People of Jammu and Kashmir are being denied their rights and social security benefits under schemes launched by Union Government because of Article 370 of Constitution of India and the nation needs to debate whether this temporary constitutional provision should continue. This opinion was expressed by Mr Arun Kumar of Jammu Kashmir Study Centre in a seminar organized by the Chandigarh Chapter of the Study centre in Panjab University here. He recalled that during the recent Vidhan Sabha election campaign Congress Party Chief Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has underlined the fact that so far we have not been able to give the benefit of SC/ST reservation and food security to people of Jammu and Kashmir. These laws are in force in the entire country and the present scenario suggests our failure to enforce rights to equality of opportunity and social justice in the entire territory of India.
He said Article 370 is holding back benefits of welfare legislation to poor people of Jammu and Kashmir and time has come to debate the role of Article 370 in development of the State and people of J&K. He said the relief campaign run by Government and people of India has made people of J&K realize that entire country stands with them in time of crises. He accused the current rulers of the state of twisting facts about central government policies for political benefit. He was of the view that Government should directly interact with people of the state rather than through agents and interlocutors.
Prof Kuldip Chand Agnihotri, a Kashmir expert and Vice Chairman of Punjab School Education Board, said most of the Muslim tribes of Jammu and Kashmir are keen to remain in India. The Government should have talked to them about their problems rather than talking to Gilanis, Saiyads and Hurriyat etc. He pointed out that all Indian states had joined India in the terms of entirely identical accession treaties but our English media, mischievously, portrays accession of Jammu-Kashmir and Arunachal in different terms.
Mr Satya Pal Jain, Dean Faculty of laws highlighting the legal positions of article 370 and more importantly article 35A. He said that without taking the Indian Parliament into confidence, though Parliament alone had the power to amend or not amend the Constitution, President added to article 35 the atrocious Article 35A which was enforced in Jammu & Kashmir through the Constitution (Applicable to Jammu & Kashmir) Order of May 1954.
Mr Ashutosh Bhatnagar, Director of J&K Study Centre said after Pakistani occupation of Jammu and Kashmir areas like Gilgit, Baltistan and Muzaffarabad India has lost direct land route contact with European countries. This contact can result in immense growth in our trade with European countries. These areas are important for their water resources too.
Mr Tenzing Dava, programme director of Chandigarh based Commonwealth centre said Laddakh is an area with very rich tourism potential but the government is not paying attention to connectivity and education of the people of the region.
Prof Tankeshwar Kumar, Convener, presented vote of thanks and Mr. Jai Kumar Gupta, secretary Chandigarh chapter of Jammu Kashmir Study Centre introduced the speakers. Deapak Balyan, Additional advocate General managed the stage. Distinguished personalities like Shri Gian Chand Gupta, MLA Panchkula, Mr. Chetan Mittal, Assistant Solicitor General of India, Mr. Divesh Moudgil, Deputy Mayor, Shri Rameshwar Ji, Mr Charanjit Rai, many academicians, advocates, social workers, students, Kashmiri migrants, Mirpur sabha members attended the symposium.