The Modi Era’s Best Kept Secret is that Jammu and Kashmir Continues to Enjoy Special Status

No other region of India is held by the Centre so tightly to its fatherly heart as J&K.

For some four years now, deposed and unwanted political forces have been spreading the canard that Jammu and Kashmir has been robbed of its “special status.”

Simply not true.

The fact is that after its recent full integration with the Union of India via the reading down of Article 370, the “special status” of the erstwhile state has become even more “special.” 

To illustrate:

Name a single other state which, since Independence, has been elevated from a mere state to a Union Territory, and then sundered into two for even greater exclusivity of status to set it off from run-of-the-mill provinces.


Does that not make J&K “special”?

Name me another state that has been relieved of the burden, expense and contentious rigmarole of an elected assembly for four long years, and bestowed the direct munificence of a caring Union government that holds Kashmiris tight to its fatherly heart – sparing them the pitfalls of exposure to their own worst  needs and desires, and what they innocently call their “rights.”


So, who remains “special” still?

Name me a region, other than J&K, in which the favour of a delimitation exercise has been granted, as a special exemption when such an exercise is slated for 2026 everywhere else? And where such delimitation has renovated constituencies away from the designated principles of demographic evenness and geographical contiguity, in order to strengthen “nationalist” forces by enhancing their prospects of winning elections.

Is that not “special” I ask you?

Name me another state or UT where high bureaucratic offices are entrusted to choice incumbents from the rest of the country, so as to advance the rapid development of the territory for all-India purposes, leaving local officers free to pursue less onerous responsibilities in view of their strained circumstances?

None whatsoever. Is that not a “special” kind of ‘good governance’?

Name me another part of India where households and lands held in possession for long decades by residents are kindly demolished and turned into shining new prospects for others rather than lazily “regularised”, as routinely done, in other cities and states, including the capital, New Delhi. 

Where other peoples are fobbed off with the promise of  “PM Awas Yojana”, Kashmiri properties are razed to facilitate a “smart city” future for India’s most beloved bit of real estate.

A video screengrab shows a demolition drive in progress at Padshahi Bagh in Srinagar.

Is there a parallel to that benevolence anywhere else in the republic?

Name me another state where citizens are sought to be protected from evil ones by an army which deploys close to one man for every 20 citizens; where such protective laws as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) remain in place despite overwhelming normalcy in order to forestall avalanches and other natural disasters from disfiguring the beautiful valley. Or, where laws like the Public Safety Act also remain on the books, so that instant justice is ensured to keep the paradise on earth insulated from the damage caused by the interminable delays of the justice-delivery system elsewhere in the country.

OK, some states in the Northeast have AFSPA too, but if the use of preventive detention laws is proliferating throughout the country, that is only because other states do not want Kashmiris alone to enjoy their benefits.

Is there any other part of the republic where the army runs cricket tournaments and sundry other forms of healthfully diversionary physical engagements so as to shield impressionable young minds from useless thoughts about the collective condition of Kashmiris, the causes thereof – and the many idle fracas that attend on such unwarranted “larger thinking?”

If that is not extraordinarily “special” what is?

Name me another territory where learned Pandits have unrestricted freedom to protest in open street, or even in front of a ruling party office for months on end in a sort of replicated Shaheen Bagh, so that no BBC may come along to report that an unelected administration has made it impossible for Kashmiris to vent their hurts.

And name me another region of India where stray youth and those that pretentiously think for themselves are dealt with and dispatched with quite the firm alacrity as the defaulters in J&K? Where their irresponsible desire for escapism and flight is curbed by lookout circulars at the airport and conveniently delayed passports?

And, yet, in the teeth of all these facts, the calumny is sought to be spread that J&K is no longer “special”, and that Kashmiris deserve to do their own dirty political and social work rather than be so specially favoured by the love of the Modi government.

How far can thanklessness go?