Tuesday, February 19, 2019
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Article 370 will stay
Belated though, but a welcome development

B L Saraf

What should have been asserted at the time when PDP- BJP coalition government took reigns in J&K has, alas, come when the dispensation is half way through. Union Minister of State for Home informed Lok Sabah on 27th March that “there was no proposal under consideration to scrap Article 370 which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir.” Though belated, it is a reassuring statement. We must welcome it.
PM Modi has been talking about cooperative federalism. Pious declaration, indeed. But his four years governance record, unfortunately, suggests the opposite. If the intention has to translate it into reality then states must have a fair degree of financial and functional autonomy. Each state in the Union has peculiarity of its culture and demography. It is, therefore, natural for term to crave for legal provisions to safeguard them. Constitution of India does have some. Article 371 is for the North-Eastern States. While as states like Haryana and HP have domicile laws to filter the entry of non-locals. Now it seems to be turn of Karnataka where a strange drama is being played out. It is going well beyond the route which once Tamil Nadu traveled on way to the separation. Just to keep himself politically afloat, C M Sidirammiah is hell bent to divide Hindu religion and is surpassing Kashmir in many ways. He has devised a separate flag for his state. Wonder, BJP has not challenged him so far on this issue.

What other states are craving for has been promised to J&K long ago. While as many promises have not been delivered, onslaught is underway on whatever little the state has had in the name of ‘autonomy'. Therefore it is natural for people in Jammu and Kashmir to insist on protection of the special status. There is nothing seditious about it.

Whatever may be the truth of the matter, Kashmiris have felt let down by PM Modi at times when they needed him most. Be it when floods devastated Kashmir in 2014, or people suffering in cross fire at LoC Modi didn’t come to their help. Nor is there any positive intent shown that he will live up to his words uttered on 15th August 2017 from the ramparts of Red Fort Delhi, to resolve the ‘K’ issue, that “Na galli se na goli se, parivartan hoga galey lagaani se.”

Modi may redeem himself if unqualified assertions comes in defense of Article 35 A, also.

nion Government’s announcement may come as an eye opener to many a hyper nationalist - a few Kashmiri Pandits included. Well, KPs do love India and nobody can deny them the right. But that should not blind them to the hard realities of history and geography of the region. True, J&K reaffirmed its relation with Indian Union but it has been predicated on so many considerations, not known to the relationship of New Delhi with other States.

KPs are hurt and bruised. They suffer in wilderness. That calls for a deeper introspection. But KPs must think: aren’t they being used as pawns on the national chess board by a political party? Was it worth for them to have, as a community, joined the band wagon and be part of the campaign to abrogate Articles 370 and 35 A? Where is the need for a female KP to agitate the claim of `lost State Subject Status' when our High Court has removed the gender bias in PRC Law. It is the time for Pandit TV warriors to realize that they are being used only as megaphones to belch out the pernicious theory of ultra nationalism of a few.

It is in the interest of K P to assert his Kashmir identity first, and then align with the broader Indian nationality, which is not one-dimensional. Even to a dyed in the wool nationalist, nationalism has many definitions. One for J&K and other for rest of the country. What is happening in Karnataka and how these ‘nationalists' are, in a quest to have one more state, silently acquiescing the divisive politics of its Congress CM should be a lesson for the KP. If a hyper nationalist finds virtue in the real politics why can’t a KP see that way in his own place of birth. After all, it an existential matter for him.

(The author is a Former Principal District & Sessions Judge. Feedback- [email protected] )

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