On August 5, 2019, the Modi led BJP government read down article 370 of the Indian Constitution of India which defined the relationship between Indian union and the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It's been one year since the state of Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its statehood.
To mark this day, the Indian Cultural Forum is sharing some of the conversations related to Kashmir from the archives.
As we move forward, witnessing disintegration of the state, introduction of new domicile laws and continuing crackdown on civilians in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, recounting the history of years of repression in Kashmir becomes more important than ever.
● Undertsanding Kashmir through the Pages of History
Even though Kashmir is in the news every day, its disturbing history is not a part of the discourse. Did the people of Kashmir ever have the right to speak their minds? Was Kashmir peaceful in the past? Nilanjan answers these questions in this episode of Itihaas ke Panne, as he throws a light on the complicated history of Jammu and Kashmir.
Listening to Kashmiris
The denial of the rights of Kashmiris to speak for themselves has been the most oppressive element in the years of conflict. While the government policies have aimed at a clampdown on freedom of speech and expression through rigged elections, arbitrary detention, media gags, internet ban, the popular discourse on Kashmir has also marginalised Kashmiri voices on the matter. This is evident from how the BJP executed its move of abrogation of article 370 with the help of curfew, communications blackout and arbitrary detentions.
● Kashmir: Why Article 35A should not go
As special rights guaranteed to citizens of Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian union have been watered down. This video of the year 2017 from our archives helps understand the views of young Kashmiris on Article 35 A.
● How August 5 changed Jammu and Kashmir
Human rights activist from Kashmir, Khurram Parvez, spoke to Newsclick in January 2020 about how the lives of people in the Kashmir valley and Jammu region post August 5, 2019. The abrogation of article 370 was accompanied by massive militarisation, mass detentions, internet ban, arrests of political leaders and a complete snuffing out of basic rights.
Arbitrary arrests and Detention
The massive ‘security’ lockdown imposed on August 5, which continued for months, also included arrests of civilians, lawyers, journalists, and politicians under draconian laws such as Public Safety Act, and torture in the custody in several cases. About 7000 people have been arrested since August 5 last year.
Stories of torture by army personnel from the one of the massively militarised places of the earth, amidst a communications blackout.
● In Kashmir, mothers long for a glimpse of their sons
As per the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), 412 people were charged under the Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows preventive custody for two years without trial or charges, after August 5 last year and majority of them have been moved to jails outside the Valley.
Activist and researcher Sahba Husain discusses her book, Love, Loss, and Longing in Kashmir, which documents her years of research and fieldwork in the state. She talks about the history of the issues affecting the valley and their implications if left unresolved.
Land rights, Development and poverty
Amit Shah justified the abrogation of article 370 an year ago by emphasising the lack of development. Article 370 and article 35 A which guaranteed special rights in terms of ownership of land to Kashmiri state subjects, he argued, are the impediments for development. The BJP sought to rectify this by a closer integration of Jammu and Kashmir to Indian state which has meant watering down of land rights and introducing domicile law.
● Kashmir: Why Amit Shah's Development Argument is a Hoax
In justification of the move to end Kashmir’s special status, Amit Shah in his speech in the Rajya Sabha, brought in the question of Kashmir’s “development”, arguing that closer integration with the rest of India will bring in much investment into the region. Prabhat Patnaik debunks Amit Shah’s claims of development through a closer integration as he explains the impact such policies may have on economic, social and ecological aspects of the state.
● Land reforms, low rural poverty and the role of Article 370 in Kashmir
Land reforms in J&K, Patnaik explains, are one of the most radical and progressive in the entire subcontinent. These reforms, apart from their impact on the social structure and land distribution, also contributed greatly towards keeping income inequalities in check in that state. Additionally, these also helped to restrict the incidence of rural poverty. Such reforms were possible in Kashmir only because of article 370.
Poems on Kashmir
● Tonight in Kashmir
● Poems on Kashmir 2009-19
● Poems of Kashmir