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Greater Autonomy to the State?

(If the present Government persists with their present approach, they will make future of Kashmir extremely dark and uncertain)

JK Local Press 30-6-96:
Granting autonomy to Kashmir in the present situation would be getting into a trap because neither fundamentalists nor Pakistan will be satisfied with this. It will definitely strengthen the separatist mentality in the state.
Prakash Singh
Former Director General of Border Security Force

JK Local Press 29-6-96:
The move of granting greater autonomy would not only increase Pakistani interference into Kashmir but would also put Jammmuites to the "Yoke" of Kashmiris. If there was any need of this autonomy, only Kashmir be given this course leaving aside Jammu and Ladakh regions.
Dr. Virender
President Jammu Mukti Morcha

JK Local Press 28-6-96:
The executive body of All India Kashmiri Pandit Conference opposes autonomy criticising Harkrishan Singh Surjeet and Farooq Abdullah.

JK Local Press 28-6-96:
If greater autonomy is granted to one state on the basis of religious considerations no one can check such like autonomy to many other states. This will lead to balkanization of the country.

Creation of Pakistan was the result of such like thinking and if Jinnah had pleaded his case of two nations theory based on religion, the leaders of National Congress and their pseudo-secular supporters are pleading for special status for Kashmir on similar basis and thus, giving birth to three nation theory.
Prof. C.L.Gupta (M.P.)
Jammu.

JK Local Press 19-6-96:
Vaidya Vishnu Dutt, Pradesh Chief of the Bharatiya Janta Party took strong exception to the policy of the new Prime Minister Mr. Gowda with regard to grant of "the maximum degree of autonomy" instead of bringing the state under the proposed move of the central government to review the centre-state relations in accordance with the recommendations of Sarkaria Commission.

JK Local Press 17-6-96:
Jammu & Kashmir was already enjoying special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Autonomy is already there.
Ghulam Mohd. Shah
Former Chief Minister & President Awami National Conference

JK Local Press 25-6-96:
Any such retrograde step (Greater Autonomy) shall invite a violent reaction from the people of Jammu and Ladakh. The autonomy will make the future of the state "more uncertain" and invite more interference from Pakistan and other international powers.
Jammu Mukti Morcha

JK Local Press 3-7-96:
Union Home Minister Indrajit Gupta was accused of sending wrong signals to the militants in J&K instead of crushing militancy by BJP Pradesh leader in Rural areas of Jammu while addressing people.

July 2, 1996 (D.E.)
B.L. Kak- noted New Delhi based journalist (An excerpt):
It is tragic most of the Indian politicians consider themselves experts on Kashmir despite the fact that none of them had, over the years, bothered to have an in-depth study of men and matters in Kashmir and the Constitution of India and Constitution of J&K. And Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav is one among them. Within days of taking over as India's Defence Minister, Mr. Yadav suddenly undertook the task of resolving the Kashmir crisis.

Both Mr. Deve Gowda and Mr. Yadav should know that Article 370 was specially meant to be a temporary provision. This article limited the powers of Parliament to make laws about matters detailed in the Union List and Concurrent List of the Constitution.

Thus while remaining within the framework of the Indian Constitution the J&K, state virtually attained all autonomous status not enjoyed by any other state of the Indian Union. However, the Constitution makers envisaged the day when the need of the temporary provision would end and the Article 370 abrogated.

Hindustan Times 30-6-1996:
In a letter to the Prime Minister Mr. Surrinder Kumar Singla, Senior Congress Rajya Sabha member said that he was shocked to read the Defence Minister, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav's statement about the "total autonomy" to J&K, including the Government's intention of tabling a legislation on this issue on the forthcoming session of Parliament.

Hindustan Times 1-7-1996:
Jay Raina
The conflicting perceptions of the parties comprising the UF Government notwithstanding the statements of top leaders on the autonomy issue have not only evoked confusion, but exposed the ignorance of those interested in granting more autonomy to the state.

On one side of the political spectrum, the National Conference, headed by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, has demanded pre-1953 position. This would have the direct control of the centre on Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications, the rest being left to the whims and fancies of the local rulers. The demand in simple terms is an attempt to regain the state administrative set-up as a fiefdom for the select few, in the state.

The demand of the National Conference ignoring the emergence of new political forces in the state and entails reversion to a position wherein institutions like the Supreme Court, the Election Commission and Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) will have no role in Kashmir.

Ignoring the dangerous dimensions of the NC demand, particularly in terms of negating the democratic rights of the Kashmiri populace (which, over the years, have been protected by national institutions) one may ask a simple question: Does the National Conference have an absolute right to speak for the 'aspirations of the people of the state'? That, too, when the support-base of the NC has been considerably eroded in recent years.

On the other hand of the spectrum, stands the surprise announcement of the Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav that the UF Government was prepared to enact a law in Parliament to ensure greater autonomy to the state. Never mind that the announcement does not spell out the parameters of the autonomy on a wide range of issues linked with the special status of J&K state.

Daily Excelsior 30-6-96:
Balraj Puri, Convener of Jammu Autonomy Front, has cautioned the United Front Government that any decision on the change of Constitutional Status of the state is unlikely to be acceptable to the people of Jammu in which their leaders are not a party and till identity and autonomy of their region are not conceded.

D.E. 26-6-96 (Excerpt from the editorial):
Maximum autonomy or minimum is something that strictly falls within the competence of State Assembly. Article 370 guarantees autonomous status to the state. As long as Article 370 is there in the statute book any talk of maximum or minimum autonomy is superfluous exercise. In this context the envisaged resolution to be moved in Parliament is influctuous. Surely. constitution is supreme and Parliament has lower order. Under Article 370 state assembly can seek more autonomy or removal of the laws already extended to the state. This is the law. Once state has its own constitution Mulayam Singh or anybody in the ruling hierarchy cannot temper with it unilaterally. We expect country's Defence Minister to read the J&K history thoroughly. The laws already extended to the state went through the normal channels of State Assembly. If the process is to be reversed, it has to be in the same order.

The next poser regarding autonomy pertains to its acceptability. For all we know it was not the issue in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. People voted overwhelmingly for Joining the mainstream. JD is direct beneficiary of such favourable tilt towards national parties in preference to independents and regional ones as it won Anantnag Lok Sabha seat which it lost Srinagar by a very narrow margin of 1600 votes even as it logged good votes in other constituencies. Surely this favourable verdict was not based on maximum autonomy but for peace and normalcy. Further, Congress Party with 140 MPs has already disputed this course even as it is strongly opposed by BJP. According to PCC(I) such courses would wipe out Congress base in Jammu even as it is no more a salable theme in valley as far as people are concerned. The people of Jammu and Ladakh regions are in no mood to tolerate any more hegemony of Kashmir region over them and to that extent the issue is confined to appeasing some odd leader or outfit purely for party gains. Other parties having more stakes in J&K surely won't take it lying down.

A map of Islamic state in India
In 1983 a map of Islamic state of Kashmir was distributed in Srinagar. declaring that henceforth no Kafir will be allowed to remain in the valley and it will be run on Islamic Lines. It was brought to the notice of I.B. and Smt. Indira Gandhi in person. This objective has now been achieved by the terrorists. Kashmir is there but sans-Hindu.
Dr. Ramesh Kumar Sharma
LLB., M.A, Ph.D, D.Litt.
Retired Prof. & H.O.D of Hindi & Sanskrit, Kashmir University.

 

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