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Those searching for the fire brand, for the next election

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Those searching for the fire brand, for the next election
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History of Kashmir so far would tell us that the political parties who swear ad nauseum that Kashmir is an integral part of India, do not have any concern regarding Kashmir beyond rhetoric.

There are clear records accessible to any one about the peculiar circumstances in which Jammu-Kashmir (J&K) and North-eastern states joined the Indian Union, the price paid for that process, and the complex and arduous exercises for the eventual resolution of the problems. How the Constitution, while dealing with different subjects, make exceptions for some of these states; some of them have been given their own and independent constitution; some of them stand distinct from other states of India in government systems – all these are evidence of such special efforts.

The country had granted such and other special provisions and privileges, that were not allowed to other states, to the northern-most and north-eastern states right from the beginning. Among those who have wielded power at the Centre and in the states, there are those who have well understood the special factors and their complexity which guided them to handle the issues wisely. Their governing strategy was to win their soul and soil, keep the dream of integrated India shining and thus maintain the peaceful atmosphere that is essential for the country's progress and welfare.

At the same time, on the other side are those who take a dim view of the beauty in the country's diversity, those overzealous about centralised supremacy, and view the special status of these states from a perspective that impels them to decimate all diversity towards a monolithic dispensation. Whenever power was in the hands of such rulers, they were in an effort to handle matters without realism and instead taking them to the realm of narrow political interests. That very often led to the growth of extremism towards secessionism and sub-nationalism, and to fissiparous forces ruling the roost.

The Sangh parivar looks getting poised to reach for the wounds hidden in historical oblivion to scratch them again, as a political mission. The transformation they long for the country is to annihilate its diversity and cast everything in one die. Together with a uniform civil code for all, another demand they have been harping on is taking away the special rights and powers granted to (J&K) in the Constitution. The present situation is such that Pakistan's cross-border terrorism and the subversive activities of secessionist extremist groups, which feed the former, have made Kashmir tense. Encounters between the army and terrorists have escalated like never before. It is as if to pour oil on this cauldron of complexity that a move is being made to take away the special rights granted to J&K by Article 35A of the Constitution.

Those who do not have permanent residence in Kashmir are barred from purchasing land there, and cannot get government jobs or scholarship, become members in local self-government, or receive the benefits of self-employment schemes. The state of J&K has the right to make legislation in these matters. The demand now raised by the Delhi-based and Sangh-parivar NGO called 'We the Citizens' at the Supreme Court is annulment of this Article 35-A, that was appended to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954, on the ground that it is against Constitutional principles. The apex court has deferred the case to the last week of August, but debates surrounding the theme are intensifying.

The allegation by all sections of Kashmir is is that the demand to annul the rights and privileges granted by the Constitution is harmful and is driven by the Sangh parivar conspiracy to upset the population ratio prevailing in the state. All peace-loving people of Kashmir and the country at large share the agony that at a time when terrorist activities get more destructive, instead of minimising the dissatisfaction of the people about the Central-state governments, this has turned out to be one that gets them all ranged under secessionist groups. But, Sangh parivar seems to be cosy with all calculations. With an eye on parliament elections, they are on the prowl for any fire brand to blow it up into a conflagration to play with. Let us pray that the Constitutional institutions have the good sense to read into that and suppress it.

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