By Zainab Mojibi
Article 370 which gave India the state of Jammu and Kashmir has taken away Kashmir from Kashmiris. At 1100 hours at the Rajya sabha the 2019 amendment bill was laid forward by the honorable home minister Amit Shah, amendments were sought until 12:30 hours and by evening the amendment bill was passed at the upper house of the parliament,not only scraping away the special status of the state of Kashmir but also reducing it to a union territory.
When PDP leaders tore the copy of constitution in protest, they were ordered expulsion from the Rajya sabha as the honorable Chairperson could not bear disregard of the constitution in the parliament. Yet when the Home Minister in a white collared manner tore the constitution into pieces, tables were thumped and the chairperson seemed elated to witness it’s progression. According to Article 370, the president may change laws specified in the Instrument of Accession “in consultation with the government of the state”. For the last few months, Jammu and Kashmir was under presidential rule as the Election Commissioner hadn’t conducted assembly election along with the lok sabha election citing “security reasons”. So, the only concurrence taken from the ‘Government of Kashmir’ was that of the governor, representative of the centre itself. While the governor, Satyapal Malik, rejected rumours of any changes to be made in the Article 370 couple of days earlier. On 12th June 2019, in a press conference, he said regarding Article 35a that it wasn’t a work of one day. Ironically, Amit Shah proved him that was. Despite the evacuation of tourists, shutting down of the yatras, around 50000 deployments, the governor found the situation in the valley completely normal. The country and especially the people of Kashmir were misled, lied to and tricked into an absolutely unjust and unacceptable decision.
My attempt today is to refute every point made by the Modi-Shah alliance at the parliament for the amendment of the Article 370. If Amit Shah can attempt to tear into the constitution, then surely I can attempt to tear into his ridiculous reasoning.
Amit Shah began his speech by decrying the state of poverty of the people of Kashmir, injustice meted out to the women there, injustice to the tribals and dalits. While remarking that under the shade of Articles 370, three families looted the economy of Jammu and Kashmir. Perhaps the home minister needed to be reminded that it was his government under which some of the greatest robberies of the country’s economy happened. Vijay Mallya- wanted for looting of ₹ 9000 crore, Nirav Modi – charged for a fraud of rupees 11, 400 crore, Lalit Modi- escaped with a comparatively lesser amount of ₹ 7000 right from under the nose of the National Chowkidar. Not only did the country lose amounts such as these, classified papers like the rafale deal documents were stolen from the Ministry of Defence. So much for the history of looting, that is, if we don’t mull over the 16,000 times increase in the turnover of the company owned by Amit Shah’s son, Jay Shah. And these were the people who came forward to offer to safeguard the economy of Kashmir.
As for the anxiousness Amit Shah expressed over the state of poverty by the people of Kashmir. It’s time he paid attention towards the crashing economy of India. Arvind Subramanian, Modi’s ex senior adviser, as quoted in an article in the Economist Times, argued in a Harvard working paper that india’s official figures overestimate growth by several percentage points. While government claims that india’s GDP is growing at 7%, Subramanian suggests it’s actually closer to 4.5%, which is a massive underperformance considering India’s size and demographic profile. During the year 2004-2005, GDP percentage of agricultural output stood at around 21%. It has since dropped at around 13.1%, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. The stock markets on monday, 8th July 2019, saw the biggest crash in 3 years as sunsex fell 793 points. In an article in the Hindu Business Line, it has been recorded that in a worst slide since 18 years, passenger vehicles sales fell by 20.55% in May. At a time when India is facing it’s biggest unemployment crisis since the 1970s, auto sales collapse may lead to more than a million job losses. According to the FADA, some 286 dealerships have shut down in the last 18 months causing over two lakh job cuts in the last 3 months. Giant companies like BSNL and MTNL have failed to clear salaries of their 1.98 lakh employees for July in time. 14 out of 19 PSU banks are running in loss for 2 consecutive years. Reasons cited by economists for such alarming crisis’ are mainly Modi’s 2016 demonetisation, higher tax rate under GST and the weak rural economy among others. Can we simply bifurcate states and and/or demote them to being union territories for economist crisis to disappear? Probably after ditching the english briefcase, this would be the next most effective economic solution to be taken.
The home minister talked about the injustice Article 370 was doing to the women of Jammu and Kashmir. Could there be any injustice as brutal as the injustice of gangrape for a woman? Let us first see justice being delivered to the 17 survivors of the Kunan Poshpora incident while they’re still alive unlike 6 others who died waiting 28 long years for justice to arrive. While we are at it and words like ‘Muslim women’ and ‘justice’ are doing much rounds at your table, we can perhaps look into the recommended amendment, in the AFSPA Act against the impunity for systematic or isolated sexual violence it legitimises. In cases of rape for civilians, the National Crime Records Bureau data ( from 2015) places the conviction rate at around 28%, which falls even lower with AFSPA unaltered.
Mr Shah tried to strengthen his argument by remarking that Article 370 is a temporary part of our constitution. Like every other argument of his, this could use some information as well. Yes, Article 370 was a temporary part of the constitution but it’s provisory was subject to plebiscite. It was the government of India’s policy that whenever there was a dispute to accession, it was to be settled in accordance with the wishes of the people. According to international law, in any breach of condition of the Instrument of Accession, the princely state of Kashmir gets it pre-accession status. In a letter to Shaikh Abdullah dated 17th May 1949, Nehru with the concurrence of Vallabhai Patel and N. Gopalswami Ayyangar(who drafted 370), wrote,It has been settled policy of Government of India, which on many occasions has been stated by both Sardar Patel and me, that the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is a matter for determination by the people of the State represented in a Constituent Assembly convened for the purpose. ‘
This brings me to Amit Shah’s next and perhaps most blatant claims of all, that Patel had nothing to do with the issue of Article 370 and Kashmir, if it were to him, he would have guaranteed the country the whole of Kashmir. Besides the testimony Nehru’s letter above offers, in Patel’s biography, Rajmohan Gandhi on page number 439 explicitly mentions that on 13 Sept, 1947, Patel wrote a letter to Bladev Singh expressing his indifference towards Kashmir being given to Pakistan as long as Hyderabad was secure. Furthermore, in an article to The Print, Mr Srinath Raghavan wrote on 26th June, 2018, that the opening meetings for Article 370 on May 15-16,1947 took place at Patel’s residence. Later, Patel wrote to Nehru: ‘He had to persuade the Congress party to accept Article 370. It is isn’t the first time the BJP was caught distorting history.
In the tone of a mobocrat who has successfully played the cards of majoritarianism and brute authoritarianism, Amit Shah jeered at the opposing parties by asking them to open their TV sets and watch the reaction of the people upon the abrogation of the special status of Kashmir.
Reaction of the people, who people? Those who were under absolute shut down right from internet services, telecommunication services to strict curfews still trying to understand amidst the confusion or the reaction of those democratical political leaders who were still trying to understand the anarchy of the lawmakers at the Center while they were unjustly kept under arrest? These leaders are the same who in October 1947, when Pakistan attacked the people of Kashmir, stood with them, sacrificed their lives for them before the Indian army could reach. These leaders are the same who believe in the Constitution of India, it’s equality, it’s justice and remained Indian loyalists on the Kashmiri side. These leaders were also the ones with whom few months ago, the BJP had an alliance with. In one stroke of the pen, all were made to stand in line with the separatists. Integration of the nation much?
Gandhi has been quoted to have said that Kashmiri’s brotherhood is India’s hope. But do we expect a party which worships Gandhi’s murderer to understand this?
With Shah’s speech in pieces, the question which remains is, ‘Where is this brute authoritarianism taking us towards? Mass execution? Genocide? As in the language of Hitler, they say they’ve found the final solution of Kashmir.
We the people of India assure you Kashmiris, we stand with you, in blood, in sweat, in calm, in turmoil, in heart, in soul, we stand with you . You may not be able to speak, they may have cut off your voices but here, we are your voices. They may try to dim your presence but we will keep extending your cause. We will never tire of reaching out to you until our hands touch, like a human reaches out to another until the broken chain of humanity, trust and justice is restored!