ARTICLE 370 TO BENEFIT THE MUSLIM MAJORITY STATE.
Date: 04 Sep 2007
“Article 370 a bridge between State, Centre”
NEW DELHI: Opposing the abrogation of Article 370, senior National Conference leader Abdul Rahim Rather on Monday described it as a bridge between the State and the Centre. Enforced in 1950, Article 370 grants a special status to Jammu & Kashmir.
Speaking on the second day of the meeting here of the working group, set up by the Prime Minister on Centre-State relations and chaired by Sagheer Ahmed, he said if this provision was removed, the two “shores” of this relationship would drift apart.
Lashing out at those who made such demands, Mr. Rather said they were ignorant of he Constitutional provisions and pointed out that Article 370 was incorporated after deliberations between the late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Demanding greater autonomy for the State, Mr. Rather — also the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly — said his party was for equitable development and balance of power among its different regions.
Mohd. Yusuf Tarigami of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) asked the working group to come up with suggestions which could be discussed. He said that at all the meetings of the working group held so far, representatives had only repeated their positions. It was now for the chairperson to pick up the threads and come up with the suggestions on improving Centre-State relations as it was a contentious issue and consensus was unlikely.
Mr. Tarigami said the people of Jammu and Kashmir should not feel that the issue was being diluted with the participants often raising other matters. He said abolition of Article 370 — as suggested by the Bharatiya Janata Party — was not the solution, and in fact, it was a ‘sacred’ provision of the Constitution that needed to be respected if the relations between the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir were to be improved.
Further, the feeling of alienation and discrimination being felt among the people of the three regions needed to be addressed urgently before it became a ‘liability.’ And, division of the regions was no solution to this. In fact, diversity was an asset and this had to be protected by creating a federal system within the State, he said.
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