SC looking for roadmap to restore electoral democracy in J&K

K N Pandita
The Supreme Court of India has been running a marathon session to deliver a verdict on the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir State, restoration of its special status by abrogating relevant Articles of the Constitution and return of the electoral democracy.
J&K Is a complex issue and it has a complex history. If the SC is treating the petition in a special manner like constituting a five judges panel and conducting a marathon sitting which till date is running into twelfth day, there is a history behind the case.
It is for the first time ever since the Constitution of India was framed that the SC of India is discussing the J&K issue at such a length and with such intensity. As a layman, one would evince keen interest in what is being discussed, on what basis and with what intent. Perhaps, one would get simply lost in the plethora of arguments that are being pursued by the Honourable Milords.
One wonders whether the history of the nation, prior to the partition and also the entire gamut of partition, does or does not form the background for discussing the legalities of the case. Because the erstwhile Article 370, which was declared a temporary measure, was incorporated in the Constitution, it makes J&K unique among the federating units of the Indian Union. For seventy years of constitutional rule nobody, neither the state nor the Central Government, approached the Hon’ble SC to change the status of Art 370 from “temporary” to “permanent”. They must have reasons not to do so.
And what are the highlights of that “uniqueness”? These are (a) a carefully hatched conspiracy much ahead of partition of India, of launching an incursion into the princely state in October 1947. (b) desertion of Muslim battalions of State forces and massacring their erstwhile fellow soldiers. (c) massacre, loot, rape and arson of State Hindus and Sikhs by the invaders and their local and foreign accomplices. (d) Central and State government’s total apathy to secure the Hindu and Sikh religious minorities against recurrence of physical, mental and psychological torture and discrimination.
Forty-three years later, in 1990, the incomplete task of annihilation of the Hindus and Sikhs in 1947 was completed through genocide and forced expulsion of native habitats. The striking peculiarity of this event is that the genocide and forced expulsion were brought to the doorsteps of the then Governor of J&K. The elected coalition government of the State, resigned as externally sponsored terrorism and mayhem reached its climax. The former chief minister ran away to his UK residence and his former ministers escaped to Jammu where they occupied government bungalow, deployed police and paramilitary personnel as guards and secretly established liaison with the valley and PoK -based terrorist-jihadist leadership. The beleaguered religious minorities of Kashmir were left to their fate. For them, there was no law, no rule, no constitution, no court of appeal and security.
When the Union government awoke to its responsibilities as late as August 2019, the entire Kashmir valley leadership ganged up in the shape of Gupkar Gang to consolidate opposition to the Union Government taking legal, constitutional and administrative measures to ensure that life and property of all residents of J&K are given protection and space to grow and flourish.
Today, the Supreme Court is asking the Central Government to announce the time frame for elections and undoing all those measures it had taken on August 5, 2019 to reorganize the State with a view to help normalcy return to it.
Curiously, it is not asking the Union Government whether the conditions have improved to the extent that nearly four hundred thousand people of the State forced to become internally displaced people living as refugees in their own country will be rehabilitated at their habitats by restoring their lands, houses, shops, properties, business, orchards etc. to them as these remain in the illegal occupation of their adversaries who are the beneficiaries of Centre’s enormous development projects. Today, the defence counsel impresses upon the SC that allegedly five thousand people remain interned in jails in Kashmir and justice should be meted out them. Yes, detention if illegal should be addressed. But the Honourable Court does not ask the defence counsel what he has to say about four lakh members of internally displaced community who are languishing in exile for three decades and half when terrorism-jihadism broke out in Kashmir. The Hon’ble Court does not think that genocide of a religious minority and forced extirpation of nearly four hundred thousand persons of the religious minority are serious happenings related to the issue on which they are burning the midnight oil.
The Honourable SC is concerned about election, democracy, peoples’ empowerment, rights, privileges of the citizens of J&K. That is a welcome development and we appreciate it. But in the light of the history of pre and post partition in 1947 and the eruption of terrorism-jihadism in J&K in 1990, it is logical that the Honourable Court discusses at length the meaning and implication of theories like election, democracy, minority rights, security to weaker and vulnerable segments of society end ensuring their right to life and property and dignified living. The Honourable Court should focus not on time frame but on situation frame. Rushing to electoral democracy without foolproof security and sustainability of vulnerable segments of society is tantamount to exposing them to constitutionalized and legalized decimation. It means playing with the life and security of the minorities or in other words contributing advertently or inadvertently to the effacement of a diversified society.