ARTICLE 370 & KASHMIRI WOMEN: THE FADING SPECTACLE OF EMPOWERMENT AND EMANCIPATION

“Sexual violence against Kashmiri women by Indian forces has always been covered up by giving them blanket impunity. While invoking women’s rights, the Home Minister claim that it is keen to make women of the state on a power with other women of the country.”

There is no chance for welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. Liberty is the first condition of growth. It should encompass all aspects whether political or economic. The inner structure of liberty is a double helix: One strand – political freedom – spirally in tandem with other strand – economic freedom. Any disruption then makes this spiral downward towards unhealthy society with squalid conditions for people, particularly women folk.

Jammu & Kashmir is no exception to the skewed human development when we look at issue from gender perspective. Maternal mortality has taken toll with statistical regularity. In terms of development as human capital, education, political empowerment women continue to lag. But at the same time, it needs to reiterate that taking socio- economic indicators into view, Jammu & Kashmir performance is much better than rest of the states even when compared to Gujarat which is being projected as model state.

The constitution of India granted a special status to Kashmir through Article 370. It was a sort of umbilical link between centre and state. It safeguards the rights residents both (economic/political) of Jammu & Kashmir. According to Jean Dreze development economist, “Contrary to narrative propagated by ruling party and mainstream media, he believes that Article 370 of constitution which granted special status to Jammu & Kashmir had in fact helped reducing poverty and in laying foundation of relatively egalitarian economy in rural areas.
The removal of Article 370, and subsequently Article 35A, was put forth by Union Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah on August 5, 2019 with a long list of explanations over why it needs to be removed. Women empowerment were mentioned several times during his speech.

Indian government started tinkering with Article 370 right from 1950. Home Minister Mr. G.L Nanda said on December 4, 1964. “Article 370 is neither a wall nor a mountain, but it is a tunnel”. Article 370 was revoked with meticulous planning- Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah before he passes the bill to abrogate Article 370 was tabled in the parliament on the morning of August 5, 2019 Kashmir woke- up to a stringent curfew in place and complete communication blackout. Home Minister said in abolishment of Article 370 gave a sense that, women in Kashmir were suffering and needed the Indian Government and laws to protect them, which could only happen in the absence of Article 370. In doing so it created a victim and a messiah dichotomy, with Kashmiri women as the victims and Indian Government as the messiah.

Women in the valley have faced the brunt of militarisation from decades. Economic, political and inequalities along with human right violations a lack of human security has always going on and its consequences are always ignored, and to let things be as they are, till they are forgotten. Sexual violence against Kashmiri women by Indian forces has always been covered up by giving them blanket impunity. While invoking women’s rights, the Home Minister claim that it is keen to make women of the state on a power with other women of the country. In other words, removing Article 370 for the emancipation of women.

Most painful crimes in the Valley have been covered up citing impunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The point where AFSPA begins is where individual liberty ends. To acknowledge and understand the meaning of justice for women living under the shadow of AFSPA would help the state to recognise why removing Article 370 will never be accepted by Kashmiri women. First and most obvious, while creating the sense that abolishment of Article 370 is done for the women of Kashmir it never actually benefits them.

Impact of Article 370 abolishment in Kashmir, the rush of Misogynistic content seems oddly in line with the government treated Kashmiri as a people, whose opinion was not worth considering.
For example: Kashmiri School Principal Rizwan Pandit, 30 was tortured burnt and then killed in police custody. He was brutally tortured. According to his family Rizwan had multiple cuts on his body, thighs that has turned black as if they have been burnt. His eyes were bruised and swollen as it has been hit with force.
He was a principal of a local school as well as he ran a tuition centre in Awantipora town, The young man was picked up by police from his house and after two days,The family was informed about his death in custody. “People don’t die in custody, They are killed”.
One more example is, 65-year old civilian killed by Indian forces on 1 July 2020. He was killed in cold blood by government forces in the region, which the police then rejected as baseless and fabrication claims. He was killed in front of his 3-year old grandson and then he was put on his grandfather lifeless body. This is the real face of Modi’s fascist India.
Kashmiris have grown habitual of waking up to news of their brethren’s killing and tensions in their homeland. Our families mourn deaths, our mothers become widows overnight, killing of an innocent by Indian forces leaving family behind in trauma and helpless to understand what happened to them and how they will get justice but in Kashmiri justice is just a word.
Young men (on TikTok) were celebrating the idea of getting a Kashmiri women like she is an object with no agency. A user called Amit Modak; whose feed is loaded with paeans to Modi posted a video “Now I will marry a Kashmiri girl”.
Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah’s address to the nation, had promised that the days of suffering, for the people of Kashmir, had come to an end, and better days were on their way. He assured the nation, especially the people of Kashmir, that this historic act would usher in a new dawn in the region and help in the development and empowerment for the youth in Kashmir. He strongly expressed his commitment to fill up thousands of pending vacancies in Kashmir in a transparent and fast-tracked manner, thus raising the expectations of unemployed youth in Kashmir. With about nine months have been passed by, and nothing substantial being done till now, the memory of all these promises that were made rekindle a feeling of agony and angst among the youth of this newly carved-out. Home Minister Mr. Amit shah addresses to the nation in speech regarding upliftment in manpower, infrastructure, and abolishment of unemployment to young in Kashmir, which was just a statement all vain.
As soon as Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced the proposal in Rajya Sabha, massive chaos was observed in parliament. A massive outburst was witnessed on social media as well. As the protests continued in Parliament, mixed reactions were observed on Twitter.
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Aditynath said that the decision to scrap Article 370 will make Mother India proud.
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis said that Modi government corrected a historic wrong. “They’ve truly made Kashmir an integral part of India.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is under house arrest at that time, slammed the move.
It will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent. GOIs intentions are clear. They want the territory of J&K by terrorising its people. India has failed Kashmir in keeping its promises.
No women commission, No political party, No one was supporting Kashmiri at the time of abrogation, Thousands of Indian troops were deployed in Kashmir, school colleges were shut, telephone and internet services were suspended and regional political leaders were placed under house arrest. No one was listening the voice of Kashmir and Kashmiri people.
Despite of all assurances, the youth seems taste cotton candy (Taste and Swallow) reconciling with the fact that these were imaginary promises just made to soothe the heartburn and resentment of abrogation of Article 370.
Finally, it seems the present regime guided and controlled by saffron brigade is strictly adhering to Hindutva agenda with unprecedented fervour. The misconstrued social engineering programme of emancipation of woman is nothing but a baggage of lies, a hogwash and a rosy concoction, packed in misleading and ambiguous forms to gain a footprint in the Valley through Machiavellian tactics. Rather than integration of Kashmir and bridging the deep disconnect, ulterior motive seen to assimilate Kashmir’s into their majoritarian culture.
This couplet of Faiz Ah Faiz portray the present time:
“ye daaġh daaġh ujālā ye shab-gazīda sahar
vo intizār thā jis kā ye vo sahar to nahīñ”
Limya Mahajan and I am pursuing my Master’s Degree from Islamic University of science and technology Awantipora, in the field of Journalism. – (Countercurents)