The Governor Vohra chose a safe path overlooking the grave consequence of further promoting jihadi forces in other parts of the state – Jammu, and Ladakh – as well.
Sad, but a stark reality. The Indian State is subverting the Indian State itself. And it is subverting itself to appease and please jihadis in Kashmir and the enemies of Bharat. The case in point is the reported stand of J&K Governor NN Vohra on anti-Bharat, anti-Hindu, anti-daughters of J&K and anti-Indian Article 35-A. Governor Vohra has urged the Union Government to get hearing on Article 35-A in Supreme Court deferred until the formation of a new government in J&K.
The critics of Article 35-A have also said that it makes unjust, invidious and humiliating distinctions between the “Permanent Residents” of J&K and the rest of the Indians.
A report in this regard on July 28 said: “Sensing a growing unease in Kashmir about dangers of annulment of Article 35-A of the constitution, Governor N N Vohra has requested New Delhi to have the hearing of a case about the provision in Supreme Court deferred until an elected government is in place in J&K”.
“Amid intensifying resolve across the political spectrum in Kashmir for protection of Article 35A, Vohra has discussed the matter with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and conveyed to him that the case should not be heard during Governor’s rule. He has conveyed to the Centre that it should get hearing deferred till an elected government is in place…Vohra has taken up the issue with New Delhi amid growing fears and apprehensions in the state over the fate of Article 35-A that allows the state legislature to define permanent residents of J&K and confer special rights and privileges on them,” the report further said.
The apex court is all set to hear a number of PILs against Article 35-A on August 6. Those who have approached the Supreme Court have challenged the constitutional validity of Article 370. It was incorporated in an appendix of the Indian Constitution and applied to J&K on May 14, 1954, without taking the Parliament into confidence or without invoking Article 368 of the Indian Constitution, the PILs have said, and very rightly. It was applied to J&K in a surreptitious manner through a Presidential Order and it gave absolute powers to the J&K Government to grant or not to grant citizenship rights to any individual or a group of individuals, who were not residing in the state before May 14, 1954, or who entered J&K after May 14, 1954.
The critics of Article 35-A have also said that it makes unjust, invidious and humiliating distinctions between the “Permanent Residents” of J&K and the rest of the Indians and that it, on the one hand, discriminates between the “Permanent Residents” of the state and Hindu-Sikh refugees from Pakistan living in Jammu since their migration in 1947, and, on the other, bars children of daughters of J&K married outside J&K to “Non-Permanent Residents” of J&K from inheriting their mothers’ properties, seeking jobs under the J&K Government and acquiring education in the government-run and government-aided educational institutions.
The upshot of their whole argument is that J&K is an integral part of India and all Indians, without any exception, must exercise equal rights across the nation. In other words, they have urged the apex court to apply the Preamble of the Indian Constitution in letter and spirit, which, among other things, vouches for “equality of status and of opportunity”.
It needs to be underlined that Governor Vohra took the stand that he took on the day (July 27) separatist Hurriyat Conference chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq provoked his followers to hit the streets and protest in case any attempt was made by the Union Government to oppose Article 35-A in the Supreme Court on August 6. “People of Kashmir from all spheres of life will never take machinations against them lying low and will oppose them tooth and nail. The people of Kashmir will hit the streets and start agitation on mass scale,” he said.
The same day semi-separatist group Kashmir Center for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) and other semi-separatist civil society groups organized a seminar on Article 35-A at hotel Shaneshah Palace, Srinagar. Their objective was to put pressure on Governor Vohra and the Union Government so that hearing on Article 35-A was deferred till the formation of a new government. Kashmir-based Congress, National Conference (NC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), CPI-M, Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) and Awami National Conference (ANC) leaders participated in the seminar. Not just this, a number of former bureaucrats, journalists and separatists also took part in the proceeding. Some of them included Saif-ud-Din of the Congress, Rafi Mir and Nizamuddin Bhat of the PDP, Showkat Ahmad Mir and Salman Sagar of the NC, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami of the CPI-M, Ghulam Hassan Mir of the DPN, separatist MLA from Langate Er Rashid, Muzaffar Shah of ANC, former Advocate General Jehangir Iqbal Ganai, for VC of Islamic University Siddiq Wahid, separatist-friendly University Professors Gul Wani and Noor Baba, chairperson of KCSDS Hameeda Nayeem, former Chief Information Commissioner GR Sufi, former bureaucrat Muhammad Shafi Pandit and journalists Gowhar Geelani and Mohammad Syed Malik.
That the ulterior moves of protagonists of Article 35-A clicked the same day could be seen from what Governor Vohra reportedly did.
They all in one voice defended Article 35-A and discussed ways and means for protecting this unconstitutional provision both on “political and legal fronts”. Speakers like Saif-ud-Din Soz and Hameeda Nayeem warned New Delhi of grave consequences if it tinkered even slightly with Article 35-A. While Saif-ud-Din Soz said “we should meet PM, Home Minister and different shades of political opinion in New Delhi to make them understand that there will be revolt in J&K if Article 35A is annulled”, Nayeem asserted that “Kashmiri people will foil all attempts to annul Article 35A” and that “We will face bullets but will not allow them to abrogate it (Article 35A)”.
They resolved to urge the Government of India and Governor Vohra to hire “top legal luminaries to defend Article 35-A”. They also urged Governor Vohra to “continue with the stand taken by the previous (Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP coalition) government on the matter”.
That the ulterior moves of these protagonists of Article 35-A clicked the same day could be seen from what Governor Vohra reportedly did. It is unfortunate. The need of the time was to discard the separatists and half-separatists and discharge constitutional obligations by making it loud and clear that Article 35-A was unconstitutional and it shall be abrogated, but, unfortunately, it was not to be. The Governor, Constitutional head of the state and representative of the Union Government in J&K, chose a safe path completely overlooking the grave consequences, including further promotion of jihadi forces not only in the now almost 100 per cent Kashmir, but in other parts of the state – Jammu and Ladakh – as well.
This is not the way to tackle separatism and jihad. Governor Vohra must review his stand and as an executive and constitutional head of the state, he must ask his Advocate General to oppose Article 35-A in the Supreme Court tooth and nail so that the May 14, 1954 wrong was undone and the aggrieved nation was dispensed justice. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should intervene in case Governor Vohra stuck to the stand that he took under pressure from separatists to save his chair, which he has been occupying since June 2008.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.