Explainer –Article 35 A –View against it
Article 35A.. What damage it does to Jammu and Kashmir’s long term interests?
In recent years, each time Article 35A is mentioned in public domain, it seems to touch a raw nerve among the native people of Kashmir, and those from elsewhere in India.
Without going into the long The history of the administration of J&K under a ruler is long and complex. It would surprise many to note that the Kashmiri Brahmins spearheaded the demand for granting a separate class of citizenship to the people, so that J&K remained somewhat insulated from the rest of colonial India. It is also a fact that the contentious Article 35A was incorporated in to the Indian Constitution to placate the people of the state who feared their identity would be swamped by the ingress of people from other parts of India.
Article 35A empowers the state legislature of J&K to bar people from outside the state to enjoy the public benefits as enjoyed by the state’s own citizenry. In practical terms, it means non-Kashmiris can’t buy land, get government jobs, own property, avail scholarships, or any other state government privileges.
The legal status of Article 35A, along with that of Article 370 has been challenged in the Supreme Court. So, one should patiently await the verdict before taking a belligerent stand.
Why, then there is such a strong clamour to repeal Article 35a? No one will deny that the demography and the socio-economic conditions of J&K have undergone a sea-change since 1954, when the Article was incorporated by President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad at the behest of the Prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Among the many owes, the state now faces are high unemployment, nil industrialization, and needless social seclusion, not to mention the threat of militancy.
Large industrial houses, who could go in to start ventures in J&K, have fought shy of going there. No large and modern industry has been established. Even medium scale enterprises in manufacturing haven’t been established. The state continues to depend upon tourism, its apple orchards, and its carpet industry to survive. No wonder, the large number of youth aspiring for jobs have been left in the lurch.
Barring an Indian from other states to own property in J&K is a myopic solution for maintaining the cultural identity of the state. If we see the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka etc. who have made impressive economic strides, we can conclude that large-scale influx of ‘outsiders’ has not robbed the states’ of their identity.
Unemployment is the burning issue of J&K youth today. It fuels, though mistakenly, disenchantment with the Indian government, and militancy. Therefore, curbing the integration of the state with the rest of India does the state more harm than good.
The laws relating property ownership are more bizarre. A woman from J&K marrying a young man from Haryana loses her ownership of property located inside the state. On the face of it, such a law appears draconian and grossly unfair.
So, the arguments to repeal Article 35A are sound, and logical. Those who oppose it are vested interests trying to maintain their foothold in the state’s politics by whipping up emotions. They enjoy comfortable life styles themselves, and do not experience the angst and the agony of the jobless youth. Sadly, the state lacks a pragmatic leader who can lay a road map for creating jobs for the youth. The key to ending militancy and ensuring peace lies there.
[The opposite view will be posted soon.]