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HVK Archives: Pandits rap J&K panel on autonomy

Pandits rap J&K panel on autonomy - The Hindustan Times

Anil Anand ()
5 February 1997

Title : Pandits rap J&K panel on autonomy
Author : Anil Anand
Publication : The Hindustan Times
Date : February 5, 1997

The Kashmiri Pandits settled abroad have questioned the logic
behind the claim for more autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir. 'Me
State Government has already constituted a committee headed by Dr
Karan Singh to look into this issue. Autonomy was an important
promise made by the ruling National Conference during the recent
Assembly elections.

In a memorandum to Dr Karan Singh, Mr Vijay Sazawal, national
president of the Indo-American Kashmir Forum, has said that the
community members were deeply concerned over the creation of this
committee and questioned the motive behind its formation in view of
the existing framework of the Constitution of India. He is also
the co-ordinator of the Indo-Canadian Forum based in Ottawa and the
Indo-European Kashmir Forum, based in London.

While describing the terms of reference of the committee as
"grossly inadequate" in fully assessing all the dimensions of the
autonomy issue, he said that autonomy and constitutional protection
for all citizens, particularly the minorities, are closely linked.
The autonomy issue cannot be addressed in isolation, he felt.

Raising certain interesting points in the light of successive
agreements signed by the State Government with the Centre, the
forum felt that a number of such agreements had been made in the
past between the two parties. In many cases, the new agreement
replaced the older one and established modalities for a day-to-day
interface between Federal and State institutions.

Speaking about the 1952 accord as the National Conference
Government headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah has been demanding
reverting to the pre-52 era, he said that this agreement which
addressed political and constitutional relationship between the
State and the Union, was superceded by the 1975 accord. Ibis
accord represents the latest arrangement on political and
constitutional issues as agreed by the two parties.

Ridiculing the demand for reverting to the 1952 agreement, the
forum felt that it was impossible in view of the changes in the
subcontinent during the 23-year gap between the two agreements.
The situation is not unlike the relevance of the Shimla agreement
over prior UN resolutions.

If India arbitrarily agrees to overlook the 1975 accord in favour
of the 1952 one, it should be prepared to similarly ignore the
Shimla agreement and revert to the 1948 UN resolutions. There is a
stronger reason for accepting the 1975 accord as it was negotiated
by the same leader (Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah) who was also involved
in the 1952 pact, the forum further felt.

"Why would he agree to sign a new agreement if the 1952 arrangement
still held good and was applicable?" Mr Sazawal questioned. Even
Sheikh Abdullah must have agreed to the irrelevance of the 1952
scenario and opted for a new arrangement. Ale autonomy as defined
by the 1975 accord should be the basis for the committee's
deliberations though it also has a significant negative impact on
certain sections of the Kashmiri people, he said.

Mr Sazawal felt that the 1952 agreement definitely provided a
building block in developing the State's political and
constitutional framework, beginning with the Instrument of
Accession and culminating in the 1975 accord. The continuity of
that process is extremely important in understanding the importance
of Article 370 and in affirming the 1957 State Constitution of the
J&K State which replaced Maharaja Hari Singh's Constitution of
1939. Would resetting the clock to 1952 mean a return to the 1939
Constitution? What about the 27 Indian enactments that were
consented to by and applied to J&K between 1948 and 1951 for long
term needs and benefits to the people of State? "More importantly,
what would happen to the vision that the 1957 State Constitution
promised and which remains unfulfilled till date?" the forum chief

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