Article 370 rollback: A day before hearing in S; Centre says move brought peace, prosperity, stability after 3 decades of turmoil in J&K

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Files fresh affidavit, says move helped covert secessionist, Successful G-20 meet converted terrorist region into international destination; strikes, school closures, stone pelting a thing of past; Case listed for hearing after nearly 4 years

Srinagar: In a significant development, the Centre Monday filed a fresh affidavit before the Supreme Court defending its August 5, 2019 move of scrapping the erstwhile J&K State’s special status by virtue of Article 370. The Centre stated that the move has brought unprecedented stability and progression in the region where the G-20 Tourism Working Group meeting was held with huge participation of international dignitaries.

The Center’s response comes a day before a 5-judge constitution bench of SC is set to hear the pleas challenging abrogation of Article 370 for the first time after nearly four years tomorrow (Tuesday, July 11). The case is titled—Muhammad Akbar Lone and other Petitioners versus Union of India and Others. On August 5, 2019, the Centre scrapped Article 370 and sliced the erstwhile state of J&K into two Union Territories—J&K and Ladakh.

A copy of the Center’s affidavit, reads that the abrogation of Article 370 has started showing its impact on the common man of the region who is now getting accustomed to ‘peace, prosperity and stability with substantial income after three decades of turmoil.’

The affidavit further reads that the move has made strikes, school closures and stone pelting a thing of the past. The Centre claimed there have been zero stone-pelting incidents this year in the valley while schools, colleges and universities are functioning without any strikes during the last three years. “The earlier practice of strikes and bandhs is a thing of the past. Participation in sporting activities is phenomenal having reached 60 lakhs in 2022-23. These facts clearly prove the positive impact of the constitutional changes effected in 2019,” the affidavit reads, adding that “it is submitted that prior to August 5, 2019, due to non-application of the entire Constitution and consequently non-applicability of several beneficial central legislation, there were obvious constraints which resulted in alienation of the region on daily basis.”

It further stated that “this alienation was fuelled by the secessionist forces and terrorist who were having the cross border support—both financial and otherwise. The lack of stability and lack of applicability of central laws also inevitably resulted in deprivation in common people. Such deprivation also compounded the situation allowing people to be misguided and misused by various secessionist and terrorist forces for anti-India activities from stone pelting to other activities.”

The affidavit further states that the constitutional changes, democratically made, major steps were taken to strengthen grassroots democracy. “For the first time in its history, a duly elected 3-tier Panchayati Raj System has been established in Jammu and Kashmir. Elections for the members of the District Development Councils were held in Jammu & Kashmir in November-December 2020. As of today, there are more than 34,000 elected members to the rural and urban local bodies representing grassroots democracy,” it reads.

The affidavit states that it is relevant to mention that bandhs and stone pelting (together), engineered, financed and forced by the separatist-terrorist networks had tremendous negative ripple effects on economy and the society as whole. “It is submitted that the defining characteristic of the security situation in the region, which has a direct bearing on day-to-day life of common citizens is ‘street violence’ which is a methodical and regular phenomenon. The street violence, engineered and orchestrated by terrorists and secessionist networks has now become a thing of the past. The organized stone pelting incidents connected with terrorism-separatist agenda, which were as high as 1767 in the year 2018, have come down to zero in the year 2023 till date. In the year 2018, there were 52 incidents of organized Bandh/ Hartal, which has come down to zero in the year 2023 till date. In addition, resolute anti-terror actions have resulted in dismantling of the terror eco-system reflected in a significant drop in terrorist recruitment fro year 2018 to 12 in the year 2023 till date,” the affidavit reads. “It is submitted that the defining characteristic of the security situation in the region, which has a direct bearing on day-to-day life of common citizens is ‘street violence’ which was a methodical and regular phenomenon.”

The affidavit further stated that the hosting of G-20 Tourism Working Group meeting at Srinagar in the month of May, 2023, was a watershed event in the history of valley tourism and the country proudly displayed its resolute commitment to the world that secessionist / terrorist region can be converted into a region where even international dignitaries can be invited and global events can be held.

It states: “That the flow of benefits resulting from the decision dated 5th/ 6th August, 2019 has started showing its impact on the common man of the region who is now getting accustomed to peace, prosperity and stability with substantial income. For the first time, after independence, the residents of the region are enjoying the same rights which the residents of other parts of the country are enjoying. This has resulted into bringing the people of the region into the mainstream and thereby inevitably frustrating the sinister design of secessionist and anti-national forces. Any instances on the part of the petitioners to seek the prayers as prayed for would not only be against the very interest of the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh but would also be against the security and sovereignty of India due to very peculiar geographical situation of the region and peculiar security challenges arising therefrom.”—(KNO)

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