Nobody can touch Article 370, says Ram Jethmalani

‘Modi gave tongue-lashing to Jammu-based BJP leader for raking up issue’

SHABIR IBN YUSUF
Publish Date: Nov 9 2014 12:00PM

Srinagar, Nov 8: Prominent lawyer and Chairman of Kashmir Committee, Ram Jethmalani, Saturday said the Article 370 is a part of the “basic structure of the Constitution of India” and is a “final article which no one can touch.”
“Article 370 is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution because we have incorporated it in accordance of the wishes of the then Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. It is now a final article which nobody can touch. It is the understanding of the Kashmir Committee that this kind of a thing (repealing Article 370) is out of question,” Jethmalani, who has been expelled from BJP, told reporters here, adding that the successive J&K
governments “never raised any objections to the amendments made to the Article from time to time.”
“There were no objections from J&K government ever to any modifications on Article 370. If you do not like any amendments, vomit it out, but democratically,” he said, adding, “I had explained the importance of the Article 370 to Prime Minister NarendraModi and BJP has kept quiet about it since then.”
He said: “BJP is always talking about Article 370; some of them don’t even understand the Constitution of India at all. Modi has been explained the importance of 370 and that it cannot be repealed and I have told him to explain it to the BJP people to not to speak about it. The BJP has kept quiet since then,” he said, adding, “Unfortunately when they came in to power, a minister, who is from Jammu, talked about its repeal and please take it that Modi gave him a tongue-lashing and told him that never again talk about it. He has since then not talked about it. Please tell the people of Jammu and Kashmir that it is the understanding of the Kashmir Committee that this kind of a thing is out of question.”
He said the people of Jammu and Kashmir are “not living under the constitution of India but their own constitution and in a way enjoying a plebiscite”.
“The usual slogan is that India had promised the will of the people should be determined by a plebiscite. References are given to the UN resolution.  It is true that the UN did order a plebiscite but it was to take place when the last intruder from Pakistan vacated the whole of Jammu and Kashmir, including that portion that today is not in our occupation. That thing never happened. The plebiscite was to take place under the Indian flag over the whole of the state,” he claimed.
“India kept its promise that we will not allow the demographic character of J&K to change. That’s why we never allow any Indian to come to J&K and purchase land here. On the other hand, the whole demography on the other part has gone. The promise was to the generation that existed at that time. The promise was not to the totally-changed populace. The UN itself had gone into this and what is being forgotten is that Sir Owen Dickson examined this matter and came to the conclusion that plebiscite is no longer a feasible proposition,” he said.
Jethmalani said Jammu and Kashmir, unlike any other state in the country, got its own Constituent Assembly in 1954 and the constitution of the state was not formulated by the constituent assembly of India, but by its constituent assembly itself.
“The constitution of this state was not formulated by the constituent assembly of India, but by its constituent assembly itself. That was a plebiscite. It is the constituent assembly of J&K which incorporated some provisions of the Indian Constitution. The plebiscite has therefore taken place. You are not living under the constitution of India but under the constitution which was framed by the constituent assembly which has willingly accepted a part of the Indian constitution,” he said.

‘SEPARATISTS NO PAKISTANI AGENTS’
Stating that separatists are not Pakistani agents, Jethmalani said that Pervez Musharraf’S four-point formula on Kashmir was fantastic and wonderful and “should be made basis for solution of the issue.”
He said efforts by the former Pakistan President were "frustrated’ by India.
“Musharraf came to India with a firm and honest intention and his proposal is a fantastic solution to the Kashmir problem. It is a wonderful document which should be made a basis for a permanent solution of Kashmir. I have no difficulty in confessing that his efforts were frustrated by India and by not Pakistan,” Jethmalani said. “I had made some changes to Musharraf proposal and the purpose of the document was that there should be a secular democracy in place on both sides of Kashmir.”
Jethmalani said he had been working for Kashmir for a long time and claimed that Musharraf sent his proposal “to me through a common friend.”
“I made some changes to the document which Musharraf accepted. The whole purpose of the document is that there should be a secular democracy in both sides,” he said.
The former BJP leader said a formal body comprising of statesmen and recognized by both governments of India and Pakistan should be there to see to it that people are not exploited by these governments.
The head of the Kashmir Committee, constituted in 2002 to reach out to separatists, said he was in constant touch with the separatists and not all of them were “Pakistan agents”.
“They all are not Pakistan agents. It is possible that at one time they were pro-Pakistan, but I am glad to tell you that majority of them want to be with India,” Jethmalani said, adding the Army men involved in the killing of two youth in Chattergam area of Budgam district on Monday should be dealt with according to law.
“It should first be thoroughly investigated as to what led to the firing and subsequent killing of two boys. If they have done that intentionally, there should be severe punishment…they should be hanged,” he said, adding that Army’s presence in the state of J&K has to be “terminated” as soon as the “militancy” stops.
Jethmalani said he had told separatists to create “good evidence about their sustained detention” that they have been restrained and “I will take the matter to the Supreme Court.”


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