The views of the Kashmir leadership have not been respected
Hypothetically let me believe, there is no Kashmir dispute. There are no United Nations Resolutions guaranteeing right to self-determination to entire state of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed on August 14, 1947. India and Pakistan are not signatory to the international agreement for holding of plebiscite in the state under the aegis of the United Nations. Indian parliament has not resonated with pledges and promises of living by international commitments and agreements for resolution of the Kashmir issue. In the long history of dialogue between the two counties for peace on their borders and resolution of their disputes, Kashmir has not been centre to the talks. For sixty years, with all its crests and troughs there has been no movement for right to self-determination.
Notwithstanding views held by historians from Alistair Lamb (Kashmir- A Disputed Legacy) to Dr. Abdul Ahad (Kashmir: triumphs and tragedy) about the nonexistence or faking of the ‘instrument of accession’. Let me also believe with the ‘Alhaqi’ (pro-accession) parties, that this document with its proviso of accession being “provisional” and confined to Defence, External Affairs and Communications that brought Jammu and Kashmir within ambit of India is “sacrosanct”. Forgetting UN resolution of 1957 let me also believe with NC, PDP and others in the tribe that the state constituent assembly legitimated the ‘instrument of accession’. If the state assembly made ‘instrument of accession’ as something “non-negotiable” and “impenetrable” that suggests that its legal heir the state assembly is a sovereign body- its decisions as are binding for New Delhi as the one by the state constituent assembly.
It has been the recent killings in Shopian that reminded me of the sovereignty of the state assembly and its role thereto. On seventh September, 2013 when German Ambassador, Michael Steiner, the state and the central governments were sending message of “peace and love” through hundred and odd international musicians from Shalimar garden to the beleaguered people four more families were added to the long list of mourners. The ‘security forces’ like coots in the wetlands gunned down four more youth in Shopian with impunity. The Shopian killings are one of the hundreds of such happenings documented by newspapers. Now for past many years there has been a consensus across the political divide that one of the major contributing factor for the ‘trigger happy’ men in Khaki and olive green killing people for a ‘sport’ has been impunity they enjoy under laws like AFSPA. The Chief Ministers, oppositions leaders and all and sundry in the political parties like NC, PDP, Pradesh Congress, opinion makers within and outside, human rights organization within country and outside have been demanding abrogation of all laws eroding very concept of accountability in the forces. In its recent editorial, this newspaper calling upon the ‘alhaqi’ and other leaders to grow beyond rhetoric and had asked the ruling party and the opposition to introduce a joint resolution in the assembly for revoking the controversial law- and the pass same unanimously.
There can be no two opinions that revocation of such laws would help in reining men in uniform and providing big relief to people. Nevertheless, there is a fundamental question even if the state assembly adopts a resolution for annulling the laws like AFSPA will it be ever be executed- if it is not trashed into dustbin by the central government. There is couple of other questions associated with this fundamental question. If the central government trashing a bill or a resolution passed by the state assembly is not infringing the sovereignty of the assembly often quoted as having ratified the ‘instrument of accession’. Whenever government in New Delhi rejects a resolution passed by the state assembly the ‘alahiqi’ parties, have taken these actions lying low- why?
Historically, the centre government has not been bothering about the views of the Kashmir leadership and has been rejecting them with contempt. Moreover, these leaders towering or dwarf have been taking contempt with pinch of salt. One, of the glaring example has been that of negotiations between Sheikh Abdullah, his colleagues and central leadership over article 370, and draft agreed on 16 Oct 1949 and unilateral alteration made to it at their back- the original draft restricted New Delhi role in dismissing governments in the state. (See for details Article 370 by Noorani page 4-5). Pages of history of the state assembly are full of instances where centre government have not been respectful to its decisions or that of leaders and members of the houses it has been hailing as architects and fortifiers of ‘accession’ of the state with Indian union. To make my point, in this piece of writing, I may cull just two examples from the history of legislative assembly. ‘In March 1982, a private members bill the Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Bill was introduced in the Assembly for enabling the state subjects who had left for Pakistan between March 1947 to May 1954 to return to their homes, claim their properties and reunite with their families. Ostensibly, there was nothing hideous in the move and it was not trespassing any constitutional provisions. The assembly passed the bill on April 1982 and it was sent to then Governor B.K. Nehru for assent, after six months he returned the bill to assembly for reconsideration. The assembly once again passed the bill and it became an act. Before it could be executed, New Delhi came in and President of India referred it to the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, where it remained for nineteen years- fact of the matter remains that the act died unsung.
At the turn of century amidst much hyped ‘sky was the limit for autonomy less independence’ by the Central government the state assembly adopted recommendation of State Autonomy Committee (SAC) and on 26 June 2000 passed a resolution for restoring autonomy of the state as it enjoyed before 1953. And barely a week after the Central Government without debating it in Indian Parliament rejected it- assigning no cogent reasons. The poser that bothers my mind is that if the state assembly in the coming assembly session passes a resolution for revocation of laws like AFSPA will the central government honor this resolution…oscillating between yes and no, I believe yes it will provided pro-accession parties come out of their ‘servile- mindset and premonitions.’