Of Article 35A!
Kashmir politics at crossroads?
God knows who cursed Kashmir! Since ages the psyche and soul of Kashmiri people have never been at peace; exploitation and unkindness always haunted them. Kashmiri people are often made to believe about a possible change to their destiny but in real terms, Kashmir has come to a political crossroad where it has nowhere to go if better sense will not prevail with the stakeholders.
Practically everyone acknowledges Kashmir is an unsettled baggage of partition that got messed up in the avaricious xenophobia of the Maharaja, ego of the popular leadership and ensuing animosity between two separating big-brothers. And in this situation of chaos the state of Jammu and Kashmir got torn into two, making the conflict more intricate. This part of the state got implanted in a vast nation claiming to be a democracy with extreme levels of tolerance through an instrument of accession by collaborative efforts of the autocratic ruler and the popular leadership. After manipulating and clandestinely refuting the fundamentals of the instrument of accession some provisions of special treatment to land and people of Jammu and Kashmir were provided in the shape of 1952 Delhi agreement. Most important and basic safeguards provided to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and its people are the two important provisions in the Constitution of India—article 370 and the article 35A. While as article 370 describes and ensures special status to the state within the union of India, the Article35A empowers the state legislature to define permanent residents of the state and interpret and ensure special rights and privileges to them. Many people and even the statesmanlike the first prime minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru articulating the apprehensions of people of Kashmir related the need of article 35A and its importance to Maharaja Hari Singh’s 1927 ‘Hereditary state subject’ order granting the state subjects land ownership rights and the right to government office. However, presently its scheming detractors invoking article 368 of the Constitution of India claim that 35A being an addition to the Indian constitution by a presidential order rather a parliamentary resolution robs the parliament of its legislative powers and needs to be scrapped. Regrettably, after seven decades of accession, and its selective interpretation a section (may be a fringe group) inside this vast country is trying to rewrite the Indian constitution to rob the Jammu and Kashmir state of its leftover legitimate rights and privileges!
I am not a legal expert but the natural justice—structure of justice above all legal jurisprudences if applied judiciously will show the presidential orders of 1950, 1952 and 1954 issued with the consent of Jammu and Kashmir state constituent assembly are addendums and interpretation of the article 370 in light of the constitutional requirements and are an integral part of the Indian Constitution. Interestingly, after the dissolution of State’s constituent assembly in 1957 many other presidential orders were issued with the concurrence of the state government and no one takes note of them because such orders further erode states powers to their liking.
The present and earlier few attempts of vested interests to take the judicial route for abolishing exclusive rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir has now become a tricky situation for different political entities within the state and outside. No individual within all the three regions of the state—Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir with complete diversity would ever like any transgression into their diverse culture and traditions. May be certain sections of the population in the plains of Jammu province may consider other options but the Dogra pride and ethnicity will surely come in the way. The recent voices for a referendum to hear the inner voice of Dogra’s cannot be brushed aside without consideration. Most of the mainstream politicians also cannot ignore the people’s sentiments irrespective of their own political affiliation, ideology, and agenda. And for the separatist, it is a catch—22 situations. They are unable to support any move to safeguard provisions of India constitution even if it is in the larger interests of people of the state because it goes against their ideology of Kashmir being a disputed territory. In such situation, it is Kashmir and its people who have arrived at a political crossroad where political wit matter more than the ideology and strategy. Only time will tell who wins or loses in this game of nerves.