Statement by India Civil Watch in response to Modi’s abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A.
India Civil Watch (ICW) unequivocally condemns the Indian government’s abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, the subsequent dissolution of the state of Jammu & Kashmir and its elected government, clampdown on elected representatives, and the division and demotion of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories governed directly by Delhi. The action is both illegal and destructive of the constitutional federalism that has made the Indian Union possible over the last 7 decades. As noted by legal scholars, abrogation of these articles can only take place with the approval of the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly, which was dissolved unilaterally by the Indian government. Absent this, the Indian action violates India’s own Constitution. 1
This unilateral action took place without consultation or debate in parliament, and was rammed through without due consideration as a Bill, using the ruling party’s massive majority in parliament, while also getting support from several opposition parties in the upper house. For Kashmiris the struggle to attain a modicum of normalcy has been shattered by this action – total shutdown of everyday life in the Valley, with tens of thousands of troops being deployed (in addition to the already heavy militarization), curfew declared, communications completely shut down, and roads adorned with barbed wire. Already several people have been injured or killed by security forces for the mere act of trying to protest.
ICW condemns the brazen colonial arrogance of the Modi government, which in keeping with its long record of hammering away at human rights and freedoms throughout India, wages war on vast sections of India’s people as it pursues a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and neoliberal plunder. As has been pointed out by the renowned development economist Jean Dreze, the land reforms and other social welfare schemes that were enabled by the Article 370 helped J&K to have development indicators far better than most other Indian states including the much-touted example of Gujarat.2 With the abrogation of 35A the protections Kashmiris enjoyed from the prospect of being overwhelmed by settlers and private capitalist predators from India have been eliminated. There already are reports of big capitalists proposing to grab land and resources in Jammu and Kashmir, not to mention Modi’s ominous televised pronouncement that this would open up prospects for jobs for Indians.3 Kashmiris have endured more than three decades of colonial violence at the hands of a brutal military occupation by India, having lost tens of thousands of lives since 1990. What the Indian government is doing today is transforming the occupation into a militarily enforced annexation which is illegal by India’s own constitution, but also brazenly flies in the face of international law, most importantly “final solution” indicates that they see Kashmir’s subjugation and plunder in light of the genocidal anti-Muslim bigotry underlying Hindutva fascism. ICW stands in solidarity with the Kashmiri people and condemns the Indian government’s attack on democracy, human rights and the Indian Constitution.
1. : See Murder of Insaniyat, and of India’s Solemn Commitment to Kashmir, By A.G. Noorani, legal scholar and author of the book Article 370: A Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir, published by Oxford University Press, 2011. Also, The BJP’s Dangerous End Game in Kashmir, by senior journalist and author Prem Shankar Jha.
2. : See Economist Jean Dreze: Article 370 helped reducing poverty in Jammu and Kashmir, Jean Dreze, National Herald, August 9th, 2019.
3. : See Mukesh Ambani’s RIL to form task force to invest in J&K, Ladakh after PM Modi’s request, Business Today, August 12, 2019, and Several Announcements For J&K, Ladakh In Coming Months, Says Mukesh Ambani, Outlook India, August 12, 2019.