The day Jammu and Kashmir lost its special status with the scrapping of Article 370
- Last year on August 5, Centre scrapped the Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir
- Article 370 gave a special status of semi-autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir
- The abrogation in the state came with total communication blackout and restriction of movement
A year ago on this date, the government abrogated Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the clause that gave the state a special status for 72 years, and bifurcated it into two union territories. The decision was welcomed and overwhelmingly supported by the people and several party leaders in India. In Jammu and Kashmir, the move came with total communication black out, additional troops and restriction on movement.
Rahila Shafi, an engineer from Srinagar, said days before the August 5 “a lot of buzz was going around the valley, with some people saying that Article 370 would be abrogated while others saying there is going to be a war.”
Another resident of Srinagar Mannat Shuja said, “Last year, on August 4, there was chaos on the streets with heavy traffic jams and people buying and stocking up things as we knew something big was going to happen.”
On August 5, Union Minister Amit Shah said the government of India is repealing Article 370, with all clauses of it becoming nonfunctional and was converting the state into two union territories, one being Jammu and Kashmir, other Ladakh. Shah in the parliament said, “We are rectifying a historic blunder.”
“There was silence all around [after the announcement by Amit Shah] ” Shafi said.
Danish Pandit, another student from Jamia Millia Islamia, said, “On the night of August 4, I talked to my family back in Kashmir, they said everything is fine. But the next day I heard that Article 370 has been scrapped.”
The means of communication were clamped down in Kashmir, internet services were blocked and phone lines were cut from midnight of August 5. “It was like we were back to the stone-age,” Mehreen Qadri, an IT professional, said.
Shuja added, “My mother and I went to the DC office, late in August last year, to make a phone call to our family. We went in the morning, and after a day-long wait, we were able to talk to my father and brother in the evening, that too for a minute or two.”
The postpaid mobile phone services were restored in mid-October last year while other mobile phone services, including 2G internet, were restored in January 2020. “We still have not got 4G services, while the world is moving towards 5G,” Shafi said.
“Students had to fill forms of applications of different universities but due to communication blockade, everyone lost their chance. Future of thousands of children got compromised as well as small and local scale businesses suffered majorly,” Qadri said.
Jammu and Kashmir suffered a loss worth Rs 17,878 crore in four months after the Article 370 was abrogated leading to continuous economic restrictions and shutdowns. The report, based on a comprehensive sector-wise data, was released by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) in December last year.
The lockdown, prolonged due to the COVID-19 pandemic, continues in the Valley with curfew imposed on August 5 in view of the first anniversary of the abrogation.
"Unlock 3.0 is happening, unlock 2.0 unlock 1.0 but we continue to remain under lockdown,” said Shuja.