Jammu and Kashmir’s head chopped off; identity lost: Ghulam Nabi Azad on Kashmir

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NEW DELHI: Some opposition parties termed the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation into two union territories as a “black spot”, with Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday charging that the state’s head, considered as India’s crown, has been “chopped off” and its identity removed.

Various parties like the Congress, TMC, DMK, NCP, AAP, RJD and left parties opposed the said resolution as well as a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories.

Opposing the move, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “In my political life, I had never even imagined that the state which is India’s crown, one day that head will be chopped off”.

“You have made light of the state of J & K,” he said, charging it was a ‘matter of shame’ that the Centre had reduced the state to a non-entity with Lt Governor’s rule.

“It will be a black spot on India’s history when the day this legislation is passed (in Parliament),” Azad said, claiming that the “state was being removed from the map of India” by being bifurcated and converted into a Union Territory.

“The way an atom bomb explodes, such an explosion took place in the House today when the Home Minister arrived,” Azad said in the Upper House.

Will you (Govt) break and ruin the old India to create a New India, he asked.

Azad said the government should not play with India’s history, unity and culture to get votes.

“Today they are removing Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, abolishing Article 35A, doing delimitation by breaking the state without its will…”, Azad said.

He observed that the people in the state of Jammu and Kashmir stood by the country’s security forces and did not choose Pakistan despite it having the same religion. Instead, they accepted the secularism of India, he said.

Today, you have again laid the foundation to disintegrate. Integration does not take place through legislation, its happens through the heart, Azad said.

He dared the Government to bring a Bill to convert Gujarat into a Union Territory, saying it should not take things lightly, and accused the Centre of muzzling the state’s history while being “drunk” with power.

However, he supported the J & K Reservation Bill saying it was for the poor, and poverty was a religion cutting across all religions and castes. Although he said, the Bill could have been taken up after a few months when an elected government and legislature was in place in Jammu and Kashmir.

Derek O Brien of the Trinamool Congress described it as “Black Monday” and a dark day for the country’s constitution, the idea of India, and the Rajya Sabha.

Opposing it, Manoj Kumar Jha of RJD said the (abolition of) Article 370 was not possible to execute in this lifetime.

Today we have opened the gates for Kashmir to turn into Palestine in five years, Jha alleged.

He read out from letters purportedly written by political leader Jai Prakash Narayan to former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru on Kashmir earlier.

“We have seen earlier narratives end. I appeal to you with folded hands, sacrifice arrogance, embrace Kashmiris, then Kashmir will embrace you on its own. You separated it, that makes me sad,” Jha said.

Tiruchi Siva of the DMK said the move was unconstitutional as the Constitution says that only the Assembly of the state should decide on such crucial issues.

The architects of the Constitution had given powers in this regard only to the state Assembly and the Central government has made this move when the elected Assembly is not in place, Siva said.

“MNCs (multinationals) would take over and it won’t be the land of Kashmiris anymore,” he claimed.

BJP’s Shamsher Singh Manhas spoke in favour of the Bills.

He claimed that had Article 370 not been in place, terriorism would not have reared its head in the state.

Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar of the TDP congratulated the government on introducing the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill.

Opposing the resolution, T K Rangarajan (CPI-M) said the government did not consult people of Jammu and Kashmir on the issue while alleging that the RSS-BJP was destroying the Constitution of India and unity in the country.

“You dissolved the assembly in J&K and President rule was imposed. Tomorrow, you can bifurgate any state. Constitution of India is in danger,” he said adding that his party is sympathetic to the people of J&K.

Assering that the bill should be rejected lock stock and barrel, Vaiko (MDMK)said he feared that scrapping of A370 would lead to Kashmir becoming like “Kosovo, South Sudan and East Taimur” in future.

That apart, the United Nations and the countries which are against India might use this issue to “interfere” in the Kashmir affairs.

“It will be internationalised by the UN. There are countries which are opposed to us. There are enemies to India.

They will use this card. The UN and Human Rights Council will definetely interefere,” he said.

“Now China on one side, Pakistan on the other side, Afghanistan this side, Taliban on one side and Al Queida on one side. Now, they will say it has become like a Kosavo, South Sudan and East Taimur, therefore will have interefere.

This will come. …The interefence is going to come from UN.

I am worried about the future,” he added.

Vaiko further alleged that The US President is playing his card very carefully.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal said,”Today is not a day to go back to history or talk about law. We need to think that why are we here and why are we democratic nation.”

He said,”I know that the bill will be passed as you have manufactured democracy. Only the history will tell whether this day is historic or blot on the history or killed the spirit of democracy.”

He said,”We (Congress) won Kashmir and you lost Kashmir. You brought the bill at 12 O’Clock and now you want to discuss. How can there be good debate when we don’t have the bill or resolution with us.”

He alleged the government did not do enough consultations on the resolution and the bill, “just because you have numbers”.

He also said,”If you think this is historic day then there would be more historic day like national register.”

K K Ragesh (CPM) said,”Democratic fabric of the nation is being questioned. There is an extra-ordinary situation existing. Political leaders are under house arrest and section 144 has been imposed in the state.”

Abdul Wahab (IUML) demanded that the bill be sent to select committee.

Congress member V Vivek K Tankha said,”We have tried to resolve the issue the BJP way. There is whole process of integration. Will all Kashmiri Pandits be able to go back..whether bonhomie will be possible. We missed out a historic consultative process.”

Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said: “This is historic debate. This is a result of many consultations. In BJP manifesto, it is commitment since the time of Jansangh.

Shyama Prasad Mukherjee lost his life in mysterious circumstances. He was union minister. He talked about Article 370. This is on for very long time.”

She said that this development will bring more investment in the state and besides the women and other classes like Bakarwals would get equal rights.

Echoing similar views, Prakash Javadekar said that the people of Jammu and Kashmir would no longer be deprived of many benefits and laws available for safeguarding interest of the citizens in other parts of the country.

He said that Article 370 created alienation, which was transient or temporary.

The minister said that Seventy years have gone by, this will continue for how many years.

Participating in the debate, Prashanta Nanda (BJD), C M Ramesh (BJP), Ramdas Athawale (RPI) and Jose K Mani (KCM) supported the bill.

Source: Press Trust of India