Economist Jean Dreze, Kavita Krishnan of the CPI(ML) and the All India Progressive Women’s Association, Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women’s Association and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People’s Movements released the following report to the press today, 14 August 2019, after spending five days in Kashmir, meeting and talking to people.
We spent five days (9-13 August 2019) traveling extensively in Kashmir. Our visit began on 9 August 2019 – four days after the Indian government abrogated Articles 370 and 35A, dissolved the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.
When we arrived in Srinagar on 9 August, we found the city silenced and desolated by curfew, and bristling with Indian military and paramilitary presence. The curfew was total, as it had been since 5th August. The streets of Srinagar were empty and all institutions and establishments were closed (shops, schools, libraries, petrol pumps, government offices, banks). Only some ATMs and chemists’ shops – and all police stations – were open. People were moving about in ones and twos here and there, but not in groups.
On the same page of the Times of India of June 28, 1958 are two news items. The one on the left is a report of how Bakrid was celebrated the day before in various cities, including Jammu, where Hindus and Sikhs offered namaz along with their Muslim brethren. On the right is another story that reports the expulsion of Ms. Mridula Sarabhai from the Congress party for her ‘anti-party activities’ in opposing the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah in 1953 and the muzzling of democratic rights in Kashmir.
Dear Prime Minister, nothing about Jammu & Kashmir is as your party sees it
Economist and activist Jean Dreze, who has co-authored books with Nobel laureates, such as Amartya Sen and Angus Deaton, was in the headlines for a placard he carried to a protest rally in Delhi earlier this week. His placard challenged the government’s most critical justification for its controversial move to scrap Article 35A and read down Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The placard displayed statistics that compare J&K with Gujarat, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah’s home state. Dreze clearly showed how Gujarat lags behind J&K on a raft of development indices.
Although Dreze’s data beautifully punctures the government’s claim that J&K’s special status was a hindrance to its progress, Modi in his address to the nation on Wednesday night repeated the same argument, based on dubious claims. For instance, his claim that J&K lags behind other Indian states in matters of health services, education and so on, is patently incorrect.
Figures recorded in the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has extended the debate further and shown that J&K already excels many other Indian states on several human development counts. Once again, this underlines that all talk about how “development” will reach J&K after Article 370 is made redundant is sheer humbug.
The propagation of false information brings home the fact that the government has gone very far to generate legitimacy for its decisions in J&K. In his address to the nation, Modi also said that his government had “fulfilled the dreams of [BR] Ambedkar as well as [the then Home Minister Vallabhbahi] Patel”.
It has been more than two years that A G Noorani’s important book ‘Article 370 : A Constitutional History of J and K’ (OUP, 2011, Pages 480) has hit the stands and has been able to clear many a confusions about the tumultuous era in post independence times pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir.
Basing himself on authentic documents, letters, memorandums, white papers, proclamations and amendments the author, a constitutional expert himself, has not only provided new insights about the period but has also tried to bring forth an important summary of the developments then and the role played by different stakeholders. While we have been witness to a process of erosion of the article 370 today, the book underscores the politics behind its erosion, which was negotiated between Prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah and had a stamp of approval from Sardar Patel and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which daily invokes name of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, founder of Bharatiya Jan Sangh – percursor to its present incarnation namely BJP – to oppose Article 370 which guarantees special status to Jammu and Kashmir – this exposure that the said Article had full approval from Mukherjee as well as then Home Minister Sardar Patel is nothing but blasphemous. Continue reading Can The Real Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Ever Stand Up?→
On 13, October 2010 a team of interlocutors was appointed by the Government of India to hold dialogue with all the sections of the society in Jammu and Kashmir. The team of interlocutors consisted of journalist Dileep Padgonkar, educationist Radha Kumar and the former Information Commissioner M. M. Ansari. After almost one and a half years the report was released on 24 May 2012 by the Ministry of Home Affairs (.pdf here). The report calls for formation of a Constitutional Committee to review the extension of central laws to the state of J&K from 1952 onwards. Some of the major recommendations are: changing the temporary nature of Article 370, dividing the state into three Regional Councils and appointment of the Governor but after consultation with the state legislature. The Report further says that the findings of this Constitutional Committee shall be binding on all the ‘stake holders’ in the State. Continue reading If ‘temporary’ meant special, what would ‘special’ mean?: Gazala Peer→