21 Questions for supporters of Article 370

  • By Hari Om
  • December 2013

BJP  prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s December 1 call at the  historic “Lalkaar Rally” in Jammu for a holistic debate on  Article 370 has triggered a fierce debate in the State and in the  national capital as well. Under Article 370 the solitary State of  Jammu & Kashmir enjoys a status different from other States of  the Union of India. The Kashmir-based parties and parties like the  Congress, the JDU, the CPI-M, the CPI and the SP say this Article  must be retained as it protects the distinct identity of Kashmiris  and is beneficial for the State.

They  are also saying that Article 370 cannot be abrogated. The  Kashmir-based parties also claim that revocation of this Article  would end the accession of Jammu & Kashmir with India. They are  saying that Article 370 is a “bridge”. Nobody who believes in the  unity and integrity of India and vouches for secular and democratic  values and the principles of equality would ever endorse the views of  the protagonists of Article 370.

On  the other hand, the critics of the Article, including the RSS, BJP,  BSP, Panun Kashmir, JKNPP, JSM, Shiv Sena, besides a number of  smaller political groups, have been saying that Article 370 has only  promoted communalism and separatism in the Valley, promoted politics  of regional discrimination and jeopardized the fundamental rights of  the minority communities and various other social segments in the  State. Their argument is that if the people of the State are to enjoy  all the rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and lead a  dignified life and maintain unity and integrity of India, this  Article has to go.

It  is obvious that the supporters and critics of Article 370 will train  their guns at each other and do their best to prove their point. In  fact, the BJP has already challenged Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to  join the debate and the latter has accepted it and said he is  prepared to go even to Ahmedabad - a suggestion the BJP rejected the  other day saying that BJP leaders who are quite competent to discuss  the issue are available in Jammu itself.

Now  that Article 370 has become a subject of fierce debate, it is time  for the supporters of Article 370 to answer the following questions  in order to convince their critics that this Article is not  discriminatory.

1]  Is it not a fact that Article 306-A (370) is a temporary provision  and was adopted in October 1947 much against the wishes of an  overwhelming majority of the people of the State in general and Jammu  and Ladakh in particular?

2]  Is it not a fact that that Article 370 grants a special status to the  State on purely communal grounds and empowers the solitary state in  the Union to have the right to have a separate constitution and  separate flag and exercise residuary powers?

3]  Is it not a fact that Article 370 has created a republic within the  Indian Republic and created an impression across the world that Jammu  & Kashmir is a disputed issue that is still to be settled?

4]  Is it not a fact that no Central law can be introduced in the State  and jurisdiction of no Central institution can be extended to the  State without the concurrence of the Jammu & Kashmir Government,  despite the fact that Jammu & Kashmir lawmakers play the same  role in Parliament that their counterparts from other States play  when legislations are discussed and adopted?

5]  Is it fair to participate in the law-making processes in Parliament  and then oppose their extension to Jammu & Kashmir?

6]  Is it not a fact that Article 370 makes invidious, humiliating and  unjust distinctions between men and women of the State and that it  has everything to do with the rights of State Subjects or with  property and residency rights?

7]  Is it not a fact that the archaic State Subject laws, which were  enacted by Maharaja Hari Singh way back in 1927, form part of the  Jammu & Kashmir Constitution?

8]  Is it not a fact that it is because Article 370 under which the State  has a separate Constitution that the refugees from West Pakistan,  mostly Dalits, do not enjoy citizenship rights which are available to  the so-called Permanent Residents of the State?

9]  Is it not a fact that in 2004 and 2005, the Jammu & Kashmir High  Court directed the State Government not to make any endorsement of  “Valid Till Marriage” on the State Subject certificates to be  issued to unmarried daughters of State Subjects to ensure gender  equality in the State?

10]  Is it not a fact that the children of the daughters of Jammu &  Kashmir married outside the State to non-State subjects do not enjoy  citizenship rights in the State? Is this not discrimination of the  worst form?

11]  Is it not a fact that the rights which are available to the Scheduled  Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and minorities  across the nation are not available to their counterparts in Jammu &  Kashmir?

12]  Is it not mandatory to constitute a Delimitation Commission to  de-limit the Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies after every  Census?

13]  Is it not a fact that the Jammu & Kashmir Government banned  delimitation of the constituencies for at least four decades by  amending the Representation of People’s Act in February 2002? And  is it not a fact that the State Government could do so by misusing  Article 370?

14]  Is it not a fact that the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies  across the nation, barring Jammu & Kashmir, were delimited after  2002?

15]  Is it not a fact that the people of Jammu & Kashmir have all  rights, including the right to own immovable property, all over India  and the people of other States do not have similar rights in the  State?

16]  Is it not a fact that the Jammu & Kashmir is out of the ambit of  the Minorities Commission of India?

17]  Is it not a fact that an overwhelming majority of population in Jammu  province and Ladakh region, who constitute half of the State’s  population and occupy more than 88 per cent of the state’s land  area, is bitterly opposed to Article 370 and wants complete  integration into India?

18]  Is it not a fact that the internally-displaced Kashmiri Hindus are  vehemently opposed to this Article and want bifurcation of the  Kashmir Valley so that a separate homeland is established for them  with Union Territory status?

19]  Is it not a fact that it is because of Article 370 that Gujjars and  Bakerwals, who constitute the third largest social group after the  Kashmiris and Dogras, have failed to get political reservation?

20]  Is it not a fact that it is because of Article 370 and separate  Constitution that the Centrally-sponsored schemes meant for the  minorities, the Scheduled Castes and so on are not applicable to the  State?

21]  Is it not a fact that it is because of Article 370 that the 73rd and  74th constitutional amendments which empowered the grassroots level  institutions, including Panchayats, Corporations and Municipalities  are not applicable to Jammu & Kashmir?

These  are only 21 questions which establish that Article 370 is not just  discriminatory but anti-people and anti-democratic. There are several  other similar questions. It is hoped that the supporters of Article  370 would answer these simple and straight questions to help clinch  the whole issue through discussion and debate.

First  published in Click Here to View

Also  read
1. The truth behind Article 370
2. Ladakh demands UT status
3. Jammu and Kashmir tests Hindu resolve

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