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Beware of Vajpayee's peace moves!

By Arvind Lavakare
May 31, 2003 14:23 IST
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Section 153 B (1) (a) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (as amended by the Information Technology Act, 2000) stipulates that 'Whoever, by words either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, makes or publishes any imputation that any class of persons cannot, by reason of their being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established or uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.'

In the light of the above provision of an India law, consider the following sentence that was reportedly uttered by at a public rally in Srinagar on Thursday, May 22, by Sajjad Lone, chairman of the People's Conference party:

  • 'Kashmir is neither the integral part of one country nor the jugular vein of another, but belongs to its people who alone will decide its future.' (Report in The Asian Age, Mumbai, May 23, 2003 by the daily's Special Correspondent.
  • Isn't Lone's statement a clear case of violating of the Indian Penal Code's above cited Section? The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is specified in the First Schedule of Article 1 of the Constitution of India as being part of the territory of the Union of India. Setting out the 'Relationship of the State with the Union of India", Section 3 of the J&K State Constitution categorically enshrines the fact that 'The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.' Section 147 of the state Constitution also provides that 'no bill or amendment seeking to make any change in the provisions of section 3…shall be moved or introduced in either House of the Legislature.' Yet, here is this Lone fellow publicly disowning the nation's and the state's constitution by saying that 'Kashmir' is not an integral part of India.

But what is done to him? Exactly nothing. The IPC is not slapped on him -- presumably because, courtesy Article 370, Section 1 of the IPC itself makes it clear that the Act 'shall extend to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.' And since there seems to be no law of J&K which treats challenging India's sovereignty over the state as an offence, civil or criminal, what Lone gets is not a law slapped on him but high-powered multi-media publicity. The media also gives his political party the label of 'separatist' in inverted commas, as though it were some sort of a meritorious award. Such a thing can happen only in our India, softest democracy in the world.

If the blacks of Texas, for instance, agitate to rescind their state's annexation by the America of 1845, the entire black population of the state would probably get prosecuted and persecuted under the Patriot Act of George W Bush. By the way, Arundhati Roy's speech at Harlem, New York, on May 13 this year told us that the world's 'freest' country has the highest number of prisoners in the world and that George W Bush oversaw 152 executions when he was governor of Texas.

It would be nonsensical to support the 'separatist' call of Lone and others by citing Quebec province's quest to be separated from the Canadian Federation. There the Supreme Court accepts a referendum verdict as a means to grant that separation because the Canadian Constitution has an enabling provision. In India, on the other hand, the nation's constitution does not permit secession and, therefore, does not permit 'plebiscite' or 'referendum' on any issue. Then why and how should Lone & Co be permitted to continue with their 'separatist' demand? And their talk of the wish of the people of 'Kashmir' in deciding the future status of their state, what if, tomorrow, the people of Nagaland wish to be separate of India, and if, day after tomorrow, Tamilians want a separate nation for themselves? Should we grant these 'separatists' their wishes?

The people of J&K are in no way different from the remaining citizens of India excepting that they have special rights denied to others in India and are even otherwise the most appeased people of India though the Muslim majority Kashmir valley has hardly ever shown its gratitude for what the country has bestowed on the state in several ways.

All they do, these valley people, is crib and cry for more.

The villain of the piece, it would seem, is the Government of India's own timidity on the subject of 'separatism.' There was that December of 1962 when Sardar Swaran Singh, the then minister of railways, was appointed leader of the Indian delegation to Rawalpindi for starting a new round of talks on Indo-Pak problems, including J&K. Nehru's main brief to the delegation was that while India did claim full and complete sovereignty over the whole of J&K state, we would be prepared to voluntarily give up our sovereignty over some parts of our territory in an effort to reach an overall peaceful settlement. A new international line in 'Kashmir' was what Nehru intended to offer to Pakistan and his full-dress Cabinet endorsed it without a murmur. (Page 255, Outside The Archives, Sangam Books India Pvt Ltd., 1984, by Y D Gundevia, ICS, foreign secretary to Nehru.) The die had been cast for 'take away.'

Thus it was that on February 10, 1963, in Karachi, the 'Kashmir' map was on the table between Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan's PM, and Sardar Swaran Singh. Our delegation asked Bhutto to show on the map what he actually wanted. Bhutto leaned over the table and pointed to the little town of Kathua on the Kashmir-Himachal border. He drew a circle somewhere there with his forefinger and said, 'You can have this part of Kashmir. We want the rest.' (Ibid, page 280)

Memories of that nightmare were aroused by a recent report from The News of May 15 e-mailed by Varsha Bhosle. Based on Geo TV's 'Capital Talk' programme, the report said Niaz A Naik, former Pak foreign secretary, had, for the first time, disclosed on television that he had discussed the 'Chenab Formula' with Prime Minister Vajpayee and R K Mishra in 1999 as a solution to the Kashmir dispute during his back-channel diplomacy in Delhi. Naik claimed he discussed the formula with a map of J&K in front and that Vajpayee had shown 'a lot of interest' in the formula. In a nutshell, the Chenab Formula meant that J&K state would be divided between Hindu and Muslim majority areas, with the city of Srinagar and most parts of the Kashmir valley going to Pakistan as the population of these areas consist of a Muslim majority. Naik also said India and Pakistan could discuss the formula again.

This latest revelation by Naik about Vajpayee's interest in the Chenab Formula makes one suspect, nay dread, that there was more than a grain of truth in the article by senior journalist M D Nalapat, datelined New Delhi, July 9, 2001 and posted on With the Agra summit only a few days away, Nalapat wrote of 'getting reports that individuals close to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had assured their Pakistani interlocutors that he would, in effect, hand over the Kashmir valley to the jehadis in exchange for peace elsewhere.'

Whatever the authenticity of Nalapat's sources two years ago, the truth is that the entire nation must now be on full alert as Vajpayee is apparently plunging headlong into his third peace initiative. As suggested in an earlier column of this writer, the formation of an all-party council is a must to work out a secret consensus on the compromise that the nation can make on the K issue when the dialogue with Pak does come about. In the next session of Parliament, the Opposition must insist on such a council to be established urgently with a regular schedule of meetings to be held without fail. Simultaneously, a PIL needs to be filed straight away stopping the government of India from implementing any future agreement with Pakistan on the K issue until it is ratified by a two-thirds majority of the total strength of each of the two Houses of Parliament and approved by the state government of J&K as required by President of India's Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order of May 14, 1954 modifying existing Article 253 which extends to all other states.

Meanwhile, since the 'separatists' of the Sajjad Lone's People's Conference and other parties cannot be apparently silenced by law, they must be systematically exposed for what they really are: ungrateful and rabble-rousing resident non-Indians.


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Arvind Lavakare