The seven decade history of the State of Jammu & Kashmir confronts changing India with several questions. Was the Nehruvian course, which the State had embarked, a historical blunder or was it the correct course to follow? Most Indians today believe that it is the former. Does our policy today have to be guided by that erroneous vision or an out of box thinking which is in consonance with ground reality?
The Article 35A misadventure
Article 35A was surreptitiously included by a Presidential Notification in the Constitution in 1954. It was neither a part of the original Constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly, nor did it come as a Constitutional Amendment under Article 368 of the Constitution which requires an approval by two-third majority of both Houses of Parliament. It came as a Presidential Notification and is a surreptitious executive insertion in the Constitution.
How Article 35A hurt the people of Jammu & Kashmir?
The State does not have adequate financial resources. Its ability to raise more has been crippled by Article 35A. No investor is willing to set up an industry, hotel, private educational institutions or private hospitals since he can neither buy land or property nor can his executives do so. Their ward cannot get government jobs or admission to colleges. Today, there are no major national or international chains which have set up hotel in a tourism centric State. This prevents enrichment, resource generation and job creation. Students have to travel all over, including Nepal and Bangladesh, to get college admissions. Engineering colleges and hospitals, including super-speciality facility set up by Central Government in Jammu are lying under-utilized or unutilized since Professors and Doctors from outside are unwilling to go there. Article 35A has prevented investment and dismantled the State’s economy.
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Article 35A, which is constitutionally vulnerable, is used as a political shield by many but it hurt the common citizen of the State the most. It denied them a booming economy, economic activity and jobs.
Our faith in the mainstream parties of the Valley and the disappointment with them
The present situation
Why should the rule of law that applies to the rest of the country not apply to the State? Should violence, separatism, mass stone throwing, vicious ideological indoctrination be allowed on the plea that if we check it, it will have a negative effect. It is this misconceived policy that has proved to be counter-productive. Today, the present government has decided that the rule of law in the interest of the people of Kashmir Valley and the larger interest of India, must equally apply to the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The Jamaat-e-Islami, in the last several years, has indulged in ideological indoctrination which provided the manpower resource for separatism. It transformed the Valley from the liberal land of ‘Sufism’ to hardcore ‘Wahhabism’. It has been banned. Hundreds of its activists have been arrested. Its offices have been sealed. Its activities have been significantly curtailed. The Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which was working over-ground, has also been banned. Several of its people have been arrested. Separatists and Hurriyat leaders, as also several undeserving cases numbering in hundreds, have had their security withdrawn. You cannot advocate a break away from India and expect India to secure you.
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The developmental activities
Today, the Government offices are opening and working regularly. Attendance has gone up. Several corrupt officials have been booked and are in prison. Nepotism in appointment has been done away with. There are no interviews conducted. They have been abolished. Multiple legislations have been passed and several legislative measures taken by the Central Government for SC/ST and weaker sections, have been extended to the State. 42,000 new posts have been created in the last six months. Infrastructure projects, including the Mass Rapid Transit Corporation for both the cities of Jammu & Kashmir, the Ring Road for the two cities, AIIMS in both the regions, an IIT and an IIM in Srinagar and Jammu respectively are projects which have been resolved in the last few months and are progressing further. The State has become ‘open defecation free’ with hundred per cent sanitation. Every house has already been electrified. Several long pending projects in three regions have been cleared. Fifty new colleges in the State have been sanctioned and 232 schools upgraded. A lot of decentralisation of finances has taken place. More power has been given to Ladakh and Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Councils. A Ladakh Division has been created. A new university has been established at Ladakh.
The separatists and the terrorists have been badly hit. The two mainstream parties are only giving television bytes and their activities are confined to social media. The people of the State are welcoming the steps taken. They wanted peace and freedom from violence and terror. The rule of law is being enforced in the Valley and is ensuring people a safe and peaceful life.
– Arun Jaitley is a senior BJP leader who served as Minister of Finance, Minister of Defence and Minister of Corporate Affairs in Modi Cabinet. This post was originally published on his Facebook page.