Article 370 Must Go
One afternoon in September 2000, a football arched over the playing field outside the Government Degree College in Rajouri, slamming into a boy standing on the far side. The football had been kicked by a Muslim player; the student it hit was a Hindu. A brawl broke out and within one hour, mobs from the nearby bazar set on fire shops and homes. The police opened fire killing four. In 2008, communal fires raged across the State, claiming dozens of lives in a battle that was sparked off by the grant of land use to the Amaranth Shrine Board. The state has again been seized by a wave of hate, three people, at the very least, are dead; towns and cities under curfew.
In his Independence Day speech at Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar this year, Omar Abdullah said “I am often asked why do people of Jammu and Kashmir feel different from the people of the rest of the country…We do not feel separate but are made to do so by the different attitude towards us. The very same Omar had earlier this year, said in the presence of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, that Article 370, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian Union, can only be withdrawn upon dead bodies of Kashmiris. He had said that the BJP’s pitch for the revocation of the Article 370 of the constitution of India was based on poll calculations and that it was not practically possible to annul the Article which according to him forms the basis of Kashmir’s accession with the country.
The lackluster speech of the PM from the ramparts of the Red Fort vis-a-vis Narendra Modi’s strong diatribe brings the spinelessness of the UPA in matters of national security to the fore.
In the last decade, the priorities of the BJP have been threefold, namely; the Ram Janmabhoomi issue, abrogation of Article 370 and the Uniform Civil Code. While the temple issues have been mired in judicial decision, the other two have been put on the backburner.
In 1952, Pandit Nehru had stated that the Article 370 would get worn out gradually and will vanish one day and that that there is no need to expunge it. True, Article 370 has really been worn out to a large extent; it is similar to a hollow walnut.
The founder of the National Conference Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, in 1975, had practically accepted and expressed loyalty to the unconstitutionally amended Constitution of J&K by willingly agreeing to take the oath of Chief Minister instead of Prime Minister of state and that too from the Governor instead of Sadar-i-Riyasat.
With the polls coming near, all mainstream parties have started talking about Article 370 as a poll plank to garner votes. While the BJP is crying for its abrogation, other so called secular parties are talking of retaining it at any cost. In J&K, almost all the political parties including the NC, PDP and Congress are talking tough against its abrogation.
However, the restoration of autonomy or restoration of Article 370 is no solution to Kashmir issue. The vexed Kashmir issue can only be settled with a firm conviction. There should be no tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and representatives of the people of the state. Article 370 has created a justification for the eruption of the feelings of separatism and secessionism in a section of populace. Besides providing a constitutional cover to secessionist thinking, it has encouraged fissiparous tendencies consistently.
Kashmir was always a part of India socially, politically and culturally since times immemorial and will remain one. It is high time the border state of J&K is treated equally as any other state in the Union of India. It cannot be the first state to grab maximum central financial assistance and be the last state in matters of integration with rest of India.
The real BJP should now stand up and BJP chief Rajnath Singh and Election Committe Chairman Narendra Modi should declare that, if voted to power, the NDA will ensure that Article 370 is abrogated. This permanent thorn in the flesh has to be taken out; otherwise India’s borders will remain tense.
Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee had opposed the Congress’s decision to grant Kashmir a special status with its own flag and Prime Minister. In opposition to this decision, he had said “Ek desh mein do Vidhan, do Pradhan aur Do Nishan nahi chalengay”. Article 370 was termed as Balkanization of India and three-nation theory of Sheikh Abdullah. His death should not go in vain.