Speaking out in favour of the Indian government’s move to revoke the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), a Kashmiri-American body has alleged that the protests against the move are being fuelled by a group of propaganda-mongers who are spreading misinformation and confusion about the abrogation of these provisions.
“There has been a tremendous amount of confusion, misinformation, and fear being disseminated by propaganda-mongers and the ill-informed press about the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A by the Government of India,” the Kashmiri Overseas Association (KOA) said in an open letter to the Indian Consulate in the United States.
While it is human nature to condemn any injustice, like loss of internet and phone lines to the people living in the Kashmir Valley, it is also prudent to understand the implication of these articles that shaped the destiny of “us minorities of the region over the last 70 years”, said the US-based organisation.
In the statement, the group alleged that the temporary articles 370 and 35A were highly discriminatory against all indigenous Kashmiri minorities - Sufi Muslims, Shia Muslims, Ahmadi Muslims, Dalits, Gujjars, Kashmiri Hindus (commonly known as Kashmiri Pandits), Kashmiri Sikhs, and Buddhists, adding that only the majority, Sunni Muslims, were privileged to benefit from this provision.
“Articles 370 and 35A allowed a breeding ground for armed violence in Kashmir,” the KOA stated.
The KOA also pointed out that the articles were extremely regressive for Kashmiri women and many progressive laws which benefited women in India did not apply to Kashmiri women because of the rights granted to the J&K Assembly to ratify the laws of India in the state.
“As a result, many antiquated laws like legalised child marriages and ‘triple talaq’, both banned in the rest of the India still applied, in Kashmir,” the organisation asserted.
Pakistan was able to capitalise on this by financing, arming and training militant groups across the border, the KOA said, adding that this all came to a head on the night of January 19, 1990.
Recounting the time of the conflict between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs in the Kashmir valley, the letter asserted that “over 500,000 Hindus and Sikhs were ethnically cleansed out of their homes with a purpose to create a minority-free Kashmir valley”.
Hailing the recent decision of the Modi 2.0 government, the KOA said it believed that abrogation of these articles, which provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir, would provide equal opportunities to all and a chance for the development of regions like Ladakh which had been neglected for far too long.
Removal of these articles would help curtail terrorism in the Valley and empower women as more progressive laws would apply to them equally with the rest of the country, it said.