Kashmir rules politically, Jammu ideologically
by Hari Om on 12 Apr 2010 3 Comments

The people of Jammu province, particularly the Hindus, have once again inflicted a defeat on the ruling National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party, besides the Kashmir-based legislators, independent or otherwise. These legislators wanted to snatch away all the citizenship rights of the daughters of the state who had married outside the state, to non-state subjects, and who would marry non-state subjects in future. This was to be done via the agency of the draconian Permanent Resident (Disqualification) Bill (PRDB), but it failed to pass muster in the legislature.


The obnoxious bill was introduced in the Legislative Council on March 8 by a PDP legislator as a private member’s bill, with the consent of Congress leader and Revenue Minister Raman Bhalla. Behind-the-scene activities of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Law & Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar had induced the Revenue Minister to allow introduction of this anti-women bill.


The Chief Minister, the Law and Parliamentary Minister, the Revenue Minister and the Valley-centric and fundamentalist People’s Democratic Party leadership failed in their anti-daughters game-plan because Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Council Arvinder Singh Micky, a senior Congress leader, rejected the ill-motivated bill on April 5. Using his authority under sections 9 and 147 of the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution, he rejected the PRDB, acknowledging its introduction as a “constitutional error.” He said “bills seeking amendment in the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution have to be first passed by the Legislative Assembly.”


What the Deputy Chairman said while rejecting the controversial bill was a virtual admission that he had committed an act of constitutional impropriety by allowing the introduction of the PRDB in the Legislative Council.


The cornered and clueless Revenue Minister, who had allowed the People’s Democratic Party MLC to introduce the PRDB, said: “I accepted the bill (on March 8) as we didn’t want to give an opportunity to the opposition to score political points. We didn’t want to allow them to make a hue and cry that we are ignoring their issues. But as now the members have raised technical issues and there are certain technical flaws in it, it is for the Deputy Chairman to take a correct decision”.


Had the Revenue Minister taken into consideration the “technical flaws” in the bill before allowing its introduction, as also the fact that the Legislative Council could not entertain any amending bill, the situation would have been altogether different. The Congress would not have faced the wrath of the people of Jammu province.     


It is quite clear that those who allowed the PDP legislator to introduce the PRDB in the Legislative Council had either not applied their mind or had done it deliberately to appease the fundamentalist forces in the state. The second reason appears to be the motivating force.


The rejection of the bill is an outstanding victory of the daughters of the state, in particular and people of Jammu province in general. Had the PRDB been passed by the state legislature, the daughters of the state would have been reduced to the status of third grade citizens; it would have constituted a great onslaught on gender equality, and victory of the regressive forces in the Valley. This is the second time that the backward-looking and reactionary forces have suffered humiliation on the same issue. The first defeat they suffered was in August 2004.


The people of Jammu province and their organizations fought tooth and nail against the anti-daughters’ move. The Bar Association Jammu, the Panthers Party, the Jammu State Morcha, and even the otherwise ambivalent and confused BJP, and a number of socio-cultural groups all joined hands against the Congress, National Conference and People’s Democratic Party. They identified themselves completely with the Jammu psyche, which asserted immediately after introduction of the ill-conceived PRDB. They deserve kudos. They once again established that no power on earth can take them for a ride or dilute their nationalist and liberal ideology.


Such was the impact of the assertion of the Jammu psyche that even Congress had to review its stand on the PRDB. Convinced it would be suicidal for the party to ride roughshod over the Jammu sentiment, Congress legislators in the Legislative Council played an important role and made the Deputy Chairman reject the bill. A number of Congress MLCs raised objection after objection against the bill and denounced it as “anti-women” and “anti-constitutional”. Even more significant was the comment of Kashmir-based Congress MLC Abdul Ghani Vakil: “it is also against the Shariat laws”.


That means almost all the Jammu-based legislators displayed unity of sorts, worked in unison and ensured the collapse of the anti-daughters bill, but the credit goes to the people of Jammu province who fought relentlessly. The manner in which the ruling coalition of the National Conference and Congress behaved on April 5 once again established that it was difficult to ignore the people of Jammu, whose faith in liberal values and gender equality is unflinching, and who have the necessary will and ability to defeat the Kashmir-based leadership that believes in an ideology that is patently regressive, intolerant and anti-women.


It is important to note that the people of Jammu province do not enjoy any official patronage whatsoever and have been grossly discriminated against by the Kashmiri leadership and New Delhi since 1947, but have consistently fought against the fundamentalist and separatist forces in Kashmir and shown them their rightful place. In the process, they fell victim to the official policy of senseless brutality umpteen times. But they did not relent even once. Such has been their commitment to their ideology.


It would not be an exaggeration to say that Kashmir rules over the state politically and Jammu ideologically, notwithstanding the controversial and uninspiring role of most of the Jammu-based leaders, most of whom work as Kashmiri agents for personal power and profit. The Jammu people’s contribution to the state’s integration into the national mainstream is splendid and spectacular. The Hindus of Jammu province constitute a minority social group in the state, but have been fighting an ideological war.


Some of the most outstanding contributions of the otherwise ignored people of Jammu include (i) dismissal and arrest of Wazir-e-Azam Sheikh Abdullah in 1953; (ii) abolition of permit system; (iii) extension of 260 out of a total of 395 Central laws, application of 94 Entries out of a total of 97 Entries in the Union List, application of 26 Entries out of a total of 47 Entries in the Concurrent List and application of 7 out of a total of 12 Schedules in the Indian Constitution; (iv) extension of Article 312 of the Indian Constitution or the extension of All India Services to the state in 1958; (v) extension of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, Comptroller and Auditor-General and Election Commission in 1965; (vi) change on March 30, 1965 in the nomenclatures of Sadar-e-Riyasat and Wazir-e-Azam and introduction of the offices of Governor and Chief Minister; (vii) collapse of the 1975 Indira Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah Accord under which the latter had the power to seek withdrawal of Central laws from the state; fall of the Congress-led coalition government in the state on July 7, 2008; and (ix) transfer of the Baltal land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) on a permanent basis, free of cost, on 31 August 2008.


It’s no wonder that Kashmir, which has been ruling over the state since 1947, is unhappy and seething with discontent. The nationalist people of Jammu have been acting as a millstone around Kashmir’s neck. It is an irony that there is none in New Delhi who could appreciate the efforts of and supreme sacrifices made by the people of this province. Instead, there are elements in New Delhi who often dismiss them as “communal”, “unaccommodating” and “anti-Kashmiri Muslims”. Such is the nature of the Indian state.


The author is Chair Professor, Gulab Singh Chair, Jammu University, Jammu     

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