It is like multi-pronged attacks are afoot to undermine J&K’s special status. Now the issue is not only about separate settlements for Kashmiri Pandits but also about the Sainik Colony for the ex-servicemen and their kin in the state. Then there is also new Industrial policy which allows non-state subjects to get on lease the land for setting up industries outside the industrial estates in the state with the policy remaining silent on the upper ceiling of the land to be leased out. The policy also talks about leasing state or proprietary land to outside players outside the industrial estates. Similarly, National Eligibility and Entrance Test imposes a single common entrance test for MBBS and BDS courses thereby scrapping the entrance examinations held by the other states, including J&K. Though J&K had challenged the imposition of the test in the Supreme Court, the petition was dismissed. Similarly, the state governments decision to initiate work on building the structures for floating population in Jammu and Kupwara districts has deepened the insecurity.
Though there have always been such assaults on Valley’s special status in past but their frequency since Narendra Modi rose to power in New Delhi has increased. It seems more premeditated and systematic now. But state government seems unable to stop this. It’s only when such assaults are highlighted by the media and consequently generate a public outcry that government springs into action. Take the case of Sainik Colony, the government clarified only when media reported about it. And the clarification was made in a way that added more to the confusion. Government instead accused the media reports of being politically motivated while not denying the official document affirming that Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir had agreed to grant 173 kanals of land for the colony.
Ditto for New Industrial Policy. It took a media report to turn government’s attention towards the clauses allowing non-state subjects to take land on lease. The government will now review the policy.
If anything, it shows how the state governments would better not act if any move with an implication for the J&K’s special status goes unreported or uncontested by the political opposition and the civil society.
The incident is representative of how in the mainstream politics of the Valley, the parties attempt to disguise and cover up their controversial programmes in silence the programmes which have a profound bearing on the state. Left to themselves, the state governments would choose not to explain their positions on the delicate issues unless they face a public backlash. They would as well go ahead and act, whatever the fallout of the action on the state.
But as past two months make it clear, the New Delhi seems to have taken its gloves off in respect of its policies towards J&K. One after another plan is coming to light with an express intent to mess with the special status of Kashmir. And the state government either appears compliant or complicit in the project. Even the government’s denials are less than convincing. But people need the reassurance that such moves will not only be resisted but stopped. And this is something that this government has so far failed to do.
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