Kashmir is an integral part of India like all other princely States ruled by Indian royalty which acceded to India on the departure of the British from India. Not only that, there exists a Special Resolution of Parliament unanimously passed that the status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir is non-negotiable. This implies that no Indian Government can enter into any negotiations with any entity to discuss the future of J&K State as a disputed territory. Yet we find the last two Indian Governments acquiescing to discuss the future of J&K State with Pakistan under external pressure. Kashmir is an integral part of India and no Indian Government should buckle under external pressures to perpetuate a controversy raised by Pakistan. So when Congress Party leaders proclaimed in the recent Shiv Sena controversy over Maharashtra and Mumbai and proclaimed that Mumbai is for all Indians then why are they forgetting as the ruling party that Kashmir is also for all Indians and that sordid infliction by Nehru of Article 370 needs to be scrapped. The same applies to all other Indian political parties making similar assertions.
This Columnist strongly supports that every Indian has a right to settle in any part of India as a citizen of the Indian Republic and pursue any vocation in any part of India without any infirmity of local reservations of jobs or restrictions on employment opportunities. Bur then there cannot be double standards in the implementation of this fundamental principle within the Indian Republic as an integrated whole.
All Indians have a right to settle in any corner of J&K State and this fundamental right is being denied by the lack of political will to scrap Article 370 as it would distort their respective vote-banks. Even within J&K State the regions of Jammu and Ladakh are not with the Valley Muslims who want this discriminatory Article 370 to continue which is nothing but an instrument to perpetuate the Muslim majority domination of the Kashmir Valley Muslims only.
Increasingly India’s anomalous double standards on perpetuating Article 370 in Kashmir while maintaining that every Indian has a right to settle in any part of India, will come into increasing focus as regionalism rears its head in parts of India.
Besides abolition of Article 370 pertaining to J&K State, legislation is also required doing away similar restrictions on purchase of land and property in some Indian States by non-State Indians.
Such provisions may have been thought as necessary in the first two decades or so of the Indian Republic to bring about a more level and equitable economic development of economically weaker States but after 60 years of the Indian Republic, Article 370 and similar discriminatory provisions all over India need to be abolished. They are fundamentally violative of the Fundamental Rights of the Indian citizens.
In case of Article 370 it is legally and morally strange that while Kashmiris have bought valuable property all over India and settled down in far flung corners of India, a similar legal right is being denied to Indians to likewise acquire property in Kashmir and settle down there.
Indian political leaders always shirk from decisions which require resolute leadership and they have shirked for the last 60 years from the abolition of Article 370. This lack of political resoluteness has not only encouraged Pakistan to play political mischief and encouraged Pakistan to launch proxy war and terrorism against India on the specious argument that it is the handiwork of Kashmiri terrorist organizations.
This anomaly also encourages foreign powers to use Kashmir as a strategic pressure-point against India with adverse impact on our national security.
The time has come for all right thinking Indians who assert that ‘Mumbai is for all Indians’ to assert in the same breadth that ‘Kashmir is also for all Indians’.