Refugees from West Pakistan seeking justice wtih them through a demonstration in Jammu
The deadly combination of Article 370 and 35A, dynastic politics, nepotism and communalism was in play misusing a large amount of funds allocated by Centre for development of entire J&K. West Pak refugees and SCs/STs were always denied the benefits
Government of Bharat’s decision to amend Article 370 and remove 35A, combined with the bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) state into two Union Territories (UTs) has surprised, baffled and shocked many. During the debate in Parliament, the opposition parties argued that this move was unconstitutional and against the people of J&K.
Bharat at the time of Independence on August 15, 1947 comprised of more than 560 princely states. They were given only two options, either to join Bharat or Pakistan. No state was permitted to remain independent by the outgoing British government. The agreement of accession to Bharat, signed by the ruler of Jammu-Kashmir state Maharaja Hari Singh on October 26, 1947, was no different from all other princely states that merged with Bharat.
But before the agreement was signed, the Pakistan army invaded Kashmir in the guise of Kabailis (tribals) to forcibly capture entire Kashmir that was Muslim majority. Though the state of J&K was saved with the timely intervention of the Bharatiya forces some territory of the State remained under the illegal occupation of Pakistan, which is known as Pak occupied Jammu & Kashmir (POJK). The process of accession was complete but as the matter was pending with the UN and some territory was under illegal occupation of Pakistan, the Bharatiya government wanted some time to normalise the situation for implementing the Bharatiya Constitution in totality to the newly accessed J&K state. For this, Article 370 was invoked until the things got normal and it was mentioned that it would be temporary and transient. Defence, security, judiciary and foreign affairs were under the central government and all other matters would be dealt with by the J&K state assembly.
But for Pandit Nehru’s bias for Sheikh Abdullah and his communal politics, Article 35A was introduced undemocratically, surreptitiously merely by a Presidential Order in 1954, without the approval of the Parliament. This was the main culprit and cause of all the trouble that gave the state, powers to decide who would be a permanent resident of J&K state. This Article was anti-Scheduled Caste (SC), anti-Scheduled Tribe (ST) and discriminatory to women.
The state of J&K doesn’t comprise of people living in Kashmir Valley alone but also includes people of Jammu and Ladakh region. The benefits or losses due to this special status should be reviewed in its entirety and not just limited to the Valley. Under the cover of this special status, Pak-sponsored terrorism and separatist forces were fostered to keep the state unstable in the name of religion and politics, warring against the Bharatiya security forces that were brought here to protect the people.
This act of amending Article 370 and removal of 35A to extend all the Constitutional provisions to the state of J&K by the Government of Bharat is nothing but fulfilment of the promise given to the people of Bharat.
The part-II of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, 1957 mentions in Article 3 titled ‘Relationship of the State with the Union of India’ that “The state of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.
“Article 370, temporary provision with respect to the State of J&K” section 3 mentions that—“Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this article, the President may, by public notification, declare that this article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may specify”.
In 1964, a private bill in Parliament to amend Article 370 by a member Shri Prakashvir Shastri got unanimous support by all the members belonging to various parties. This bill received support from all the members belonging to various parties. Those who spoke in support of this bill to delete Article 370 included Socialists like Ram Manohar Lohia, Madhu Limaye, Hari Vishnu Kamath, communists like NC Chatterjee, Sarjoo Pandey, MPs from Congress like Bhagvat Jha Azad, SM Banerjee, K. Hanumanthaiya and four MPs from J&K. There was a consensus among MPs that Article 370 was a hindrance in the development of J&K. The MPs, especially those from J&K emphasised that it was a threat to national unity and integrity.
Gopal Datt Mengi, MP from J&K, lamented that Article 370 was a ‘curse’ for J&K. He said ‘Article 370 does not give us any special status, rather it has made us second class citizens in our own country. It is a wall between India and J&K’. Another MP, Abdul Ghani Goni, from J&K, who was also a close associate of Sheikh Abdullah, brought to the notice of the House the hindrances created in the overall development of the state due to the implementation of Article 370. He unhesitatingly said that “the then Prime Minister of J&K, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad had moved for the abrogation of Article 370, but the central government was not agreeable to it at that time. I do not know whether the central govt is under the influence of the west or wants appeasement policy towards Pakistan….. they want to please their neighbours at our cost”. Adding to the above points of discontent one more MP from J&K, Syed Nasir Husain Samnani, asked the House that reasons for not abrogating Article 370. He said what is the fault of the people of J&K that Article 370 is not abrogated? “We, the people of Kashmir never demanded that we should be treated differently. We do not want Article 370. I want to end this curse in my lifetime, for my safety, for my children’s safety, for the safety of our future generations.” In spite of such historical support the bill was not passed because it was a private members bill, sighting some technical issues, Congress wanted a better method to abrogate Article 370.
In 1994, the Congress-led government under the leadership of P.V. Narasimha Rao, the Parliament of Bharat passed a historic unanimous resolution that J&K state is an integral part of Bharat and the only outstanding issue is to get back the POJK from Pakistan. This shows that the removal of temporary Article 370 and 35A was a national consensus. That is why though major opposition party Congress opposed the move of the government officially, there were rumblings and division in the opinion of the Congress party itself.
All these facts make the Constitutional position clear that Article 370 was always temporary and someday it had to go. This decision will help all the citizens of J&K to join the nation in its journey towards development, prosperity and democratic practices. Under the alibi of special status, which continued to be temporary even after 70 long years, benefits of reservation in education and jobs were deprived to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Because of the restrictions in purchasing land, no investors were ready to invest in establishing premier educational institutions, multi-speciality hospitals, and industries depriving the people of J&K facility of quality education, health services and job opportunities for the youth.
Taking Democracy to J&K
Article 370 was a temporary provision and Constitution makers were clear about it. Still, under the guise of special status, only politics was played. The misuse of Article 370 led to the insertion of 35A through a Presidential Order, without any parliamentary approval. This provision created many Constitutional anomalies and deprived J&K of the real taste of democracy and governance.
This deadly combination of Article 370 and 35A, dynastic politics, nepotism and communalism was in play misusing a large amount of funds allocated by central government for development of the entire J&K state. Major junk of allocated funds was surreptitiously routed to benefit largely a few dynastic families and some separatist groups resorting to terrorism. In other states of Bharat there is a constitutional provision to appoint a Lokayukta, judicial authority to oversee utilisation of government funds and curb corruption in the system. This special status of J&K state prevented the appointment of Lokayukta, lest all the political corruption and misuse of the allocated funds would get exposed.
The RTI Act also has been helpful in curbing corruption and misuse of power in Bharat.
This will bring RTI act and Lokayukta to check corrupt practices by administration helping in clean and smooth governance. This decision has put all women at par with men in regards to choosing their life partner. Under the cover of special status, injustice was incurred to women in J&K. A man from J&K can marry any woman from outside J&K but woman, if marries a person from outside J&K state, will deprive her of any rights in her ancestral property.
This decision has removed the injustice incurred on 25,000 Gorkhas living in the state. The ruler of J&K Maharaja Gulab Singh had brought some families of Gorkha, a warrior race to join his army from Nepal. Since then they are staying and serving the people here. The special status had deprived these people of citizens’ rights as they were not given citizenship.
This historic decision will help 22,000 families of West Pakistan refugees to live a dignified life as a free citizen of Bharat. Even after more than 70 years, these West Pakistan refugees were bearing the brunt of being refugees and cannot be part of the national mainstream. More than 25000 families today that came from POJK will now be entitled to all citizen rights after so many years.
The Valmikis, Scheduled Castes were brought to work as sweepers from Punjab in the year 1957. Nobody among15000 Valmikis today, however educated are entitled to do any job other than sweepers. Now, all this inhuman injustice that was perpetrated under draconian Article 35A, undemocratically put into practice, is undone.
This important decision has rekindled the hope in 25 million Kashmiri Pandits to end the life of living as refugees in their own country and opened the option and possibility of resettling in their ancestral land. The darkest day in the history of Bharat and humanity was violent and forcible expulsion of 25 million Kashmiri Pandits peacefully living in Kashmir valley and greatly contributing to the economy of the state only because they were Hindus. Nobody raised this issue of blatant violation of human rights.
The people of Ladakh, 25 million, mostly Buddhists and Shia Muslims, were remotely connected with Jammu & Kashmir region because of its special topography and extreme climate. This area was subjected to neglect and step-motherly treatment by the incumbent governments. They had a long-standing demand for separate union territory which has been granted and all people cutting across the political identities are happy now.
During the discussion in Parliament, some leaders termed this day as a dark day for Kashmir. Actually surreptitious introduction of 35A in 1954 was the dark day for the state of J&K. Moreover, darker day in the history of J&K was in 1989 when peaceful, wealth-creating Kashmiri Pandits, the Hindus were forcibly ousted from the valley terrorising them at a gunpoint. This day of abrogation of Article 35A and its subsequent effect on 370 can be a dark day for only those who indulged in dynastic politics, patronising and commercialising terrorism in the name of Islam.
Sadar-e-Riyasat Karan Singh administers the oath of office to
Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed after 1957 elections in Jammu & Kashmir
The incumbent BJP party has all reasons to take this much needed and long-awaited step to remove the constitutional anomaly as it has always consistently put forth its stand regarding this temporary provision of J&K state. The founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the party which eventually became BJP, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee led agitation for complete integration of J&K, was jailed and died there in a suspicious condition. The BJP has always demanded and promised the abrogation of Article 370 if voted to power. In this recent election also the incumbent BJP had clearly mentioned that if voted to power they will take measures to abrogate this temporary provision. The people of Bharat have given them stronger mandate to fulfil their promises given in their manifesto.
As usual, much has been said unfoundedly about RSS and its communal agenda. What RSS thinks about Muslims in Bharat is very clearly elaborated in an interview of M.S. Golwalkar, (Shri Guruji), the then Sarsanghachalak of RSS, given to a senior journalist Saifuddin Jilani in 1972.
I reproduce an excerpt here for the benefit of readers.
“Dr Jilani: Much has been said about ‘Indianisation’ and a lot of confusion has arisen over it. Could you please tell me how to remove the confusion?
Shri Guruji: ‘Indianisation’ was, of course, the slogan given by Jana Sangh. Why should there be such confusion? ‘Indianisation’ does not mean converting all people to Hinduism.
Let us all realise that we are all the children of this soil and we must have our allegiance to this land. We belong to the same society and share common ancestors. We also share common aspirations. Understanding this is ‘Indianisation’ in the true sense. Indianisation does not mean that one should be asked to quit his religious system. We neither said this nor are we going to say so. Rather we believe that a single religious system for the entire human society is not suitable.”
During a recently held lecture series, Shri Mohan Bhagwat ji said, the Sangh works for the feeling of fraternity and the only basis for this fraternity is ‘unity in diversity’. The world terms this traditional thought process as ‘Hindutva’. That is why when we say our nation is a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, it, in no way conveys that we don’t need Muslims. The day it will be said that Muslims are not required, it won’t remain ‘Hindutva’.” And there is no need to say separately, that this applies also to the State of J&K that inherits the thousands of years of civilisation like rest of Bharat.