In the year 1955, a report of the States Reorganization Commission was issued for organization of states of the Indian Union. Section 751 of the Report stipulates that ‘The Resolution appointing this Commission does not contain any specific reference to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. For obvious reasons, however, we have assumed that we are not expected to deal with the boundaries of this state.’In view thereof, the Commission did not dealwith the boundaries of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and the obvious reason seems to be Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
This means, the boundaries of erstwhile state were never deliberated because of Article 370 of the Constitution of India and obviously, the same was deliberated post abrogation of Article 370 but the reorganization of J&K was not given a complete consideration in terms of Part II of the Report which provides for the factors for Reorganization of states as; 1) unity and security of India; 2) language and culture; 3) financial viability; 4) requirements of national development plans; 5) regional planning and a balanced economy; 6) smaller vs. larger states and; 7) some other factors.
With the abrogation of Article 370 of Constitution of India, the government of India should have reorganized the erstwhile state of J&K by trifurcating it into Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh but government of India chose to rather bifurcate the erstwhile state into UT of J&K and UT of Ladakh for the reasons best known to them. The question is whether the government of India while bifurcating the erstwhile state have considered the Factors for Reorganization as provided in Part II of Report of the States Reorganization Commission.
With the increasing public demand and targeted killing in the Jammu province, now, the government of India needs to reconsider trifurcation of UT of Jammu and Kashmir into Jammu as a State and Kashmir to be divided in two union territories by considering the Factors for Reorganization given in the Report. Some of them, among others,are as follows:
Unity and Security of India:The first essential objective of the scheme of reorganization is unity and security of India. By no stretch of imagination, trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir will be a threat to the unity and security of India. On the other hand, due to dispute of Kashmir, the people of Jammu provinces, whether Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs, are suffering alike. The security of Kashmir Pandit is also at stake. On the other hand, trifurcation of UT of Jammu and Kashmir will strengthen the unity and security of India as the people of Jammu region and Kashmiri Pandits are feeling aggrieved in the hands of government of India since the government of India is still wooing the majority population of Kashmir.
Language and Culture: As per the report, one of the major factors of India’s political evolution during the last hundred years has been the growth of regional languages. Languages are rich and powerful vehicles of expression creating a sense of unity among people speaking them. In multilingual States’ political leadership and administrative authority remain the monopoly of the dominant language groups, and the linguistic minorities are denied effective voice in the governance of their state. Same is the case with Jammu where there is hegemony of Kashmir and the people of Jammu province are left at the dictates of Kashmir.
Financial Viability: Financial and economical considerations have always been regarded as relevant to any scheme of redistribution of territories. A State should have adequate financial resources to maintain itself and to develop its economy. It is not out of place to state that prosperity of Jammu region is used to compensate Kashmir valley and also major part of the funds allocated to the J&K UT are given to the Kashmir Valley. In view thereof, Jammu province as a state will have adequate financial resources to maintain itself and will be able to develop its economy, if it is given the autonomy of a separate state.
In 2002, the RSS had adopted a resolution demanding abrogation of Article 370 and trifurcation of J&K state into the UTs of Kashmir and Ladakh and a separate Jammu state. Backed by the RSS, over 19 organizations, including political parties, have floated the ‘Jammu State Morcha’ to spearhead the movement for a separate Jammu state. This front included among others the RSS backed Jammu and Kashmir Nationalist Front, the J&K Panthers Party and the Jammu Muslim United Front.Sreekumar, the then Chairman of JMM said, “Some political parties wanted to defame the movement for Jammu’s statehood terming it communal but we have Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs on the panel.”
The BJP and RSS had come out in open against each in 2002 over statehood for Jammu, to the extent that RSS student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Prashad (ABVP) and RSS-backed Jammu State Morcha (JMM)rose in arms against the BJP in Assembly elections, according to the Outlook India article.
Recently, Ikkjutt Jammu Party (IJP), a mainstream political party has been constantly making the demand of separate statehood for Jammu and creation of two UTs of Kashmir. With regard to this demand, IJP has also been holding various protests across Jammu region. Ankur Sharma, President, IJP in a tweet said that ‘since Independence, Jammu has been treated as a second class disempowered state and as a ‘colony’ of Kashmir.’
Outlook India in an article has reproduced what was quoted by Advani in response to RSS 2002 resolution that “So far as the Centre is concerned, we are strongly opposed to any proposal for trifurcation. It is a remedy worse than a disease. I do not regard this (trifurcation) as a solution. We would like the entity of J&K to remain as it is today.”
Outlook India also reproduced what Sushant Sareen, a Senior Fellow at think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF), said in an article for The Economic Times that ‘the trifurcation could backfire’. In a tweet in 2019 before the scrapping of J&K’s special status, Sareen expressed his fears on the subject saying, “If the rumours of trifurcation prove correct, then India might as well hand Kashmir on a platter to the Pakistanis. This step will prove to be an unmitigated disaster. I repeat an unmitigated disaster and I really hope Narendra Modi and Amit Shah don’t take such a step.”
Now, the questions are: what can be the unmitigated disaster in trifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir? How trifurcation will mean handing Kashmir on a Platter to Pakistan? Why BJP Government wanted the entity of J&K to remain as it is? If so, then why BJP government separated Ladakh from Jammu & Kashmir? Why people of Jammu are given step motherly treatment? What is the harm in declaring Jammu as a separate state? What about the settlement of Kashmiri Pandits back to Kashmir? Why BJP Government is only empowering Kashmir and leaving the people of Jammu at hegemony of Kashmir? What parameters, yardsticks and factors were taken into consideration while bifurcating the state into UT of J&K and UT of Ladakh?What were the reasons that unabled the Government to trifurcate the State at the time of abrogation of Article 370? These questions need answers!
(The author is an Advocate at J&K & L High Court)