PAGD issues White Paper on abrogation of J&K’s special status
Says, delimitation exercise being done in unconstitutional manner
Srinagar: Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) on Saturday rolled out a white paper on abrogation of J&K’s special status.
Titled “The Betrayal”, the white paper on what PAGD describes as “Assault on the Autonomy of Jammu & Kashmir”, dwells in detail about the politics concerning Jammu and Kashmir – the conditions under which it acceded to the Union of India, and the evolution of constitutional arrangements concerning State’s relationship with the Union, including the promulgation of Article 370, and other laws, and the manner in which the region was divested of its special constitutional status in August 20019, and also about the developments that have followed since.
The 35-page white paper spread over some 18 chapters, challenges various reasons that were put forth by the Centre to justify its decisions to abrogate Article 370 and 35-A, and to split and reorganize the erstwhile state into two separate Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The white paper challenges the government’s claims on development, peace, jobs and investments in Jammu and Kashmir post-abrogation, which it says are nothing but a “bunch of lies”, while daring the BJP to counter it on facts.
Urging the Centre to go for a dispassionate appraisal of its decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the white paper claims that such an exercise will lead to the realisation of gross violation of the Constitution and betrayal of the people.
“The Government of India must without losing any time go for a dispassionate appraisal of the August 2019 assault on the special status and territorial integrity of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. On such introspection, the Government of India will undoubtedly realise that it has not been only a misadventure but gross violation of the Constitution and a huge betrayal,” the PAGD said in its white paper.
Calling upon the Centre to undo its decisions of 2019, the PAGD said the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir should be restored.
“The Government of India should urgently undertake an exercise of introspection and course correction, revoke all the decisions taken in August 2019 and restore the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir.
“The least the Government of India could do, is to grant real autonomy to the J&K state as envisioned by the Constituent Assembly of India and ratified by the Constituent Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir. And work out legal mechanisms in consultation with the J&K legislature of real political and administrative devolutions to the respective regions and sub-regions within the framework of that autonomy,” it added.
The alliance said any attempt or any plan of proposals for divisions, bifurcations and trifurcations must be rejected.
“This is bound to communalise the regions and communities permanently. A careful and elaborate mechanism for the process of reconciliation and sustainable peace has to be worked out.
“At the same time, we appeal to the people of all the regions, sub regions, ethnic groups and communities of the state that we must uphold and strengthen our age-old relationship and resolve to move forward to shape our future together. Our people have passed through tragedies and our recent past has been quite painful. Tragedies cannot and should not divide us further. Grievances, if any, can be addressed and removed; but in no case should these weaken the historic bonds of our relationship. Any division on any pretext would be detrimental to this cherished goal,” it added.
The PAGD appealed to Parliament, all secular democratic parties and the civil society at large to realise the serious consequences of the abrogation of Article 370.
“We also call upon them to analyse whether the projected objectives and the narrative built up in favour of the regressive decision of doing away with the special position of the erstwhile state, are justified or are the result of divisive and highly authoritarian policies of the government. This should not be seen as an isolated instance or aberration but a serious attack on federalism and democracy,” it said.
“They must come forward and raise their voice against this unconstitutional assault on the rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. We all must unitedly struggle in defense of democracy, federalism and unity of our people,” the alliance said.
Addressing the media, the alliance leaders said that they were not against the delimitation process but the ongoing exercise in Jammu and Kashmir was “unconstitutional” as it was being done under J&K Reorganisation Act which has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
Comprising five mainstream political parties – the PAGD met here at the residence of the amalgam’s chief and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah to discuss the fallout of the draft recommendations of the Delimitation Commission.
PAGD spokesman M Y Tarigami said all the constituents were present during the discussion held on various important issues including the draft proposals of the Commission.
He said they were not against the delimitation exercise as it was due in 2026. But, the ongoing exercise is being done under the Reorganisation Act which is under challenge, he said.
“PAGD is steadfast in its stand that the present delimitation exercise is being done under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act which has been challenged in the Supreme Court by the constituent of the alliance.
“Our stand is that what happened on August 05 and 06, 2019 in Parliament was unconstitutional,” Tarigami said referring to abrogation of Article 370 and the reorganisation of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State into two Union territories.
He also questioned the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission. Most of the parties in Jammu and Kashmir have criticised the Commission’s draft report.
“‘Even the basic parameter in delimitation — population — has not been given due consideration. How did they come to the conclusion of increasing seven seats? Why not six, eight or nine?” he asked.
He alleged that even accessibility and geographical proximity – the other criteria in the delimitation process – were ignored.
The Delimitation Commission in its draft report has proposed major changes in Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the Kashmir Valley.
Tarigami said the decisions taken with regard to Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 were justified by the Centre on the grounds that they will bring development and prosperity to the region.
“What is Naya Kashmir? The foundation of Naya Kashmir was laid by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah which ended the feudal system and land tillers became landowners.
“Jammu and Kashmir was the first and only state to make education free up to university level,” Tarigami said.
“What happened on August 05 (2019) was an imposed decision. The silence of people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh should not be taken as acceptance of this decision,” he added.
He urged the Indian civil society to listen to the woes of people. “In the white paper, we have clarified that whether Article 370 can be rolled back, whether Article 35-A can be removed,” he said.
“We challenge the J&K administration and the BJP government to counter our white paper with its own white paper. We challenge the BJP government on its claims of providing jobs, investment and development.”
Tarigami urged the people of the country to make an effort to understand the “suffering” of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“This assault has become a poison which can reach Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and other states. We appeal to Indian intelligentsia, civil society, media and all others to understand the pain of Kashmiris,” Tarigami said.