New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Article 370 of the Constitution, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was seen by many as a provision that led to the growth of the secessionist mindset, which acquired a militant form, in the Valley by the late 1980s.
A narrative was being pushed by Pakistan-backed anti-national forces among the people in Kashmir Valley that grant of special identity to the state in the Constitution was an “acceptance” by the government of India that Jammu and Kashmir was “not a part of India”.
This intoxicated several Kashmiris to demand separation of the state from India, and some of them took up the gun to press for the demand.
The provision was not part of the Instrument of Accession signed by the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir Hari Singh on October 27, 1947 with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru after the Pakistani Army launched military aggression but was incorporated to apply to the state in 1950.
Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to leave the Valley en masse in early 1990s because of emergence of hostile conditions, feel they would not have faced such a fate if Article 370 had not been there.
They argue that Hindus became vulnerable as they remained a miniscule minority in Kashmir, mainly because of Article 370 which prohibited people from outside the state to buy immovable property and settle down in the Valley.
Rajinder Kaul Premi of the All India Kashmiri Samaj, a prominent organisation of Pandits, said the Article was discriminatory and prevented Jammu and Kashmir from being at par with rest of the states of the country.
He noted that even Kashmiri separatists, like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, could purchase properties anywhere in the country but people from outside Jammu and Kashmir could not do so in the state.
“When we were thrown out of Kashmir, we got accommodated in the rest of the country, where we bought land, got education and jobs. But because of Article 370, nobody from rest of the country could purchase land or get jobs in Jammu and Kashmir,” he pointed out.
According to Vijay Raina, General Secretary of another Kashmiri Pandit organisation Kashmiri Samiti, said Article 370 was a key reason why the community could not be safe in the Valley and had to leave their native land.
“Had it (Article 370) not been there, the exodus would not have happened,” he insisted.
“Abrogation of the Article will strengthen national integration and enable flow of private funds into the state. It will also strengthen the secular fabric of the state,” Premi added.