Kashmir - The reality

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Home | Jammu | Insurgency

Immediately after Kashmirís accession in October 1947, India had offered a plebiscite under international auspices for the people of Kashmir, to take a final decision on it. But there was a rider: Pakistanís troops must vacate Kashmir before a plebiscite could be held. Till the end of 1953, the Government of India was willing to abide by the results of a plebiscite if proper conditions were created for it. But a plebiscite could not be held, partially because Pakistan would not withdraw its forces from Pakistan-held Kashmir, and partially because Indo-Pak relations got enmeshed in the Cold War. During 1953-54, the United States entered into a virtual military alliance with Pakistan. This also encouraged Pakistan to take a non-conciliatory and aggressive approach based on a policy of hatred and animosity.

By the end of 1956, the Indian government made it clear to Pakistan and the international community that the situation in Kashmir and Indo-Pak relationship had changed so completely that its earlier offer had become absolute and Kashmirís accession to India had become a settled fact. Since then, so far as India is concerned, Kashmir has been an irrevocable part of the nation. However, without openly saying so, Nehru and his successors have been willing to accept the status quo, that is, accept the ceasefire line or line of control (LoC) as the permanent international border.

Jammu and Kashmir was granted a temporary special status in the Indian union under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The state ceded to the Indian union only in defence, foreign affairs and communications, retaining autonomy in all other matters. The state was permitted to have a Constituent Assembly and a Constitution of its own, to elect its own head of the state called Sadr-e-Riyasat, and to retain its own flag. Its chief minister was to be designated as prime minister. This also meant that the Indian Constitutionís section on fundamental rights did not cover the state, nor did institutions such as the Supreme Court, the Election Commission, and the Auditor-General have any jurisdiction there. However, Article 370 dealt with the relations of the state with the Centre and not with its accession to the union, which was complete.

In 1956, the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir ratified the accession of the state to India. Over the years, the stateís special status was considerably modifiedóone might even say liquidated. The jurisdiction of union institutions such as the Supreme Court, the Auditor-General and the Election Commission and the constitutional provisions regarding fundamental rights had extended to the state. The parliamentís authority to make laws for the state and the Presidentís authority over the state government, including the power to impose President's Rule, had also been extended. The stateís services were integrated with the central and all-India services. Symbolic of the changes were that in the nomenclature of the Sadr-e-Riyasat to Governor and of the state prime minister to chief minister.

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