Scenario: The Jammu and Kashmir Re-Organisation Bill 2019, passed by both Houses of Parliament, was apparently a political outclass of the majority. Its constitutional validity is substantially contested. A writ petition is being ensued in the Supreme Court challenging the Presidential Order on Article 370 against the 1954 statute protecting Kashmir. Home Minister Amit Shah defends the new Bill on ground of constitutional failure in the valley, whereby Kashmir was represented by the Centre in fulfilling necessary formalities of legislation. Article 370 of the Indian constitution provided a separate constitution and flag for Jammu and Kashmir, a deal brokered between Jawaharlal Nehru and Shiekh Abdullah since Kashmir’s accession into the Indian Union. The provision barred certain applications like Right to Information, Right to Education, purchase of property and settlement rights (included marriage with Kashmiris), besides others, within Kashmir jurisdiction. Precisely, all laws passed by the Parliament needed legislative approval of the state government, similar to the Nagaland scheme. Interestingly, Amit Shah amended the expression of a clause in Article 370, terming Constituent Assembly to imply Legislative Assembly. Referring the absence of a Constituent Assembly in Kashmir, the State Assembly takes such role in respect to the provisions of exception with India. Virtually, the political run up of President’s rule in Kashmir had let a tactful demise of the 1954 rule by routing in Central power over the place exercised by the State Assembly. This was how the special status of Kashmir collapsed overnight.
Reflections: There are mixed responses in the political spectrum. Sections of the opposition including some Congress leaders had voiced support to the government on ground of national integration. Others had termed it as the darkest day in Indian democracy. China and Pakistan had condemned the unilateral action as dangerous, fuming up the Pakistani leadership to warn India of more Pulwama-like attacks. The Central government justifies that Kashmir problem was endemic to national integration, citing exclusive provisions of 370 not implying on the whole dominion of India. But questions are imminent to the fact that the Centre cannot make new changes on Kashmir without taking the people into confidence, or unless Article 370 was first removed. This invites a new statute to roll out again, towards burying intricacies around the clauses of President Order 1954 and 2019. Indian leaders by and large had predominantly handled the Kashmir situation with a sense of political oblivion to the Kashmiri people. The Indian constitution in total, had problems accepting any governmental representation that threatens national integrity. Nehru, on this aspect, had laid the ‘Objectives Resolution’ in 22nd January 1947 aiming forced union inter alia states, provinces and other areas with/outside British India into the union of India. More recently, the ruling government had glorified the teachings formulated by its philosopher V.D Savarkar proclaiming Hindustan as ‘one country, one emblem and one constitution.’ Similarly, present stalwart Mohan Bhagwat, referred to Kashmir as ‘Necessary constitutional amendments will have to be made and old provisions will have to be changed in that state. Through these mechanisms, the Hindu nationalism carries, that separatists in Kashmir were the cause of autonomy, while it had viewed Article 370 as potentially containing separatism.
Nagaland: Considerable safeguards under Article 371 (A) of the Nagaland state were provided by the constitution of India while dealing with the Naga interest not to join Indian Union. It foregrounds the nature of politics and the cultural aspects linking Nagaland and the Indian constitution. Undeniably, Naga people, following their native values, are distinct from the rest of India. Regular instances, with one studied from opinions through the Indian metropolis, show that the idea of cultural co-existence within India’s dominant structure, is deeply critical. Arguably, the realization of a respectable Naga value may not pair up with the way India looks. The irony remains whether ‘Indian stalwarts’ view Nagaland in continual exception of protection – when would the breakdown come in this era of politik? Semantically, the rise of Hindu nationalism does not depart from the historical scene of terror and perpetration to humanity. Post-Nagaland-statehood 1963, was long enough for India to ensure sincere development in the state. Very sadly, apart from developmental failure, the successive governments at the Centre had never gained the guts to say sorry for the painful atrocities meted out to the people in Nagaland. Instead, Nagaland continue to grope in political grief with reminiscence of unforeseen times never seem to fade from the Indian State paradigm. The Indian leadership had so far ruled in somewhat triggered by the law of military act, and suspicion against Naga integral respect, coupled by greed of land (not counting the people).
Evidently today, the Indo-Naga dialogue for possible settlement had toiled a ‘toothless framework’ with no results, notwithstanding changes through the process. Considering the political breadth at revoking Article 370 amidst popular pressure, the absence of a mutual outcome in the Naga issue reveals anything with India’s perceived negligence. The nature of Indian dealings at best is instrumental for ‘clueless arguments’ – a kind the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen wrote ‘The Argumentative Indian.’ Politically speaking, the situation of Kashmir outweighed the Naga case in the preferred list of government actions. In that context, constitutional provisions of the two states were even not close, although aligned with some degree of autonomy. Hence in the wake of ‘Kashmir episode,’ Nagaland Governor R.N Ravi categorically stated confidence on the present state of Nagaland safe. However with the state’s existing provisions, the Centre enjoys residuary powers over State powers through its Union agent (Governor) when taken by situations threatening national integrity. It was only that the Naga situation had not been able to convince the Central leadership as Kashmir had done it from all quarters. Elements of dismaying India’s gain in the Naga situation can prompt similar action connecting the fate of Kashmir. It is just a spark away.
Taking political stands, the future rulings at the Centre on Kashmir’s revocation will prove India’s long concept of a Unitary State. The Indian government with its declared commitment for democratic functioning hardly squares for a sincere approach of democracy. Unjustified rulings have by far brought a mockery to democracy. Indeed, the hype about democracy in the country obscures the imposition of what can be called a ‘structured democracy’ if not ‘twisted democracy’ that denies rightful participation to certain sections of society. This approach of the state machinery to make laws that appears unfriendly to the people, had created confrontations from the people as a necessary movement against the state. The nature of state in India deserves serious re-scrutiny, while it widens doubt for a mutual delivery on the Naga talks.
Author teaches Political Science in the University of Delhi.