This is in response to an article authored by Sunil Fernandes, Advocate on record and former standing counsel of J&K government in Supreme Court titled SPECIAL STATUS FOR J&K EXISTS, FOR SURE, BUT SOVEREIGN RIGHTS DON'T published in The Pioneer on Friday, 31 March 2017
The article written by Sunil Fernandes where he argues that people of Jammu and Kashmir enjoy special status above other states but it's certainly not sovereign. To respond to my friend's concerns, it would not be incorrect to go the roots of article 370 and understand the current position of our special status vis a vis his statements.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is distinctive in its character with multiple languages, geography and legal provisions. It has a history which cannot be pushed under the carpet.We often talk about 'special' status of Jammu and Kashmir .The speciality often creates furore in minds of many and is preyed upon politically , or through a judicial route.Article 370 which is known as article of faith to a common Kashmiri has been reduced to an empty shell by virtue of the 47 Orders that were made by the President of India over a period of 50 years on the advice of the Government of India from 1954 to 1994.Out of 395 Articles of Constitution of India 260 apply to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly out of the 97 entries in the Union List , 94 are applicable to us , thereby leaving a balance of 3 for the State to "enjoy" and claim the title of being "special". 26 of the 47 entries in the Concurrent List were also extended to the State. 7 of the 12 Schedules were applied.One may understand that this exclusivity is not real. This was a calculated, systematic hollowing out of Article 370. Far from giving Kashmir a preferred status over the other States, it has been put in a position inferior to them. Interestingly, since there was no elected Government in the State from 1990 to 1996 , many changes have been done through executive orders that were bogus in nature as the consent involved was of the Governor Jagmohan , and not of a popular government of the people.
J&K is the only state that has its own constitution and a flag , which has often attracted an envious resentment but everything has its own history that makes it relevant in place. The constitution was adopted as a result of work of a democratic and lawfully elected constituent assembly that aimed at bringing people out of shackles of tyranny and integrate them into a democratic setup with ideals of a strong nation. It enshrined provisions related to education and social empowerment much before the nation did through subsequent legislations. The flag furls high, having deep sentimental roots representing regional integration and struggle for democracy that the people of all three regions of Jammu and Kashmir underwent. The plough symbolises the essence of struggle of a common man with three stems representing three regions of Jammu and Kashmir.This rich cultural history is something to be proud of and not to be perceived as an attempt to undermine the dignity of the national flag or nationhood at large. Apart from this brief legal and historic character , it would be necessary to educate the author that people of Kashmir are well versed with history and politics and know that Article 370 binds the state of Jammu and Kashmir with India.Since we have our own constitution , we ought to have read that before anyone else and therefore adopting a rancorous approach in giving unsolicited sermons about J&K being "integral" part is something inappropriate. Referring to author's contention about 'sovereignty' of the state as was mentioned by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir , fundamental rules of interpretation allow us to assume that the High Court might have referred to the 'special status' of the state while employing the term 'sovereignty" .The infelicitous approach of the author's write up to revolve around a singular term 'sovereignty' has pushed the real issue on the back burner ,exhibiting a high sense of insecurity. A vindictive and personalized criticism of J&K bagging extra ordinary concessions or exemptions has been done by the author when the special status rightfully exists and has not been accorded as "charity" to us.
Further the moot question of the write up has been meticulously shifted towards proponents of Azadi and seeking sovereignty , painstakingly manifesting that Kashmir is ungrateful to the nation , when there already exists an understanding. The much eyed Article 370 is a sentimental article, though devoid of its pristine glory , this article still holds significance for us even if hollowed.Seccionist ideologies that create differences of opinion by demonising this special status is deplorable and nation cannot afford this intellectual invasion. First the politics , then the violence , now courtroom politics has taken toll on aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir. Our state flag and our constitution is our identity. We honour it and we cannot be deprived of that.