Since the accession of Jammu and Kashmir, Article 370 was contentious. Many including Shyama Prasad Mookerjee (then Congress leader) opposed such an article to be part of our constitution. One would argue if there was opposition, then why was it approved in the Constituent Assembly? We need to understand the process of debate in a democracy. Article 370 was made a temporary provision; thus, the Constituent Assembly approved it with a hope that in future it could be scrapped/amended.
On 12th September 1964, a private bill was moved to scrap Article 370. As per Hindustan Times report, “A unanimous demand for Kashmir’s full integration with India and a firm declaration by the government about the irrevocability of the State’s accession was made today by members in the Lok Sabha during an inconclusive discussion on a private member’s Bill seeking to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution”. Many Congress leaders including Ram Manohar Lohia, Sarojini Mahisi and Kashmiri leader Abdul Ghani and N.H. Samnani supported this bill. But the debate on this bill remained inconclusive.
As per The New Indian Express report, on 27th December 1963, Nehru and his colleagues in Congress believed that with the passage of the time Article 370 would be eroded, and Kashmir will be fully integrated with India:
From the above quote, it is clear that Kashmir, despite accession was not considered (legally) as fully integrated into India. Valley leaders, as well as Pakistan, always claim the same. India, irrespective of which party governs, still claims that J&K is a non-negotiable, integral part of India. But everyone knew that Article 370 always remains a thorn on India’s side.
Pakistan always demanded Kashmir as its part (the jugular vein). It always raises this issue on the international platform. In fact, the UN resolution although void because Pakistan didn’t comply its part, always refers to a plebiscite. In 2001, the then Secretary-General of UN Kofi Annan clearly mentioned that the UN resolution is not self-enforcing like those of East Timor or Iraq. The recent mediation proposal by Trump raised many eyebrows in India. Frankly speaking, if a part isn’t fully yours technically and legally, then the dispute would be there, and so would be the mediation proposals.
Narendra Modi government displayed a strong political will to scrap the special provisions of Jammu and Kashmir. Now, there may be a debate on whether the Modi government followed proper procedure or not. But the ultimate result is that Jammu and Kashmir is finally integrated into India in the eyes of the international community.
Pakistan knew what it lost because of the Modi government’s bold step. It knocked every door of the international community accusing that India annexed Jammu and Kashmir illegally. The U.S. said their policy towards Indo-Pak relation is not changed and the abrogation of Article 370 is an internal matter of India. The UN also followed the same line rejecting Pakistan request and advised to resolve the issues on the line of 1972 Shimla agreement.
What does this mean? Doesn’t it mean that dispute on Jammu and Kashmir (under Indian administration) is already settled in the eyes of international community legally and technically? The reference of ‘India’s internal matter’ itself says that present Jammu and Kashmir belongs unequivocally to India.
Now, what is the dispute of Kashmir? Isn’t it ‘Pakistan Occupied Kashmir’ now, which Pakistan recognises as ‘Azad Kashmir’? Now, whatever discussion will be done about Kashmir dispute, it will only be related to POK. Isn’t it a big win for India?
What is unfortunate for India is the way opposition parties are behaving. Kashmir becomes a prison, the move is unconstitutional, unilateral etc., then claiming that Kashmir is turning into Kosovo or Palestine and so many other terms which Pakistan is using to attract international attention. Shouldn’t Indian opposition parties realise that for the national interest they shouldn’t speak the same language as Pakistan speaks? Does ‘opposition’ mean even ignoring national interest?
Yes, it’s a fact that Kashmir valley will not return to normalcy immediately. But then, isn’t it the same situation which prevailed even with Article 370? Just recall how the valley was locked down after Burhan Wani’s death by Indian security forces. I don’t expect much from NC and PDP because they will actually lose more and can’t blackmail the central government any more. But what happened to the mainstream national parties like Congress, Left and others? Why do they indulge in politics which is beneficial to Pakistan? Doesn’t such politics invite ire from mainland India? Why are they making Narendra Modi more invincible in the eyes of Indian voters in opposing a decision which is of national interest?
I hope the opposition will wake up and smell the coffee else they will lose the remaining political space among the present smart Indian voters who will judge the credibility of the opposition on their behaviour and attitude towards national interests or say nationalist issues. Through a masterstroke, Narendra Modi settled the Kashmir dispute in the eyes of the international community by scrapping the special provisions of Article 370. You may not praise him for a political reason but at least don’t side with Pakistan in vocal opposition to the government’s action on Article 370.