The latest development on Kashmir comes in from the Statement of Minister of State for PMO India Mr Jitendra Singh that Government is was open to debate on Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K),while making it clear that efforts would be made through this exercise to "convince" the "unconvinced". A sharp reaction from Mr. Omar Abdullah the Chief Minister of J&K came in stating that either Article 370 stays or J&K wouldn't me part of India.
Now that's a very bold statement by Mr. Omar Abdullah that certainly would fuel a lot more controversy than helping the new Government handle the situation on J&K front.
However, before we get into the controversy in brewing it is important for us to understand the History and what led Article 370 find a place in the Constitution of India....
So, looking back at the history, we find that the Article 370 was worked out between the then Prime Minister of J&K Mr. Sheikh Abdullah and Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India. This certainly was a mistake from Mr. J.L. Nehru as he overstepped the into the Portfolio of the then Home Minister Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. (Let's Term it as Mistake 1). Incidentally, the commission and omissions of Article 370 could be explained either by Mr. J.L. Nehru (not possible) or anyone who might be alive (distant case or I may be day dreaming). But these commissions and omissions are responsible for the Controversy surrounding J&K and we have been suffering the consequences for last 67 years now.
Another blunder was the clause to Article 370 that any change to this article would be brought in only after concurrence of J&K assembly (Let's Term it as Mistake 2). Why? if J&K is supposed to be integral part of Republic of India, why does J&K assembly be intervening? This clause certainly was inducted to please Mr. Sheikh Abdullah who happened to become Sardar-e-Riyasat after doing away with the monarchy as he always wanted to for his hatred towards the then Hindu King of J&K Mr. Hari Singh. It is to be noted that the accession of J&K to republic of India was approved by J&K assembly only in 1956 after all the changes in J&K ruling front were introduced and Mr. Sheikh Abdullah was designated as Sardar-e-Riyasat.
Mr. J.L. Nehru promised that Article 370 would be a temporary measure (a False promise) but there was no timeline defined for the review and owing to the causes mentioned in the previous paragraph, it never got reviewed for changes / repeal. Certainly another blunder by Nehru.
Nehru then brought in Mr. Gopalswamy Ayyangar (erstwhile PM of J&K) to help deal with the newly coined Article 370 and take it to the Constitution committee. Sardar Patel opposed but then Mr. J.L. Nehru made a statement on Dec. 27, 1947 that can be called as Mistake 3 -
“Gopalaswamy Ayyangar has been especially asked to help in Kashmir matters. Both for this reason and because of his intimate knowledge and experience of Kashmir, he had to be given full latitude. I really do not know where the States Ministry (Sardar Patel’s ministry) comes into the picture except that it should be kept informed for the steps taken. All this was done at my instance and I do not propose to abdicate my functions in regard to matters for which I consider myself responsible. May I say that the manner of approach to Gopalaswamy was hardly in keeping with the courtesy due to a colleague.”
Apparently Sardar Patel got miffed with the development and resigned from his post and the matter was then taken up with Mr. M.K. Gandhi to resolve the tiff between Mr. Nehru and Sardar Patel.
On the other hand the proposal for Article 370 was rejected by the Constitution Committee as well as the Working Committee of Congress. Mr. Nehru then had to turn to Sardar Patel to get the Article included in the Constitution and this is where Sardar Patel erred to support Mr. Nehru and succeeded in convincing the Constitution Committee and Congress Working Committee. (Mistake 4)
In 1947 itself Mr. Sheikh Abdullah was arrested by King Hari Singh on the charges of Sedition and Mr. Nehru is said to have pleaded his case (Mistake 5). It is said that Mr. Nehru too was arrested while trying to enter J&K then. Later on Aug. 9, 1953, Mr. Nehru himself had to have Mr. Sheikh Abdullah arrested on Sedition Charges, but Mr. Nehru let go the option of repealing Article 370 (Mistake 6). A golden opportunity lost....