Tuesday, March 9, 2021
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Article 370 and 35A of Kashmir gone…next Article 371A?

Jammu and Kashmir was a Princely State during the British Raj in India. With the departure of the British from India in 1947, Jammu and Kashmir basically had the option to join the India Union or Pakistan. It acceded to India under a Constitutional protection of Article 370 with a defined special status exempting it from the Indian Constitution in 1949 with an exceptional Legislative authority to make its own laws in all matters except on subjects of finance, defence, foreign affairs and communications. Jammu and Kashmir had its own Constitution and Flag. Article 370 was further reinforced by Article 35A in 1954 through a presidential order allowing the Legislature of Indian-administered Kashmir to define permanent residents within its territory, to disallow permanent settlement of outsiders or disallow outsiders from buying land, seek government jobs or claim scholarship. Their Permanent Residents Law debars indigenous Kashmir female and her offspring from property rights if married to a Non-Kashmiri. Note very carefully: Jammu is a Hindu-majority sector and therefore the Union Territory of J &K will have a Legislative Assembly; whereas Ladakh region with Buddhist- majority and a sizable Shia Muslim populated will have no Legislative Assembly and will directly be ruled by Delhi. The door to J &K and Ladakh will now been thrown wide open to all outsiders allowing them to invest and own landed properties within these two Union Territories now that all the special protection has been nullified. Once CAB is legislated in Parliament the Hindus population from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh et al will flood this territory and change the overall demography of these two regions. It looks ominously obvious and intended. The war against Muslim and Christian and other minority has begun as was clearly elucidated during the election by the BJP in keeping with their one nation one religion concept. The irony in this is that the Centre has so nonchalantly and arbitrarily dismembered Jammu and Kashmir without paying heed to the sentiment of the State concerned…and yet on the issue of integration of the Naga territories…the Centre argues that the consent of all the concerned North Eastern States will have to be sought for democratically. The Naga’s inherent rights of ownership over the land they occupy in these NE States are not a legitimate issue for the GoI. India under the rule of the BJP at the Centre seems to have misplaced its honour elsewhere.
NSCN (IM) ought to perceive that the overall picture of J&K appears identical to what it has been attempting to achieve singlehandedly… “Shared sovereignty”, “Naga Yezhabo”, a separate “flag”: J & K had it all…but now it is gone. The BJP government has dismantled an honourably executed original agreement with J & K. Does the future of the Nagas look any brighter under this given ruthless scenario with BJP having an absolute majority in the Parliament? The Home Minister assures that the entire Article 371of the North Eastern States are safe and will not be tempered with. These are just mere words that provide no real comfort or security when seen through the prism of actions on the ground. It is a complete reversal of the canvas. All it takes is for the Prime Minister and Home Minister of India to wake up from the wrong side of the bed and then their assurance will only be worthy of the dustbin…especially when weighed against the pressure of their national policy which is unambiguously being dictated by the RSS Hindutva onslaught.
The problem does not end here. Now take another disconcerting development that has also transpired: The Rajya Sabha has also passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, with the intent to giving more teeth to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is India’s anti-terror probe agency. NIA is now being invested with the powers to investigate and prosecute not only organizations but individuals as well. If the Indo-Naga political settlement hits a rough patch, it could possibly prompt the Prime Minister and Home Minister with a prime excuse to declare all the Naga Factions as out-law terrorist organizations even at this late stage of the ongoing negotiation and the already overburdened ‘tax payers’ dubbed as collaborators. Who can tell when the vindictive nature of those in power will emerge? If India has so dishonourably dealt with Muslims of J&K what stops them from taking this ruthless step against Naga Christians as well?
The final nail in the Naga coffin will come with the passing of the CAB that BJP has unequivocally promised it will enact as their election manifesto, pandering to the Hindu majority…followed by Uniform Civil Code (UCC). For better or for worse the Muslims have their own customary laws like the ‘triple talaq’…an Islamic norm of divorce. This has been struck down recently by the Indian Parliament…it is just the beginning. Once UCC is enacted, all customary laws of any people will become redundant. If Article 371A is removed in the likeness of J&K our customary law will get the same treatment and Naga territory will be opened out to every willing outsiders to rape the land of the Nagas at will. Hitler is now on the prowl in India. The pragmatic approach for the Nagas Christian minority is to rally behind our National Workers as one people but this will never happen as long as one man…just one man called Mr. Th. Muivah… carries on with his relentless mission of wanting to remain ‘numero uno’ at the cost of unity and the Naga future. Even as a united people it is a difficult mountain to negotiate against a more powerful and ruthless adversary let alone singlehandedly trying to subdue the odds. Instead of climbing down from his high horse of arrogance for the greater good of the Nagas he still refuses to acknowledge his fellow co-National Workers as equals with his hyper ‘national principle’ argument. What good is a national principle if it weakens the national foundry? India cares two hoots for his so-called national principle. To make matters worse, his organisation is now on the warpath against implementation of RIIN…simply to ensure that the Southern Naga brothers continue to enjoy duel privileges from both Manipur and Nagaland. Have the Nagas of Nagaland nothing to say with all this obnoxious insanity being hurled at us so blatantly? We need to sensitively see the larger picture of ominous doom headed our way and make necessary amends to get our house in order to collectively face the impending challenges…which far outweighs one man wanting to remain the Big Boss!
Khekiye K. Sema IAS (Rtd);
3rd Mile Thilixu Village; Dimapur.

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