Amit Shah makes interesting points

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Insaniyat, Jamhoriyat, Kashmiriyat…

By: Shafqat Shafi

President’s rule has been extended for six more months in Jammu and Kashmir. The extension was approved by the Lok Sabha on Friday amid a fiery debate over democracy and other related issues vis-à-vis the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The extension of president’s rule was on the expected lines as the Election Commission of India is yet to come out with its proposals regarding holding of elections to J&K Assembly. While seeking support for his bill regarding extension of president’s rule, the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah made it very clear that assembly elections will be held once ECI gives the schedule.

The prolonging of president’s rule was resented by some opposition parties in the parliament including National Conference saying it was denying the people of J&K the right to choose their government of liking.

However countering the argument, Amit Shah said that it was BJP that is ensuring a healthy democracy in J&K. Buttressing his argument, the Home Minister said that it was during BJP rule that elections to the ULB and Panchayats were held in J&K taking the Jamhooriyat (democracy) to the grass roots.

One may have some disagreements with BJP’s polity vis-à-vis Kashmir but it goes without saying that what Home Minister aid about taking democracy to grass roots is a very fact that every citizen of J&K is well versed with. Here we have seen elected governments, on one or the other pretext, delaying ULB and pachayat elections for years thus denying the common citizenry the benefits of real democracy. For these political governments, just 87 people were the sole custodians of democracy and they were the only ones to make developmental and infrastructural choices for people living in remotest villages where none of these 87 elites would have ever cared to visit.

One more thing to be noted is the smooth conduct of these elections. There was no violence and in most of the areas of the state large number of people participated in these polls thus making every citizen of J&K a stake holder in the process of democratization.

One cannot but agree with the Home Minister when he says that despite passing 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment , the people of J&K were not getting benefitted because elections to the panchayats were not held and thus the rightful Rs. 3700 crore was not reaching to these Gram Panchayats.

It may be recalled here that when the decision was made to hold these elections in J&K, two of the main political parties – NC and PDP – boycotted the same. And today it was NC’s Hasnain Masoodi who had the cheek to talk about ‘restoration of democracy’ in J&K.

Agreed, Assembly elections should be held in the state as soon as possible as no matter how good a centre’s direct rule, it can’t and should not replace popular rule. But at the same time denying panchayats right to elect their representatives at grass root too doesn’t augur well for the democracy.

Relating concept of Insaniyat (humanity) to the development of common masses and their betterment, Home Minister asserted that Narindra Modi government has provided toilets to J&K women and homes to 142000 people of the state.

Yes, a government would be seen following the concept of Insaniyat only if it prioritizes insan (humans). Taking care of the basic needs of the commoners, helping the needy, helping in improving the economic conditions of downtrodden is what embodies the broader concept of Insaniyat as it involves human dignity. But at the same time, the Home Minister would have broadened the concept further by including human rights into it. Human dignity is paramount and so is human life and the responsive governments have to ensure the safety of both. One would appreciate Home Minister’s statement that “now those, who were trouble makers are living in fear and common people are feeling secured,” but at the same time would like to insist that zero tolerance against human rights violations should also be the government’s mantra.

Home Minister’s assertion that Kashmiriyat will not be allowed to get diluted should be welcomed by one and all. Kashmiriyat is the essence of Kashmir’s culture and ethos. It has survived varied onslaughts but always triumphed and it will triumph again and for that Modi government in New Delhi, government in Jammu and Kashmir and people of Kashmir in particular have to create an atmosphere so that Kashmiri Pandits are able to reclaim their space in the society. Kashmiriyat is incomplete without them and an incomplete Kashmiriyat is in the interest of none.

Agreed, Kashmiriyat is not divisive but all about bonding; it is not about bloodshed but love. It is to be safeguarded and for that both Kashmiri Muslims as well as Pandits are to be given a sense of belonging.

In the same session of the Parliament, Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill 2019 was cleared. As per law, 43 percent reservation is available in the state and under this 3 percent is for people living along the LoC. The bill, that was passed on Friday provides to extend reservation under this 3 percent to people living along the International Border (IB) in the state.

This too was a much needed step as the people living along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir face same troubles and tribulations as their counter parts living along LoC. Schooling of their children, grazing of their cattle and their entire day-to-day routine is impacted by constant firing incidents along border like the ones along LoC. Therefore, the reservation was more than over due to them.

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