Separate Jammu & Kashmir Constitution an aberration, sovereignty cannot be diluted and ill-defined

Congress was ready to change Indian political map in May 2004

Jammu & Kashmir is the solitary state in the country which has a separate constitution and flag
Jammu & Kashmir is the solitary state in the country which has a separate constitution and flag

Jammu & Kashmir is the solitary state in the country which has a separate constitution and flag, however, Article 1 of the Indian Constitution unequivocally says that J&K is an integral part of India.

In August 1947, almost all the 560-odd princely States, which were not part of the partition plan, acceded to the Indian Dominion as per the constitutional law on the subject. Today, no one can readily name all the Princely States which acceded to India. For, the people of any of those princely States, barring those of Jammu & Kashmir, have not even once during all these 71 years of their accession celebrated the day of accession because India was their natural choice and for them, their merger with the national mainstream was just a formality.

What is the constitutional status of Jammu & Kashmir within India? We have the Constitution of India, the supreme Indian statute book, and we also have the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir.

But the people of the former princely State of Jammu & Kashmir observe October 26 every year as Accession Day. In fact, the people of Jammu province and Ladakh region celebrate Accession Day with great pomp and show. In Kashmir, the separatists observe Accession Day as “Black Day” and the “mainstream Kashmiri leaders either make controversial statements to identify with the separatists or consider the day unworthy of comment.

Why do the people of Jammu and Ladakh, unlike people of other former princely States, celebrate the Accession Day? Why does confusion persist over the status of Jammu & Kashmir? This is the issue that needs to be addressed. The problem is that there are elements in the political establishment in Jammu & Kashmir and New Delhi who make controversial statements which create confusion in the minds of the people. A reference here to just seven such statements made during the Congress-led UPA rule would be in order to clear the misunderstanding and establish that New Delhi more than Pakistan and separatists in Kashmir is responsible for creating uncertainty in the minds of the people over the status of Jammu & Kashmir.

  1. “We are prepared to redraw the political map of India if that could resolve the Kashmir problem”. The then Foreign Minister K Natwar Singh made this unsettling statement during an interview to the BBC immediately after the formation of the Congress-led UPA Government on May 21, 2004.
  2. “We have decided to reward the moderate militants”. The then Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil made this statement in the first week of June 2004 during his interview to the BBC.
  3. “We are prepared to consider the demand for the withdrawal of the Army from the State if it could prove a confidence-building measure”. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made this statement in April 2005.
  4. We are prepared to consider the demand of “pre-1953” (read a step short of complete independence). “There is the need to evolve a broad consensus on the issues of autonomy and self-rule within the vast flexibilities provided by the Indian Constitution,” said Dr Manmohan Singh on February 25, 2006, at his official residence, 7 Race Course Road, while concluding the first roundtable conference. This writer was part of the roundtable conference as a representative of the BJP.
  5.  There should be India-Pakistan “joint control over the state waters, power projects, agriculture, sericulture, horticulture, forestry and environment”. This unsettling statement was made by the then Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in the University of Jammu on March 29, 2006, a day after the then Jammu & Kashmir Governor Lt Gen SK Sinha bemoaned (in the same University) that the Government of India had virtually stopped calling Jammu & Kashmir an integral part of India.
  6. “Jammu & Kashmir is not a bilateral issue. It is a trilateral issue. There has to be Srinagar-Islamabad axis, Srinagar-Delhi axis and New Delhi and Islamabad”. The then Union Minister for Water Resources Saif-ud-Din Soz and former National Conference’s ideologue made this statement not once but a number of times in 2006, and even thereafter.
  7. “Kashmir has a unique history and unique geography, Kashmir problem is unique that needs a unique solution and solutions which are applicable to other States of the Union cannot be replicated in Kashmir”. The then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram made this statement in Srinagar in 2010.

These and umpteen similar statements made by various persons holding constitutional position have alarmed the people of Jammu and Ladakh so much that they have to reiterate again and again that they are an integral part of India.

What is the constitutional status of Jammu & Kashmir within India? We have the Constitution of India, the supreme Indian statute book, and we also have the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir.

We have three unanimous parliamentary resolutions of February 22, 1994 and March 15 and August 14, 2013. All three resolutions say the same thing: “The entire State of Jammu & Kashmir, including the territories under the illegal occupation of Pakistan, is an integral part of India”

Jammu & Kashmir is the solitary state in the country which has a separate constitution and separate flag. Article 1 of the Indian Constitution unequivocally says that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India; it figures at number 15 in the list of Indian states. Article 1 is part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution and it cannot be altered even by the Indian Parliament, the highest law-making body in the country.

As for the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution, its section 3, which is also part of the basic structure of the constitution, says in unequivocal terms that the State of Jammu & Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of India. But more than that, section 147 of the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution unambiguously says that “no Bill or amendment seeking to make any change in – (a) this section (read section 147 that deals power to amend the Constitution); or (b) the provisions of section 3 and; or (c) the provisions of the Constitution of India as applicable, in relation to the State, shall be introduced or moved in either House of the Legislature”.

Not just this. We have three unanimous parliamentary resolutions of February 22, 1994 and March 15 and August 14, 2013. All three resolutions say the same thing: “The entire State of Jammu & Kashmir, including the territories under the illegal occupation of Pakistan, is an integral part of India”. Even those who demand greater autonomy or those who say in and outside the Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly that the State only acceded and did not merge with India are party to the parliamentary resolutions of March 15 and August 14, 2013.

It is, therefore, a matter of grave concern that we have in the State and at the Centre persons who frighten the nationalist constituency in the State and always keeps it on tenterhooks.

It is, however, heartening to note that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on September 4 cleared many cobwebs of confusion by saying at a book launch that “separate Jammu & Kashmir Constitution was an aberration” and that “sovereignty cannot be diluted and ill-defined”. He made this bold statement in Bombay and the platform was Vivekananda International Foundation, seemingly an RSS think-tank.

It is hoped that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would integrate Jammu & Kashmir completely into India by removing from the Indian statute book all those provisions which have created a gulf between Jammu & Kashmir and New Delhi.

Hari Om is former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Jammu.
Hari Om

2 COMMENTS

  1. Congress n mahagathbandhan should not win 2019 election n other state elections. We need rajya sabha voting to get bills passed for safety n security of india. Congress for power can go to any length.

    • The nexus with Extremists is now widely known. It is a matter of time before this Congress is brought before the law to stand trail for many gory incidents of killings.

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