“Some people in the county have invented a herb called secularism to atone their sins. In J&K they have added one more thing to it and that is article 370… Time has come to discuss whether article 370 has benefited ordinary people here or not.” Narendra Modi
Empty vessels make much noise, and no one gets surprised when Gujarat Chief Minister and the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi adds more guffaws to his daily blunder roll.
Take a look at his recent statements on Indian history, its religions and diverse culture. ‘Ignorance is bliss’, perfectly fits the Gujarat strongman.
His ignorance can be gauged from his recent statement when his government congratulated Muslims on the occasion of 10th Muharram or Ashura. He doesn’t even know that on this day, most of the Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain in Karbala, Iraq.
During his recent rally in Jammu, he didn’t find it fit to talk about the sufferings of Kashmiri Pandits – many of whom are still living in squalid camps in the summer capital of the state. Only after facing criticism, he chose to talk about them in a tweet the next day.
The trill in not new. In Calcutta, L.K. Advani had said on October 5, 1997 that Syama Prasad Mukherji was epitome of national unity and he died in prison while advocating abrogation of the government’s dual policy towards Kashmir. He promised a mass agitation in two months.
Atal Behari Vajpayee followed the suit in a three-day National Executive Meet of the party in Bhubaneswar. Repealing of Article 370 – which gives special status to Kashmir in Indian Union – was retained in the 1998 election manifesto of the BJP. After a lapse of fifteen years, RSS has again raked the issue in 2013..
In fact, most for these die-hard radicals have no inkling of real Kashmir issue or history, and the suggestion to discuss Article 370 is just to stir the hornet’s nest. While the real intention of the RSS fiddling with this idea is to abrogate it: the apparent play is the sober think-tank exercise – the iron fist in the velvet glove.
What is Article 370?
1. Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution:
a. the provisions of article 238 (now repealed) shall not apply in relation to the state of Jammu and Kashmir,
b. the power of parliament to make laws for the said state shall be limited to;
i. those matters in the union list and the concurrent list which, in consultation with the government of the state, are declared by the president to correspond to matters specified in the ‘Instrument of Accession’ governing the accession of the state to the dominion of India as the matters with respect to which the dominion legislature may make laws for that state; and
ii. such other matters in the said Lists, as, with the concurrence of the government of the state, the president may by order specify.
Explanation: For the purpose of this article, the government of the state means the person for the time being recognized by the president as the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of the council of ministers for the time being in office under the Maharaja’s proclamation dated the fifth day of March, 1948;
c. the provisions of article 1 and of this article shall apply in relation to this State;
d. such of the other provisions of this constitution shall apply in relation to that state subject to such exceptions and modifications as the president may by order specify i. Provided that no such order which relates to the matters specified in the instrument of accession of the state referred to in paragraph
(i) of sub-clause (b) shall be issued except in consultation with the government of the state:
ii. Provided further that no such order which relates to matters other than those referred to in the last preceding proviso shall be issued except with the concurrence of the government.
2. If the concurrence of the government of the state referred to in paragraph
(ii) of sub-clause (b) of clause
(1) or in second proviso to sub-clause
(d) of that clause be given before the constituent assembly for the purpose of framing the constitution of the state is convened, it shall be placed before such assembly for such decision as it may take thereon.
3. Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of the 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 notify:
Provided that the recommendation of the constituent assembly of the state referred to in clause (2) shall be necessary before the president issues such a notification.
4. In exercise of the powers conferred by this article the president, on the recommendation of the constituent assembly of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, declared that, as from the 17th day of November, 1952, the said art. 370 shall be operative with the modification that for the explanation incl. In exercise of the powers conferred by this article the President, on the recommendation of the constituent assembly of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, declared that, as from the 17th day of November, 1952, the said art. 370 shall be operative with the modification that for the explanation in cl.(1) thereof the following Explanation is substituted namely:
For the purpose of this article, the government of the state means the person for the time being recognised by the president on the recommendation of the legislative assembly of the state as the Sadar-I-Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir, acting on the advice of council of ministers of the state for the time being in office.
Note – Article 238 consisted of provisions dealing with the administration of states in Part B of the First Schedule of Indian constitution (In 1950,the Constitution contained a four fold classification of the states of Indian union –Part A ,Part B ,Part C, Part D states).The Article 238 was omitted from the constitution by the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act,1956 in the wake of reorganisation of the states.
But before we discuss about it, let us look into retrospect and delve a little into the history of ‘The Paradise Upon Earth’ and its historical background.
Before independence, Kashmir was ruled by autocratic Dogra Maharaja Hari Singh. Like the Nizam of Hyderabad, he wanted to retain his rule and tried to dodge India and Pakistan as well. He was exploring an opportunity, at the end of British Raj, to keep Kashmir as the Switzerland of the East. It was an effort to re-enact the old successful trick when his ancestors – Maharaja Gulab Singh and Ranbir Singh gained handsome dividends by keeping aloof during the Sikh War and Great Mutiny.
In the tumultuous days of partition, he tried to sign a standstill Agreement with India and Pakistan. Pakistan signed and India declined. During the Second World War, he was the member of Imperial War Cabinet. According to historians, he was hostile towards Indian National Congress as well as Muslim League. When Pashtun tribesmen invaded the valley, Hari Singh appealed to India for help. India offered help and he signed the ‘Instrument of Accession’ on Oct 26, 1947, acceding Jammu and Kashmir to ‘Dominion of India.’ He died in Mumbai (then Bombay) on 26 April 1961.
That Article 370 gives special status to J&K or J&K has a special status is just a figment of imagination. Nowhere does Indian constitution say that J&K has a special status.
Every Indian with a little knowledge knows that all the states of India are linked with Union of India through articles of Constitution of India.
Article 370 is also an article of Indian Constitution. Even the latest report of Interlocutor’s for J&K 2010 concludes that Article 370 is not a special status article. On the contrary, the Interlocutor’s Report 12th October 2011 has now recommended that Article 370 be made a special Provision (not status) article.
It is heartening to see Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has thrown the gauntlet to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, saying he was ready for a debate on Article 370 “anytime, anywhere”. “If they want a debate on Article 370 with me, let them tell me where and when they want to talk about it. Even if they want to hold the debate in Ahmedabad, we are ready for the debate anytime,”Omar said at a public rally in Srinagar.
He was reacting to the Gujarat chief minister’s call for a debate on Article 370 and whether it has benefitted the people of the state. “I’m surprised that those who know nothing about Jammu and Kashmir are commenting on Jammu and Kashmir. Those who have not read Article 370 are talking about it. Article 370 does not talk about property rights nor the residency laws. Article 370 is a provision that connects this state to the rest of the country.”
“I am more surprised that those who are occupying high positions, and dream of occupying higher position, how little knowledge they have about the people of Jammu and Kashmir. One such leader made a speech in Jammu recently and claimed that injustice is being done to Gujjars in the state. Ours is perhaps the only state which has given Scheduled Tribe status to the community.”
Modi sahib, if you had to raise this issue, you should have done it in Rajasthan where Gujjars are sacrificing their lives for this status. It was the slogan of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah ‘Sher-e-Kashmir ka kaya irshad, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh Itehaad’. We don’t divide people, we don’t pit people against each other.”