Kashmir: Article 370, autonomy and GST


Views from Srinagar

Reyaz Ahmad Mir

THE wretched politics wrapped in different attires has always wreaked havoc in the minds of the people of Kashmir. Right from 1947, a chain of events has squeezed the space of politics- I mean a good politics honouring the aspirations, wishes and democratic values. The history deliberately engineered to flourish the politics of confusion in the state to prolong the claims of rights over soil and souls is the modern version of Chanakiyan philosophy.
The accession is still an unresolved debate. The phrases of “temporary v/s permanent” are equally a permanent and contentious discussion. In between the two striking rods, the Article 370 is grilled, grinded and now at the edge of extinction.
The “southern disturbance of winds and storms” entering the state in different times have left the most talked article barren in the midst of persistent erosion. The attempts to kill it never stopped.
Ironically, the figure, if re-arranged for a moment as 307 means the section in legal framework being imposed upon the crime of “attempt to murder”.
The Article has been exploited as a political dividend by the political parties at New Delhi and Srinagar/Jammu to continue their bonhomie of throne and crown. What has been left there after it was stripped and lynched during the last 70 years by the edged state-centre compromises and agreements.
In early fifties, by Delhi Agreement, the process of peeling the article had taken off through the beheading of significant nomenclatures of Prime Minister and Sadr-e-Riyasat in mid sixties.
It was bruised to bleed profusely in mid seventies by Sheikh-Indra Accord, the coffin in which the autonomy was put and to be laid to rest later. And the Raju-Farooq”Ghathjod” in mid eighties, again to regain the political luxury which the NC had mistakenly lost because of its anti-Congress convocation at Srinagar, was actually the preparation of last rites for corpse of autonomy.
It was in 1989 when Article 370 went to the back burner and people in Kashmir along with armed insurgency en-mass started to demand rights openly, hitherto not a popular movement. Then in mid nineties, sensing its irrelevance, the National Conference (NC) again started to beat the drum of autonomy and people liked the beats, believed again and gave them massive mandate which NC manipulated and termed it as the vote for autonomy.
The autonomy resolution of NC, if A S Dulat is believed, was somewhat only a short duration play staged on the floor of assembly as thanks giving to the people for their overwhelming support. That is why it was plainly thrown to the dust bin like a degradable waste by the BJB government which was never thought to be recycled.
With the emergence of PDP on the political canvas of the state, the people started to identify themselves with it because of its agenda of good governance and self-rule as the solution for Kashmir issue.
Though they demonstrated well in 2002 that they could deliver better on different fronts of governance but were struggling for survival in the present tenure in between the jaws of BJP they themselves had decided to be trapped.
The coalition, as thought by the political analysts, has made a way for intrusion of right wing politics of Hindutva in Kashmir. Shelving of the self-rule project is now no more a debate, the PDP has been brought to its knees because of its means and ways to counter the protests.
The web of their good governance is still at mat and whether they are able to raise it up or not shall remain to be seen in the days to come. However, the grey area is persistently expanding around them.
The recent issue of GST vis-a-visArticle 370 should not have been made a grand concern. What has remained there in the Article after peeling it forty six times in form of different changes and amendments extended to the state that would be stripped by the GST now?
It is already a carcass placed near the open grave. It has been compressed and contracted to a symbolic value, only.
Now PDP is taking the credit of debating any such law pertaining to the provisions of Article 370 first time in legislative assembly. They are jubilant and are sharing the greetings with each other over the presidential order in which the state’s financial autonomy is kept “intact”.
How would it be intact before the strong “one law for one nation”, should be taken for the deliberation by the economists and tax consultants alongside the economic implications of the GST regime in the state which has created the fears of sky rocketing inflation among the commoners.
However, the fact remains that in the contemporary economic globalisation, the financial exclusion caused by the non-implementation of GST for the state as long as it is a unit of federal system was sure to create a fiscal indiscipline and economic shocks.
This is fairly understood by all including the opposition law makers who had almost no objection to implement GST in their own tenure of power. Still they yelled and behaved the way politicians normally behave to remain in existence in the peculiar political situations without holding any merit, as such.The state economy can’t do in an isolation.
So, to remain in the larger economic order is inevitable to avoid the crises on front. The extension of laws or enactments from Delhi to Srinagar is a continuous process. However, it has political implications which of course weaken the “Free/Autonomous Kashmir” narrative, a Delhi based ‘now hidden now open policy’ to fully integrate the state with the union of India.
This is what the state is grappled with in the absence of its own robust and vibrant discourse to push the Mechaevelian tactics to the wall and make its way to consolidate the political fragmentation the state has since 1947 been suffering from.

—Courtesy: RK
[Writer [email protected] based in Srinagar]