Archives  >  2019  >  August  >  7th

Kashmir is not a State

1. What’s the story?

Kashmir is not a state anymore. In an unprecedented Presidential ordinance passed on Monday morning, the BJP-led NDA Government revoked Article 370 of the Constitution that provided special status to Kashmir. The state is now all set to be bifurcated into two Union Territories  — Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir.
Tell me more.
It all began in 1947 – when Kashmir’s then-Maharaja, Hari Singh, signed the Instrument of Accession and gave over his princely kingdom to the fledgling Republic of India.  The much-discussed Article 370, which came into effect in 1949, exempted Jammu and Kashmir from the Indian Constitution except in areas of Finance, Defence, and Foreign Affairs and Communications. Article 35A, which was introduced in 1954, dealt with territory regulation and defined the permanent residents of the region.

The J&K Reorganization Bill, that passed after intense debate in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, revoked all these above-mentioned pieces of legislature. Noteworthy among the speakers on Tuesday was Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, the MP from Ladakh, who mounted a spirited defense of the Centre’s decision. 351 lawmakers voted in favour of the motion, while only 72 voted against. Rajya Sabha had already passed the Bill on Monday.

Prime Minister Modi termed this as the beginning of a “new dawn”. “Jammu and Kashmir is now free from shackles”, he said. A number of political leaders across spectrums — including Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati, Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal, Congress’ Jyotiraditya Scindia, and Samjwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav — have spoken out in support of the Central Government.

Needless to say, this surprising move has also faced intense criticism from different quarters. Some have argued that this move is unconstitutional, since the law forbids the President to “alter the words of the Article” in any way. National Congress leader Omar Abdullah, who is still under house arrest, deemed the Central Government’s actions “deceitful” — especially since it was pushed through after the Valley was shut down, Internet and phone lines cut, and political leaders placed under house arrest. Punjab Chief Minister, Congress’ Amrinder Singh, termed this move “unlawful”.

“It is a dark day for the Indian democracy,” Amarinder said, adding that the Constitution of India has been rewritten without following any legal provisions. 
“This will set a bad precedent as it would mean that the Centre could reorganise any state in the country by simply imposing President’s rule,” the chief minister said in a statement here.”

According to Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, “The false pretence of terrorism to get people out of Amarnath Yatra, the use of utter secrecy, the deployment of overwhelming force and the arrests have revealed a certain disdain, a certain contempt for liberty of people, for the rule of law, and the very conventions of democracy that have sustained us for 70 years.”

A plea has already been filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of this Presidential order.
So, what next?
The world is watching. Pakistan has already summoned the Indian High Commissioner over this decision. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan also warned India of the possibility of increased violence in the valley.
(Note: 6 Things was unable to access reactions from ordinary Kashmiri citizens since the Valley has been under military lockdown since last Sunday. All communication lines have also been down since then. Here is what independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had to say about this issue in 1952: “I say with all respect to our Constitution that it just does not matter what your Constitution says; if the people of Kashmir do not want it, it will not go there. Because what is the alternative? The alternative is compulsion and coercion…We have fought in good fight about Kashmir on the field of battle… (and) …in many a chancellery of the world and in the United Nations, but, above all, we have fought this fight in the hearts and minds of men and women of that State of Jammu and Kashmir.”)

2. Where else should I be looking at?

Ayodhya, that’s where. “Days after attempts of mediation failed to make any headway in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute case, the Supreme Court commenced the day-to-day hearing on Tuesday. Presenting its arguments, Nirmohi Akhara, one of the parties, told the court that Muslims have not been allowed to enter the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure in Ayodhya since 1934, and sought the control and management of the entire 2.77 acre land which is under dispute.” This is one case that isn’t being resolved in a hurry.

3. What more?

The landmark Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill was passed via a voice vote in the Lok Sabha on Monday, providing a “mechanism for social, economic and educational empowerment of transgenders.” In its current form, the Bill does not include the controversial provision that criminalized begging by a transgender person. The newly drafted Bill was introduced in the Parliament on 19 July, making it another very speedy change in legislature this Monsoon session of the Assembly.

4. Anything else?

Former External Affairs Minister and prominent BJP leader, Sushma Swaraj, passed away on Tuesday night in Delhi after a massive cardiac arrest.

“The 67-year-old leader, who had served her fourth term in Lok Sabha had long been her party’s most prominent woman face. She was the youngest cabinet minister at 25 when she joined the Haryana government in 1977 and the first woman chief minister of Delhi.”

5. Is that all?

Toni Morrison, Nobel laureate extraordinaire and “towering novelist of the black experience”, passed away in New York on Monday. The first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature, Morrison was widely hailed as one of the greatest literary voices of the 20th century.

“Her narratives mingle the voices of men, women, children and even ghosts in layered polyphony. Myth, magic and superstition are inextricably intertwined with everyday verities

Throughout Ms. Morrison’s work, elements like these coalesce around her abiding concern with slavery and its legacy. In her fiction, the past is often manifest in a harrowing present — a world of alcoholism, rape, incest and murder, recounted in unflinching detail.

It is a world, Ms. Morrison writes in “Beloved” (the novel is set in the 19th century but stands as a metaphor for the 20th), in which “anybody white could take your whole self for anything that came to mind.”

“Not just work, kill or maim you, but dirty you,” she goes on. “Dirty you so bad you couldn’t like yourself anymore. Dirty you so bad you forgot who you were and couldn’t think it up.”

6. Before you leave …

Take a look at India’s secret but fascinating movement of home brewers.

“A small but growing community of people has been geeking out in their kitchens, producing small-batch beers and secretly meeting up to swap tasting notes.”

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