Debating Article 370: Maharaja Hari Singh was its initial architect

The response to BJP’s demand that a debate over article 370 should be held has already begun across India. All the news channels are running debates and discussions over this matter . The leading newspapers across have been carrying opeds, editorials and news articles on this issue right from the day Lok Sabha elections kick started early this year. Since decades the abrogation of Article 370 has been on the top agenda of Sang Parivar (RSS) and as well as its political offshoot the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Ever since BJP came to power at centre the 370 tone has come down and now BJP talks of a debate on article 370 instead of its abrogation. Even during the recent speech of Prime Minister Narender Modi at Poonch and Udhampur in connection with ongoing assembly elections campaign,he hardly spoke about article 370 . The Home Minister Rajnath Singh who was in Kishtwar recently also didn’t raised the issue of article 370 and this clearly indicates that BJP does not wants to annoy the muslim population of state at this point of time when party it targeting for accomplishment of its Mission 44 plus. But this does not mean that RSS and BJP have taken a U – turn on the issue of abrogation of article 370 . The issue of abrogation of article 370 will always remain as one of the top priorities of RSS and BJP, but for fulfilling that dream , BJP is desperate to form a Government J&K, and that is the reason that all the top leaders of party right from Prime Minister , Home Minister and other senior cabinet Ministers are actively canvassing for their party candidates in state so as to ensure their victory.

Desperate about abrogation of Article 370 ?

BJP’s so called plea that J&K suffers due to article 370 as many of developmental initiatives are not executed in state because of some constitutional barriers. It is true that under article 370 no central laws are automatically extended in Jammu & Kashmir , unless they are ratified by the state legislature, but to say article 370 is an impediment towards J&K’s development is all rubbish. BJP’s sole agenda is to revoke article 370 and that is only possible when the state legislature permits it. After the abrogation of article 370, BJP is eyeing on revocation of State Subject Law (Permanent Residents Act). Revocation of State Subject Law will pave a way for RSS , BJP and its allies to settle people from other states of India in Jammu & Kashmir , so as to change the demography of state. But this ugly mission of Sang Parivar will hardly be accomplished as people of the state will fight it tooth and nail.

Maharaja Hari Singh the architect of 370 :

Those who talk of Hindu Rashtra or Uniform Civil Code should go through the pages of Kashmir’s history and they will come to know that Kashmir’s last Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh who inspite of being a “Hindu Rajput” himself, had enacted the “State Subject Law” way back in year 1927. This law was enacted to stop the huge influx of Punjabi businessmen in Srinagar as well as in Jammu region which was directly affecting the local business of muslims as well as hindus. The influential Kashmiri Pandits had basically persuaded the Maharaja to invoke such a law which could not allow non state subjects to purchase any land or property within the territorial jurisdiction of the state of Kashmir which included Jammu , Muzaffarabad , Gilgit Baltistan etc as well. There are so many elderly people living in other side of Kashmir (Muzaffarabad , Mirpur , Kotli etc) who are in possession of State Subject documents issued pre 1947 by Deputy Commissioners of Muzaffarabad or erstwhile Poonch districts. 

Conclusion :

People living in various states of India are under this impression that due to article 370 they do not have any property rights in Jammu & Kashmir , but this is not at all correct. It is the state subject law enacted more than 85 years back that prevents them from having right to property in Jammu & Kashmir. The said law is still in operation in our state in the same way as many laws enacted during the times of British are still in vogue across India like Official Secrets Act 1923 , Maneuvers Filed Firing Range Act 1938 etc. That way we can say that Maharaja Hari Sing has been the initial architects of article 370 which infact has already been eroded by the successive regimes in New Delhi.

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an Activist , Freelance Writer


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