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Dilution of Special Status of J & K - A Geopolitical Analysis

[Student at Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Tamil Nadu] 02 Sep 2019

This is an award-winning article at the Think India 1st National Article Writing Competition 2019. 


Kashmir, the place of beautiful simplicity and pristine natural beauty, now reels under the political threat both in the national and international realm. Article 370 which provided ecosystem for separatism and prevented the socio-economic development of the people was considered sacrosanct as a bridge which connected J&K with India for  long time. Although the move by the incumbent government has been dubbed as political earthquake or political debacle by the political leaders and scholars, it will be considered as the most audacious and boldest decision in the history of India. While a lot of debate goes around the topic “whether it will be political misadventure or long-neglected necessity?” by the people and opposition party, the crucial task before the government is to prevent the issue being the buzz for international politics. This article discusses the nullification of special status given to J&K and the geopolitical realities around this issue.

Chequered history behind the audacious move:

            The J&K border dispute traces back to the independence period. At that time, India was divided into many princely states which was united by Sardar Patel. Kashmir which comprises majority of Mohammedan people was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh remained as the neutral state which doesn’t join India nor Pakistan. To resolve this dispute British government send Dixon and he drafted the plan to divide J&K into northern arena and Ladakh for India and the former part to the Pakistan and the same was contented by the father of the Constitution but it was rejected by the then PM Nehru[1] and he approached Gopalaswami Ayyangar to draft the Constitution of J&K according to their special needs, accordingly Art-370 was enacted which became the birthplace of underdevelopment and terrorism in J&K. But this Article under the Part XXI of the Indian Constitution was “Temporary, Transitional and special provisions” it can be abrogated gradually. The BJP’s election-manifesto as well as ideological imperative was to scrap the Article 370 but it will never be accepted by the Kashmiris and elected people and so the BJP government waited for the long time to take this audacious step. Thus the president ordinance which bifurcates the J&K into two Union Territory and scrapping Article35A which bars the citizen of India to buy property in J&K - was passed when the state constituent assembly was dissolved. Thus the Kashmir drawn away from the precipice, with human and judicious calibration, bringing the prodigal back into the family fold.

Mr. Abdullah, you want that India should defend Kashmir, protect your borders, build roads in your area, should supply food grains, but you don’t want India and any citizen of India to have any rights in Kashmir

   -DR. B.R. Ambedkar[2]

Is Abrogation internal strife:

            This judicious move by the government heralds the shift in the paradigm of the India’s approach towards the Kashmir issue, with the long-term implications for its political approach of addressing such internal dispute. But it was critically questioned by the political leaders, how it could be the internal dispute? Congress leader severely criticized that J&K is not India’s internal matter, because UN has been monitoring the J&K issue since 1948 and Shimla agreement, Lahore declaration clearly indicates that it is a bilateral matter and not an internal issue.[3] But, it was strongly refused by the ruling party, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh conveyed that scrapping of Article 370 was India’s internal matter aimed to the social and economic development of J&K, to eradicate terrorism and for the integrity and prosperity of Kashmiris and rest of India.[4] Also, the Article 370 is from the Indian constitution and amending or abrogating this Article with the power of the constitution is clearly internal affairs of the country. In such a situation how, it could not be internal matter and will be international affairs.

Abrogation of Article 370 –Internationalized:

            Before discussing about this topic, the question before all of us are how the internal dispute of India become internationalized. The sole responsibility for this act is Pakistan and China. When India announces its decision regarding the status quo of the J&K, world was cautious about this issue and P5 countries are in brief and thus most of the country ignored the Pakistan attempts to internationalize this issue even several countries like Sri Lanka, UAE response in the positive manner except China. It called for consultations after Pakistan letters for the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) to discuss the dilution of special status in the closed-door manner i.e. the discussion is not open to the public and no record of statement is kept. The main contention put by the Pakistan was firstly, dilution of special status is not the internal issue, the peoples of J&K are in the state of extreme danger and we should especially P5 countries strongly condemn in the international arena and make this issue as international issue. Secondly, they also argued that India doesn’t follow any international norms while taking this unilateral decision like Shimla agreement was not followed. Thirdly,  while taking decision in the line of border it has to consult the neighboring countries which shares the Line of control like Pakistan and China but it was not so. Thus it strongly condemned the act of the India and said that It should get back the abrogation of Special status. But all the above contentions were disputed by the Indian ambassador, Syed Akbaruddin judiciously in the following way that the agreement which was entered later will be taken into consideration and the former agreement will be automatically lapsed in such a way India follows Shimla agreement regarding Kashmir issue after independence which was nowhere violated. Then he added that the restriction imposed them was only to safeguard the people from the critical danger and not to infringe their rights and thus not even a life of single people was taken away. Also the changes made by the India is internal and has made no difference to the external orientation India remain committed to ensure the situation remains calms and peaceful Finally, abrogation of Article 370 from the Indian constitution is totally internal dispute and no one have the rights to interfere in this issue.

Geo-politics behind Internationalization:

            Even before the announcement of the nullification of the special status Trump intervened in the issue and told that if India and Pakistan ascents it will solve the dispute. Also today Trump announced that he contacted both India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute in the peaceful manner. The reason behind his intervention is to prevent uplift of China arm in the economic arena. The J&K is full of resource area and if China supports Pakistan it will give those resources full to the China , thus it become competitor to the U.S. On the other hand, China intervention in the issue is due to the past intervention on India in china-Tibet dispute and Indo-China wars .

Conclusion:

            Despite the fact, the nullification of special status by the Modi government is domestic, internal decision of India, due to several implications faced in the past regarding administration one may have confusion whether it is internal or international issue. Although, it become the international issue, at the end of the closed-door meeting several countries urged the India and Pakistan to solve the issues among themselves and rejected the Pakistan argument. They also added that it was bilateral issue and they won’t enter into the dispute and described it as ‘India’s internal issue’. Thus, the attempt of Pakistan to make this issue in the international arena was utter failure and it created embarassment to the China also.



[1] Sowmyabrata Choudhury, Opinion | The story of Ambedkar’s Scepticism on Article 370 is only Half Told, News 18, https://www.news18.com/news/opinion/opinion-the-story-of-ambedkars-scepticism-on-article-370-is-only-half-told-2262893.html  (Aug 9, 2019).

[2] Dr.S.N.Busi, “Dr.B.R.Ambedkar Framing the Indian Constitution”.

[3] Express News service @ New Delhi, “Internal issue? Adhir’s remarks in LS leave Congress red-faced”, Express news, Pg.no 10.

[4] The Asian age, “Defence Minister speaks to US Defence Secretary; coneys Article 370 India’s internal matter”(Aug,20,2019), https://www.asianage.com/amp/india/all-india/200819/defence-minister-speaks-to-us-defence-secretary-conveys-article-370-indias-internal-matter.html accessed on 20/08/2019.

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