Saturday, 4 April 2020

J&K Now Stands Fully And Firmly Integrated With India

By Sanjeev Sirohi
Updated: August 22, 2019 11:20 am

It is a national tragedy that it has taken 72 long years to fully and firmly integrate Jammu and Kashmir with India. It is a national tragedy that when this NDA government led by PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah decided to take the bull by the horns and carry out the most daring step since independence to protect our supreme national interests which we all must welcome and extend our unstinted support still we see that many leaders for furthering their own vested interests are opposing it tooth and nail even though leaders even from their own party are terming it as a daring move as we see in the case of former Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, senior Congress leader and also an eminent and senior Supreme Court lawyer who has hailed this bold move as “a daring resolve in line with the mood of the nation”. How can anyone ignore when such an eminent senior lawyer of Supreme Court and former Union Law Minister who hails not from ruling party BJP or its ally party but from the main opposition party which is the Congress says so openly with full confidence?

It is reliably learnt from many news channels that even another eminent and most experienced senior lawyer of Supreme Court who has also served earlier as Additional Solicitor General and is also a senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi has also expressed his support to this bold decision taken by Centre! Salman Khurshid too has hailed it and has rightly questioned that who is Pakistan to meddle in our internal matters? Did Pakistani leaders write our Constitution? Were our leaders totally incapable? Certainly not! Then who is Pakistan to shout and scream? No one! They should mind their own business jolly well and concentrate on addressing the endless woes of the people living there who are resenting their brutal suppression by armed forces and not giving them any basic rights!

To be sure, Ashwani Kumar further reiterated that, “The J&K gamble by the Central government has received popular national support and seems to be consistent with the national mood although history and future alone can attest to its wisdom.” He also clarified that he can’t work by diktat! Very rightly so! It gives immense satisfaction to note that so many Congress leaders have openly come out in the open to support Centre’s bold and historic move!

As things stand, Congress senior leader Janardhan Dwivedi said happily that, “It is a very old issue. After Independence, many freedom fighters did not want Article 370 to remain. I had my political training under Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, who was against this Article. Personally, this is an issue of a matter of satisfaction for the nation. This historical mistake that happened at the time of independence has been rectified today, even though late, and is welcomed.” Mumbai Congress Chief – Milind Deora said that it was “very unfortunate” that Article 370 was being converted into a “liberal vs conservative debate”. He said in a tweet that, “Parties should put aside ideological fixations & debate what’s best for India’s sovereignty and federalism, peace in J&K, jobs for Kashmiri youth and justice for Kashmiri Pandits.”

Interestingly enough, even veteran Congress leader Karan Singh who is son of J&K’s last ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh who signed the Instrument of Accession in 1947 and who was a Union Minister in the Indira Gandhi Cabinet in 1967, has been a member of CWC and worked with four generations of the Nehru-Gandhi family took a divergent stand from that of his party and said that he did not agree with a “blanket condemnation” of the government’s decision and said that it has “several positive points”. He welcomed the government’s decision to make Ladakh a Union Territory and reminded that, “In fact, I had suggested this as far back as 1965, when I was still Sadr-i-Riyasat of J&K, when I had publically proposed reorganisation of the state.” He said that he hoped the hill councils of Leh and Kargil would “continue to function, so that in the absence of the Legislature, the grassroots opinion of the people of Ladakh are duly represented.” He minced no words to reiterate his support to scrap Article 35A and the government’s plan to initiate an exercise to redraw the contours of the Assembly constituencies. He said that, “The gender discrimination in Article 35A needed to be addressed as also the long-awaited and enfranchisement of lakhs of West Pakistan’s refugees and reservations for Scheduled Tribes which will be welcomed. There will also be a fresh delimitation which, for the first time, will ensure a division of political power between the Jammu and Kashmir regions.”

More pertinently, how can it be overlooked what Jawaharlal Nehru had himself said in Parliament that, “Article 370, as the House will remember, is a part of certain transitional, provisional arrangements. It is not a permanent part of the Constitution. It is a part so long as it remains so. As a matter of fact, as the HM has pointed out, it has been eroded…I repeat that it is fully integrated…So we feel that this process of gradual erosion of Article 370 is going on. We should allow it to go on. That process is continuing.” He had said most unequivocally that Article 370, a temporary and transient provision will “corrode and erode itself”. Can anyone deny this also? Article 370 which was introduced into the draft Constitution by N Gopalaswami Ayyangar as Article 306A and when he proposed that Kashmir state would have special status and would be excluded from the purview of the laws that the Parliament of India would make and also would have the power to make its own laws, this was strongly objected to by Maulana Hasrat Mohani who was the member from United Provinces who asked that, “Why this discrimination?” Even Dr BR Amendkar who drafted the Constitution was not in favour of it!

For the sake of brevity, Rakesh Dwivedi who is a senior advocate in athe Supreme Court sums up by saying that, “Along with bifurcation of J&K into two UTs under Article 1 of the Constitution, central control over J&K would be complete. Parliament would get power to legislate over all matters subject to the legislative powers left to J&K legislature – somewhat akin to Delhi. People of India would be able to exercise their fundamental rights in Part 3 of the Constitution in J&K also. With the concept of state subject coming to an end, the people of J&K and rest of India stand at par. This should foster equality and fraternity. This should foster equality and fraternity. We expect this political process to stabilize J&K, consolidate Ladakh and eventually lead to development of J&K. This would eliminate vested interests who were exploiting J&K unrest even while encouraging terrorists and separatists. J&K occupies a sensitive position as it is contagious to China, Afghanistan, Russia and Pakistan. With withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan being worked out, the Modi government has acted with promptitude to consolidate and strengthen the Indian position in J&K.”

Needless to say, former Union Law Minister, Finance Minister and also Defence Minister who earlier was also a senior Supreme Court lawyer Arun Jaitley very rightly said that, “The government’s move on Article 370 is a monumental decision towards national integration.” The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill of 2019 passed recently by both Houses of Parliament will certainly usher in revolutionary changes! President Ram Nath Kovind on August 9, 2019 gave assent to a legislation for bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh and it will come into existence on October 31. A Home Ministry notification said that, “In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (a) of Section 2 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019), the central government hereby appoints the 31st day of October, 2019 as the appointed day for the purposes of the said Act.” What a tragedy that those who are now opposing removal of Article 370 forget conveniently that on September 12, 1964, it was reported that a Bill in the Lok Sabha urged that Article 370 be done away with in the interest of complete integration of the state with the rest of the country!

Be it noted, Union Home Minister Amit Shah who tabled the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 and the statutory resolutions in Rajya Sabha around 11 am after the Union cabinet met at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence at 9.30 am to grant the go-ahead said that, “Article 370 was a temporary provision…how long can a temporary provision be allowed to continue…After abrogation of Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir will truly become an integral part of India.” Saying Article 370 was at the root of terrorism, Amit Shah told the House that full state status will be restored to Jammu and Kashmir at an appropriate time when normalcy returns. He rightly said that the decision to do away with the special status of J&K and to bifurcate the state into two UTs was in the supreme national interest! No denying it!

 

As it turned out, Amit Shah rose to place four matters before the Rajya Sabha which are as follows:-

  • Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 2019 issued by President of India to supersede the 1954 order related to Article 370.
  • Resolution for the repeal of Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
  • Jammu & Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill, 2019 by which Jammu and Kashmir which earlier was a state was now proposed to be converted to two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir with legislature and Ladakh without a legislature.
  • Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 providing for 10 percent reservation for SC, ST and OBCs in J&K

It cannot be lost on us that an eminent and very senior Supreme Court lawyer who is also the former Attorney General of India – Soli J Sorabjee too has clarified that, “The opposition has condemned the legislation as murder of democracy and betrayal of the people of J&K. In my opinion the charge is exaggerated and not tenable. The J&K Reorganization Bill and the resolutions moved by Amit Shah have been passed by both the Houses. The result is that Jammu and Kashmir now has no special status and all laws applicable to people of India including fundamental rights guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution shall be available to people of J&K. In short, J&K is now constitutionally recognized as an integral part of India.” He also sought to make it clear that, “The other favourable points are that people from other states can buy land in Kashmir which they could not do before. RTI which was not applicable before cannot now be denied. There will be no separate flag for J&K, but only one flag, the Indian tricolor.” If this is not a daring move, then what else can it be? Can anyone please tell me?

Truth be told, the first statutory resolution stated: “That this House recommends the following public notification to be issued by the President of India under Article 370(3): ‘In exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (3) of Article 370 read with clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, the President, on the recommendation of the Parliament, is pleased to declare that, as from 5th of August, 2019, all clauses of the said Article 370 shall cease to be operative except clause (1).”

We must also accept that whenever something great happens, it is initially criticized as done by JD(U) initially by staging a walkout and then accepting it after seeing the groundswell of public support it received from the people cutting across party lines, religion lines, caste lines and community lines! No denying it!

It will not be an exaggeration to say that it is now that Jammu and Kashmir stands fully and firmly integrated with India! Why should anyone protest to this ‘daring move” as was very rightly hailed by Ashwani Kumar? It is heartening to note that PM Narendra Modi has in his message made clear to the people of Jammu and Kashmir that it is they who will benefit most from this landmark and momentous decision and not just few political families and he would always work for their welfare and ensure that justice is done with them in all respects!

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