First things first – Article 370 was not a precondition or condition attached to the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with India. The Instrument of Accession, signed by the Maharaja of J&K, was the same as that signed by all other princely states.
Two – Article 370 did not negate the Two-Nation theory that gave birth to Pakistan; rather, it cemented the Two-Nation theory with special concessions to J&K, just because it was Muslim-majority state.
Three – Article 370 was the screen behind which politicians of the Kashmir Valley prospered, and every citizen of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh suffered.
Four – Article 370, along with Article 35A, was a ‘license’ to oppress SC/ST people, women, orphans of Partition – lakhs of refugees from Pakistan who landed up on the ‘wrong part of India’ to escape atrocities.
Five – Jammu and Kashmir’s unrest for seven decades was not about more autonomy from where it began, but a project of Islamists to snatch the Kashmir Valley, and if possible, Jammu from India, as Pakistan’s ‘unfinished agenda’. It was part of a ‘pan-Islam dream’.
The ‘Ignorance’ of Jammu & Kashmir ‘Specialists’
Nullification was an end to the uncertainty in the minds of the citizens of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh –– about their status and it left Pakistan bereft of an excuse to exploit the Islamic world –– as the spearhead of ‘making Kashmir’, and through Kashmir, the entire land of India, into Nizam-e-Mustafa through the Ghazwa-e-Hind. It is the ‘supremacist dream’ behind radicalising the Kashmir Valley.
The ratification of accession was done by the J&K Constituent Assembly; there were no ifs or buts. Article 370 was inserted into the Constitution at the insistence of Nehru who was pestered by his friend Sheikh Abdullah, though he had got what he wished – control of Kashmir, with he Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir banished to obscurity. Article 35A was never a subset or condition with Article 370. It was inserted surreptitiously in the Appendix of the Indian Constitution, and nobody ever talked about it; most lawyers were not even aware about it till an RSS-inspired think-tank dug it out around 2005.
Such is the ignorance of Jammu & Kashmir ‘specialists’ that the ‘interlocutors team’ of the UPA wasn’t even aware of it, and nor did it mention it in its report.
The team hardly met any other members or organisations of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Shia Muslims of other regions, nor did the report reflect their aspirations. They had three round tables – two in Kashmir, one in Jammu, and none in Ladakh – the biggest region with a minority Buddhist population. They claimed to have met 7,000 people. Was it possible in those short visits?
Why Did People of J&K And Ladakh Remain Poor Despite ‘Getting the Highest Central Grants’?
Below are some examples of how the Valley’s politicians ruled Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, behind the ‘smokescreen’ of Article 370:
From 1947-2007, there were no reservations for SC/ST. Ultimately, an SC judgment in 2007 forced the reluctant state government to give reservations, but still, there are no political reservations. STs still don’t have reservations though they form 14-16 percent of the population.
There were 135 constitutional laws blocked under Article 370. There was no delimitation till 2002. Then, the J&K assembly passed a resolution that would make the next Census possible only in 2020, thus, delimitation on the new Census would be possible only by 2026 elections.
Till 2002, Jammu, with 3 million voters, had 37 assembly seats and 2 Lok Sabha seats. Kashmir, with 2.9 million voters, had 46 assembly seats and 3 Lok Sabha seats. Ladakh, with the largest area –– 59,000 sq km –– and 3 million population, had four assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat.
The worst part is how Jammu-Kashmir-Ladakh people were impoverished despite getting the highest central grants.
A citizen in J&K receives Rs 1137 (per capita assistance) as compared to Rs 576 in other states. Other states got 70 percent loan and 30 percent grant, but J&K and Ladakh got 90 percent grant and 10 percent as loan. Where did the money go? It seems like it went to the pockets of politicians in the Valley. Though it collected the most revenue from Jammu, money was always diverted to the Kashmir Valley.
No Human Rights Champions Ever Stood For ‘Orphans of Partition’
While the politicians fattened up with the help of their well-wishers in Delhi, the citizens of the state remained impoverished.
Jammu and Ladakh had a very poor share in government employment. In the 1997-98 Kashmir Administrative Service written examinations – one Christian, three Muslims and twenty-three Buddhists passed their exams, and out of them, only one Buddhist was appointed. Out of 3,500 state secretariat cadre – there was not a single Buddhist. Not a single Buddhist has been selected for this cadre in the last 52 years. That’s Article 370 in a nutshell for you.
Article 35A and 370, under which the Citizenship Act of Jammu Kashmir was created and amended in 1982, was an oppressive act.
It deprived lakhs of Indians of their dignity, livelihood and equality before law. Thanks to social media, we now know the fate of Radhika Gill. She is not alone, thousands of ‘Valmikis’ or SCs who came to J&K to serve on invitation could become only safai karmacharis even if they had PhDs. Talk of equality!
Lakhs of refugees from Sialkot, who couldn’t reach Punjab but ended up in Jammu, remained without the same rights as state citizens, education, jobs, land, home for 70 years.
The new laws have given nearly 3.5 lakh citizens of Jammu and Kashmir domicile status so far. No human rights champions ever stood for these unfortunate orphans of Partition. No human rights organisation or ‘secular politicians’ ever spoke for or supported the four lakh Kashmiri Hindus who were refugees in their own land. But since 5 August 2019, ‘human rights factories’ have been churning out stories.
Has J&K Not Seen ‘Bloody Days’ Under Article 370?
Yes, more terrorists have been killed. Yes, there are more Kashmiri youth killed in terror operations than earlier times. It is a ‘war’ for the integrity of the nation. But, was it any different under Article 370 in seven decades? Have Jammu and Kashmir not seen bloody days earlier –– except from 1965 (when Pakistan failed in its Operation Gibraltar due to lack of local support) till 1984, when temple breaking and defiling began again. Kashmiri Hindus have told me that Wahhabi radicalisation of the Valley began in 1975 after Saudi petrodollars began flowing into the Valley, and hate began to be nurtured at the ground level.
The Home Ministry’s official records tells us that hundreds of temples were destroyed and defiled from 1984 to 1992 before 6 December 1992 when the Babri structure was demolished. Kashmiri Hindus were hounded out in 1990. Those who talk of curfews, shutdown of the Valley and curfews, should study history to learn that there was President’s Rule for 6 years and 8 months in the 1990s in Jammu and Kashmir, under the Congress and Congress-supported governments.
How Article 370 ‘Acquiesced To Two-Nation Theory’
Ladakh was never interested in coming under Jammu & Kashmir state. It was forced to be a part of it, and suffered the most. Today, they are happy. Jammu is also happy because it will finally get its dues.
The fight for so-called autonomy was but a ‘trick’ to keep the Centre under pressure to extract more benefits.
Pakistan was not interested in these wishy-washy objectives.
Kashmir has been the knowledge centre of Bharat / India for nearly 4000 years. It is the crown of the ancient civilisation. Even for secularists, Kashmir is a ‘proof’ of the fallacy of the Two-Nation theory.
Article 370 essentially acquiesced to the Two-Nation theory. This ‘temporary’ Article had to go. Nullifying Article 370 is a paradigm shift. It will take us time to come out of 70 years of doing the same things but expecting different results. Yes, a lot needs to be done –– but that can’t legitimise what had been happening for seven decades.
(Ratan Sharda is an author and TV panelist. He tweets @RatanSharda55. This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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