I am now 72. I am Jammu born. Jammu is the second largest region of Jammu & Kashmir State after the trans-Himalayan Ladakh. New Delhi says Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India and, hence, the people of Jammu & Kashmir are legitimate Indians.
Notwithstanding New Delhi’s oft-repeated assertion that Jammu & Kashmir is Indian and its people also Indians, I doubt if New Delhi really considers me an Indian. Reasons are not far to seek. And there are 6 million people like me in Jammu & Ladakh whose political status is also like me and who put forward this straight question: “Who are we and what is our identity?”
The fundamental reason is that I am not governed by the Indian Constitution. Jammu & Kashmir Constitution of 1957 has been governing me since January 26, 1957 and Jammu & Kashmir is the solitary state in India which has its own constitution and its own flag. It was framed by a hundred per cent rigged constituent assembly controlled, guided and directed by Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir and supported to the hilt by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The Jammu & Kashmir Constitution considers me a subject, and not a citizen, in my own state. It doesn’t have any chapter on fundamental rights. It discriminates between the regions and the communities. It is one-region (Kashmir) and one-community (Muslim)-centric and it considers Indian Constitution, Indian laws and Indian institutions anti-Kashmir and anti-Muslim. It is 100 per cent unitary in character, spirit and application.
The Jammu & Kashmir Constitution recognizes only two Articles of the Indian Constitution – Article 370 and Article 35-A, which drive us away from the political and constitutional organization of India and empower Kashmir to force down our throat whatever they want. And those at the helm in Jammu & Kashmir even challenge Article 1 of the Indian Constitution, which defines the territories of India. They also interfere in sensitive matters in the foreign policy and defence domains. They do not want New Delhi to interfere in the state even if persons like me are persecuted or forced to flee from Kashmir. They consider everyone and everything in the state as their sole preserve.
The point is that I have no say in the governance of the state. All political parties outrage my sensitivities because they dance to the Kashmiri tunes. New Delhi also sides with Kashmir and taunts me and 6 million others by giving us to understand that we have to suffer under the hegemony of Kashmir and we have to live at the mercy of Kashmir. I had voted for the BJP under the notion that it would come to power in Jammu & Kashmir, undo the past wrongs and give me the status of a full-fledged Indian, but with no result. It also turned out to be a Kashmir-centric political outfit.
In fact, the BJP hurt my sentiments more than any other political party because it had misled me to believe that a vote for it would be a vote for Jammu & Kashmir’s complete integration into India, a vote for the Indian Constitution and a vote for principle of justice and equity.
The BJP hurt my sentiments more than any other political party because it had misled me to believe that a vote for it would be a vote for Jammu & Kashmir’s complete integration into India, a vote for the Indian Constitution and a vote for principle of justice and equity.
I would not write more than this about the BJP, as the nation now knows the manner in which it has been conducting itself in the state since March 1, 2015, when it came to power for the first time with the support of Jammu alone. (Both Kashmir and Ladakh had rejected it outright.) Suffice it to say that it has further widened the already rather wide gulf between me and my country and that it has given in writing to the PDP that it will not only maintain the existing politico-constitutional status of Jammu & Kashmir but also committed that it was prepared to go beyond Article 370 that created a Muslim Republic on Indian territory (read PDP-BJP Agenda of Alliance, March 1, 2015).
If my life is bad, my daughters’ lives are worse and pathetic. Their choice in matters of marriage is restricted. If they marry outside the state, i.e a non-permanent resident of Jammu & Kashmir, their children and husbands cannot exercise any citizenship right in the state. So much so, their children can’t inherit their own immovable property in the state.
The story of my pitiable life is very long and it is neither desirable nor possible to narrate here the whole story.
New Delhi must tell me who I am and what my political status or political identity is! If I am an Indian, I must be governed by the Indian Constitution and my daughters and I must be allowed to exercise all rights available under the Indian Constitution to all, irrespective of their religious denomination and political affiliation.