‘Betrayal of People of Kashmir’: Civil Society Condemns Scrapping of Article 370

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Human rights activists in Lucknow discussing on the Centre’s Decision to scrap 370

Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily

NEW DLEHI – Various civil rights groups led by prominent human rights activists condemned the  abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A, which together give special status to Jammu and Kashmir, by the Central government.

They termed the unilateral move to revoke the said Articles and bifurcation of the state in two union territories as illegal, unethical and above all a betrayal of the people of Kashmir.

Around 100 activists including prominent human rights activists like Ravi Nair and Kavita Krishnan held a discussion on the issue at the Indian Social Institute in Delhi on Monday.

At the conclusion of the meeting organised at the initiative of the India Pakistan People’s Friendship Association, a press statement was issued which read: “We, concerned citizens of India and organisations from across movements, condemn the abrogation of Article 370 and the presidential order that has taken the form of the Jammu and Kashmir Re-Organization Bill 2019.”

Terming the move as part of the repressive approach of the BJP led NDA government to the issues of national importance, the activists questioned the ethical and legal validity of arbitrary scrapping of the Articles that has been announced without taking into confidence either Parliament or the people of the Jammu & Kashmir.

Taking exception to the repressive methods the government has employed to preempt any resistance to the move, putting prominent leaders of the state including former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, in house arrest, deployment of huge armed forces and clamping curfew with streets in total lockdown and imposing ban on mobile and internet services, the statement said, reflects on the government’s diabolical design.

“We state that the Jammu and Kashmir Re-Organization Bill 2019 is unconstitutional, immoral, and totally devoid of any legality.” In support of their argument that the Article 370 is a permanent feature of the constitution, the statement cited Supreme Court’s 2017 pronouncement holding that Article 370 is “not a temporary provision”.

They said the unilateral move has far-reaching political implications. Now that a precedent has been set no state is safe from its ripple effect of the legislation.

Calling it a direct assault on the federal structure of the Indian Constitution, they warned that the manner in which the State of Jammu & Kashmir has been annihilated spells an imminent danger to all provinces, parts and territories within the Indian Union.

They made an appeal to the government against moving ahead with their controversial decision on Kashmir without the consent of the people of the state, withdraw armed forces from the state, to restore the communication channels and free political leaders.

Meanwhile, a host of civil rights organisations and activists including Magsasay award winner Sandeep Pandey held a meeting in Lucknow on Monday evening to discuss the issue. They termed the abrogation of article 370 as ‘betrayal with the people of Kashmir’.

They were of the view that since the people of Kashmir are sentimentally attached to these Articles, their abrupt removal will create chasm and further alienate the people of Kashmir from the country. This, they said is in favour of neither Kashmir nor India. What’s more, it forecloses India’s claim to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Issuing a separate press statement, People’s Union for Democratic Right (PUDR) opposed the government’s move. Its secretary, Shahana Bhattacharya, said, “We strongly oppose the move of the BJP government to unilaterally attempt to revoke the autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, with no regard to the Constitution and the rights enshrines in it.”

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