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    June 2014

Does J&K still need Article 370?


The contentious issue of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which defines the “special relation” between Jammu and Kashmir and the Union of India is back in debate again. No provision in the Indian Constitution has been subjected to such heated controversy within Indian States as Article 370. Though the ruling BJP argues that there ought to be no bar against the repeal of Article 370 as it discriminates Kashmiris from other Indian citizens in the rest of the country, the question is can the State win the battle of hearts and minds by forcibly imposing its ideology. Our Cover Story echoes the voices from the Valley as well as brings to BT readers the perspective against continuation of the controversial Article. During the last six decades, Kashmiris under the successive Governments at the Centre have been subjected to violence at both physical and psychological levels. The most visible atrocity is the violence resorted to by the Indian Army to establish forcible control over the populace. Today Article 370 is a hollow shell but its significance as a psychological tool of being “special” is there and that emotion has built a bridge between the Kashmiris and the Government of India. However, it is also a point to ponder that even after six decades, why there is no feeling of inclusion among the Kashmiris? Why they still need a special provision to call themselves Indians? Is it not the failure of the successive State and Central Governments? The argument against Article 370 that it was a “temporary provision” and therefore should be abrogated cannot be ignored either. The need of the hour is to debate the issue and devise a transparent interpretation of the Article, keeping in mind the emotions and sentiments of the Kashmiris for which it is meant. It is also the responsibility of the Army Chief, Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, to ensure that the Army goes extra mile to win the hearts and minds of the people in the Valley.  Also in this issue, we have a detailed story on the Supreme Court order which empowered the CBI to probe and prosecute senior bureaucrats without the Centres sanction. The order is a welcome move as it stripped the senior IAS officers of the “elite tag” under the garb of which they were till now getting protection in corruption cases. With the Supreme Court judgment, the CBI Director, an IPS officer, became more powerful than the Cabinet Secretary, the top most bureaucrat of the country who is an officer of the IAS cadre. However, there should be a mechanism to check that the investigative agency does not misuse its powers to harass senior officials to settle personal scores which can seriously hamper Government functioning.

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