As Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a stunning U-turn, announced on Friday morning that the Centre would be repealing the three contentious farmer laws in the upcoming winter session of the parliament, it has engendered a debate in Kashmir about the restoration of statehood to J&K and other constitutional guarantees.
“Decision to repeal farm laws & an apology is a welcome step, even though it stems from electoral compulsions & fear of drubbing in elections. Ironical that while BJP needs to please people in rest of India for votes, punishing & humiliating Kashmiris satisfies their major votebank,” tweeted former Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti.
Decision to repeal farm laws & an apology is a welcome step, even though it stems from electoral compulsions & fear of drubbing in elections. Ironical that while BJP needs to please people in rest of India for votes,punishing & humiliating Kashmiris satisfies their major votebank— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 19, 2021
“Desecrating Indian constitution to dismember & disempower J&K was done only to please their voters. I hope they course correct here too & reverse the illegal changes made in J&K since August 2019,” she added.
Senior National Conference leader Rhullah Mehdi who have been arguing for agitation for the restoration of statehood and Article 370, tweeted, “Congratulations to the farmers who fought for their right and got it. You get what you deserve.”
Congratulations to the farmers who fought for their right and got it.
You get what you deserve.— Ruhullah Mehdi (@RuhullahMehdi) November 19, 2021
Many here argue that if the Modi government doesn't restore statehood and Article 370 then the Supreme Court will. They say the very basis, on which Article 370 was abrogated is flawed as a centrally appointed governor cannot be a substitute to an elected government and judges will be “too hard-pressed to ignore this big elephant in the room.”
There are around two dozen petitions pending before the Supreme Court for the past two years that challenge nullification of Article 370 and the validity of the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 that divided the erstwhile state of J&K into two union territories.
On August 28, 2019, the Supreme Court had referred petitions challenging Presidential Orders nullifying Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories to a five-judge Constitution Bench.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which divided the state into two union territories has already been acted upon as the government has come with modifications about adaption and extending of scores of central laws to J&K.
“The Supreme Court can always turn the clock back,” a five-judge Constitution Bench had said on October 1, 2020, when it took up the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 and the August 5 Presidential Orders nullifying Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The BJP government on August 5, 2019 revoked Article 370 and Article 35A and dismembered Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two union territories. The government is saying that it will restore statehood only after the delimitation exercise and the elections in J&K. While the government describes revocation of Article 370 as one of the biggest achievements of the past 70 years.
Many analysts here say the repeal of farmers’ law and Article 370 abrogation has nothing to do with each other. They say in the case of Jammu and Kashmir the government has not any pressure within the country and any action in J&K like abrogation of Article 370 has widespread support. They say political parties including Congress have been supportive of the government in the case of Article 370. They also say there is no geopolitical pressure on the government to reverse the decisions of August 5, 2019.