A Sensible Stand
Aug 5 2018
The most emotive and volatile issue involving the future of Kashmiris at the present moment is the alleged attempted tinkering with the Article 35A of the Indian Constitution. A Public Interest Litigation filed by a pro Hindutva Organization for its repeal is in the Supreme Court of India is slated to be taken up on August 6. This Article has been included in the Constitution to give protection to the State Subject Law which was enacted in 1927 by the late Maharaja Hari Singh. The law was to give total protection to the state subjects in all the three regions of the State regarding their land, properties, and jobs and so on.
The Maharaja had the apprehension that in the absence of a legal protection, his poor subjects would be swept by the people from the entire sub-continent. This was not only a physical but a very strong psychological protection to the poor subjects of the state against the rich from outside the state. Even though there have been some violations of the law yet it continues to give protection to the inhabitants of the state in all the three regions.
The law has continued right from 1947 without any attempt to repeal or dilute it. The chauvinist and ultra-national parties have been aiming to repeal it right from the day the Maharaja signed the instrument of accession. However, they never succeeded in repealing it.
Now for last four years vigorous attempts have been made to get it removed. This has again created a situation of turmoil which may even be stronger and wide spread than the present popular movement. In fact, its repeal which poses a threat to the basic rights may trigger a more strong and violent movement.
Normally, if any law in the state has to be repealed, it has to be first done in the state legislature. The State Governor, who is a representative of the Central Government, too has requested that the case regarding the repeal of 35-A be deferred till a popular government in the state takes over.
There cannot be a more prudent and a sensible stand than this. It would be advisable for the Central Government to accept the advice and not only get the case deferred but also take practical measures to ensure that there is no chance for the repeal of the law in future also. That is the only way to convince the local people that the Central Government is sincerely interested in safeguarding the rights and the future of the State Subjects in spite of the overzealous attempts of the chauvinist elements.