Ottawa (August 5, 2019): The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply concerned by the Government of India’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Article 370 gave the State of Jammu & Kashmir the right to its own constitution and decision-making processes for all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs. Article 370 dates back to 1949 when Kashmir agreed to become part of the Indian Union on the condition that it would retain a degree of autonomy.
The revocation of Article 370 came unannounced and accompanied by a bill to divide and reorganize the State of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories. The freshly divided State of Jammu & Kashmir would relinquish major powers to the Central Government but would retain a state legislature while the newly carved out State of Ladakh would be under direct central governance.
The shocking measures adopted today, came after the deployment of 35,000 extra troops into Kashmir in recent days- an area that is already one of the most militarized regions in the world. Authorities have also suspended internet services creating a blackout of the entire region. Many Kashmiri political leaders have been arrested and taken into custody. Late Sunday in Kashmir, Indian forces laid steel barricades and razor wire on roads and intersections and issued a security order banning public meetings, rallies and movement and the closure of schools.
WSO President Mukhbir Singh said today,
“The Indian Government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and the division and reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir is shocking and unprecedented. Kashmir joined the Indian Union based on the terms set out in Article 370 and to withdraw those protections without due process or consultations with the people of Kashmir flies in the face of democratic values and norms. The Indian government has acted in an authoritarian manner by stripping Jammu & Kashmir of its constitutionally mandated autonomy and relegating it to an occupied territory. The rule of law and basic democratic values have not been respected. We fear for the people of Kashmir as their political leadership is under mass arrest and their civil rights have been suspended. The international community must not silently observe as human rights are trampled in Kashmir.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, the irrespective of race, religion , gender, ethnicity, social and economic status.