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Amicable Solution to Imbroglio 35A
Dr Virender Sahi8/18/2017 10:08:45 PM
The recent statements emerging out over Article 35A from a truncated population of a particular small section of within Kashmir Valley has once again brought to the fore the blatant misrepresentation of mass public sentiment of larger population of J&K State. The larger areas of Jammu and Ladakh want it repealed and within the Valley, beyond the 22 percent Kashmiri speaking population, others are not for this discriminatory provision. It is unfortunate that this time it is the Chief Minister who is pushing for the discriminatory voice against a vast majority sentiment of the State that she represents.
Over the decades, Article 370 got in heated debates. As Per the Constitution it is a "temporary provision". It is clear that many of the autonomies granted by Article 370 have been eroded anyway over a period of time and some stay only documented. Despite the clauses of the article, constitutional orders were passed long after the state's constituent assembly had wound up, which meant that a large number of Central laws are now apply to the state as well exactly as rest of the country.
Thus, the safeguards flowing from the state's special status have also been challenged. While Article 35A was meant to preserve the distinct character of the state, the rational nationalist thinkers call it discriminatory as it denies Indian citizens outside Jammu and Kashmir the right to own land or get voting rights. This, according to them, violated Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality before law and equal protection from the State.
They also assert that a Constitutional amendment of this kind cannot be made through a Presidential order, and it was Parliament alone that had the powers to make such a provision. Yet the Supreme Court upheld its validity when it dealt with the question of whether the president had powers to pass Constitutional orders such as the one on Jammu and Kashmir in 1954. Legal luminaries called it an 'unlawful back door entry' of an addition to the constitution that cannot sustain legal scrutiny. The voices for retaining 35A emerging from Kashmir Valley talk of its safe guards for the local population and ward off settlers from outside the J&K State. It was a worthwhile consideration once, when Kashmir was called 'Jannat' and the Britishers ruled India and found Kashmir a lucrative choice for them and many of the 'Brown Sahebs'. Who the hell would like to settle there now when even short visits and tourism is also not safe? As regards Jammu, the very same voices (including the past and present chief ministers) are silent over the settlement of Rohangiyas and Banladesis of foreign origin caring less for Article 35A and its provisions, while government is dumb and blinded over these illegal settlements.
As a workable solution, for the time being, let us retain the Article 35A with some modifications. One, let us under a state law remove the discrimination against women and allow the spouse and children of our daughters to get the J&K permanent resident status as available to men marrying outside the state. Two, as a onetime exception, let us accommodate the 2nd/ 3rd generation of West Pakistan refugees and the Punjabi Balmikis born in the State as State subjects by birth. These two measures may silent many agitating voices without tampering or diluting the basic character of the disputed Article. Political thinkers, activists and political parties should get together to find a solution to the waxed problem rather than bake their cakes in the burning fires of dispute and fuel the fires by making exciting statements. There can be checks and balances to ensure the nationals from outside the state do not buy lands in J&K at all or beyond certain fixed limits or settle industrious against local interests. It is preferable for the J&K Government and the nationalist J&K population to find an amicable solution instead of raising yet another controversy when the state is already faced with multifaceted problems, Pakistan sponsored locally boosted terrorism and the Dragon threatening form north. All this in addition to the inherent problems of poverty, illiteracy, underdevelopment and shortages of power, Medicare, scant industrial growth and the very survival is under the threat of the terrorists' guns. Will sense prevail ?
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