Changes in Article 370 may lead to protests, London seminar told


London, June 21: Repealing or abrogating key Jammu and Kashmir-specific provisions in India’s Constitution could provoke protests and more radicalisation in the state, a seminar at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) was told on Thursday.
Setting out what was billed as the ‘first detailed examination’ of the new government’s foreign and security priorities, Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, IISS senior fellow for South Asia, and others presented a range of perspectives at the seminar on ‘India’s Modi government 2.0 – foreign and security priorities’.
Noting that there is no immediate interest in India’s security establishment to resume official dialogue with Pakistan, Roy-Chaudhury said ‘back channel’ efforts between the two countries should be complemented with measures on Jammu and Kashmir.
“The Modi government needs to exercise caution over its stated objective of abrogating Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution, lest it lead to demographic changes provoking further violent protests and an increase in the radicalisation of Kashmiri youth”, he said.
Article 370 grants autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, while Article 35A allows the state legislature to define ‘permanent resident’ of the state, which is key to exercising various citizen rights.
On India-UK ties, Roy-Chaudhury said there are considerable post-Brexit opportunities, especially in terms of a convergence of interests on key issues of growing importance to India, such as cyber security and maritime affairs, besides increased sensitivities and prospective compromises on one another’s security concerns.
According to Antoine Levesques, IISS Research Fellow for South Asia, Indian statecraft’s challenge to 2024 will continue on simultaneously growing ties with the US and China, while strengthening India’s deterrence and defence towards China.
“The flipside to India’s growing strategic footprint in Southern Asia and the Indo-Pacific will become ever-more apparent: India will require a deft mix of leadership, process-driven, defence and public diplomacy to manage the growing inter-dependencies in its separate ties to Washington and Beijing”, he said.
Viraj Solanki, a research analyst at the think-tank, highlighted India’s focus on the littoral and island states of the Indian Ocean, stating that the Modi government will seek to enhance three key areas of cooperation with its neighbours: connectivity, including project execution; maritime security; and counter-terrorism. (Courtesy: HT)