Article 370: Kashmiri groups in U.K. react with sadness and joy

While some hail the decision, others call it call it ‘unwise, unjust and against established norms of democracy’.

August 05, 2019 07:56 pm | Updated 09:42 pm IST - London

The news of the Indian government amending Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir received a mixed reaction from Kashmiri groups in the U.K. with some terming it as a “sad day” while others hailing it as a “historic day”.

The government on Monday amended Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and proposed that the State be bifurcated into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

“It is a sad day for people of Jammu and Kashmir, because our State of Jammu and Kashmir is officially decimated by the government of India, said Dr. Shabir Choudhry, president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United Kashmir Peoples National Party.

This decision is unwise, unjust and against established norms of democracy. This unwise decision will be opposed by all true sons of the soil, and challenged on streets, in courts and all international fora, said the U.K.-based Kashmiri independence activist.

The Indo-European Kashmir Forum (IEKF), an Indian diaspora outfit set up in the late 1980s to campaign for the human rights of Kashmiri Hindus, welcomed the Indian government’s decision as wonderful news, which would lead to peace and prosperity in the Valley.

‘We are over the moon’

“This is a historic day. We are over the moon. We have waited for this day for a long time and are overjoyed that the day has finally arrived, said Krishna Bhan, president of IEKF and director in charge of Kashmiri Hindu affairs at the Hindu Council U.K.

In the short term, there will be hurdles but given time, the situation will settle down and pave the way for peace and prosperity in the Valley, ultimately free of terrorism that we have suffered for so long. Already there are plans for a business summit in November, so the groundwork is being laid for the economic development of the region, she said.

While the U.K. government is yet to formally react to the development, it had already updated its travel advisory for British nationals to reiterate avoiding travel to the region and called on those already in the region to remain vigilant .

Strategic experts warned of the international implications of India’s move, which would require proactive diplomatic measures to counter the negative outcomes.

‘Bold move’

Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, senior fellow for South Asia at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think tank, described it as the first significant policy decision of the Modi 2.0 government, which was a bold move based on strong ideological grounds, political rhetoric and the implementation of the BJP manifesto.

He said: This move is widely expected to increase the unrest that prevails among the Kashmiri citizens in the Valley, although not the larger areas of Jammu and Ladakh. The government’s pre-emptive security measures the past few days seeks to deter some of this prospective unrest.

Dr. Gareth Price, senior research fellow, Asia-Pacific Programme, at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as Chatham House, said it was difficult to fully discern the broad plan behind the Indian government’s decision. He said: “It is a decision that will clearly play well with the Hindu BJP vote base but as for its international implications and impact on Kashmir itself, only time will tell.

“If there is a long-term international plan with a view to clearly demarcate Jammu and Kashmir as Indian territory, with the Line of Control (LoC) as the border with Pakistan, it remains very uncertain. But as for the impact on the peace and security situation in Kashmir and the implications on the people of Kashmir, it is difficult to imagine a positive outcome.”

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