Mockery of Democracy: Indians Criticize Revocation of Article 370

Indian journalists, politicians and analysts have come forward to protest the hasty decision of revoking Article 370 with a presidential decree. Taking to Twitter, Indians have lent support for the elected Kashmiri leaders placed on house arrest, and debated the legitimacy of scraping off the Article 370 without a constitutional amendment.

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Indian journalists, political analysts, democratic leaders, and civil society members, have come forward to condemn the bullying tactics exercised by the Modi-led Indian government to scrape away Jammu & Kashmir’s special constitutional status with a military crackdown and intensified security measures.

Ashok Swain, Indian political commentator and professor of peace and conflict studies, noted that the Indian decision to scrape away Article 370 that provided a special status to the occupied state of Jammu & Kashmir will only serve to add “fuel to the fire”.

Swain noted, “Not only Art 370 scrapped, state of Jammu & Kashmir is being divided. Ladakh will be one Union Territory and Jammu & Kashmir will another Union Territory. Modi & Shah surely have no knowledge how to deal with a self-determination struggle. They have added fuel to the fire.”

Siddharth Varadarajan, Indian political analyst and editor of the Indian news daily, The Wire, questioned the legitimacy of scraping away the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution through a presidential decree.

Criticizing the decision to arrest mainstream Kashmiri political leaders and cancel the Amarnath Yatra of Hindu pilgrims, Ashok Swain went onto deliberate the reasons behind such a rushed decision. Swain questioned, “House arrest of ex CMs, shut down of internet & telephones & curfew in #Kashmir have exposed Modi-Shah propaganda. NOT the threat of militants, but Modi’s megalomania responsible for cancellation of Amarnath Yatra. If to withdraw 35a, why not wait for a few days? Where are Hindus?”

The Indian political analyst further added, “Arresting two mainstream political leaders & former Chief Ministers, Modi has managed what previous Indian Prime Ministers had not been able to do before – Saying the world that Kashmir is an Occupied Territory & India has no popular support in the Valley!”

Indian Constitution Undermined

Siddharth Varadarajan, Indian political analyst and editor of the Indian news daily, The Wire, questioned the legitimacy of scraping away the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution through a presidential decree. Varadarajan questioned, “Can lawyers please explain how the state of J&K can be split and turned into two UTs when the proviso to Art 3 of the Constitution requires the concurrence of the state assembly? And can a presidential order simply add a clause to Art 367?”

Barkha Dutt, award-winning Indian journalist, raised similar questions on the legitimacy of a Presidential decree to revoke Article 370, without a constitutional amendment.

Read more: In plain words: What are Articles 370 and 35-A?

Dutt highlighted, “Legal grey area: how does this not need the process of a constitutional amendment? And during president’s rule, can the consent of the Centre appointed governor be considered the go-ahead of Jammu and Kashmir (required by law). Only the courts can clarify this point #Article370”

Explaining the loss of political freedom for the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir, Barkha Dutt noted, “In real terms: the constitutionally mandated separate flag & separate constitution of Jammu and Kashmir along with other special provisions like barring outsiders from buying land or voting rights are now gone. There are no “state citizens” any more.”

Shashi Tharoor, Indian MP for Thiruvananthapuram, condemned the decision ushered in the BJP-led government, and vowed to lend support to the Kashmiri political leaders placed under house arrest.

Supriya Sharma, senior Indian journalist, criticized the BJP-led government for making a “mockery of democracy” by scraping away the special constitutional rights of J&K. 

Tharoor said, “What is going on in J&K? Why leaders would be arrested overnight while having done no wrong? If Kashmiris are our citizens & their leaders our partners, surely the mainstream ones must be kept on board while we act against terrorists & separatists? If we alienate them, who’s left?”

Rohini Mohan, independent Indian journalist, criticized the Modi-led government’s bullying tactics to scrape away Kashmir’s special constitutional status hours after imposing a brutal crackdown on the entire state, and placing mainstream leaders on house arrest.

Mohan wrote, “This is done by shutting down an entire state of #JammuAndKashmir and putting anyone who will have to be consulted under house arrest. By filling the state with military. By announcing it after the President has already signed it. This is not decisiveness, this is bullying.”

Mockery of Democracy

Supriya Sharma, senior Indian journalist, criticized the BJP-led government for making a “mockery of democracy” by scraping away the special constitutional rights of J&K.

Read more: Modi’s BJP defies Indian Constitution – Scraps Kashmir’s ‘Special Status’

Sharma tweeted, “Today they introduce a bill on Article 370 and give Parliament just over one hour to deliberate. Tomorrow they could do this to any other piece of legislation that changes your life. This is outrageous. A mockery of democracy.”

Ramachandra Guha, renowned Indian historian and a biographer of Mahatama Gandhi questioned the legitimacy of New Delhi’s decision to scrape away the rights of an entire state and its people without any consultation. Guha noted that such violations can also be practiced in other states if the BJP-led government is given a free hand.

Sharing his views on Twitter, Ramachandra said, “A straight question: what do you think of shutting down an entire state and detaining former Chief Ministers before taking a fateful decision that affects that state and its peoples? What if it was our Karnataka next and not their Kashmir now?”

Reporting the situation from the occupied valley, Nidhi Razdan, reporter for NDTV informed, “Landlines in J&K also down. So now, ordinary people have no way to communicate. Imagine what this means for sick people, those families with emergencies. Such inhumanity with your own people.”

Shekhar Gupta, senior Indian newsman and founder of Indian news daily The Print, criticized the US President Donald Trump for triggering the Modi-led government to repeal the Article 370 and 35A and forcefully integrate Kashmir as an Indian territory.

Gupta noted, “I’m sure Trump may be too ‘cool’ to be bothered…But he may have unleashed a bunch of unintended consequences…Like giving Modi Govt impetus for its thinking on repealing Article 370, 35-A and other precipitate steps in Kashmir…”

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