Merger and integration of J&K: In the mirror of the Constitution
Prof. Bhim Singh
he Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir failed to conceal the hidden agenda he conceived during a visit to Pakistan in 2007, though he had lot of time on his side to take up the issue.
Omar Abdullah's utterances on the floor of the Legislative Assembly in Srinagar last month proved counter-productive, though he chose that venue fully conscious that a Legislator enjoys immunity from criminal action for words used inside the House. This immunity is not enjoyed by legislators in SAARC countries, barring Sri Lanka.
The Chief Minister's statement deserves serious attention from those claiming to be 'experts' on J&K affairs. The Chief Minister made several irresponsible and offensive observations in his hate-India speech that day, which challenged the mandate and authority of the Constitution. It invited the wrath of different circles.
To begin with, Omar Abdullah literally shrieked in high decibels that Jammu & Kashmir acceded conditionally to India and was not an integral part of the Union. One part of his speech referred to his intention to revive the 'Anglo-American Dixon Plan,' though he did not name this obnoxious and aborted proposal. Abdullah's reference to the creation of so-called sub-regions of Rajouri-Poonch and Doda districts of Jammu province by granting them regional autonomy deserve careful analysis of his latent intentions, which were originally mooted by his grandfather in 1953.
The proposal was recommended by Justice Owen Dixon in his report to dissect the Muslim-majority districts from Jammu province and establish a so-called Greater Kashmir. Dixon was sent as special UN observer to J&K in 1950, when Pakistan refused to withdraw from the occupied areas of J&K as per UNCIP direction in its resolution dated 13 August 1948. To bail out Pakistan, Dixon recommended the creation of 'Greater Kashmir' to divide the State on communal lines, though the people had opposed this in 1947. This proposal was sponsored by the Anglo-American Bloc.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, for a change, rejected the Dixon Plan outright in 1950. The grandson of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, at the first opportunity, vomited his family's hidden agenda out of frustration, little realizing that half a century has elapsed since the Anglo-American Axis tried to sell this plan through Sheikh Abdullah in 1953. Sheikh Abdullah's support to the Dixon Plan earned the wrath of Mr Nehru, resulting in Abdullah's dismissal and arrest. Omar Abdullah also declared that J&K was not an integral part of India, which would have caused unbearable embarrassment to the National Conference's coalition partner, the Congress.
Several noted columnists, writers and journalists have poured thousands of words in the print media in support of Omar Abdullah's lost-doctrine that J&K is not an integral part of India, and that it had not merged with the Union. Omar has opened a Pandora's Box not only for himself, but also for the Congress which provides crutches for him to stand with. Experts on J&K affairs are aware that the Ruler of the state was the only competent authority to accede to India, which he did on 26 October 1947. The Governor-General of India accepted the Accession the next day, 27 October 1947. The same day the Indian Army landed at Srinagar Airport and launched a counter-offensive against the enemy to drive them out of the Valley.
The 'format' of the Instrument of Accession for all Princely States was exactly the same. All the princes acceded in respect of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communication at the first stage. After the acceptance of their offers, the States naturally merged with the Union. True, the Maharaja had introduced some conditions at the time of Accession by retaining some municipal powers for himself. On 20 August 1952, the Constituent Assembly under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah unanimously adopted a resolution piloted by Mr. D.P. Dhar terminating the monarchy in the State. With the abolition of monarchy, all or any conditions attached by the monarch for himself stood discharged, resulting in the constitutional merger of the State the same day. The status of Raj Pramukh (Regent) was switched over to an elected Sadar-e-Riyasat. The Accession was ratified by the Constituent Assembly.
The J&K constitution was launched formally on 26 January 1957. Section 3 unequivocally states that 'J&K is integral part and shall remain integral part of India'. This provision clearly provides in the First Schedule, item no.15 of Article 1 of the Constitution of India, which includes J&K as one of the States of the Union of India. Yet, ignorant of both constitutional reality and morality, several notables have been defending the Chief Minister's statement that J&K is not integral part of India. Even the Foreign Minister and the Union Home Minister have extended solidarity with this philosophy; such is the abysmal level of the knowledge of constitutional niceties among our political class today.
J&K is as much as integral part of India as the State of Mysore, now renamed Karnataka, or any other state. Yet the Chief Minister seems to be adamant to continue advocacy for his lost cause out of mental frustration. His father is a member of the Council of Ministers in the UPA regime at the Centre, besides being the head of the National Conference. His silence regarding the behaviour of his son and party Chief Minister is intriguing. If Farooq Abdullah does not accept J&K an integral part of India, what right does he have to sit in the Union Cabinet? One wonders how Dr. Farooq Abdullah is still a Cabinet Minister in the Central Government when his son does not believe that the state is integral part of the Union. Mr. Omar Abdullah has himself served as a Minister at the Centre in the government of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. One may ask him how he took the oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India. What was he doing for two years in South Block, simply spying for his hidden masters?
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a leader of the Jamaat, which does not enjoy more than 6% support among Kashmiri Muslims, has been exploiting the failures, corruption and inefficiency of the ruling National Conference and got an opportunity to rouse the masses. Geelani was elected twice as a Legislator in J&K and has since been drawing full pension as MLA. His recent visit to Delhi on the invitation of various undesirable elements, and his hate speech with other anti-nationals has unfortunately generated a kind of communal tension in the capital and other places.
Mr P. Chidambaram may well be the first Union Minister in the country to describe the J&K situation as a 'political dispute' and Accession as 'unique'. This leads one to believe that Mr. Chidambaram is on the same page as Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Omar Abdullah. The three musketeers dispatched from Delhi as interlocutors may gather the fragrance of Kashmir for the power echelons in Delhi. They have started reciting, parrot-like, that the so-called Kashmir dispute is what Geelani has been insisting, and have crossed the limits of decency by harping on a dialogue with Pakistan. So was this their real agenda?
There is a belief that the interlocutors have been sent with full freedom in order to repeat and justify the irresponsible utterances of the Chief Minister. This is being done to prolong his tenure as Chief Minister.
What has happened to the eight point declaration of the Union Home Secretary, which was meant to rescue the Chief Minister and which the latter described as a 'trespass' into his domain? The chief interlocutor surprised his admirers with his statement in Srinagar that the problem or 'dispute' as he called it cannot be resolved without taking Pakistan into confidence. Are the three musketeers building new bridges for an entry in to Pakistan? Shall they represent the Ministry of External Affairs, as well as the Union Home Ministry?
The immediate remedy to restore peace in J&K is to relieve the Chief Minister of his job, which he has miserably failed to perform in accordance with the Constitution. The people are also unhappy at the governance deficit. A short spell of Governor's Rule can help restore peace and rebuild the confidence of the people. Omar Abdullah has lost all credibility and acceptance. Any delay in his exit may prove a security risk. Fresh Assembly elections may be unavoidable to address the aspirations and wishes of the people, who desire freedom from corrupt, inefficient and biased government. That may open the door of democracy for all, including the angry Kashmir leaders.
This message has to go to every J&K citizen and to every citizen of India, that J&K is as much an integral part of India as Delhi, Punjab or Mysore. Had J&K not merged constitutionally, the Indian Parliament could not have interfered in its affairs by introducing Article 370. Moreover, Sheikh Abdullah, the author of the 'Quit Kashmir' movement and principle actor of the abolition of monarchy, himself signed an Accord with Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1975, accepting the entire constitutional arrangement with the Union.
Today, the National Conference cannot be allowed to question the integration or the mandate of the Constitution. By describing such absurd issues as 'dispute' only to maintain power, the NC leaders must not be allowed to exploit innocent people any more. J&K merged through the Accession with the Union and thus forms an integral part of the nation. Any challenge to its status needs to be dealt with severely in accordance with the law of the land. 27 October is for the people of J&K what 15 August is for the people of the entire country.
*The Author is Chairman of J&K National Panthers Party with an experience in the State affairs for the past 50 years
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