Saturday, February 24, 2018
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The most controversial article of the Indian Constitution is back in debate again but it seems that this time it is going to reach its logical conclusion soon enough.  Probably no other provision of the Indian Constitution has ever evoked so much emotion and passion as Article 370 has done over the last so many decades.  With the new government in place, the new round of debate was flared up by the comments of Minister of State of PMO Jitendra Singh who had stated that the Government is in the process of initiating discussions and deliberations with different sections in Kashmir on the issue of Article 370 and the need to abrogate it.

In the hindsight, the important question is what is exactly Article 370 and how does it make the case of J&K different than that of the rest of the country?  The genesis of the Article 370 is deeply connected with India's independence and accession of J&K into India.  During those days the ruler of J&K used to be Maharaja Hari Singh and his appointed Prime Minister was Sheikh Abdullah whose revulsion towards Hari Singh and his personal ambition to have absolute control over the affairs of J&K was never a secret.  Interestingly, even though in the first Government of Independent India, Sardar Patel was the States Minister, he was kept out of the loop by Nehru who along with Sheikh Abdullah was the key architect of the controversial article 370 whose finer points were drafted under their direction by Gopal Swamy Iyenger.  Sardar Patel was so livid with the provisions of Article 370 that he had resigned on this issue.

In essence Article 370 means that barring issues of defense, communications and external affairs, on all other issues of governance and policy making, the Government of India would have to take concurrence from the J&K Assembly.  In other words J&K Government enjoys more autonomy than other states and over the last several decades, people of Kashmir valley have been made to believe by Kashmiri politicians and separatists that they are not integral part of India and that they have a distinct identity which is completely different from that of Indians and that the provision of Article 370 in the Indian constitution vindicates it.

Both Ambedkar and Sardar Patel were opposed to Article 370.  In fact even those in Congress who advocate for maintaining the status quo and not to tamper with the provisions of Article 370 cannot deny the fact that Dr BR Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution as well as Sardar Patel were both against such a provision.  Yet Nehru went ahead with Article 370 to keep Sheikh Abdullah in good humour.  He made sure that India's chance to snatch back portions of Kashmir annexed by Pakistan is gone forever.  Surprisingly, in spite of so much faith in his personal decision and trust on Sheikh Abdullah, by 1953, Nehru had Sheikh Abdullah arrested for sedition.

Fact of the matter is that no other state gets as much central fund for running administration as the state of J&K gets.  Therefore if the Abdullahs and the separatists keep raising the issue of separate identity of Kashmir and that it is not an integral part of India, should they not then openly advocate that J&K should stop taking money from Central Government of India for running the state? The reality is that if the Indian Government stops giving money to J&K, the entire J&K administrative machinery would collapse because the J&K Government does not even have enough money for pay its employees leave alone having money for developmental work and for running healthcare and education facilities of the state.

Interestingly one should remind the advocates of article 370 as to what Dr BR Ambedkar had stated to Sheikh Abdullah on the issue of drafting of Article 370. He stated, as was narrated later by Balraj Madhok that you You wish India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains, and Kashmir should get equal status as India.  But Government of India should have only limited powers and Indian people should have no rights in Kashmir.  To give consent to this proposal, would be a treacherous thing against the interests of India and I, as the Law Minister of India, will never do it.  India meanwhile continues to pay for Nehru's follies.

Kashmir Originated from Rishi Kashyap and not Abdullahs.  Someone should ideally inform Omar Abdullah that Kashmir existed as part of India from the Vedic era and it was from Rishi Kashyap, one of the Saptarishis or seven sages, from whom Kashmir got its name.  Thus Kashmir truly is not a real estate of the Abdullahs and neither its allegiance to India can be decided by them or the Pakistan backed separatists. T housands of Indians have given their lives for protecting the territorial integrity of India by making sure that terrorists and Pakistanis cannot take it over.  Their sacrifice would truly make sense when J&K is integrated completely with rest of India by abrogation of Article 370.

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