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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 43, October 16, 2010

Paradise Lost in Terror

Tuesday 19 October 2010, by S.K. Dutta

“If There Is Paradise On Earth,

It Is Here, It Is Here, It Is Here”

Nothing can better explain the beauty and culture of Kashmir then the above quote from Nishant Bagh which today is in turmoil with decades of violence, militancy, terror, aided and abided by Pakistan with vested political parties playing in it to keep the problem simmering. The last two months have seen the government machinery totally failing in Srinagar and the government in Delhi absolutely clueless as to how to control the ever erupting volcano which seems to be burning down the whole of Kashmir. Lately voices are being raised within the government circles and political parties for removing the Army and the paramilitary forces from Kashmir, for the removal of the AFSPA, for further autonomy and so on. The question arises as to whether we can afford to do so. If yes, then at what cost? What about the Pak and China angles? What about the strategic and security implications of such moves? These are major issues which need to be debated before initiating any such move.

In my opinion, further autonomy would mean total independence of the State from the Indian Union or handing over the State to Pakistan. Let us review Article 370 and examine what it says for the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Article 370 of the Constitution of India:

1. ... notwithstanding anything in this Constitution:

A. the provisions of Article 238 shall not apply in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir,

B. the power of Parliament to make laws for the said State shall be limited to

i. those matters in the Union List and the Concurrent List which, in consultation with the Government of the State, are declared by the President to correspond to matters specified in the Instrument of Accession governing the accession of the State to the Dominion of India as the matters with respect to which the Dominion Legislature may make laws for that State; and

ii. Such other matters in the said Lists, as, with the concurrence of the Government of the State, the President may by order specify.

Explanation—For the purpose of this Article, the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognised by the President as the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers for the time being in office under the Maharaja’s Proclamation dated the fifth day of March, 1948;

C. The provisions of article 1 and of this Article shall apply in relation to this State;

D. Such of the other provisions of this Constitution shall apply in relation to that State subject to such exceptions and modifications as the President may by order specify

i. Provided that no such order which relates to the matters specified in the Instrument of Accession of the State referred to in paragraph (I) of sub-clause (b) shall be issued except in consultation with the Government of the State:

ii. Provided further that no such order which relates to matters other than those referred to in the last preceding proviso shall be issued except with the concurrence of the Government.

2. If the concurrence of the Government of the State referred to in paragraph (i) of sub-clause (b) of clause (ii) or in second proviso to sub-clause (d) of that clause be given before the Constituent Assembly for the purpose of framing the Constitution of the State is convened, it shall be placed before such Assembly for such decision as it may take thereon.

3. Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of the Article, the President may, by public notification, declare that this article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may notify: Provided that the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State referred to in clause (2) shall be necessary before the President issues such a notification.

4. In exercise of the powers conferred by this article the President, on the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, declared that, as from the 17th day of November, 1952, the said Article 370 shall be operative with the modification that for the explanation in Cl. (1) thereof the following Explanation is substituted namely:

Explanation—For the purpose of this Article, the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognized by the President on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly of the State as the Sadar-I-Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir, acting on the advice of Council of Ministers of the State for the time being in office.

¨

From the above it’s quite clear even to a child that further autonomy beyond Article 370 would mean total independence for Kashmir. What is required is proper implementation of Article 370 in the State. The need of the hour is a corruption-free political governance, proper economic and social packages for the State on a long term basis to generate employment, proper health care facilities, new developmental projects, modern education facilities etc to get the people specially the youths into the mainstream and to understand and find out the root cause of alienation and take corrective measures on a long term basis.

To immediately defuse the present boiling situation what are required are drastic measures for a drastic situation. Kashmir is slipping out of control; if the situation is not controlled now we can lose the State forever to Pakistan which would be a disaster for the Indian strategic and security situation. The State Government has totally failed in fulfilling its constitutional duties; as such it should be dismissed immediately. The present situation in Kashmir demands the imposition of internal emergency there with total censorship of the media. The State should be fully handed over to the Army and security agencies to defuse and control the situation. It is time to de-escalate the situation before it slips out of control.

Several Western media and security reports of late have predicted the presence of the Chinese Army in the Gilgit and Baltistan regions of the Northern Areas and POK in Pakistan which, if true, would spell disaster for the Indian security and strategic position in the long run and more problems and militancy in Kashmir India can afford now. Many Western security think-tank institutions have claimed that Pakistan has ceded Baltistan and Gilgit to China; if true, it is terrible for India in the long run. As such the need of the hour is to have total control and iron grip over Kashmir by Delhi. Thus what is required by India is to adopt the carrot and stick policy on Kashmir so as to bring back the State to the Indian mainstream.

It’s time for Delhi to give full power under the AFSPA to the armed forces and security agencies to find out and identify those militant leaders and politicians who are igniting and provoking the masses for violence and isolate them from the mainstream. These leaders are clearly directed, abetted and funded by their ISI bosses and Pakistan; as such it’s important to expose and isolate them. Such local politicians and militants should be booked under the National Security Act for committing treason against the Indian state and tried under the Indian laws and sent to jails outside Kashmir.

It’s time for the Centre to adopt a hard-line approach for immediate de-escalation of tension in the State as the situation is going out of control. If drastic measures are not taken immediately we might lose this Paradise on Earth to Pakistan forever that would spell disaster for India as a nation. This is the time for us to act. After all, an abnormal situation demands stern action. It’s better late then never.

Suvrokamal Dutta is the writer is a renowned TV Personality, Foreign Affairs Expert and a Political Commentator.

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