Recently Indian government removed some provisions of article 370 which gives special status to Kashmir. Until today, Article 370 was considered to be the very thread that kept Jammu & Kashmir tied to India. But this was changed to some extent as Home Minister Amit Shah read out a Presidential notification on the future of J&K and moved a proposal to repeal Article 370. Actually, meta-narratives of fears & separation has been created by intellectuals and political elites of Kashmir. Clear businesses were run by the political elites and bureaucrats on the shield of this meta-narrative that it’s very sensitive and very complicated issues.
Recently I read an article by Pratap Bhanu Mehta in Indian express (Click here for LINK). He is one of the prominent scholars. He is a taller personality whose views have been respected in our country. He has raised the following questions against the move of the government. His points are somehow similar to most of the critiques. With due respect to sir, I am trying to respond to his questions and narrative one by one through the following points :
How can we justify offering Nagaland asymmetric federalism but deny it to Kashmir?
First of all, we perceive Jammu, Laddakh & Kashmir together as Kashmir. If we listen to the speech of the MP of Laddakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, in Lok Sabha we will understand that the culture of Laddakh & Jammu has totally been different from core Kashmir. Secondly, Kashmir diluted its composite culture significantly when they throw out Kashmiri Pandits overnight on a massive scale. Only Muslims are not a composite culture of Kashmir. Kashmiri Pandits were also a part of that culture. Religion which is the 2nd largest population in the country can’t be the basis of a distinctive culture. In fact, Islam has never ever been the distinctive culture of Kashmir. Their demography has continuously been diluted for many years through violence and forceful conversion. If there is composite culture then why on every Friday after religious prayer, only the Islamic flag was hoisted over there?
Being Muslim can’t be the basis to give special status. If it is true then why not to Sikhs in Punjab? If it is so then I am Bihari, I have also distinct culture, please do give special status to us also on the line of Kashmir. In fact, every state in India has a very distinctive culture. Will this be the correct basis to give special status? As far as the matter of Naga concern, Nagaland culture has been as it is. Nagaland Society and Culture comprise of the tribal and sub-tribal communities, their living patterns, festivals, and beliefs. The people of Nagaland are divided into several tribes. These tribes have again many sub-sections. They have been very different from mainland India on the line of culture, language & their way of life.
How can government unilaterally declare any existing state to be a Union Territory (UT)?
Don’t you believe in the concept of the union territory? – NO UT exists without reason. Delhi (Security reason), Chandigarh (Administrative reason) & Pondy (Cultural reason) exist as UTs. Don’t you think that a security threat in Kashmir could be the reason for establishing UT? If Delhi can be UT due to security reasons then why Kashmir can’t? In fact, Kashmir is more vulnerable in terms of threat than Delhi. Kashmir has been given UT legislation. Laws will be governed by Kashmiri itself like other states of Kashmir. Then why such a narrative has been created that New Delhi is going to rule Kashmir? The reality is that Kashmiri itself will run Kashmir through their legislation of Kashmir. Shri Mehta in his article wrote a one-sided view. He missed the Home Minister speech in parliament where he said that the full statehood status will be granted again to Jammu and Kashmir when there would be normalcy.
Has India betrayed its own constitutional promises?
Firstly, NO deals exist permanently even at the international level also. As per time and situation, everything changes. Senior advocated who dealing Kul Bhushan Jadhav Case, Harish Salve reacted on it rightly that ‘temporary provision’ was mention as the heading of Article 370. Constitutional expert Subhash C Kashyap also reacted in the same manner that Article 370 under the Constitution has been ascribed as a temporary provision and not a special provision. If it was temporary then why people are fabricating the narrative to prove it as permanent.
Secondly, during integration, it was promised in return of signing ‘instrument of accession’ to all princes of the princely state that they will be given privy purse. Privy Purse was a payment made to the ruling (royal or lower) families of erstwhile princely states as part of their agreements to first integrate with India in 1947 after the independence. The privy purse was the same thread with which they had integrated with India. But during Indira Gandhi, it was abolished and the whole of India welcomed it. Do you also believe that this was also betrayal?
Thirdly, the Zamindari abolition act and land ceiling act were passed by the same parliament. Zamindars surrendered their all property after the passing of these acts. They were independent in their areas before independence. Can we also deem such a move as the betrayal with the zamindars after independence?
Shri Mehta kept himself at the place of BJP and start thinking that BJP might think that How dare a Muslim dominated state exist in India?
This is nothing complete propaganda that has been circulated by this gentleman. This kind of analysis that disturb society is the hegemony of intellectuals. If his thinking was right then BJP ruled earlier also for 5 years then why they coined “Kashmiriyat”, “Jamhuriyat”, and “Insaniyat”. If BJP believes in this false propaganda spread by Sri Mehta then why would BJP give universities, two AIIMS to J&K? They are simply Indian people whose care is in hands of the Indian government.
Other intellectuals are also circulating the same kind of propaganda. In this race how the left will lag behind? Leftist leader Kavita Krishnan has also launched propaganda to divide the society. She claims in her tweets that today’s government has removed Article 370 in Kashmir tomorrow they will remove ‘reservation’ which is the constitutional rights of Dalit. I think it is nothing but a cause to civil unrest by changing the context from Article 370 to Reservation. The government has never responded to abolish reservation but this kind of leader is trying to create fear among the masses to divide society so that they would stand up against the establishment.
Is the mean of abrogation unconstitutional?
Another question was raised against the way of scrapping articles related to the special status of J&K whether it is unconstitutional or not. There were two options:-
- First, “Bottom-up approach” which has been following since independence. It means convince Kashmiri through confidence-building measures to join the mainstream and win their confidence. Once we win their confidence we will merge Kashmir like the rest of the state.
- Second, the “Top-down approach” which was done yesterday by the govt. First, establish the system and then go for convincing. Once benefits will trickle down to local Kashmiri they will come closer to New Delhi.
The first option seems better but actually, it is a Utopian ideal that has witnessed its failure in the context of Kashmir. They failed to reach to people of Kashmir in 70 years. Apart from it, they also failed in even stopping the increasing distances between the people of Kashmir to the rest part of our country. Convincing is also not a quantitative term when you can say that now all are convinced. I think if the first way fails then we must try the second way. None of them are unconstitutional, both are different mechanisms for different ideologies. In the coming days, ‘Ends’ will definitely justify the ‘mean’.
Our constitution says that India is the indestructible union of a destructible state. Any part of the union will not wither away from the union at any cost but Union has complete right to abolish the state, increase or decrease the boundary of the state. All the things that happened yesterday were completely constitutional. Constitution makers gave this right on so ease that even it can be passed with a simple majority. NO special majority is required to change the boundary of the country or abolition any state. India is the largest democracy in the world. India respects the voices of all sections. Here people from the stone age to space-age living. So please don’t misguide the people by spreading false narratives.
Missing components in debate
Unfortunately, we are missing the followings things in the debate
- Do you know the 73rd and 74th of 1992 was not implemented in Jammu and Kashmir because of Article 370? Now people question the ethos of federalism due to the creation of two UTs in Kashmir & Laddakh separately. Denying to implement 73rd & 74rth Amendments by J&K establishment in the 90s was against the concept of federalism. These amendments (73rd & 74th) were the real character of federal structure which gives constitutional powers to Panchayat & Municipalities for the local governance. By scrapping 370, there is NO impact on federal character. In fact, if 73rd & 74rth amendment was implemented then it will be more federal.
- Do you know the 42nd amendment in 1976 was also not implemented in J&K? 42nd amendment was an act to implement the “Secular” word in preamble. J&K establishment rejected to call himself secular. They didn’t implement a ‘secular’ world in the J&K constitution. Do you think Kashmir should not be secular? The same people accused this action an attack on secularism. The reality is that they changed demography in the 90s and after 30 years they are trying to establish a false narrative as the ‘Islamic culture’ is their demography.
- Do you know that the establishment of J&K refused to implement the Right to education over there which was the biggest fundamental right given by the Indian government to the children? Don’t you think that children of J&K should have a fundamental right to education? Political elites of the J&K want to make children of local Kashmiri uneducated so that their propaganda could be easily digested with the least efforts.
- So much corruption happens during elections, in spite of it Article 370 stops them to go the autonomous body like “Election Commission”. There is NO “Right to information” which was the revolutionary achievement of Indian civil society. Just think that if the same thing starts happening in the rest of the country then will the rest of the Indian minorities entertain? They will cry ‘fascism’ has come. PM is Mussolini, throw him out. Real totalitarianism was there in Kashmir now the process of democratization has started. So far only two families run Kashmir without any institutions.
- Do you know that the underprivileged and marginalized communities like Valmikies, Gorkhas, and Dalits were deprived of their basic rights and reduced to second-class citizens even in their own country? Article 35A has worked as an administrative and legal bridge between the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir since it was first introduced through a Presidential Order in 1954. Interestingly, the Presidential Order made Article effective in Jammu and Kashmir retrospectively from 1944, when India was still under British colonial rule. Apart from partition, these people came from Pakistan but they dined from basic human rights since Article 35A has been working through backdate. Abrogation of Article 35A will certainly provide justice to these marginalized communities.
Historical mistakes are revamped by the parliament. We witnessed the creation of history. It is the start of ending businesses of political elites in Kashmir. It is the day of justice for the people of Kashmir i.e. Kashmiriyat. It is the day of completion of the idea of India which was incomplete without the convergence of the idea of Kashmir with New Delhi. This move was a necessary and expected response to the US withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. This move is the challenge to end the ‘myth of separation’ spread by separatists for many years. History changes on maturity & it is the day of maturity for Kashmir.
Last but not least today is the day of Kashmir. The establishment did what they are supposed to do. Now rest of the work is in hands of the non-state actors like the media, intellectuals, and we people. We must open our arms to welcome our Kashmiri brothers and sister to be a part of the mainstream. Just like the idea of India is incomplete without an idea of Kashmir, the Idea of Kashmir is also incomplete without Kashmiri. #Welcome_Kashmiri_Brothers.
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