In a show of resistance following the revocation of Article 370, Left parties continued their protest for the third day on Wednesday. A massive all-India call was given by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM), Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation (CPIML) along with affiliated organisations.
The Left leaders alongside students, activists and other civil society members took out a march in the heart of Delhi – from Mandi House to Parliament Street. Similar protests are being conducted across India in Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, etc.
Many Kashmiri students, who participated in the protest, spoke of their anxieties over the complete clampdown in the state. Tabinda, a working professional in Delhi, told NewsClick: “We haven’t slept in over three days. We are not being able to contact our families. We have no idea as to what they are being told and if they are even aware that our constitutional right and the statehood of J&K has been taken away in a few minutes by the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] government without even consulting the stakeholders from the state.”
On August 5, Home Minister Amit Shah had presented a resolution in Rajya Sabha to abrogate Article 370. On Tuesday, it cruised through Lok Sabha with several opposition parties walking out and others siding with the government – like Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal, Jagan Reddy's YSR Congress, N Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party and Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party. On Wednesday, President Ram Nath Kovind declared abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The move came after both houses of Parliament passed a resolution in this regard.
Speaking to NewsClick, Brinda Karat, politburo member of the CPI(M), said, “The BJP is trying to package this move as one that connects people of Kashmir to the rest of the country. The truth is that the BJP has crushed the voice of the ordinary Kashmiris imposing a complete shutdown in the state and shrouding the process in complete secrecy from the common people, whose lives are deeply impacted by this decision.”
Also read: In My Own Voice: Revoking Article 370 will Erase Kashmiriyat
In the week preceding this move by the BJP, over 8,000 troops were deployed in the state, the Amar Nath Yatra was also suspended on the pretext of an alleged “terror threat”. Anjali Bhardwaj, an RTI activist, said, “The Narendra Modi government, in its bid to pass this order, scuttled all parliamentary processes, making this an arbitrary decision, the government has shown this trend throughout the Parliament session, where multiple such bills have been passed without any consultation, which is leading to the subversion of democratic process.”
Activists are viewing the abrogation as an attempt by the BJP-RSS to stealthily take India towards the realisation of their vision of a Hindu Rashtra by altering the demographics of the state, making the move a communal plank. Marching in Delhi, social rights activist Syeda Hameed said, “The move is a deliberate slap in the face of secularism in India. As someone born in Kashmir, this move is one that is deeply disturbing and one that is triggering anxieties across India and not just the state, from declaring a National Register of Citizens to this abrogation, it is clear that the BJP is targeting the minorities through all of its moves, by finding legal loopholes.”
Post the announcement on August 5, while most of Kashmir continues to face a communication blackout, BJP leaders from across the country have been hailing the decision as one that is necessary for “national integration”. Riding high on this tide, many are also fuelling jingoism. One BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh, Vikram Singh Saini, said on Monday that BJP workers were “excited” by the change as they can now marry “fair girls from Kashmir”.
Speaking to NewsClick, Annie Raja of the CPI said, “The Left parties have come together today yet again to fight the politics of hate and the jingoism that is being fuelled by this move, which was in complete violation of the parliamentary process.”
The battle against the abrogation is not being fought just on the streets; a petition challenging the Presidential Order on Article 370 has also been filed in the Supreme Court. The plea has been filed by advocate ML Sharma who claimed that the Presidential Order was "illegal" as it was passed without taking consent from the state Assembly.
The abrogation takes away the special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Now, Jammu and Kashmir will not be a state; it will a Union Territory. Special features like a separate constitution, separate flag and separate status will be no more after repealing Article 370. With the removal of Article 370, Article 35A will be also scrapped. Now, people from other states may also buy or purchase land and settle there, which can lead to major changes to the demographic character of the state.
Previously, members of various left organisations gathered at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on August 5, 2019, to protest against the Bharatiya Janata Party government's decision to revoke Article 370. The protest demonstration saw the participation of students, professors, researchers and activists who raised slogans against the undemocratic methods adopted by the Modi government. On the same day, members of Left parties, who were protesting against the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and dismantling of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, were abused, attacked and injured by a group of Bajrang Dal members in Patna. The leadership has now vowed to keep the protests going on the ground building momentum in order to appeal against the revocation.
Also read: The Article 370 Amendments: Key Legal Issues