By Mayank Jain:
“India is not a nation, nor a country. It is a subcontinent of nationalities.”Â â€• Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Minister of State, Jitendra Singh has managed to spark off another controversy right after taking the charge of his position in the Prime Minister’s Office. He said that the government is open to debate on the issue of Article 370 in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Article 370 grants special status to J&K. Since the time of partition, the Article 370 has been a part of the constitution which was introduced with the objective of giving space and autonomy to the government of the state which feels disconnected from both the countries fighting for it. The article is a measure of safeguard that allows J&K to have its own constitution and only some issues lie within the government of India while others are a prerogative of the state government.
The Article’s special grant of authority to the state has been eroded away, over all these years through multiple Presidential Orders and as The Hindu writes, “The Article is only a shadow of what used to be in its place.”
The current controversy around Article 370 is an offshoot of the promise Narendra Modi made in his elections campaign when he called for a debate on Article 370 at Lalkar rally in Jammu.
Comments of Jitendra Singh haven’t gone well with many people including Omar Abdullah who is the current CM of Jammu and Kashmir and his party has been at the forefront for fighting against the repeal of Article 370. They are actually trying to bring a stronger Article 370 in place.
Abdullah, leader of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Party took to Twitter to vent out his displeasure on the same in strong words “Mark my words & save this tweet – long after Modi Govt is a distant memory either J&K won’t be part of India or Art 370 will still exist”.
In return, RSS has also joined the boiling pot by criticizing Abdullah for his stand. “J&K won’t b part of India? Is Omar thinking its his parental estate? 370 or no 370 J&K has been n will always b an integral part of India (sic),” tweeted RSS national executive member Ram Madhav.
The repeal or strengthening of Article 370 is however a much more intricate issue than a political ballgame which it has been made out to be. The point to note here is the fact that 11 states including Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya and Uttarakhand have been accorded some sort of special status, and not just J&K.
Article 370 was put into place during the time of bifurcation and Independence because of the identity crises that the region faced and their want to be identified as an independent state, and now one side more than the other. It was supposed to be a measure of empowerment for them to take their own decisions but subsequent erosion has thrown that object out of the window.
The people of the state have long been considered outcasts, especially Kashmiris, and the government accords them biased treatment which is not the ideal India B.R. Ambedkar dreamt of and probably this is why he opposed the idea of Article 370. The people of the state have similar demands as the rest of the country and instead of working towards their growth and development, tokenism won’t suffice.
Article 370 can stay or be repealed but the issues won’t disappear overnight. The vulnerability of the people should precede the political decisions that are taken behind closed doors. Meanwhile, Jitendra Singh has denied the comments as reported by media and Omar Abdullah has managed a Twitter storm by the dint of his captioning skills:
First day; first show 🙂 pic.twitter.com/5HbRE91DFo
– Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) May 27, 2014
UPDATE: The title of the article has been changed to “Report: Understanding The Recent Row Of Debates On Article 370” from “Why It Might Be A Bad Idea To Simply Repeal Article 370 From Kashmir”.