Modi minister's statement on Article 370 draws heavy flak across J&K
29 May 2014
The row over repealing Article 370 of the Constitution which gives special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir escalated on Wednesday, with virtually all political parties in Jammu & Kashmir opposing any move to dilute the provisions of the article, and the RSS, the ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, insisting that the state would remain an integral part of India.
The BJP has always advocated repealing Article 370, which among other things bars even migrants from the state from returning or buying property, or setting up business in their parent state.
The controversy began afresh after minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh's statement this week that talks had been started with stakeholders to begin the process of revoking Article 370.
The National Conference, which governs the state along with its coalition partner the Congress, blasted all attempts at such a move, and was joined in by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah asked the central government to come clean on the "stakeholders" it was talking to on the contentious issue.
"We will oppose the move tooth and nail. Since it is the minister of state in the PMO talking, it becomes a policy matter. They (central government) must come clean and share who are the stakeholders they have talked to," he told journalists in Srinagar.
On Tuesday soon after Jitendra Singh's statement, Abdullah had Tweeted, "Jammu & Kashmir would not be part of India if Article 370, which grants special status to the state, is revoked.
"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," he said.
Other parties in Kashmir also attacked the move. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said, "Experts believe article 370 is the bridge of Jammu and Kashmir's accession to the country and if you break it, you go back to pre-1947 position. You give people to re-negotiate. Are you ready?"
She sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to send out a signal that there is no such intention.
"It was okay till it was a poll cry, but what is happening now is dangerous. Do you want to go for one more partition?" she asked, while interacting with journalists in Srinagar.
The only debate than can happen is about strengthening article 370, she added.
Article 370 specifies that except for defence, foreign affairs, communications and ancillary matters (matters specified in the instrument of accession), the Indian Parliament needs the state government's concurrence for applying all other laws.
Even the Congress state unit president Saifuddin Soz reacted sharply to the minister's statement proposal.
"Those who seek a debate on Article 370 of the Constitution are making a basic mistake of not appreciating the fact that this article is an integral part of the basic structure of the constitution and it can neither be amended nor abrogated by any authority in India, unless the people of Jammu and Kashmir themselves want it.
"Then, this article is the only mechanism through which central laws get extended to Jammu and Kashmir, as and when the state wants. This article has also been devised as a bridge between the state and the Union of India," he said.
Soz said that the state's people should particularly appreciate the fact that for the past 25 years or more, the BJP has been making three issues - abrogation of Article 370, adoption of common civil code and construction of Ram Temple, their poll planks but soon after the elections are over they put these issues on the backburner.
"If these were really achievable goals, the BJP government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee would have done it," he contended.
"But the fact remains that the RSS will be mounting pressure on the central government, from time to time, but this agenda will remain always a situation of a dream," Soz said in a statement in Srinagar.