J&K Reservation (amendment) Bill fraught with ambiguities: Hasnain Masoodi

Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Member of Parliament from Anantnag Hasnain Masoodi on Friday said that the state of J&K has traditionally been meted out with injustice, saying the democratic system and the state’s special status have been the key causalities of this discrimination.

While speaking in the parliament over the debate on the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment Bill) 2019, Hasnain Masoodi said the people of Jammu and Kashmir despite throwing their fate with a secular India have been denied fruits of democracy.

He said the special status that was assured to the state after Maharaja had signed conditional accession with the Union of India was continuously infringed upon. “It started with the unconstitutional, illegal arrest of Sheikh Sahib, and the unrelenting and unprincipled infringement of the rights of the state which it had acquired through the 1952 Delhi agreement,” he said.

Referring to the reservation for the people living along the International border he said, “The party supports reservations for disadvantaged sections of the society, but the fall out of the bill will have its effect on the reservation in jobs that has already been given to people living along LOC. Until now the people living along the line of control were the sole beneficiaries of the reservation, but now they would have to share their reservation quota with the people living along international border.”

He said the proposed reservation for the people living along IB is an extension of the reservation granted to people living along LoC, that means people living along IB and LOC will now have to share from the same pool of reservation. “Now we would see more people competing for a specific number of reserved seats. The 3% quota will now comprise of the people living along IB and LOC. This our party believes calls for a second look; which I implore should be left to the state legislature to decide upon,” he said adding, “ our party is not opposed to granting reservation to the people living along IB in J&K,  we are of the view that the proposed measure should be left to the state legislature to decide upon.”

Hassnain Masoodi said that the Supreme Court of India had already upheld that any decision on reservation should be an objective one based on thorough statistical account and broad based study.

“In this case the government is persistent on bringing out an amendment which is least objective and won’t prove much constructive towards filling the development gap in the border areas. The matter demands systematic study of statistics, demographics and topography, which unfortunately has got a back seat in this case. The measure is fraught with diverse ambiguities, therefore should principally be left to the state legislature to decide upon.”

While underscoring the need of having an elected government in the state said that previously having a prolonged governor’s rule and president’s rule from 1990-96 didn’t prove any effective towards improving the situation.

“It was only after a representative government led by Dr Farooq Abdullah came in, things started improving. Today we see a gulf between the government and the people of state increasing. To reverse this trend we ought to have a representative government in the state,” he said.

Masoodi while referring to Home minister’s statement over the conduct of peaceful parliament, ULB and Panchayat polls said, “I have heard the honorable members sitting in treasury benches boasting how no strike call was given on the visit of home minister to Kashmir. All this should act as an added reason for the government of India to go for Assembly elections without any delay.”

“The people have pinned high hopes on the New Modi led government to convert the massive mandate into an aggressive peace initiative. The changed sensation of the present government in favor of talks has filled the people with hope,” he said.         

Masoodi said the state has traditionally been a victim of prejudice right from 1947. “The special status to the state was given to it willing by the constituent assembly of the India. The special status or the residual autonomy of the state was given to it by the very constitution of India. The Subsequent Agreement of 1952 also attested to the special status of the state. Our accession with the union is conditional, and the conditions were put in by the Maharaja himself,” he said.

“However the unconstitutional arrest of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, unconstitutional dismissal of his government, abrogation of the state’s autonomy has strained our bond with the union and added to the disaffection in the masses. Art 370 of the constitution is a solemn sacrosanct pledge of the constituent assembly of India to the state of J&K. The need of the hour is to remove anomalies that have crept between the center and the state. The situation calls for a popular government in the state and a rejuvenated dialogue with all the stake holders.”

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

The Bill, which amends the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004, was introduced in Lok Sabha on Monday. It paves the way for the people living near the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir to get the benefit of reservation in jobs, promotion and educational institutions on par with those living along the Actual Line of Control (ALoC).