Binoo Joshi

JK News Today Commentary

Jammu: Union Home Minister Amit Shah has stated it very categorically that the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held before September this year as per the directions of the Supreme Court of India . He has ended uncertainty hovering over the Assembly polls in the Union Territory , which had thickened after the Election Commission of Inda did not spell out a clear deadline for holding J&K polls.
The union home minister has drawn a roadmap for the polls , now it is the turn of the people in J&K to respond in a positive fashion . The democratic process is on . This was the prime message, as Home Minister reflected on all the elections held in J&K – three-tier panchayat polls and a sense of growth of democracy from the grassroots to the highest portals – Panchayats to Parliament .
Amit Shah brought down curtains on the uncertainties surrounding the J&K polls , when he told anchor of CNN News 18 that “ the polls will be held before September as directed by the Supreme Court of India . This is for the first time that such an affirmation has been made by the Centre ever since Supreme Court’s December 11 , 2023 directions to the Election Commission of India to hold the polls before September 30th .
The SC had issued these directions while delivering judgment on the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir , saying that the abrogation of Article 370 was both legal and constitutional . It had also asked the Centre to address the question of restoration of statehood to J&K at the earliest without setting any deadline .
Amit Shah’s affirmation that the J&K polls will be held before September is critically important for two reasons : it is the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that manages all affairs of the UT, ever since J&K became Union Territory on October 31, 2019 and therefore it is its responsibility to provide adequate number of security forces for the all-important polls since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 .
Secondly , it is reaffirmation of the Government of India ‘s resolve that it is committed to connect all the dots of democracy as per the aspirations of the people of the UT . This is a big statement , and it will erase all doubts .
This needs to be contextualized in the time frame since the abrogation of Article 370 . There was a feeling among some quarters that the Article 370 that granted and guaranteed special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir , including a separate constitution and flag besides an all-powerful legislature that could facilitate or stall entry of Central laws to the state , was a protective shield for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. This was further cemented by the fact that only the permanent resident certificate holders that is the natives alone could own immovable properties , and get job into the government services . This notion had persisted among the generations . The Article 370 , it is also a fact, was used as a spring board to blackmail the Centre that if certain demands were not fulfilled , it could have other options . The Plebiscite Front that existed for 22 years from 1953 to 1975 – seeded secessionism . The PF was a front name to National Conference that opened the idea of options other than the accession of Kashmir to India – that is Pakistan could also be the option . And more than 30 years of militancy had brought J&K to brink.
In real essence, the abrogation of Article 370 was not only the change made in the Constitution , which decimated the parallel symbols and the institutions in the country , but it also redefined that how Jammu and Kashmir could overcome all the hurdles and perceptions with which it had lived for decades. So, the abrogation of Article 370 opened doors to new ideas and aspirations – the tunnel view was replaced by larger vistas of opportunities and growth – the glimpses of which were visible in the windfall of tourists , heighted economic activity and promised investment by big business houses of India and foreign countries .
The promise to hold Assembly polls by September this year will also encourage the voters in J&K to participate in larger numbers in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls . The road to democracy is becoming visible to the naked eye .