What the Future Has in Store for Kashmir?

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National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, PDP President and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, PDP vice-President Muzaffar Hussain Beigh and other leaders during an all party meeting in Srinagar. — PTI file photo

The test for the top leadership of Kashmir has just begun. They have acted wisely. History will not forgive them if they fall apart and fail the people.

A G Noorani

THE National Conference led by Dr Farooq Abdullah and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by Mehbooba Mufti have joined hands to face the onslaught on Kashmir’s rights launched by the BJP government on Aug 5, 2019. On the eve of that vicious attack, these two and other political parties had come together to set up a united front to combat the dire threat to the very existence of Kashmir. A well-drafted, unanimous statement called the Gupkar Declaration was issued.

The very next day, the blow fell. Abrogation of Article 370 of India’s constitution, which supposedly guaranteed Kashmir’s autonomy and its special status, was always the BJP’s dream. The Modi regime did worse. It destroyed Kashmir’s very identity. Kashmir was now to be ruled as a centrally governed union territory along with Jammu with a lieutenant governor at the head. Ladakh was lopped off to be centrally governed. The political parties have rightly decided not to contest an election under the new set-up and thus legitimise it. What is afoot is a plan to confer supremacy on Jammu and BJP rule over Kashmir.

The assembly has 111 seats. In 2002, the status quo was frozen by law until 2026. “Until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, it shall not be necessary to constitute a (delimitation) commission to determine the delimitation of the assembly constituencies.”

Ominously, the centre has set up a delimitation commission as part of its abrogation process. The entire game is unconstitutional and dishonest. Article 370 cannot be amended let alone abrogated. The centre has set at naught Kashmir’s constitution. It will have panchayat raj.

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