There has been much hue and cry from the Pakistani side over the abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian government, but a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) has opined that removing the said Article will help in rooting out several terrorist organisations operating in Kashmir.
In an article published in the European Parliament’s monthly newspaper EP Today, Member of the European Parliament Tomas Zdechovsky said that “such terrorist groups are spreading violence in the Kashmir valley and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK)”.
These armed groups were reportedly responsible for attacks on persons affiliated or associated with political organisations in Jammu and Kashmir including the killing of at least six political party workers and a separatist leader.
In the lead up to the local elections in October 2018, armed groups threatened Kashmiris attempting to participate in the elections, and warned of “dire consequences” if those running for elections did not immediately withdraw their nomination papers and publicly apologised for their actions. While armed groups have sporadically threatened political workers in previous elections, the number of attacks in 2018 is amongst the highest in recent times.
Pakistan-based armed groups that operate mostly in Indian-Administered Kashmir have also been accused of harassing and threatening nationalist and pro-independence political workers in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. On 2 August 2018, unknown armed group members attacked and burned down at least 12 schools in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Diamer district. At least half were girls’ schools.
On the 14th of February, 2019, a suicide bombing against the Indian security forces in Pulwama was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed. India blamed Pakistan for continuing to support the group’s activities.
In its fight against terrorism, and against acts of violence in Indian-Administered Kashmir and also in India, by Pakistani based terrorists and armed groups, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi had to act. His choice of action, whilst harsh and direct was criticised by many who failed to understand his motive. On the 5th of August 2019, Prime Minister Modi revoked Article 370 through a Presidential Order and the passage of a resolution in Parliament.
Article 370 of the Indian constitution gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir allowing it to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal administration of the state.
PM Modi understood the challenge he was undertaking with his sudden revocation of Article 370, although for those following his election campaign, he had already committed to undertake this initiative if his electorate were to appoint him.
“With his landslide victory, his focus on genuinely protecting his people by prioritising the fight against terrorism remains unshaken. Providing almost immediate justification to his actions, on 6th August, the day after his announcement to revoke Article 370,” Tomas stated.
Tomas said Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a dramatic speech that invited and incited further terrorist activity in India saying that incidents like Pulwama are bound to happen again.
“I can already predict this will happen,” Tomas quoted Khan as saying while calling to his Parliament, people and Pakistani based terrorist groups.
At the same time his Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa stated that Pakistan’s military will “go to any extent” to protect Kashmir. Mullah Masood Azhar, chief of the Jihadi group, further exclaimed that now is the time that Kashmiris need to come out with unity so that the enemy will beg for peace and negotiations.
“It is hoped that by the equal inclusion of Jammu and Kashmir state under the same constitution as India’s other twenty-eight states, India can ensure that its values of free and fair elections without intimidation, its values of diversity and religious harmony, and its fight against terrorism, can provide greater stability and security not only for the people of India, but for those throughout South Asia,” Tomas concluded.