Jammu & Kashmir now on to a Dawn of Prosperity & Happiness
   13-Aug-2019
Scrapping of Article 370 and 35-A and creation of two Union Territories (UT) of J&K and Laddakh will make the citizens of J&K joining the country’s mainstream enjoying every right a citizen of India is eligible to.
 — Amba Charan Vashishth

 
 
“I say today with authority and I will be criticised for it also. If anyone can find a solution to Jammu and Kashmir problem, it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi." Said Mehbooba Mufti in May 2017 when she was CM of Jammu and Kashmir, heading a coalition government in alliance with her PDP.
 
The PDP and the BJP had entered into an alliance in 2015 after the elections threw up a hung Assembly. However, the coalition could not complete its term, with the alliance ending in June 2018.
 
“If anyone can take us out of the sticky spot, it is Prime Minister Modi. The nation will support whatever he decides...it is my earnest appeal...,” she added while addressing a gathering in May 2017. How ironical strike her words sound when she says scrapping of Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution “will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent.”
 
In its sankalp-patra for 2019 elections to the Parliament besides other promises, had vowed to scrap the “Temporary and Transitional” Article 370 and Article 35A. BJP received an overwhelming mandate to fulfill promises made to the people. Within 67 days of the new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi entering its second consecutive term, it went ahead fast to obliterate these Articles from the Constitution. With the approval of both houses of Parliament, Modi Government converted J&K into two Union Territories — one for J&K with legislature and the other for Laddakh without legislature. The ‘temporary’ Article had, for political and electoral considerations, been allowed to appear de-facto permanent by successive Congress and other ‘secular’ non-BJP governments.
 
Tinkering with this Article looked naamumkin (impossible) for the earlier regimes but the slogan “Modi hai to mumkin hai” has now been translated into a reality. People have now come to realize that it is only Narendra Modi, and none else, who could dare to decisively act that fast. For this one needs will power and determination to achieve, at whatever cost, the interests of the nation. The earlier governments failed to gauge the extent of the silent will of the majority which had been made subservient to the shrill din of the minority — a negation of the spirit of democracy.
 
Article 370 and militancy has cost the country very high. According to official figures released in J&K assembly, there were cases of 3,400 persons who had disappeared and the conflict has left more than 47,000 people dead including 7,000 police personnel as of July 2009. The loss of so many precious civil, military and paramilitary lives had not been that much the country lost in the three wars forced upon India by Pakistan.
 
The way PM Modi retaliated against Pakistan for Uri and Pulwama terror attacks with surgical strike and Balkot operation, the common man has now come to feel assured that for PM Modi nothing is naamumkin (impossible). A long time space of seventy years is not too short a period for a “temporary and transitional” Article to evaporate from the pages of the Constitution. In fact, some political parties and dynasties developed a vested interest to let the dispute linger on indefinitely. This situation had made them earn fortunes. There were self-styled stakeholders whose strength and value lay in the intensity of their nuisance. They never took a plunge in the democratic process of contesting assembly elections lest they stood exposed to lack of faith in them by the people. Despite threats and boycott calls by pro-Pakistan and pro-independence parties people overwhelmingly voted in assembly, parliament, panchayat and urban local body elections. Young boys thronged in thousands to seek recruitment in army and police forces.
 
Some self-styled leaders of Kashmir at a number of times called upon people to bycott and burn schools but, what a hypocrisy, that they sent their children to study in foreign countries! From where did the money come from for their study abroad?
 
Article 370 coupled with militancy had wrought only misery to the people. It had deterred investment for heavy, medium and small-scale industries leading to widespread unemployment. Many projects failed to come up because of the unhealthy business and industrial environment in the State. 
 
Article 370 coupled with militancy had wrought only misery to the people. It had deterred investment for heavy, medium and small-scale industries leading to widespread unemployment. Many projects failed to come up because of the unhealthy business and industrial environment in the State.
 
 
It was a folly on the part of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to have played into the hands of Sheikh Abdullah to let him have a separate State flag and constitution and J&K CM to be designated the prime minister. This situation had prompted the then Bharatiya Jana Sangh President, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee to launch an agitation against what he called “Ek desh mein do pradhan, do nishan, no vidhan — nahin chalenge, nahin chalenge” . (There cannot be two prime ministers, two symbols and two constitutions in one country). At the instance of Sheikh Abdullah Dr. Mookerjee was arrested for entering J&K without permit. He later died under mysterious circumstances while in custody in Srinagar.
 
The instrument of accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu & Kashmir was in letter and spirit the same as was signed by other Indian rulers. Yet no other state had its own symbol, own constitution and own prime minister (instead of chief minister).
 
There were other contradictions too. J&K was allowed to define its citizens. While citizens of J&K were citizens of both J&K and India, citizens of India were not citizens of J&K, as in other States.
 
A citizen of J&K could contest elections both for the State assembly and Parliament. A citizen of India — but not of J&K — could not contest an election to J&K State assembly. A J&K citizen could buy land and any other property both in J&K and other parts of India, but a citizen of India could not in J&K.
 
Another discriminatory law was that if a J&K woman weds a citizen from other parts of the country, she loses her J&K citizenship. She then stood debarred from inheriting any property of her father. Her children too were deprived from being citizens of J&K and not eligible to buy any immovable property in J&K.
 
There were no Human Rights, Minority, SC/ST, and Backward Classes Commissions in J&K. Scheduled castes/tribes stood debarred from the benefits in J&K which they got in the rest of the country.
 
Thousands of Muslim and other communities had migrated to J&K following partition in 1947. While those who migrated to other parts of India have legally become citizens and enjoy rights and privileges available there, those who landed in J&K have not been granted citizenship rights in J&K even after more than 70 years.
 
If any section of society demanded doing away with Article 370 which only propitiates discrimination, he was condemned as rank ‘communalist’ against Muslims by our so-called ‘liberal-secularists’.
 
It is because of opposition from this very sonorous class of ‘liberal-secularists’ that injustice had been caused to a section of the people on the issues of Triple Talaq, Article 370, and Uniform Civil Code.. With an eye on the votes of the minority community successive governments had been keeping it in good humour by ignoring these issues. They generated a fear psychosis that if any government even tried to touch these issues, it will be faced with violent wrath of the community. They let the people understand that these sensitive issues could not be taken up without the consent of the minority.
 
At the same time, continuance of Article 370 meant discrimination against Muslims living in other parts of the country. Why should Muslims living in other parts of the country be denied the special rights and privileges their brethren enjoy in J&K?
 
Not less than three times has the Supreme Court (SC) of India reminded the Government of India about the need to implement the provisions of Article 44 (Directive Principles) of the Constitution which says the “State shall endeavour to provide for its citizens a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout the territory of India.” But no government has, so far, been able to implement it only because of the vocal opposition of minority in utter disrespect to the feelings of silent majority.
 
Scrapping of Article 370 and 35-A and creation of two Union Territories (UT) of J&K and Laddakh will make the citizens of J&K joining the country’s mainstream enjoying every right a citizen of India is eligible to. Terrorism eating into the vitals of J&K will be a thing of the past and the dawn of prosperity and happiness is eagerly in waiting for the two separate UTs.
 
(The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator.)