Jamhuriyat and Kashmiriyat back on track

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The scenic beauty of the Kashmir valley Inspired many generations of artists. The northernmost territory of India lies in the lap of the Himalayas. It has a long history. The land saw the rule of many kings belonging to different religious sects. The colonial rule was another chapter. Post-independence the state was captured by Pakistan that became a bone of contention between the two neighbours. The Chinese interests in the region is another facet of the outstanding issues. It is a contested region and border issues with Pakistan and China Invariably made headlines after independence in 1947. The latest development took place in 2019 with the abrogation of special powers of Jammu and Kashmir (under article 370 and article 35A of the constitution of India). The presidential order brought these changes and the world saw a mix of reactions. The newly constituted union territory of Jammu and Kashmir lost its special powers and became strongly integrated with the rest of the country.

Recently it was in the news because the centre conducted an outreach program in Jammu and Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired an all-party meeting on June 24th in New Delhi. 14 political leaders were invited including four former chief ministers. It will be the first such gathering after the abrogation of special powers and article 370 from the constitution of India.

The meeting was a step towards strengthening the democratic structure of the region. The biggest achievement was that the government was vindicated of repealing the special status of the former state. The presence of the opposition in the meeting was a testament to this fact. Experts are sanguine about the new developments that will follow the meet. The most noticeable demand of the opposition parties was that statehood of Jammu and Kashmir should be restored. To this government has shown affirmation that statehood will be restored at some point in time in future giving assurance to the leaders and the people.

Another mooted topic about Jammu and Kashmir is the issue of migrants. In this context, Jammu is very important. Most of the migrants that left the violent stricken Kashmir valley moved to Jammu and settled there. Kashmiri pandits are one amongst them. Many Muslims also moved to this area in search of a peaceful living away from violence. Hence Jammu was able to absorb an enormous burden of migration. Till now the discussions were revolving around Kashmir. However, the new developments focus on Jammu and give a much-needed break to Kashmir centrism.

Delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir is underway. The administration is working on it. This exercise will strengthen the democratic system of the region. The voting rights will extend to the migrants who left the state but are willing to move back. The centre and the opposition needed to break the ice on matters of the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir cadre of the all India services which was merged with Arunachal, Goa, Mizoram and union territories cadre.

The meeting is a good initiative by the centre but it is a beginning. More changes are yet to come and the opinion of the opposition can help smoothen the process of transition.