THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 April 2020 (Preparing for a new political field in Jammu and Kashmir (The Hindu))

Preparing for a new political field in Jammu and Kashmir (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2:Polity 
Prelims level:TRIVIA- Gupkar Declaration
Mains level: Role of state political parties in a democracy 


  • With National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah being released after over seven months of detention, there is an air of inevitabilityto the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti, being released as well.
  • There were expectations that Mr. Omar Abdullah and Ms. Mufti would be released in tandem, but nearly a month after Mr. Omar Abdullah’s release, it is strange that her detention should continue. 
  • Ms. Mufti has merely been moved out of a sub-jail into her official residence, where she remains in detention.

New contours:

  • Notably, since they’ve been set free, neither of the Abdullahs has rocked Delhi’s political boat leading to speculation whether there had been some understanding reached prior to their release or whether they are keeping their powder dry following the Gupkar Declaration of August 4, 2019.
  • During that meeting, politicians from across the spectrum, minus those from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), pledged to unite to safeguard the special status and autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. Perhaps there is fear that Ms. Mufti could queer the pitch when she is unencumberedof her strictures and inconveniently starts harking back to August 5, 2019; after all, she has support among the Jamaat-e-Islami in south Kashmir.


TRIVIA- Gupkar Declaration:

  • It is for the first time in the history of Kashmir that all main pro-India political parties had a premonition that India might commit aggression against the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. 
  • They decided to meet at the Gupkar Residence of Dr. farooq Abdullah, President Jammu Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) on 4 August 2019 to “deliberate upon the prevailing political situation, triggered by massive deployment of security forces, advisories issued, abandonment of Amarnath Yatra midway and forced removal of tourists from the Valley.” 
  • The meeting was attended by 18 leaders from 7 political parties, namely NC, PDP, JKPC, Congress, CPIM, PUF and ANC. The two members of Parliament elected from NC also attended the meeting. After deliberations the parties adopted a “Gupkar Declaration”, which carried the following three demands:
  • “That all the parties would be united in their resolve to protect and defend identity, autonomy and special status of the JK State against all attacks and onslaughts whatsoever
  • The modification, abrogation of articles 35A, 370, trifurcation of the State or unconstitutional delimitation would be an aggression against the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • That the parties participating in the meeting resolved to seek audience with the President and Prime Minister of India and the leaders of other political parties to apprise them of the current situation and make an appeal to them to safeguard the legitimate interests of the people of State with regard to constitutional guarantees given to the State under the constitution of our country.

Undesirable domino effect:

  • Competitive jostlingfor political space could have an undesirable domino effectas New Delhi struggles to create a new political playing field, the contours of which are becoming clearer now. 
  • For one, it would make the going much tougher for New Delhi’s favourite, Apni Party, led by Altaf Bukhari and comprising a motleygroup of politicians who have defected, resigned or were fired from different political parties.
  • Left alone in the political field, the Apni Party will gain disdainand derision rather than political heft. This must have been a big factor in the rethink on continuing to keep the Abdullahs in detention. The question remains: what will be New Delhi’s road map for Jammu and Kashmir?

A cauldron of resentments:

  • Eight months of sustained lockdown has indubitablyleft many sections of Kashmiri society crushed economically and otherwise. There is perhaps a cauldron of resentments there, more susceptible than ever before. 
  • Before the novel coronavirus came along, Kashmir’s apple orchards did some business. But all other avenues of income, such as the handicrafts industry, small enterprises, the papier-mâché industry, the carpet industry and tourism, could not have thrived.
  • There was a strangleholdon social media. Broadband as well as mobile Internet services in the region were banned for months. 
  • Broadband and 2G Internet were restored in January, but they severely constrainall sorts of community, communication and business activities that normal societies thrive on.

Increased armed activity:

  • It’s spring in Kashmir, and the security forces confront a situation of increased armed activity. After claiming responsibility for the Kabul Gurdwara attack on March 25 that killed over 25 people, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan Province said that the attack was “revenge for Kashmir.”
  • This mutual reinforcementcould turn into a wellspring for the radicalisedKashmiri as well as for Pakistan which is set to get a better gripon Kabul via the Taliban. 
  • India temporarily closed two consulates in Afghanistan (Herat and Jalalabad) in the first week of April anticipating growing security threats, among other things. At least two of the five militants who killed para commandos in early April in Kupwara, close to the Line of Control, were local youth from south Kashmir.

Change in dynamic:

  • The COVID-19 crisis has certainly changed the dynamic of the discourse somewhat. It has given time for the government to prepare the playing field better. Delimitation will be the key. 
  • There will be more electoral loading in Jammu, which will take away some of the emphasis from the constituencies in Kashmir, which have espoused separatist sentiments.
  • Yet, delimitationbased on the infirmities of the 2011 Census would make less sense than one based on 2021, which has been deferred indefinitely. Elections could happen once the seats have increased from 83 to 90, which gives plenty of time to get the panchayat elections right. 
  • The last panchayat elections were a disaster because the mainstream political parties boycotted it. Nearly 12,000 posts were left vacant. This time the government will be keen to ensure more healthy participation.

Way ahead:

  • The rough road ahead looks something like this: if the COVID-19 crisis abates, the Amarnath Yatra will be held from mid-June to end-July, and if the security situation permits, the panchayat elections will be held. Later, the Census will be conducted and delimitation will occur. 
  • Following all this, the Assembly elections will take place. All this could take more than a year and a half. Somewhere in the middle of all this danglesthe carrot of promised statehood.
  • Though individual members are popular enough to stand on their own feet in their constituencies, the Apni Party cannot provide an overarchingpolitical framework for Jammu and Kashmir. J
  • ammu BJP and Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference chairman Sajjad Lone might add some numbers. The rest the BJP may manage, as it did in Goa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.


  • It is unclear if the National Conference and the PDP, and others of the Gupkar grouping, if they contest, can come together to deny New Delhi political space. 
  • But right now the Kashmiri is a mere bystanderas the framework of a new political order is sought to be worked and put in place by New Delhi.


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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1)With reference to the Market Intervention Scheme, consider the following statements:
1. The Market Intervention Scheme is meant to protect the growers of perishable commodities from making distress sales, especially at times when prices fall below the cost of production. 
2. The scheme can be invoked only by the central government. 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2



Mains Questions:
Q.1)The Kashmiri is a mere bystander as the framework of a new political order is being worked by New Delhi. Critically examine the statement.