Freedom or Fiefdom
India should provide all the money for the governance and development of your state. India should undertake to defend your state against Pakistan and other aggressors. Indians should die to defend your state. You will have a separate constitution, separate head of state, separate sets of laws and separate flag. Your people can buy and own land anywhere in rest of India but none who was not born in Jammu and Kashmir could reciprocally buy and own property in Jammu and Kashmir. Indians should be taxed to develop your land, to defend it from all aggressions and you have no obligation at all to the Indian Union. I can never agree to such treatment to any state.”
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar to Sheikh Abdullah as quoted by Balraj Madhok in ‘Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee: A Biography’, Delhi, p.46, 1954
The State of Jammu & Kashmir is at the crossroads. The separatist elements are being cornered physically and financially. Their masters in Pakistan are also passing through a difficult phase. In such a scenario, whether elections or not, all political forces should stand together and talk about the complete integration of Jammu & Kashmir, including the illegally occupied territory of the State by Pakistan. What we are witnessing is the petty politicking around the same.
On the ongoing hearing in the apex court over Article 35A that was inserted through the Presidential Order in 1954 and Article 370, the political parties of the Valley are voicing the separatist stand. While reacting to the issue, the PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti said, “Any tampering (with Article 370 & 35A) will render Treaty of Accession null & void”, another leader from the Valley and NC patron Farooq Abudullah virtually threatened the Union Government and said, “I swear by Allah, I think this is the wish of Almighty, we will get freedom from them. Let them do it (abrogate Article 370); we will see. I will see who is ready to hoist their flag”. This is nothing else but seditious blackmailing. Unfortunately, the national ally of NC, Congress party is silent on the issue and talking about revoking the AFSPA from the Valley that provides cover to the security forces while operating in the terrorism-infested areas.
Constitutionally speaking, it is a known fact that Article 370 came into existence as a replacement to Article 306-A, as a temporary provision to facilitate the acceptance of Constitution of Bharat by the Constituent Assembly of the State. The same procedure was followed in case of a merger of other princely states in the Union of Bharat after signing the Instrument of Accession. Article 35A was inserted through a Presidential Order without any Parliamentary approval and now being challenged for its Constitutional validity in the Court of law. Instead of placing a legal argument, what is the reason that the ‘Kashmiri’ leader chose to make citizenship of Bharat conditional.
This has been the mindset of leaders of the Valley since the days of Sheikh Abdullah. Congress, regrettably, chose to bow down before this blackmailing, handed over the entire State to the fundamentalist families as their fiefdom. As rightly pointed out by Dr Ambedkar, taking security from armed forces, extracting resources of Bharat, using all rights and freedoms given by the Constitution of Bharat but blocking all these benefits for all the people of J&K has been their strategy. For the same, they always presented Maharaja Hari Singh in a bad light who opposed Sheikh Abdullah's whims and fancies supported by Nehru tooth and nail. The complete neglect of nationalist voices from the State became evident. Non-implementation of delimitation of Constituencies ensured the domination of small valley over electoral politics for decades together.
These monopolists of the narrative on J&K know very well that J&K is and will always be an integral part of India. They also know that Article 370 has neither served its purpose nor has it contributed to the development of the State. What they are bothered about is saving their fiefdom, the Srinagar valley and its resources. They are concerned about Yasin Mallik who is facing charges of murder but not the soldiers of armed forces and police personnel getting killed in their houses in broad daylight. People like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh swayamsevak Chanderkant Sharma who was killed for working incessantly in border areas for the welfare of people, do not even figure in their concern for ‘Kashmiriyat’.
The Constituency buying the fake ‘Azadi’ business is shrinking day by day, and nationalist voices are finding a strong ground not just in Jammu and Ladakh but also in the Valley. The separatists and their intellectual masters all over the country are getting exposed. Now time is to push hard and stand by the nationalist forces in the State and all over the country to ensure real ‘freedom’ for all as envisaged by the Consitution makers so that neither any region nor the country becomes a ‘fiefdom’ of any family or party.