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Rediff.com  » News » '15 million people of Jammu and Kashmir are bitter'

'15 million people of Jammu and Kashmir are bitter'

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
December 11, 2023 16:11 IST
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'This bitterness will be more in Jammu than in Kashmir.'

IMAGE: Lal Chowk in Srinagar, December 11, 2023, the day the Supreme Court pronounced its verdict on Article 370. Photograph: Imran Nissar/ANI Photo
 

The Supreme Court of India has endorsed the Narendra D Modi government's decision to scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution conferring special rights on Jammu and Kashmir.

The move came four years after the Modi government's August 5, 2019, decision to scrap the provision which was among the Bharatiya Janata Party's core agenda for decades.

Monday's judgment is the final nail in the coffin of Article 370, but how do the people of Jammu and Kashmir look at the verdict?

Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com spoke to Justice Hasnain Masoodi, a former high court judge and the National Conference member of the Lok Sabha from Anantnag, after the verdict to find out.

Your first reaction to the Supreme Court judgment on the scrapping of Article 370.

It is disappointing.

We went to the Supreme Court of India with the expectation and belief that whatever was done on August 5, 2019, was in violation of the Constitution of India.

We spelt out our reasons why we felt that the August 5, 2019 decision to scrap Article 370 was in violation of the Constitution of India and were expecting a favourable verdict, but did not get one.

Our fundamental argument in court was that Parliament has no right to divide the state into a Union territory, which was done by the central government to Jammu and Kashmir.

This argument remains unanswered although the Supreme Court noticed what we said.

Before changing Jammu and Kashmir's state boundaries they (the Modi government) should have taken the state legislature on board, but they did not do it.

This means they did not consult the people of the state and their representatives before downgrading J-K from a state to a Union territory.

But J-K was under President's rule at that time and there was no state assembly, wasn't it?

The recommendation of the state legislature was to be taken into consideration. Whether they accepted it or not is a different matter altogether.

About statehood being restored in J-K the Supreme Court of India does not give any time frame. It is already five years now since the government abrogated Article 370 and there are no elections in sight.

Therefore, there is a lot of disappointment with this judgment as we had gone with a lot of expectations that justice will be done.

The Supreme Court has said Article 370 was a temporary measure, so there was nothing wrong in scrapping it.

How could it be a temporary measure when it was used 50 times in the last 70 years?

Article 370 was not temporary because it was brought in with the framing of the Indian Constitution. It was brought in by the framers of the Indian Constitution and the Parliament of India had no power over this provision to amend (or scrap it).

This shows how important Article 370 was for the framers of the Indian Constitution.

Moreover, if it was temporary, how could it last for 70 years?

If you go back to 1949, the Maharaja of J-K (Maharaja Hari Singh) did not ratify the Indian Constitution as a whole.

The Supreme Court today did not take notice of any agreement of 1952 which says that the state will have its own assembly and head of state.

What future do you now see for J-K?

There will be bitterness among the people of J-K now. They expected the Supreme Court of India to do justice to the people of J-K, but it was not done.

15 million people of J-K will be bitter after this judgment.

Bitter? Is it not a very strong word?

When we lose the right to our land, then obviously there will be bitterness. This bitterness will be more in Jammu than in Kashmir.

As Indians don't you think every Indian must have a right to buy land in J-K?

The President of India cannot buy land in Bodoland, Manipur or for that matter Arunachal Pradesh.

Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were protected areas and this will no longer hold true.

Even within Arunachal Pradesh, locals cannot buy land in all the areas. And a person like me cannot go to many such areas as I will require an inner line permit.

In a democracy, Parliament is supreme and it is the people's will that is being imposed on J-K.

Parliament of India is not supreme, but the Constitution of India that is supreme. Had Parliament been supreme then they would have changed the Constitution day in and day out. This we saw in the Kesavananda Bharati case and many other cases that followed.

Article 370 was the wisdom of framers of the Indian Constitution and they never wrote that it is subject to Constitutional amendment.

They never wrote that, and had they written such lines the matter of discussion would have ended then and there itself for Article 370.

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SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
 
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