Three Cheers - Jammu and Kashmir is Truly Integrated with India
General NC Vij, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM

Lightening strike, surgical operations and surprise are the terminologies most used and practiced in military operations. But here in Jammu and Kashmir, Government of India has done one better and in one step resolved the 70 years old legacy of a problem in one snap operation. Surprise was the biggest factor, it left everyone gaping!

A bold and historic decision has been taken by the Narendra Modi Government to scrap Articles 370 and 35A in one stroke. Government went still further ahead and bifurcated the State into Union Territories; one of Jammu and Kashmir together and the other of Ladakh. Jammu and Kashmir UT will have a legislature. These regions will come under the direct control of the Centre, and once the situation improves, the Centre has promised to recreate the State of Jammu and Kashmir but minus Ladakh.

Revoking Article 370 and 35A have received wide support of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and from all across India. In the Lok Sabha, the votes in favour were overwhelming and more than fourth fifth of the total number. Even in Rajya Sabha, more than two third votes were in favour.

Articles 370 and 35A were enacted as transient and temporary measures in 1956. These allowed the State a certain amount of autonomy, its own constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make laws. Foreign affairs, defence and communications had remained the preserve of the Central Government. By the ‘Indira-Sheikh Accord 1975’ and more than 40 Central Govt. notifications issued over the years, more than 260 laws have been amended over time to bring the State on line with the rest of the Country. Article 370 as it stood today was only like an egg shell. Yet these articles had to be scrapped to bring the State on the same footing and integrate it fully with India in true sense. One of the strongest roots of Kashmiri separatism and alienation lay in Article 370 of the Constitution. Vested interests had misused it to create a political fiefdom. It had to go; are 70 years plus are not too long a period for a transient arrangement to continue?

The Articles were anarchistic and out of tune with times. Article 35A barred women from marrying outside the State as in that case they lost the right to inherit property. These were also anti-dalit as they denied them the reservations to which they are due. These denied the enfranchisement of refugees coming from Western Pakistan. They denied the right to education and they prevented development.

Despite massive money being pumped in to the State by the Centre - over Rupees 27000 per person as compared to Rupees 8000 per person in the rest of the Country - the State has really not flourished like the other States of India. There is acute unemployment. There is virtually no industry in the State as these Articles prevented any industry from being set up in the State. Rampant corruption is the greatest curse of the State.

Scourge of militancy and terrorism as a part of the proxy war launched by Pakistan had taken heavy toll in the State. Over 42000 people have lost their lives in the State. Thousands of soldiers have laid down their lives in the line of duty to contain the proxy war launched by Pakistan.

Pakistani parliament has reacted only as expected. They have initiated meaningless steps like downgrading diplomatic relations and stopping trade with India etc. These are likely to hurt them more rather than India. They would also be disappointed that they have really not got any support from the rest of the world. Even their all weather ally, China, has stopped short of mentioning Jammu and Kashmir and have restricted themselves to talking only about Ladakh. Pakistan will try and internationalize the issue by going to the UN but even this is also not likely to serve any purpose. UN Secretary General Kofi Anan is on record, having said in 2001, that this was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. Even the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has not voiced any support in favour of Pakistan.

India’s major concern at this stage will be to control violent protests which will certainly erupt once the local forces reorganize themselves on an Islamic front. Propaganda by mosques and instigation and full support from Pakistan deep State will be only as expected to ensure that the situation goes out of control of India. But that is most certainly not going to happen as India is more than well prepared to counter any such situation. Their biggest tool of pumping in terrorists is going to be very difficult. It may take a little time but things will certainly settle down in Jammu and Kashmir in due course. India’s biggest challenge really will be to de-radicalise the youth and engage with them.

On 2nd August, when the Corps Commander 15 Corps and DG Police in a press conference displayed a sniper rifle and an anti-personal mine and warned that there was grave security risk to the Amarnath Yatra, and that it will have to be cancelled and tourists returned from the Valley, the stage was set. My military experience of having dealt with this issue at various levels in service, left a doubt lurking in my mind that some big initiative was afoot - could be the cancellation of Article 35A, but one such big sweep was out of imagination.

Our congratulations to Modi Government which has removed this one big lesion from the flesh of India because of which people of Jammu and Kashmir have paid a very heavy price. The joke doing the rounds in the corridors is that now that MS Dhoni (MSD), who is known as a great finisher in cricket has joined the Army in J&K, the game is over. The only difference in this case is that M Stands for Modi, S for Shah and D for Doval. What a great combination and what a great service to the Country!

(The Author, a member of the VIF fraternity, is a former Chief of Army Staff and a founder Chairman of the NDMA with the rank of Cabinet Minister.)

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