Coalition of Hindus of North America

JAMMU & KASHMIR AFTER ARTICLE 370

CONTEMPORARY HISTORY & BACKGROUND

 On August 5 2019, India made waves when it nullified the controversial Article 370 in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

One year later, let’s revisit history, learn of the impact of this decision and hear the perspectives that often get ignored.

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CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

Kashmir is often seen as some sort of Indian military occupation over a Muslim majority region. A brief history would help in understanding this conflict better. The state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was primarily Hindu until the 14th century and the birthplace of Shaivism – one of the major traditions in Hinduism that reveres Lord Shiva. The state itself is named for an ancient Hindu sage Kashyap.

The tutelary deity of classical Kashmir was Sharada, a manifestation of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom, whose prayers refer to her as “Kashmira-pura-vasini” (she who resides in Kashmir). Over the last 500 years, its indigenous residents have been the subject to repeated persecution leading to the “Seven Exoduses of Kashmiri Hindus”.

A WIN FOR PROGRESSIVE RIGHTS

Leaving aside the inherent dichotomy of having “special territories” within a nation, the nullification of Article 370 was a win for basic rights we take for granted here in America as well as most of India. Introduced in 1954 as a “temporary” provision, the special status had led to an ossification of laws and policies in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) with women, Dalits, LGBTQ and other marginalized groups bearing the brunt of discrimination.

In its seven decades following independence, India had enacted a number of progressive laws, but their deployment in J&K was blocked by its ‘special’ status. These included laws enabling transparency within the government such as the Right to Information (RTI) to reservations in jobs and education (affirmative action) for lower castes, tribals and other disadvantaged groups. Also blocked were guidelines prohibiting child marriage that had been in force in the rest of India for decades, along with more recently enacted protections abolishing the system of instant verbal divorce (triple talaq) for Muslim women. 

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