‘J&K Special Provisions Must Go, Hindu Refugees Still Awaiting Justice’

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New Delhi: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Saturday appeared to lay down the next phase of the Kashmir roadmap when he called for changes in constitutional provisions relating to the state — a veiled reference to Articles 370 and 35(A).

Delivering his annual Vijaya Dashami address at RSS headquarters in Nagpur, Bhagwat lauded the armed forces’ efforts in dealing with militancy and ceasefire violation by Pakistan in the Valley, but said much still needed to be done to bring the state to the mainstream.

“For this just work, necessary constitutional amendments will have to be made and old provisions will have to be changed. Then and then only, the residents of Jammu and Kashmir can be completely assimilated with rest of Bharat and their equal cooperation and share will be possible in the national progress,” Bhagwat said in apparent references to Articles 370 and 35(A) of the Constitution.

While Article 370 gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Article 35(A) defines the state’s permanent residents and their special privileges.

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The Centre has assured state parties like the PDP, which is in alliance with the BJP in the state, and the National Conference that it had no plans to abrogate either provisions, but calls for the same are aired regularly by Right-wing leaders.

At Saturday’s event, which was also attended by BJP veteran LK Advani and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Bhagwat berated the “step-motherly treatment meted out to Jammu and Ladakh regions by previous governments”.

He said the “discriminatory” provisions have stopped refugees in the state from getting their rights.

“The problem of refugees is still not resolved in the state. For decades together, some generations are living through this miserable state of refugees for their decision to be in Bharat and remain as a Hindu…. The problems of permanent residents of state who migrated from the Pakistan occupied Jammu-Kashmir in 1947 and the people who were displaced from the Kashmir valley in 1990 are remaining as it is,” he said, the latter part referring to Kashmiri Pandits.

“We have to create conditions so that these brothers can lead a happy, dignified and secure life…. For this, necessary constitutional amendments will have to be made and old provisions will have to be changed. Then and then only, the residents of Jammu and Kashmir can be completely assimilated with the rest of Bharat.”

Bhagwat also called for “constructive connect” to the state to eradicate “the poison of alienation and unrest”.

“The need to take additional efforts in the field of education, health, livelihood and national values is also realised in the Kashmir valley and the remote border areas of Ladakh,” he said.