who were earlier exposed to various threats, are now protected under the Whistle Blower Protection Act 2011. The entry of institutions like CAG, CBI and Lokpal in J&K has further made things very transparent, which were very opaque before the removal of Article 370, as these constitutional bodies were not able to enter Kashmir because of Article 370.
           With the abrogation of Article 370, the process of devolution of maximum powers to the local bodies has intensified. Gram Sabhas at the village level, also consisting of representatives of various State Departments, are being held regularly for the formulation and implementation of developmental plans. Effective changes have also been implemented in the working structure of the Panchayati Raj Institution, wherein, the Departments and officers are accountable to the Panchayats.
           After the abrogation of Article 370, the pace of economic development has also picked up in J&K. The Government of J&K is developing an Inland Container Depot in Samba and has also identified over 6,000 acres of land across 20 Districts to develop state-of-the-art Industrial Parks.
           Abrogation of Article 370 has not only ushered a new era of economic, social and political opportunities in the state of J&K, but has also paved way for gender equality, affirmative action and the end of regional imbalances, along with an end to political hegemony of certain political actors of a few families. A new foundation has been built, which will help in the assimilation of J&K with India in true sense of democratic values and ethos.
(A PIB feature. The writer is the Vice Principle of Bahai Higher Secondary School and the views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB)

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi