Jammu and Kashmir: What has changed in one-year since abrogation of Article 370
New Delhi: The first anniversary of the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir is being celebrated on Wednesday (August 5). On the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has outlined a plan to empower people through the newly constituted panchayats.
Other major initiatives that have taken place in the Jammu and Kashmir are:
Major changes: Out of 354 State laws in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir, 164 laws have been repealed, 138 laws modified while 170 central laws have been made applicable.
There has been a 262% increase in minority scholarships. Also, five corporations have been set up to unbundle power department corporations, and government funds worth Rs 1000 crores parked outside have been located and channelled into the consolidated fund.
Terrorist Elimination: Incidents of violence have reduced significantly in Kashmir valley after August 5 and security forces have achieved major success against terrorists, according to Union Ministry of Home Affairs report, which also noted that terror-related activities have reduced by around 36% in the valley after the abrogation of Article 370.
188 terror-related incidences were recorded in Kashmir valley from January 1 till July 15, 2019, and this number has reduced to 120 in 2020, said the MHA report, adding that 126 terrorists were killed in Kashmir during the same period in 2019 while 136 terrorists were eliminated during the same time period in 2020.
51 grenade attacks took place in Kashmir from January 1 till July 15, 2019, while in 2020 the number has reduced to just 21.
In 2019, 75 security personnel and 23 civilians were killed from January 1 till July 15 in Kashmir valley, while 35 jawans and 22 civilians were killed in the same time period in 2020.
The number of IED attacks has also reduced significantly as only one IED attack took place in Kashmir from January 1 till July 15, 2020. The number of IED attacks during the same period in 2019 was six.
A total of 110 local terrorists have been killed in Kashmir in 2020 so far, including over 50 from Hizbul Mujahideen and around 20 each from Laskhar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. At least 14 terrorists from ISJK and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind were also eliminated by security forces during the same period.
Overall, 148 terrorists have been killed since January 2020 in the Valley as of July 30. Of these, 48 terrorists were killed in the month of June alone.
Some wanted terrorists like Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo, Lashkar commander Haider, Jaish commander Kari Yasir and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind Burhan Koka have been killed by security forces in 2020. The security forces have also busted 22 terror hideouts till July 15 besides recovering 190 weapons, including several AK 47 rifle.
Less youth joining militancy: There has been a 40% decrease of involvement of local youth in terrorist organizations as only 67 youths of Kashmir valley were brainwashed and made to pick up guns against India.
Domicile certificate issued: Over 4 lakh people in Jammu and Kashmir have been issued domicile certificates–official document to prove that a person is a resident of a particular state/Union Territory.
A total of 3,68,500 domicile certificates were issued in Jammu and 79,300 in Kashmir Valley. Interestingly, nearly 3.7 lakh persons granted domicile certificates are already permanent residents of the Union Territory. A significant proportion has been given out to those who despite living or serving in the state for years were not considered the residents of the state due to the provisions of Artice 35A, which now stands repealed.
Job vacancies: Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal said that over 10,000 vacancies at all the levels have been identified for recruitment in various departments in the first phase. Notably, the administrative council has approved a simple and efficient procedure for filling up of class IV vacancies.
Reservation: The Union Territory administration has decided to provide reservation to Pahari-speaking people (four percent) and economically weaker sections (10 percent). So far, reservation was available only to people living in villages on the Line of Control, but it has been extended to those living on the international border, benefiting nearly 70,000 families.
7th pay commission salary: More than three lakh Jammu and Kashmir government employees are now getting benefits under the 7th Central Pay Commission.
Big projects: The world’s highest railway bridge over river Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir will be ready by next year, and is expected to connect the Valley with the rest of India by train for the first time by 2022. The bridge, which has a central span of 467 metres, is being built at a height of 359 metres from the bed level.
July 2020: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated six bridges in border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, and asserted that development of remote areas in the region will continue to be a "key priority" for the NDA government.
Work on Shahpur-Kandi, an electricity and irrigation project hanging for five decades, has started. The Ujh project has been fast-tracked. And the metro rail is on its way to Srinagar and Jammu.
Jammu and Kashmir has recouped Rs 100 crore from stamp duty and registration fee after reform in the land registration process. Urban local bodies are also changing. Municipal committees can now approve projects of up to Rs five crore. Transparent e-tendering has also been made mandatory.
Other schemes: The government introduced an array of insurances schemes including the Atal Pension Yojana has also been introduced in the newly carved Union Territory. The Centre launched 85 people-oriented development schemes, like PM-KISAN, PM-KISAN-Pension, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Stand-Up India in Jammu and Kashmir.
Power projects: Union Power Minister RK Singh and Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik jointly inaugurated 15 power projects and laid the foundation stone for 20 others worth Rs 10,000 crore on September 2019.
Kashmiri Pandits: 3,000 government jobs created for the Kashmiri migrants at an outlay of Rs 1,080 crores. As per the information provided by the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, the selection process has been concluded in respect of 1781 posts and 604 candidates have joined in different departments as on 22nd February 2020. These jobs are in addition to the 3000 state government jobs approved under the Prime Minister's package-2008, against which 2,905 jobs have been filled, according to MoS for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy.
Construction of 6,000 transit accommodations at an outlay of Rs 920 crores for accommodating 3000 Kashmiri migrants employed under PMRP- 2008 and for 3000 additional migrants under PMDP-2015. 849 flats have already been constructed.
The Centre also reimburses monthly cash relief to the eligible Kashmiri migrants settled in Jammu. Since the year 2014, the monthly cash relief has been enhanced twice i.e. from Rs 6600/- per family to Rs 10,000/- per family in 2015 and to Rs 13,000/- per family in 2018. In addition, the dry ration is also provided to these Kashmiri migrants.
Farmers: The central government has approved a nearly Rs 6,000 crore multi-purpose project in Feb 2020 to provide uninterrupted water for irrigation to farmers in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district and to produce power, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said.
Package: In January 2020, the Modi government granted a package of Rs 80,000 crore for development works in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory. It will include the revival of the schemes pending for decades. The package would help establish the educational institutions like IIT, IIM and AIIMS. New release of funds will also help in the development of road transport, energy and irrigation schemes.
BJP gained members in Kashmir: The BJP has consolidated its organisational structure, especially in Kashmir, where it has never won a parliamentary or assembly seat, and managed to double its membership to 2.5 lakh.
J&K BJP spokesperson and head of panchayat affairs Altaf Thakur said if there is any party that remained active after August 5, it was the BJP. “As a result of this, we have managed to increase our membership in the Valley from 4.5 lakh to seven lakh. We have 14 municipal councils in the Valley and 63 block development chairpersons. We are now the biggest mainstream political party in J&K. Until 2019, in Kashmir, we did not have even one elected representative… Now, we have 1,266 panches and sarpanches.”
Kashmir economy and job loss: According to the Preliminary Economic Assessment Loss Report released by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries( KCCI) in December last year, Kashmir’s economy suffered a loss of Rs 17,800 crore and 4.9 lakh jobs were lost between August and October 2019.
“The loss to business in Kashmir now stands Rs 40,000 till August 2020," said Sheikh Ashiq, president KCCI, adding that the job losses vary from season to season. “Last year, most jobs were lost in the hospitality sector after the government ordered tourists to leave Kashmir three days after [Article] 370 was taken down,” said Sheikh Ashiq.
Till December 2019, at least 2.5 lakh youth, including 1.5 lakh postgraduates and PhD scholars, got them registered with the government. Horticulture, floriculture, agriculture, and sericulture have seen for 12,000 job losses. In the manufacturing sector, 70,000 job losses were reported, followed by 60,000 and 20,000 in the transport and construction sectors respectively.
Horticulture and Handicrafts: Horticulture provides livelihood to 30 lakh people directly and indirectly in Kashmir. Handicrafts industry employs more than 2.5 lakh artisans. Most of these artisans lost their jobs as the lockdown disrupted access to raw material and exports.
In the carpet belt of Pattan and Sumbal in Baramulla, thousands of carpet weavers closed their looms and took to menial labour to earn a living. The condition of artisans dealing with shawls, Papier-m'ché and wood carving is no better. According to Syed Kounsar Shah, an award-winning Papier-m'ché artist, most artisans couldn’t sell their stocks due to the lockdown and communication blockade last year.
Tourism: The two factors have resulted in the loss of lakhs of jobs and the borrowers of financial institutions have lost the capacity to fulfil their commitments, according to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). "The tourism sector is in a shambles. Artisans and weavers are jobless. The losses are more than Rs 1,056 crore. It was multiplied further by the pandemic,” KCCI stated.
There have been 144,500 job losses in Kashmir’s tourism and handicrafts sector – mostly dependent on earnings from travellers – since August 5, 2019, as per an estimate of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Number of Tourists in Kashmir also came down by 86% in August-December 2019, according to an RTI.
Political leaders: The state administration invoked the Public Safety Act (PSA) against 444 persons out of which nearly 300 have been released so far. While 51 of them were set free on the orders of J&K High Court, others were also freed after administrative reviews, with the conditions that they will not issue any (political) statements.
The absence of any political outreach by New Delhi post-August 5 has created more confusion and anxiety.