Even after IAF pilot’s release, peace on ‘crutches’ in Kashmir

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Ishtyaq Ahmad

Srinagar, Mar 1: With Pakistan releasing the Indian Army Force Pilot (IAF) Abhinandan Vardhaman who landed in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) after his fighter jet crashed and was held captive, tensions in Kashmir started seemingly decreased but fresh fear gripped the valley after Delhi sanctioned reservation to border residents in jobs in the State. The Centre’s move to approve reservations to the border residents of Jammu and Kashmir and to ban the socio-religious organization, Jamaat-e-Islami in Kashmir has triggered fresh fear in the troubled region.
On Thursday Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that “as a peace and good-will gesture” they would release IAF wing commander Abhinandan on Friday. The decision triggered fresh hopes of peace in Kashmir that has been in the tight grip of war-hysteria since past one week. As Abhinandan’s home coming was expected a reason to renewed peace in Kashmir, what has punctured the peace balloon is that fresh controversy triggered by Government of India by getting sanction to amend the 1954 act to extend the reservation in jobs border residents and those living close to International Border and Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The move, has been seen as the direct interference and a sorts of tempering with the State’s special status guaranteed by the Article 370 with experts believing that when State is under governor’s rule, Centre can’t get direct approval from the Governor who is its “own nominee” and extend the Central law to the state.
Muzamil Jaleel, a senior journalist from Kashmir working with the Indian Express, took to his facebook account to explain his point on the development that has triggered fresh fears across Kashmir.
“The Central government cannot amend 1954 presidential order on the recommendation of its own nominee. It has to get consent of State government which means elected government. The order is in total violation of Article 370. The previous time such a situation happened was during Jagmohan’s time and the challenge to it by Abdul Rahim Rather and Muhammad Shafi Uri is pending with High Court,” Jaleel wrote. “This order has serious ramifications especially because previous state governments have never allowed this. This is a single step away from doing away with 35A. Let’s see how National Conference and PDP react. The intent is crystal clear.”
Senior advocate with the Kashmir High Court Bar Association G N Shah said the step taken by the GoI has serious connotations. “The issue is how the Centre could get consent of Governor when there is no state government. The step is in brazen violation of the Article 370 and we at the Bar association will deliberate it threadbare,” he said.
The former chief minister of the State, Omar Abdullah also reacted to the development. “Though the presidential order by itself may not raise alarm, the method adopted is highly objectionable. Governor has no power to give concurrence to application of a constitutional provision. It is only an elected Government,” Omar wrote on his Twitter handle.
As for the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, sources said that the JRL is in close contact with the reputed lawyers of Kashmir to decide whether to protest the Centre’s decision of extending job reservation to border residents. With peace in Kashmir on the sword’s edge, what has further added to the trouble is Centre’s decision of banning Jamaat-e-Islami amid crackdown on its entire leadership. The centre has asserted that JeI was for the secession and its workers were working to carve out a separate Islamic State out of Jammu and Kashmir as it disputes the J&Ks accession with union of India. (KNS)