Skip to main content

Lives, rights, aspirations, hopes of people of Kashmir are 'biggest' casualties: PUCL

Counterview Desk
India’s well-known human rights organization, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has said that the decision to drop the special status to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is “a coup against the Constitution and the Kashmiris”, adding, the change in the status of J&K from a state to a Union territory is “an unethical and undemocratic act”, as it “robs the people of Kashmir the little democratic space they have.
Pointing out that the steps would “further alienate the people of Kashmir from the Indian State”, PUCL, in a statement signed by Ravi Kiran Jain, national president, and Dr V Suresh, national general secretary, has asked the Government of India to reverse its steps, remove prohibitory orders in J&K, and “undertake any action” it wants to on Kashmir “only after consulting the Kashmiri people.”

Text:

The PUCL condemns the abrogation of key portions of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and the bifurcation of the State of J&K and taking away its statehood. While the deed by itself is deceitful, the manner in which it was done is even more so. All the constitutional provisions, procedures, safeguards and values have been disregarded. What pains us most is that this change of status of the erstwhile state of J&K, was carried out with stealth, completely unilaterally, without even talking or consulting the people of J&K, even as part of Government tokenism.
PUCL, in particular, strongly condemns the planned and sinister manner by which the Government of India has gone about arresting at midnight of Sunday, 4-5th August, 2019 important leaders of political parties in J&K, including former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and others, soon after airlifting over 35,000 troops and suddenly and abruptly asking all Amarnath Yatris and holiday visitors to leave the state creating acute sense of fear and panic.
Simultaneously, the Government in a concerted manner, also shut down all communication and telecom services to and from the valley, effectively ghettoizing the entire state into a state of forced silence, while also imposing curfew in the state preventing movement of people, thereby creating chaos, distress and disruption of normal life. Students from other states were asked to leave Kashmir while Kashmiris outside the state continue to live in panic unable to communicate with their families in the Valley.
The ulterior plan behind such unprecedented action became apparent on Monday, 5th August, 2019, with the Government quickly pushing through legislations to abrogate major portion of Art. 370thereby discontinuing Special Status to J&K and bifurcating the State into two Union territories: J&K and Ladakh.
It is pertinent to point out that Article 370 of the Constitution of India is a self-contained Article. It determined how the Constitution of India would apply to J&K and also specifically provided for the procedure for the abrogation of Article 370 itself. The President can pass an order under Article 370 (3), removing article 370 only if the Constituent Assembly of J&K recommended the same.
Since the Constituent Assembly of J&K ceased functioning in 1957, the Supreme Court in its judgement in `SBI vs Santosh Gupta’, (2017)’, held that the Article 370 has become permanent unless another Constituent Assembly of J&K was constituted. In order to get over this constitutional roadblock, the present BJP Government adopted a rather devious and unconstitutional route.
Article 370 (1) (d) of the Constitution empowers the President, from time to time, to issue notifications modifying the manner in which the constitutional provisions can be made applicable to the State of J&K. Article 367 of the Constitution of India explains how phrases in the Constitution are to be interpreted. The issue, in case of abrogation of Article 370, was the need for recommendation of 'Constituent Assembly of the State’. 
What the BJP Government did was very insidious and cunning. On 5th August, 2019, they introduced a 3-stepAmendment process. In the first step a Presidential Notification under Article 370 (1)(d) was issued amending Article 367 by introducing a new Sub-clause (4) which stated that the expression “Constituent Assembly” in Article 370(3) shall be read as “Legislative Assembly of the State”. The effect was that after this change, Article 370 of the Constitution could be amended removing the necessity to obtain the recommendation of the ‘Constituent Assembly’.
It is most troubling that political leaders of Kashmir who never disputed the accession of Kashmir with India have been placed under preventive detention
Now, since J&K has been under President’s Rule since December 2018, it means that the powers of the State Legislature are being exercised by the President of India. This, in effect, results in a farcical situation in which the President of India has consented to permit himself (as Head of the State Government of J&K) to recommend abrogation of Art. 370 of the Constitution!
In other words, what could not be done directly was done indirectly and the constitutional provisions have been undermined. This is a clear subversion of the constitutional provisions by the BJP government.
What is shocking is the utter contempt that the current dispensation has been exhibiting for constitutional procedures and democratic processes, which actually is a consistent pattern we have witnessed in the recent past with the passing of a slew of legislations which have serious ramifications, as a Money Bill.
The change in the status of the erstwhile state of J&K from a State to a Union Territory is an unethical and undemocratic act. It robs the people of Kashmir the little democratic space they have and will only further alienate the people of Kashmir from the Indian State.
The argument that Article 370 is a clause which obstructed the complete integration of Kashmir with the rest of India and prevented development is a totally flawed logic. The unamended Article 370 was put in place to recognise in principle the distinct identity and autonomy of the Kashmiri people. This was necessitated by the history and the context of accession of Kashmir with India.
It is most troubling that political leaders of Kashmir who never disputed the accession of Kashmir with India and who participated in the Indian democratic process have been placed under preventive detention and were kept completely in the dark when decisions which impacts the state were taken. In this entire exercise the lives, rights, aspirations and hopes of the people of Kashmir are the biggest casualties.
PUCL apprehends that there is another insidious dimension in taking away the statehood of the J&K. It is a ploy to take control of their natural resources, their water, mountains, the hills and fields and forests. It is yet another act to aggrandise and deprive the common Kashmiri and convert the valley into a real estate venture. 
 In the three speeches in the Rajya Sabha made by the Home Minister, he continuously spoke of how the state was in the dark ages and needed to be brought into the main stream with hotels and other people of India having an opportunity to buy land, build houses and live there.
Lastly the actions of the BJP government not to have provided with at least two days’ notice to the MPs to study the Reorganization of J&K Bill or the President’s resolution to repeal Article 370, shows that the BJP not only does not want scrutiny and deliberation, which is the key to any democratic process but also just wants to convert the Parliament to a rubber stamp, which is what the first session of Parliament of the 17th Lok Sabha has become.
The passage of 32 bills, in haste, without pre-legislative consultation with public or discussions with those to be impacted by the concerned bills or denying the right to send bills to the select committee, not only confirms this but also indicates what await us in the near future.
The PUCL would urge the people of India to see yesterday’s process in Parliament as one more effort to repress and subjugate the people of Kashmir and should oppose this decision of the Government peacefully. We would also like our sisters and brothers in Kashmir to know that we are with them and share their loss and grief against this latest attack by the GOI on them.
PUCL demands:
  1. That the clampdown on telecom services and communication and restrictions on movement be immediately lifted.
  2. All political/opposition leaders be released.
  3. Normalcy be restored in the Valley. 
  4. All the troops be withdrawn. 
  5. The three legislation introduced on 5th August, 2019, viz., the (i) The Constitution (Application to J&K) Order, 2019 - Presidential order CO 272, (ii) Statutory Resolution introduced in the Rajya Sabha and (iii) The J&K Reorganisation Bill be rolled back. And 
  6. Undertake any action with regard to Kashmir only after consulting the Kashmiri people.

Comments

Unknown said…
I fully agree with PUCL recommendations to GOI.

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Will Budget 2024 help empower city govts, make them India's growth engines?

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar* Cities in India are envisioned as engines of growth. Any meaningful long-term vision for India would be incomplete without planning for the cities and quite rightly, urbanization is considered as one of the country’s top developmental challenges. Realization of full potential of cities depends crucially on their ability to provide ‘enabling’ environment especially in terms of sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructure and services.

Interpreting UAPA bail provisions: Is Supreme Court setting the clock back?

By Kavita Srivastava*, Dr V Suresh** The Supreme Court in its ruling on 7th February, 2024 in   `Gurvinder Singh v State of Punjab’ held that its own well-developed jurisprudence that "Bail is the rule and jail the exception" will not apply to those charged under the UAPA.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there.