Implications of removal of Article 35A

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M. M. Khajooria

Article 35A of the Constitution allowed the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define permanent residents of the state. It was inserted through the Constitution Order, 1954, which was issued by President Rajendra Prasad under Article 370. J&K constitution adopted in 1956 defined a permanent resident as someone who was a state subject on May 14, 1954 or who has been resident of the state for ten years (on that date), The application of J&K constitution created three main problems;

  1. It discriminated between citizens on the basis of sex as daughters marrying non-state subject were denied the status and privileges of a state subject. The anomaly was, however resolved by a judgement of the J&K High court which found the discrimination on the basis of sex as unconstitutional hence void as the same disqualification did not apply to male citizens marrying non-permanent resident girls.
    The court, however, left the issue of the rights to Permanent Resident by the off-springs of girls marrying non-local citizens. It has been taken care of by the removal of Article 35A.
    2.The west Pakistan refugees, crossed over from adjacent Pakistan territory into the J&K in 1947-48. Sheikh Abdullah was generally sympathetic and instead of turning them towards rest of the country gave them shelter, allotted land to them and generally looked after their genuine interests. However, the succeeding Governments acted bloody minded. While land allotted to them generally remained in their possession, there were instances when some individuals who had migrated to West Pakistan succeeded to dispossess west Pak refugees. The ownership and possession of land was transferred to returnees from Pakistan, asserting their right through different means. The public impression was that the political masters of the were inclined to be supportive of such returnees. This position was unambiguously affirmed when the party in power rushed through a legislation commonly known as Bill No 13 (an inauspicious figure) enabling return of state subject settlers in Pakistan /POK since 1947. The bill is pending with the Supreme Court for their ‘advice’
    Removal of Article 35A does away with the main critical hurdle before the west Pakistan refugees. They will no more be suffering from insecurity and dis-crimination. It may, however be stated that the number of ‘west Pakistan refugees’ had significantly dwindled due to marriages of daughters of refugees with Permanent Residents of the State, whose children acquired Permanent resident status of their fathers. Decades back, a tiny community of ‘Valmikis’ was imported mostly from the neighbouring Punjab to tide over crisis creating by a prolonged strike by Municipal workers of Jammu. They chose to settle down here in Jammu. Their difficulties have also been solved by removal of Article 35A. These are the bare bone benefits of removal of Article 35A.
    The act of the parliament have other implications that impinge on critical issues like the security of the state, the state of environment, municipal services and welfare and future of Jammu Dogras.
    Jammu is situated at the foot hills of Shivaliks and cheek by Jaw with a hostile and aggressive Pakistan. The removal of Article 35A opens entry gates to all and sundry- to enter and reside with the ultimate aim of acquiring citizenship of the state. It is a bonanza for saboteurs, terrorists and mischief mongers. The indiscriminate right of entry into Jammu will place an unbearable strain on Dogra tribe, whose youth is already migrating due to denial of Government services avenues of higher education and hereditary profession of soldiering.
    The chronic shortage of Municipal services, waste supply and electric supply are nightmare of the existing population of Jammu. An influx would be nothing short of a disaster.
    We do not produce an raw material that could be harnessed in factories/mills by big industrialists. There is only scope for Forest-based and horticulture, flower culture and agriculture-based industries.
    The forests have to be preserved and more and more land brought under forest- cover. It is critical to secure and improve environment for survival of human race.
    Only trees that fall in natural process can and should be utilised by inhabitants of close by habitation as
    provided under law or awarded to
    contractors. There should be an obligation on the part of beneficiaries to plant at least four trees for one fallen. The rest are basically cottage industries and carry enormous potential for improving income and quality of life of our Farmers.
    It has been seen that poisonous smoke emitting factories generally run on loss as the raw material and skilled labour had to be imported to this northern most tip of the country. The produce, for obvious reasons cannot compete in the market and they are aware of these inherent handicaps. The experience has shown that most industrialist have a devious agenda. They primarily pitch for substantial subsides and numerous tax exemptions. And once their kitty is filled with money, first cut down the labour and production, pack up and depart leaving behind trail of pollution. Luckily we can still see the blue sky and gaze at stars. Further strain on our already endangered and fragile environment would be suicidal. So what do we do?
  2. Declare Jammu a protected area and area to the north of National Highway and subsidiary roads along the LOC as ‘Inner Line’. The relevant legislation shall provide :
    a) Tourists and pilgrims will be allowed free entry but their stay in the state shall not extend beyond two months
    b) Other visitors are welcome but their hospitality will be restricted to three months.
    c) Professional and experts employed by the Government or private agencies will depart within three months of expiry of the date of engagement
    The Permanent citizens of the State residing within the Inner Line, districts of Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Udhampur, Reasi and Rajouri will have free entry provided that those hailing from designated districts stay in Inner Line for not more than two months. Those wishing to extend their stay shall have to state the reason for extended stay before the Station House Officer (Police) the purpose of stay endorsed by the Sapanch and three respectables. The duration for which the permission is sought shall be specifically mentioned.
    The entry of Rohingias and other Foreigners residing the UT shall be strictly forbidden. Any violation this restriction shall be a cognizable/ non-bailable offence punishable with minimum three years Rigorous imprisonment.
    Of course, these suggestions are open to improvement, modification or addition by fellow citizens and Public servants. However, the urgency to take legislative and administrative measures in the sensitive matter impinging on the security of state and security of citizens should be obvious and can brook no delay.

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