Article 370—a hurdle in emotional integration
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was speaking in J and K State Legislative Assembly while replying to a debate on the motion of thanks to the Governors’ address and said that Article 370 is a bridge and not a hurdle. “Who can deny it? We are already a part of India and no body denies”, she said. Mehbooba Mufti further said that she wants that J and K should fully integrate with India emotionally as well as technically but, as it is the way of Kashmir politics and politicians, when ever they have to make a statement, it includes “but” and “if”. It is not by chance but it is deliberate and with a cushion to fall back upon in case of need arises to change the narration. She emphatically said that State has not integrated emotionally. This is not the case with her only.
She is accepting that J and K is part of India and had integrated only technically but lacks emotional and psychological integration. This is very vague and ambiguous statement but deliberate to cover every thing from denial to acceptance. Abdullah’s had also been following the same thing in different terminology. He says that the J and K has only acceded to India but not merged. This time Mehbooba coined up different term, though conveys the same meaning. She says that J and K is a part of India but State has integrated only technically but not emotionally and psychologically. These are vague statements and are deliberately made to suit their agenda, depending on the timing and convenience. Chief Minister has not elaborated the methods to be employed for the emotional integration of State with rest of India. These statements are deliberate, misleading and a camouflage. If it works, fine and if not, we can backtrack and give different connotation to it.
The tragedy with the Kashmir centric politicians is that they talk differently at different places with different tone and tenor. Mehbooba termed Article 370 as a bridge but not as a hurdle. When ever these leaders and their parties are in power then there is no mention of Article 370. Omar Abdullah is the third generation of Abdullah family who are still leveraging Article 370 for their benefit. The irony is that he, his father Dr. Abdullah and grandfather Shiekh Mohd. Abdullah had remained in power and as well Union Ministers of India and at that time they did not raise such issues but once they are out of power, they bring back the dead horse -Article 370. Same was the case with late Mufti Mohammed and now his daughter Mehbooba Mufti has invented new term i.e. emotional integration but failed to elaborate emotional integration, perhaps knowing the solution. The irony is that her father Mufti Mohd. Syed in addition to being the Chief Minster of State has remained the Home Minister of India, the seat once occupied by the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who has been instrumental for the Union of India. It was Patel who united all the 565 princely states of British India into an independent India and it is all painful for any nationalist and patriotic person to hear of self rule or for that matter saying that the State has not integrated fully. Article 370 has been squezzed so much in the last 70 years that it has dried up and no juice is left there. People have understood that the common people have been exploited in the name of Article 370. Here it is pertinent to mention about the Article 370 which was a temporary measure in the Indian Constitution.
It is often not realised that the causes of Kashmir problem is Article 370 which has played no less a part in preventing J and K from becoming an integral part of the Indian Union. Not many people are aware as how and why this Article was formulated and included in the Indian Constitution despite grave misgivings of Sardar Patel and indeed a large number of the members of Congress Working Committee and Constituent Assembly.
Now the question is” Why should a state of the Indian Union have a special status? It conveys a wrong signal not only to Kashmiris but also to the separatists, Pakistan and indeed the international community that J and K is still to become integral part of India, the sooner Article 370 is done away, it is better. Nehru’s promise that Article 370 was a temporary provision and will get eroded over a period of time has turned out to be a chimera. Article 370 has been the biggest impediment to integration of J and K State into Indian Union. Article 370, included in the Constitution on a temporary provision should have been gradually abrogated. This has not happened in sixty years. Article 370 is detrimental to the full integration of J and K State into Indian Union.
Article 370, included in the Constitution on a temporary provision should have been gradually abrogated. This has not happened in seventy years. In fact whenever someone mentions this, vested interests raise an outcry that legitimate rights of Kashmiris are being trampled upon. Why should a state of Indian Union have a special status? The recent verdict of Supreme Court on SARFACEI Act. that the J and K has no vestige of soverngihty outside Constitution should be an eye opener for those who advocate the continuation of Article 370. They must remember that while refereeing to Article 370 that it has been mentioned as temporary and should have been done way with but unfortunately because of the vested interests it continued till today.
In one way the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is right by saying that the State has integrated with India but not emotionally. She has found the effect but not the panacea and the panacea is none other than abrogation of Article 370 which is the only impediment in total integration of the State with rest of India, the sooner it is done away with, the better.
Article 370 has been used and misused by all Kashmir based political parties including Congress. These political parties which are like private limited family concerns are blaming each other for slow erosion of Article 370. Recently when the SC gave verdict on SARFACEI Act. the NC blamed PDP and held it responsible for its steady erosion by not defending it strongly in the Court of Law. PDP has been blaming National Conference for its erosion and she is right in her own way because it has been NC and Congress who have ruled the State and Centre for major part of the independent India. This Article 370 has been misused and abused so much that it has given the feeling to the general Kashmiri that it is sacrosanct. Talking about article 370 is being treated as an act of blasphemy. Now the people realise that it has not benefited the State in any way except the Abdullah and Mufti families. The people of Kashmir have been exploited for a long time in the name of Article 370 and now they can not be taken for a ride. It was clear from the very beginning that it had to be abrogated but the selfish politicians have continued to milk it and now it has dried and cannot be further milked.
Now the only requirement is to work for its scrapping so that the State integrates emotionally as well and people do not feel alienated, as it is generally felt.