21 Questions for supporters of Article 370
by Hari Om on 16 Dec 2013 8 Comments

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.

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