By Zumra Nawaz Cheema
Article 370 of the Indian constitution is a law that grants a special, autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The article is drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution, as a temporary, transitional and special provisions. It was included into the Indian constitution in 1947 and came into enforcement in 1950. Basically, this article was a trick to satisfy Kashmir’s people. The Indian real intentions behind article 370 are very much clear from the statement of Indian Home Minister Gulzar Lal Nanda’s in December 1964 “the only way of taking the Constitution (of India) into Jammu and Kashmir is through the application of Article 370… It is a tunnel. It is through this tunnel that a good deal of traffic has already passed and more will”. Thus, only on the basis of this article Jammu and Kashmir has link with India and later claims Kashmir as an its “integral part”.
In 1947, as the British were leaving India they gave the various Indian princely states the right to choose their destiny. Princely states had two options; either to join India or Pakistan. Ruler of the Jammu and Kashmir, Maharajah Hari Singh decided to stay alone, completely unaware of the geopolitics around him. India had intentions to forcefully take control of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) alike various other princely states specially Junagadh and Hyderabad. In the meanwhile, some tribal groups from Pakistan entered into Kashmir. Resultantly, the Maharaja of Kashmir wrote to India, asking for military assistance, so an Instrument of Accession was signed between Kashmir and India and article 370 was added in Indian constitution temporarily to satisfy the Sheikh Abdullah which was Prime Minister of J&K at that time.
According to the article Kashmir gained the special, autonomous status from the central government of India. It was understood that centre will not interfere in state’s issues other than defence, foreign affairs, finance and communication and India’s Parliament will have to take the permission of the state legislative assembly to apply other laws. Moreover, as J&K is a disputed territory, thus any Indian citizen from all the other parts of India would not have right to purchase land and property in J&K. Indian central government and all the political parties in India accepted all the terms and conditions at that time. Later on, Indian military troops entered into the Kashmir and first war between India and Pakistan began on Kashmir issue. Indian prime minister took the issue to United Nation (UN) to get support and attention from international community, therefore conflict ended over at ceasefire with the arbitration of United Nation Security Council (UNSC) but The northern and western portions of Kashmir came under Pakistan’s control in 1947 and remaining part went under the control of India.
From last six decades central Indian government is continuously violating the basic human rights of Kashmir’s people contrary to providing them right of self-determination. Furthermore, India is trying its best to alter the demography of Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) and turn Muslim majority areas into Hindu majority areas just like Jammu, which was the area with Muslim majority in the past..
Now Hindu extremist government in India wants to abrogate or erode the article 370 from the Indian constitution to abolish kashmir’s autonomous status. Amendment or abrogation of article 370 remained a part of Indian Prime Minister’s political agendas. But, Indian government should kept in mind that in result of any amendment or erosion of article 370 will raise question on the so-called Indian Instrument of Accession on Jammu & Kashmir. Furthermore, Indian government would have to arrange plebiscite in Kashmir. Thus, whole of the world community and India is well aware of consent and will of the Kashmir’s population. Any offensive and anticipatory step from the Indian government towards the issue of article 370 could bring very devastated consequences in the region. Not only there would be a huge reaction from the Kashmir’s people but there are chance of India and Pakistan’s confrontation as well.