Increased Statehood demands in Kashmir

Laraib Nadeem

THE demand to restore the statehood of Kashmir in India gained momentum.In response to the division of the once one state into IIOJK and Ladakh, two union territories, on October 31, 2019, a political movement had been launched in support of the return of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir. The sole Muslim-majority state’s unique status as well as the locals’ inherent benefits, which were codified in the Indian constitution, were eliminated on August 5, 2019, the day the division was declared. This movement, which was initially conceived by Apni Party at the time of its founding in March 2020, has now taken the form of a public movement with the party in charge because it felt that the people were losing their rights in the absence of political empowerment.

The Apni Party, which is currently present in all of IIOJK’s regions, sub – regions, districts and blocks has surpassed other political parties, such as the National Conference, Congress and a small number of other organisations advocating for the restoration of statehood. As part of its political commitment since the day it was created on March 8, 2020, the party has not only taken the initiative but also assumed ownership of the problem and its solution. Since the issue of statehood is the central concern for more than 13 million people in the region, it has gone beyond speeches, announcements and press conferences. In a cunning move, it has also set a timetable for the political rivals to follow.

In March 2020, Altaf Bukhari led a group from his newly founded party to meet with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, outlining all the challenges and potential repercussions. But now that we have seen a protracted delay in the implementation of the two promises, which were at the heart of the people’s feelings after they found themselves in a period of uncertainty to take care of their political, ethnic, religious, linguistic and economic rights.

The demand has also gained momentum because Nirmala Sitharaman, the finance minister, recently said that IIOJK would soon become a state. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced the Special Summary Revision timetable in IIOJK for new voters. Former Chief Ministers made it clear that they would not run in the Assembly election unless the state’s independence was restored, notably Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP and Omar Abdullah of the NC.On November 13, 2022, the AamAadmi Party demanded the restoration of the state of Kashmir as soon as possible.

On February 14, 2023, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah gave an indication to restore Kashmir’s statehood after the state elections. However, On November 03, 2022, Farooq Abdullah had announced a boycott of the elections if the statehood of Kashmir was not restored.

On January 1, 2023, Mehbooba Mufti requested the Indian Chief Justice to provide justice to the Kashmiris. In the letter, Mufti expressed concerns about the ‘worrying state of affairs’ in the country, especially Jammu and Kashmir.She said the people of the Union Territory are being subjected to cruelty and their fundamental rights are being violated.

On February 16, 2023, Congress leader WaqarRasoolWani gave an ultimatum to the Modi government to restore the statehood of Kashmir as soon as possible. He also accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre of creating “dictatorship” in Jammu and Kashmir. “We demand immediate restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir and holding of Assembly polls,” Wani told reporters at the PCC headquarters.

On February 22, 2023, Karan Singh, the son of Maharaja Hari Singh, also demanded the statehood of Kashmir.He stated that assembly elections should be held in IIOJK in a free and fair manner and Statehood should be restored to the UT without any delay.When asked to comment on the bifurcation of IIOJK State into two Union Territories, he said, “We should look ahead rather than looking back and added that same remained his principle in life”. Will the Modi government return their legitimate rights to Kashmiris or will Kashmir remain Modi’s fiefdom? Will the international media take notice of the worst exploitation of Kashmiris?These un-healed bleeding questions are the proof of callousness of world’s community.