‘Article 35A Constitutionally vulnerable, discriminatory’
JAMMU, Mar 28: Training guns on dynastic parties, Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley today said the people of the country are totally ‘disappointed’ with three family-based mainstream parties as they always played ‘ifs and buts’ game while condemning terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir State.
While taking the dynastic parties to task, Jaitley in a Facebook blog today said that being soft in criticising separatism does no good to nation. “It is for this reason that their own space has shrunk. This is the country’s disappointment with them”, he added. While referring to separatist organisations including Jamaat-e-Islami, Jaitley said, “you cannot advocate a break away from India and expect India to secure you’’.
The BJP leader said the successive Governments at the Centre have always desired that despite political differences they must allow more space to the mainstream parties in the Valley so that the separatist space is shrunk.
Holding dynastic parties responsible for all the mess in the State, Jaitley said three families, since 1947, dominated the mainstream space. “Two of them are based in Srinagar and one in New Delhi’’, he added. Expressing dismay over their role, he said “regrettably, they let down the people of the State. The two major mainstream parties, even when they condemned terrorism, it was always with ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, he added.
Though he did not mention the names of the parties but the reference was obvious to National Conference (NC) of Abdullahas, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of the Mufti family and the Congress.
Jaitley further said, it is only their absolute distancing from separatism, violence and terrorism that can create an alternative space.
Terming incorporation of Article 35 A, a Nehruvian blunder the Finance Minister said Article 35A, which restricts non-permanent residents to buy property in Jammu and Kashmir, is “Constitutionally vulnerable” and also hampering economic development of the State.
In the blog, Jaitley said the seven-decade history of the State of Jammu and Kashmir confronts changing India with several questions.
“Was the Nehruvian course, which the State had embarked, a historical blunder or was it the correct course to follow. Most Indians today believe that it is the former’’, he added.
“Does our policy today has to be guided by that erroneous vision or an out of box thinking which is in consonance with ground reality” Jaitley questioned?
The senior BJP leader and in-charge of the party’s Campaign Committee for general elections said Article 35A was “surreptitiously” included by a Presidential notification in the Constitution in 1954.
Article 35A, he said, was neither a part of the original Constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly, nor did it come as a Constitutional Amendment under Article 368 of the Constitution which requires an approval by two-third majority of both Houses of Parliament. “It came as a Presidential notification and is a surreptitious executive insertion in the Constitution.”
Terming the Article 35 A as discriminatory, Jaitley said the Article gives the right to the State Government to discriminate between two State citizens living in the State on the basis of declaring some as permanent residents while leaving out the others.
It also discriminates between permanent residents of the State and all other Indian citizens living elsewhere, he added.
“Lakhs of Indian citizens in J&K vote in Lok Sabha elections but not in Assembly, Municipal or Panchayat polls. Their children cannot get Government jobs. They cannot own property and their children cannot get admitted to Governmental institutions.
“The same applies to those who live elsewhere in the country. The heirs of ladies marrying outside the State are disinherited from owing or inheriting property,” the Minister added.
He said the State does not have adequate financial resources and its ability to raise more has been crippled by Article 35A. Maintaining that the progress and prosperity of the State has been totally hampered by the Article, he said no investor is willing to set up an industry, hotel, private educational institutions or private hospitals since he can neither buy land or property nor can his executives do so, he added while substantiating his statement.
“Article 35A, which is constitutionally vulnerable, is used as a political shield by many but it hurt the common citizen of the State the most. It denied them a booming economy, economic activity and jobs,” Jaitley said.
The Minister added that the present Government has decided that the rule of law in the interest of the people of Kashmir Valley and the larger interest of India must equally apply to Jammu & Kashmir. He also listed out development works taken up in the State.
The Minister further said incumbent Modi Government and the State administration under the President’s rule have decided that the rule of law in the interest of the people of Valley and the larger interest of India, must equally apply to the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
Taking separatist Jamaat –e-Islamia to task, he said the Jamaat, in the last several years, has indulged in ideological indoctrination which provided the manpower resource for separatism. “It transformed the Valley from the liberal land of ‘Sufism’ to hardcore ‘Wahhabism’’. Asserting that this has led the administration ban the organization and thus hundreds of its activists have been arrested, he said its offices have been sealed and its activities have been significantly curtailed.
Not sparing the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) another separatist organisation of the Valley, he said the organisation which was working over-ground, has also been banned. Several of its people have been arrested. Separatists and Hurriyat leaders, as also several undeserving cases numbering in hundreds, have had their security withdrawn, he added.
Jaitley also informed that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has launched a crack-down on terrorist funding. The Income-Tax Department has swung into action after 17 years and discovered several sources of anti-national funding. The CBI is looking into 80,000 gun licences given in recent years, he added.
All this has witnessed insignificant protest, no mass stone throwing incidents, reduction in domestic recruitment to terrorist organisation. The past few months have witnessed the neutralisation of the largest number of militants, he said.
“Why should the rule of law that applies to the rest of the country not apply to the State? Should violence, separatism, mass stone throwing, vicious ideological indoctrination be allowed on the plea that if we check it, it will have a negative effect’’, he asked?. It is this misconceived policy that has proved to be counter-productive, he added.
Justifying the Government action on terrorist and separatist organizations, Jaitley said today, the Government offices are opening and working regularly. Attendance has gone up. Several corrupt officials have been booked and are in prison. Nepotism in appointment has been done away with. There are no interviews conducted. They have been abolished. Multiple legislations have been passed and several legislative measures taken by the Central Government for SC/ST and weaker sections, have been extended to the State. 42,000 new posts have been created in the last six months, he added.
He said infrastructure projects, including the Mass Rapid Transit Corporation for both the cities of Jammu & Kashmir, the Ring Road for the two cities, AIIMS in both the regions, an IIT and an IIM in Srinagar and Jammu respectively are projects which have been resolved in the last few months and are progressing further. The State has become ‘open defecation free’ with hundreds per cent sanitation. Every house has already been electrified. Several long pending projects in three regions have been cleared. Fifty new colleges in the State have been sanctioned and 232 schools upgraded. A lot of decentralisation of finances has taken place, the Finance Minister added.
More power has been given to Ladakh and Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Councils. A Ladakh Division has been created. A new university has been established at Ladakh, he said.
Jaitley said the separatists and the terrorists have been badly hit. The two mainstream parties are only giving television bytes and their activities are confined to social media. The people of the State are welcoming the steps taken. They wanted peace and freedom from violence and terror. The rule of law is being enforced in the Valley and is ensuring people a safe and peaceful life, he added.