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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 34 New Delhi August 10, 2019

Battle-lines Drawn: Save the Country

Sunday 11 August 2019, by SC

EDITORIAL

The battle-lines have clearly being drawn by now. Since the BJP leadership’s surreptitious manner of changing the Constitution—by revoking Articles 370 and 35A—with the country’s President signing the order to that effect and the ruling party using its brute majority in the Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha to pass the relevant Bill, the BJP and its Hindu majoritarian allies are on one side and the secular-democrats of all hues determined to preserve country’s diversity, as embodied in the Constitution, on the other.

India is on the brink of a full-fledged war with Pakistan. Reports had come that large quantities of water were being released to flood the Neelam Valley in PoK but lately it is learnt that India’s air attacks would be targeting the dams in that area to achieve the same strategic purpose. The gloves are off. The fight is only for the territory, Kashmir, not its citizens about whose future the BJP stalwarts in power in India are least bothered. This battle is actually between those controlling the levers of power here drawing sustenance from the racial approach of the fascist leaders of Europe in the 1930s, Hitler and Mussolini, on the one side and those resolved to defend the civilisational state epitomised in the Constitution framed on January 26, 1950, our first Republic Day, on the other.

In the parliamentary debate on Article 370, Home Minister Amit Shah launched a frontal attack on the provision saying it was a myth that this Article tied Kashmir to India. This was a clear travesty of the truth. In reality Article 370 was a carefully crafted and negotiated provision intended to cement J&K’s place in the Union on the basis of the conditions under which it acceded to India.

Since Article 370 is listed as a “temporary provision”, some persons imagine that it is not a basic structure of the Constitution and can thus be done away with. The fact is that it could have been done away with but only by the J&K Constituent Assembly, which chose not do so thus rendering it permanent.

Amit Shah has sought to redefine the term ‘Constituent Assembly of J&K’ in Article 370 to mean the State’s Legislative Assembly. Having resorted to this unconstitutional sleight Shah then claims that since the J&K Assembly is currently dissolved and the State is under Central rule, Parliament can act as a substitute for the Assembly as well as the defunct J&K Constituent Assembly. With such a breathtaking assertion the Centre is literally playing with fire in Kashmir.

The situation is regrettably going to turn from bad to worse. Since time is fast running out there is no alternative but to oppose Amit Shah’s adventurous move tooth and nail while defending and protecting the country in the event of an outbreak of Indo-Pak hostilities which currently appears imminent in the wake of the latest deterioration of diplomatic relations between the two neighbouring states.

August 7 S.C.

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