Will I ever buy a house in Kashmir? No.
Will I set up a shop in Kashmir? Of course not.
Will I marry a Kashmiri man? Not likely.
Then why does Kashmir and abrogation of Article 370 matter to me? Well, because Article 370 had been questioning my status as an equal citizen of this country all along. It made me feel dejected, discriminated for 70 years.
Before independence, there were restaurants, and clubs that had boards hanging outside, reading: ‘Dogs and Indians not allowed’. These venues were in the Indian territory, might have even been running on the riches of India, but Indians weren’t allowed to enter them.
After Independence, the board was taken down from such clubs and restaurants and hung on Kashmir: ‘Indians not allowed’.
I have always been in complete cognizance that the state of Jammu & Kashmir is being built and sustained on the money I pay in taxes: the money my father, my grandfather had paid in taxes for seven long decades. But I was refused the right to that land: the prohibition rubbed on my nose was an insult to me, to my Indianness, to my absolute freedom in every part of my country, and to my unquestioned claim to every bit of it.
On the other hand, a resident of that state, regardless of his/her faith, irrespective of the language he/she spoke, had been enjoying every right I was denied. He/she could work, engage in business, study, occupy and inhabit any part of India.
If I am denied a set of opportunities which are bestowed upon another, I, as a self-respecting human, would feel like a second-grade citizen. This was like proof of the disparity with which the Indian Constitution treated its citizens: a Constitution that otherwise boasted of ‘Equality of status and of opportunity’ in its Preamble.
The existence of Article 370 and 35A, appeared to thwart the Constitution’s promise of equality. Its presence made the Constitution, which I have pledged my total allegiance to, a sham. How can a citizen feel secure in his country when its Constitution seems to treat him differently from others?
Though these questions clouded my mind for the longest time, not for a moment did I disrespect the Constitution, even as it imposed restrictions on me and bestowed numerous favours upon the people of Jammu & Kashmir...
Article 370 and 35A did not affect only the people of J&K or those who have ambitions of buying property or starting business ventures in the state.
Whether or not one has aims of establishing a business in Kashmir, marrying a Kashmiri, buying a house in Kashmir, the denial of these basic rights boils the blood of every self-respecting citizen. A shameful discrimination that separated one Indian from another for 70 years.
The scrapping of this discrimination was long due: these articles have now been trashed and this reinstates ‘equality’ among Indians.