A 'STATE' OF DESPAIR!
By R. K Arora
The state of Jammu and Kashmir, considered the metope of India is the only Muslim majority state (67 per cent), followed by Hindus (30 per cent), Sikhs (2 per cent) and the Buddhists (1 per cent). The state is divided into three regions - Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. Though Islam is practiced by about 67 per cent of the total population of the state but 97 per cent of population in the Muslim majority Kashmir valley follows this religion. Thus, despite being a Muslim majority state, it has a large number of Hindus (inclusive of Megh Bhagats) and sizeable number of Sikhs and Buddhists. In Jammu region, Hindus constitute 65% of the population whereas Muslims are 31% followed by Sikhs just 4%. In Ladakh, Buddhists constitute about 46% of the population, the remaining being the Muslims. The people of Ladakh are of Indo-Tibetan origin.
Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan ever since Partition. There have been high-level talks to resolve the issue at different intervals ever since Pakistan came into being but with no tangible result thus far.
Though in part-XXI of the Indian Constitution defining Article 370, special provisions are given to the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa, but the special powers and provisions of Jammu & Kashmir have no match. Article 370 restricts Indian Parliament to make any laws for the state and it can only preside over the subjects like defence, external affairs, finance and communication. Laws related to union and concurrent list in J&K can be passed only after consultation with the state government.
The 1992 developments in the valley sent shivers down the spine of many as around 7 lakh Kashmiri pandits had to leave the valley under compelling circumstances. Law and order machinery had miserably collapsed and terrorists were calling the shots. Never in the history of the world an exodus of over seven lakh resident Hindus had taken place. The sole reason for such a mass exodus was due to our estranged neighbouring country, Pakistan that has waged a proxy war against India in Kashmir by exporting, aiding and abetting terrorists in the state.
The state that has two capitals; Kashmir in summers and Jammu in winters, is dependent on Central Government for funds for development and meeting its other needs. In a nutshell the provisions of Article 370, Article 35A and cheap politics have made this state dependent on Government of India. But the apathy is the Central Government cannot make laws for the state.
First PM Nehru’s Blunder:
The Article 35A has also harmed the state like Article 370. It was passed by then the Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru by the name “Order of 1954” and then added to the Constitution as Article 35A. This article is criticized for its insertion in Constitution as it was not added to the Constitution by following the due procedures prescribed for amendment of the Constitution of India and therefore, it violates the Constitutional procedures established by law. The Article 35A deals with many important subjects like citizenship of state, acquisition of property, employment and scholarship etc. It is said that to abolish article 370 first government should repeal Article 35A. Article 370 is full of deficiencies that are playing with the health of the state and the nation. The drawbacks in the Article include:
People living in Jammu & Kashmir have dual citizenship, i.e. of J&K and of India. The state owes allegiance to two separate flags – the state flag and the national flag. Insulting the national flag is not a cognizable offence in Jammu & Kashmir. That is why from time to time the national flag is burnt in Kashmir.
Also under the provisions of the Article, the term for the constituent assembly in Jammu & Kashmir is of 6 years, whereas all over India, it is 5 years. The government of India cannot enforce any law in Jammu & Kashmir, without the concurrence of the State Government. As per Article 370, the orders of Supreme Court of India are null and void in Jammu & Kashmir as also if any woman marries a man who is not a citizen of Jammu & Kashmir, she loses all her citizenship (state rights) whereas if any woman marries a Pakistani, she will be entitled to have a citizenship of Jammu & Kashmir.
Whereas women in Jammu & Kashmir come under the jurisdiction of Sharia law, people living outside Jammu & Kashmir cannot buy land or vote in the state. The citizens of Jammu & Kashmir can be the citizens of India, but not vice-versa. Also Article 370 gives Pakistani citizens entitlement to Indian citizenship, if he marries a Kashmiri girl. Persons having citizenship of India only cannot get service in the State Government's departments.
The irony is most laws, rules and acts passed by the Indian Parliament are applicable to all the states up to Kanyakumari excepting Jammu & Kashmir. The MPs from Jammu & Kashmir also take part in the proceedings, cast their votes along with MPs from other states of India. When duly elected representatives from all the states including J&K constitute both the houses of Parliament - why this disparity? From Kashmir to Kanyakumari - India is one and "Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India". Why not in this case?
In the latest development, Supreme Court while hearing a PIL on the issue of scrapping Article 370 recently said "Only Parliament can decide on scrapping Article 370". Since Article 370 sows seed of separatism, it should be scrapped and the sooner the better. Opposition parties rising above petty politics should play a positive role in doing away with this Article that has neither done any good to the state nor to the country.