Abrogation of Article 370 – Kashmir’s Past, Present and Future – Talk by Sushil Pandit

Summary of Sri Sushil Pandit ji’s talk on ” Abrogation of Article 370 – Kashmir’s Past, Present and Future ” in an interactive session organised by Aham Talks at Bhagyanagar (Hyderabad).

Ancient Kashmir is the land of many sages and rishis, known for it’s great texts. The invasion of the land by Muslim rulers was extremely unfortunate and disappointing. In 1339, Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, initiating the Shah Mir dynasty. Right from the start, persecution of Hindus began. Hindus living in the region were not allowed to wear jewellery, proper clothes and were treated as second class citizens. By the 14th century, Islam became the dominant religion in Kashmir. Both External and Internal factors were responsible for the plight of Hindus. The Hindus were liberal and tolerant and paved the way for Muslim rule in the past. After Independence, the Kashmiri Hindus became B grade citizens under Article 370 due to PM Nehru and Congress politicians.

Explanation of Article 370 abrogation

Article 370 isn’t completely “scrapped”, it still stays in Constitution of India only to affirm “Jammu and Kashmir is the integral part of India”, which is 370 (A) and rest of the parts are abrogated.

The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019, issued by President Sri Ramnath Kovind “in exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution”, has not abrogated Article 370. While this provision remains in the statute book, it has been used to withdraw the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Presidential Order has extended all provisions of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir. It has also ordered that references to the Sadr-i-Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir shall be construed as references to the Governor of the state, and “references to the Government of the said State shall be construed as including references to the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of his Council of Ministers”. Presidential Order has extended all provisions of the Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir, including the chapter on Fundamental Rights. Therefore, the discriminatory provisions under Article 35A are now unconstitutional.

This is the first time that Article 370 has been used to amend Article 367 (which deals with Interpretation) with respect to Jammu and Kashmir, and this amendment has been then used to amend Article 370 itself. Article 35A stems from Article 370, and was introduced through a Presidential Order in 1954. Article 35A does not appear in the main body of the Constitution – Article 35 is followed by Article 36 – but it appears in Appendix I.

 Demography

Demography in Jammu and Kashmir has a dangerous impact, ‘It is the elephant in the room’. In 1947, the Pandits were about 6% of the Kashmir Valley’s population. By 1950, their population declined to 5% as many Pandits moved to other parts of India due to the uncompensated land redistribution policy, the unsettled nature of Kashmir’s accession to India and the threat of economic and social decline.

Following the 1989 islamic insurgency, a great majority of Pandits felt threatened and left the Kashmir Valley to other parts of India. A large number settled in the Jammu Division of the State and the National Capital Region of India. Some emigrated to other countries entirely. By 2011, only an estimated 2,700-3,400 Pandits remained in the Kashmir Valley.

According to Indian government, more than 60,000 families are registered as Kashmiri migrants including some Sikh and Muslim families. Most families are resettled in Jammu, NCR and other neighbouring states.

Till now no govt, including the current govt, has raised the issue of demographics of Muslims and minorities in certain areas. There are no intellectual discourses on demographics. Kashmir issue and Article 370 was the resultant of ‘Demographic Imbalance’.

It took 70 odd years just diagnosing the disease; and now that the Govt. diagnosed and abrogated Article 370, it will now cure the Kashmir issue with development.

This is just a beginning. Lot of work to be done ahead before finally marking it a success!

Q&A

When will our `Exiled in our own Country’ status change? When time comes; nobody helped Kashmiri pandits during the exodus, and now no one would be necessary to invite the Kashmiri Hindus back to their Homeland. Hope it happens surely and sooner!

Development and restoration of temples in Kashmir would be ‘part of the plan’ and hopefully revival of Hinduism again in Kashmir.

Karan Singh and his sons are enjoying luxurious lives and selling all the temple lands in Kashmir valley. They say they can’t maintain the salaries of pandits and archakas in temples and temple amenities.

Nagaland and other North-eastern states have been accorded special provisions under Article 371(A-J), with the aim to preserve their tribal and indigenous culture. Article 371(A) states that no act of Parliament shall apply to the State of Nagaland in respect of the religious or social practices of the Nagas, its customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law and ownership and transfer of land and its resources. In Himachal Pradesh, it is to regulate ownership and transfer of land in order to conserve the limited resources available for development and to ensure that the State preserves its identity.

 

End of Event Write up ; Summarised By Sri Sandeep Varanasi 

Addendum: 

Exodus and subsequent tragic events:

Prime ministers during 1989 to 1991 period –

  • Rajiv Gandhi —- 31 December 1984 till 2 December 1989
  • Vishwanath Pratap Singh —- 2 December 1989 till 10 November 1990
  • Chandra Shekhar —- 10 November 1990 till 21 June 1991

Union Home Ministers –

  • Buta Singh —- 12 May 1986 till 02 December 1989
  • Mufti Mohammad Sayeed —- 02 December 1989 till 10 November 1990
  • Chandra Shekhar —– 10 November 1990 till 21 June 1991
  • Shankarrao Chavan —- 21 June 1991 till 16 May 1996

Chief Ministers of Jammu & Kashmir –

  • Farooq Abdullah —- 7 November 1986 – 19 January 1990
  • (Governor’s rule) —- 19 January 1990 – 18 July 1990
  • (President’s rule) —- 19 July 1990 – 9 October 1996

 

Timelines:

14th September 1989-JKLF group targeted political activists, Pandit Tika Lal Taploo is shot dead by armed men outside his residence.

On 4th January 1990, a local Urdu newspaper, Aftab, published a press release issued by Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, asking all Pandits to leave the Valley immediately. Another local paper, Al Safa, repeated this expulsion order.

19thJanuary1990 –The worst nightmares of Kashmiri Pandits living in the valley became a tragic reality on that fateful day. Screaming from loud speakers and crowded streets was a message for the Sikhs and Hindus living in Kashmir. Massive crowds assembled in mosques across the valley, shouting anti-india, anti-pandit slogans. The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits began. In the next few months, hundreds of innocent Pandits are tortured, killed and raped. By the year-end, about 350,000 Pandits have escaped from the Valley and taken refuge in Jammy and elsewhere. Only a handful of them stayed back.

The State Government had been so extensively subverted that the skeletal staff of the administration at Srinagar (the winter capital of the State had shifted to Jammu in November 1989) decided not to confront the huge mobs.

March 1997Terrorists dragged out seven Kashmiri Pandits from their houses in Sangrampora village and gunned them down.

January 199823 Kashmiri Pandits, including women and children, shot dead in cold blood in Wandhama Village.

March 2003- 24 Kashmiri Pandits, including infants, brutally shot dead in Nadimarg Village.

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