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Home >Opinion >Quick Edit >Opinion | J&K needs a healing touch

The Union government is reportedly mulling the prospect of according special status to the newly-formed Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh under Article 371 of the Constitution, or along the same lines. As of now, this Article makes special provisions for some 11 states: Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, and Karnataka. These provisions confer a range of special rights on the states, designed to help them preserve their unique culture, customary laws, and economic interests. For example, no law passed by Indian Parliament applies to Nagaland that would impinge on the socio-religious practices of Nagas, or the ownership and transfer of land in the state and its resources.

Jammu and Kashmir has been under a lockdown since August, when the government withdrew the limited autonomy granted under Article 370 and fully integrated it with India. The Centre also bifurcated the state into two Union Territories, effective 31 October. While the government maintains that normalcy has returned in the former state, its top political leaders remain in detention, internet services are yet to be restored, and not all communication lines are functional.

That the state needs a healing touch is beyond dispute. For the country’s embrace to yield positive results, the government needs to accelerate development efforts in Jammu and Kashmir. One of the key concerns among Kashmiris has been what they see as a coming influx of “outsiders" keen to snap up property and settle there. The Centre would do well to allay such anxieties. After all, self protective measures are available to various other states of the Union. The government also must work towards ensuring that residents of Kashmir valley have access to all the usual amenities that other Indians do.

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