Great responsibility devolves on Kashmir leadership

K N Pandita
Many applications by those unhappy with the J&K Reorganization Act of 2019 were pending before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court had constituted a bench headed by the CJI to go into all legal and constitutional aspects of abrogation (in part) of Article 370 of the Constitution and restoration of statehood. Copious literature is available on the legalities of the case, its history, and its impact on the State-Centre relationship etc.
Kashmir Valley majority community always tried to play up the sentiment behind the article, advertently or otherwise. I can say with a sense of responsibility that the idea of oblasts in the Soviet State of the 1930s and 40s, must have been in the mind of the architect of Article 370. Some autonomous oblasts in the Soviet State were created with powers almost akin to those that J&K was conferred upon under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
As a matter of statecraft, creating autonomous or semi-autonomous regions/oblasts is understandable. But those who imitated the practice forgot that along with offering autonomy to some of the oblasts, the Soviet Union had ordered that illiteracy would be eradicated from the entire length and breadth of the Soviet Union within ten years. The literacy rate in J&K at the time of implementation of special status in J&K, was hardly 30 per cent.
Secondly, allegiance to the Constitution of the Soviet Union was a must and anybody refusing allegiance had to face the law. No such condition was attached to Article 370. Thirdly, and most importantly, there was only one party in the Soviet Union and no other party was allowed to grow. Somebody jokingly said that we in India have parties and no nation whereas in the Soviet Union, there was only the nation and no party. Therefore, the blunder Nehru was not that he got Article 370 inserted in the Constitution, but his blunder was that he imposed no rider or conditionality, which the Soviet Oblast carried in becoming autonomous. As a democrat, he knew that it was not necessary in democratic India for the regions or the state will have regional political parties other than national parties and the elected representative could have the option of hunting with the hound and running with the hare. Most of the irritants between J&K and the Centre cropped up owing to the deep-rooted ambiguity in Article 370.
Some valley-based leaders considered the Reorganization Act of 2019 as unconstitutional and illegal arguing that the Parliament had no authority to abrogate the Article. Many political leaders outside the state and on the national level thought the valley-based leadership had a genuine grouse. Therefore, they lent their support to the Kashmir valley dissident leadership. Feeling that justice was elusive in this case, Valley leaders trusted the Supreme Court of India to consider their plea and do them justice.
Normally an Act passed by the Parliament with a majority vote should not be entertained by the Supreme Court because the real supremacy, as Nehru often used to say, rests with the people of India who are duly represented in the parliament. The election or selection of the judges of the Supreme Court has its roots in the power which rests with the parliament.
Nevertheless, the SC entertained all applications asking for withdrawal of the Act of 2019. It provided the fullest possible justice to the appellants. Whatever formalities are stipulated by practice and by law, were given the fullest opportunity to act or interact. The case stretched for nearly three years. Finally, the SC closed the case and announced that the verdict would come in due course of time. Yesterday the verdict came, and all cases were dismissed. The Honorable SC upheld the passing of the Act by the parliament as fully legal and constitutional.
The question is how will the valley-based political leadership take it? As far as the sympathizers of the dissenters are concerned, once they came to know that the case was dismissed by the SC, they forgot that there was something like the 2019 J&K Reorganization Act. It is so because it does not touch their skin. They were with Kashmir leadership for the sake of not losing the goodwill of their old friends or cronies call them whatever you may.
But it is the mainstream regional parties, NC, PDP, Congress, and others on the Gupkar Gang wagon that will have to think about where they go from here.
The unfortunate thing with the Gupkar Group is that it is a group beset with myopia. They do not understand that the times have changed, the thinking has changed, India has changed and the old order is collapsing. They do not understand that one country namely Israel confronted nearly 57 Islamic countries. They do not feel the necessity of rethinking their position in the chemistry of the emerging world order. They do not want to understand the G-20 meeting in Srinagar last summer.
They want India to talk to Pakistan and resolve the Kashmir issue but they do not see the other side of the story which is that the masses of people in PoK and Gilgit and Baltistan are making appeals to the world to help them go away from Pakistan and own the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
We can appeal to the senior leaders of the opposition. I mean Dr Farooq Abdullah and others of his ilk. We see him often sitting and dealing with the opposition parties. It makes us sad that a leader of his age, status and background has become a kid-boy for the opposition. What do you want to get out of these divisive forces, Farooq Sahib? Late Sheikh Sahib did pay a visit to Pakistan in 1964. What were his experiences, he must have told his party men.
Reacting to the verdict of the Supreme Court, Omar Abdullah says their fight will continue. Which fight does he want to continue? What are the options left for him and his people? We think he has two options: one is to accept the verdict and change his entire thinking. The other is to confront the Union government, which means confronting the Supreme Court and the Constitution. How does Omar Sahib think he can do that? Who will allow him to do that? It means he is agreeing that thousands of honest Kashmiris should sacrifice their lives to make the NC leaders the Sultans of Kashmir.
The Gupkar Group must understand that they have burnt their boats. They have no option left to be experimented with. Their old game has finished and a new Kashmir is taking birth.