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Art 370: 'Black blot on India's history'

August 05, 2019 17:15 IST

Describing the revoking of Article 370 as a "black day" in the country's constitutional history, the Congress on Monday alleged that the government "dismembered" Jammu and Kashmir by "mischievously misinterpreting" articles in the Constitution, and cautioned that the idea of India as a union of states is in "grave danger".

IMAGE: Senior Congress leaders Gulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram with TMC leader Derek O'Brien following a media address after the Union home minister Amit Shah moved a resolution to remove Article 370 in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the Parliament. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

The government on Monday revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and proposed that the state be bifurcated into two union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Senior Congress leader and former home minister P Chidambaram alleged that the Modi dispensation's move amounted to "constitutional monstrosity" and the decision marks the "beginning of the disintegration of India if the government continues on this path".

Flanked by leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and other opposition leaders, Chidambaram told reporters outside Parliament: "We anticipated a misadventure, but did not think in our wildest dreams that they will take such a catastrophic step."

"Today is a black day in the constitutional history of India," he said.

Azad, in his remarks, accused the BJP of taking the decision "for votes", and also alleged that the saffron party is "playing" with unity and integrity of the state.

 

"A border state, which is culturally, geographically, historically and politically different was bound together by Article 370. Drunk on power and to get votes, the BJP govt scrapped 3-4 things in one stroke," Azad said.

He said that since morning, the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, CPI, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Kerala Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Kerala's Muslim League, the Revolutionary Socialist Party has been protesting and will continue do so against this "black law".

"We will keep fighting both inside and outside Parliament," Azad said.

Former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti reacted angrily to the Centre's move, saying the "disastrous" move may lead to "catastrophic consequences".

"Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy. Decision of J&K leadership to reject two-nation theory in 1947 and align with India has backfired. Unilateral decision of GoI to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K," Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.

She said the decision will have "catastrophic consequences" for the subcontinent and alleged that India has failed Kashmir in keeping its promises.

Terming the government's move "unilateral and shocking", Abdullah said it was a total "betrayal of trust" of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

"Government of India (GoI)'s unilateral and shocking decisions today are a total betrayal of the trust that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had reposed in India when the state acceded to it in 1947," he said.

"The decisions will have far-reaching and dangerous consequences. This is an aggression against people of the state as had been warned by an all-parties meeting in Srinagar yesterday," Abdullah added.

He accused the Centre of resorting to "deceit and stealth" in recent weeks to lay the ground for these "disastrous decisions".

"Our darkest apprehensions have unfortunately come true after the GoI and its representatives in J&K lied to us that nothing major was planned," he said.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha, Azad said the entire Kashmir Valley is under curfew and three former chief ministers of the state and political leaders have been placed under house arrest.

He called for the situation to be discussed first but Naidu allowed Shah to move the resolution.

Azad said: "I had never imagined that the head of the state which is India's crown will be chopped off"

"You have made light of the state of Jammu-Kashmir," he said, charging it was a 'matter of shame' that the Centre had reduced the state to a non-entity with Lt Governor's rule.

"It will be a black blot on India's history when this bill is passed (in Parliament)," Azad said.

He said an "atom bomb" exploded in the House when the Home Minister (Amit Shah) spoke on Monday, claiming that the "state was being removed from the map of India" by being bifurcated and converted into a Union Territory.

He observed that the people in the state of Jammu and Kashmir stood by the country's security forces and did not choose Pakistan despite it having the same religion. Instead, they accepted the secularism of India, he said.

"Today, you have again laid the foundation to disintegrate. Integration does not take place through legislation, its happens through the heart, Azad said.

He dared the Government to bring a bill to convert Gujarat into a Union Territory, saying it should not take things lightly, and accused the Centre of muzzling the state's history while being "drunk" with power.

Derek O'Brien of the Trinamool Congress described it as "Black Monday" and a dark day for the country's constitution, the idea of India, and the Rajya Sabha.

Opposing it, Manoj Kumar Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal said the (abolition of) Article 370 was not possible to execute in this lifetime.

Today we have opened the gates for Kashmir to turn into Palestine in five years, Jha alleged.

Chidambaram told reporters that the government has not simply got rid of Article 370, but has also "dismembered" the state of Jammu and Kashmir by "mischievously misinterpreting Article 3 and Article 370 of the Constitution".

"If this can be done to Jammu and Kashmir let me caution you that this can be done to every other state in India. All that they have to do is dismiss the elected government, impose President's rule, dissolve the elected assembly, Parliament takes the power of the state assembly. The government moves a resolution, Parliament approves it and the state can be dismembered," Chidambaram said.

He claimed that every state can be broken up and Union territories can be created out of the states by the "mischievous interpretation" of Article 3 and 370.

"It will not stop here. What they have done is a constitutional monstrosity. People of India and people of every state must wake up to the grave danger that is set as an example today by these completely unconstitutional and illegal resolutions," Chidambaram said.

"I want to warn, every party, every state and every citizen in India that the idea of India as a union of states is in grave danger. They can dismember every state and break it up. This is the beginning of the disintegration of India if this government continues on this path," he said, adding that this was "the worst day" in the constitutional history of India.

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said that legally, as per proviso to Article 370(3) of the Constitution, it cannot be scrapped by the President without the recommendation of the state assembly.

Currently there is no valid assembly and the BJP has been avoiding elections, scrapping Article 370 in current manner is "unconstitutional", he said in a tweet.

He also cited a Supreme Court judgement to drive home his point and added that probably the "era of law and Constitution is over".

DMK president M K Stalin said the measures should be held back till a democratically-elected government assumed office in the state.

Speaking to reporters at the party headquarters in Chennai, Stalin said the Centre had gone ahead with its proposal without getting the concurrence of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and called it a "murder of democracy."

The DMK leader strongly condemned the bifurcation bid as an "anti-democratic" step.

Stalin also hit out at the AIADMK for supporting the Centre's move in Parliament.

Later, in a statement, Stalin accused the BJP-led Centre of being only concerned about implementing its ideological agenda and not respecting the sentiments of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who stood behind India.

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh described on Monday the Centre's move of revoking Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir as "totally unconstitutional" and said such a decision should not have been "pushed through" in an arbitrary manner.

He flayed the manner in which the Centre "imposed" the decision, saying the democratic fabric of the nation has been "ripped apart" with this "unprecedented violation of the Constitutional norms".

"It is a dark day for the Indian democracy," Amarinder said, adding that the Constitution of India has been rewritten without following any legal provisions.

"This will set a bad precedent as it would mean that the Centre could reorganise any state in the country by simply imposing President's rule," the chief minister said in a statement here.

The Constitutional provisions has been "abused" as never before, he added.

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