‘Why delay Kashmir’s integration with India?’: late CM Jayalalitha’s RS speech in 1984

Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalitha as the MP of Rajya Sabha, through her inspiring speech on various topic from Women empowerment to Hindi Cricket commentary, did impress many leaders including MGR, Indira Gandhi.

During one of her speeches, Jayalalithaa had articulated her views on Jammu and Kashmir and the Article 370 during a speech she delivered as an AIADMK member 35 years back on July 26, 1984 days after the Farooq Abdullah government was dismissed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Here is her speech:

At the outset I wish to make one point very clear. It is my own strong conviction as well as the staunch belief and precept of the A.I.A.D.M.K. – that such a constitutional provision should not be allowed to exist in a democracy whereby, a democratically elected government which has won the popular mandate of the people, can be dismissed and thrown out of office with a mere flourish of a pen on paper – with one single stroke of a pen – whereby the signature of one individual has the power to render null and void – the mandate – the sanction and authority to govern a State, which has been bestowed by several millions of people. Jammu & Kashmir is one of the most sensitive border States of India. It is an indisputable fact that various foreign powers have been consistently trying to infiltrate and utilise this State to achieve their own nefarious ends – detrimental to the interest of India. We are faced with the threat of destabilisation both in the North-East and the North-West where secessionist movements are being carried on – which amount practically to unending armed insurgency. Jammu & Kashmir is one such region. There can be no disagreement on the imperative need for particularly strong and tight security in this region. Anyone who has the welfare of India at heart will agree that we cannot afford any laxity in the matter of security and vigilance in this State. We must review some of the recent happenings in Jammu & Kashmir and the explanations that were given in relation to these incidents. Last year on August 15, during the Independence Day parade at the main stadium in Srinagar – when the then Chief Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah was taking the salute, a crude bomb was hurled and went off in the midst of the stadium. One day earlier, on August 14th – Pakistan’s Independence Day – there were scenes of jubilation in various parts of Kashmir. The Pakistani national flag was hoisted on Indian Soil.

But when our own Indian National Independence day was being observed the next day – bombs were hurled to disrupt the celebrations. Next, there was also an attempt to blow up a transmission tower on top of Srinagar’s Hari Parbat using high explosives. Again in October there was the infamous incident in Srinagar, when the one-day cricket match between India and the West Indies was nearly abandoned as agitating hordes broke through the fencing and pelted the Indian players with stones. These militant elements raised slogans of “Pakistan Zindabad” and attacked our Indian cricketers. On that day our Indian players remarked “Are we in India or Pakistan? We really wonder whether we are playing in our own country.” Our cricketers could not go beyond making such mild comments. But when such disturbing incidents occur in succession, what is one to make of them? Are we not led to believe that anti-national elements were given a free hand to assert their presence and militancy in Kashmir? What was the action taken with regard to these incidents? The State Government took a very ambient, leisurely view of these matters. No timely action was taken. No proper investigation was conducted. Finally the Union Home Minister was compelled to begin an independent inquiry into the incidents. When Maqbool Butt the secessionist and terrorist was hanged for murder in Tihar Jail last February 11, he was glorified as a martyr in Kashmir by various groups, who led demonstrations protesting against his execution, and forced the closure of shops and offices. Now I personally, am not trying to insinuate that Dr. Farooq Abdullah has any covert or overt links with Pakistan – but it is very interesting to note that similar protests and demonstrations were held in Pakistan at the same time. All these happenings are a clear indicaion of the extent to which anti-national elements; secessionists, terrorists and’ extremists have been allowed to flourish and gain strength in Kashmir in recent times. So far 7 Indian Airlines planes and 2 Air India planes have been involved in hijackings. Five of them have been hijacked to Lahore in Pakistan. Out of these, in 3 incidents it is noteworthy that the hijackers boarded the plane at Srinagar airport in Kashmir. There were serious charges that secessionists and terrorists were being given combat training in several camps in Kashmir. To these accusations the then Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Dr. Farooq Abdullah replied, that it was only religious training and could not be interfered with or stopped.

Afghan rebels are being given training in arms in Pakistan. We all know the identity of the foreign powers which are supplying the weapons and the finances for such training. When the Government of Afghanistan makes this charge what is the explanation that the Pakistan Government offers with regard to this? The same explanation that Farooq Abdullah preferred that it is only religious training. Does this not provide food for thought? With reference to the recent occurrences in Punjab – vast quantities of weapons and highly sophisticated arms were discovered which had been stockpiled by terrorists involved in the incidents there. There was another serious charge levelled by the Centre that the weapons were smuggled from Pakistan through Kashmir to reach Punjab. What was Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s reaction to this extremely grave charge? Dr. Farooq Abdullah replied that it was not the responsibility of the State Government. He contended that the State Police was responsible only for maintaining law and order in the State – and could not be expected to keep a watch over smuggling activities. He insisted that it was essentially the Central Government’s responsibility to maintain vigilance with regard to smuggling of weapons through the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Dr. Farooq Abdullah has been making repeated declarations about his undiluted patriotism, and his unshaken fervent belief in national unity and stability. Personally, I do not doubt Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s loyalty to the nation, to India. But does not his reply to the Centre contradict his own claim about his patriotism? How are we to reconcile his assertion of unshaken loyalty to India with his reply to the Central Government? When the Centre discloses that weapons have been smuggled from a foreign country into India through the State of Jammu & Kashmir – the then Chief Minister responds with the contention that it is not the job of the State Government to keep a watch over such activities. What conclusion would one logically deduce from an answer such as this? Is this the reply expected from a patriotic Indian citizen holding the responsible office of Chief Minister of a sensitive border State? I would request everyone concerned to carefully consider the sequence of events in Jammu & Kashmir during the past one year – and the explanations that were given in relation to those events by the persons responsible for the administration of the State. Because I say this, it does not mean that we support the dismissal of the Farooq Abdullah Government.

The A.I.A.D.M.K. Government in Tamil Nadu was dismissed in 1980. Whatever feelings we experienced then, when our State Government was dismissed, we feel the same when we consider the fate of the Farooq Abdullah Government in Jammu & Kashmir. But we must also bear in mind certain other important points in this connection. With reference to the change effected in the Jammu & Kashmir State Government many political parties in the country are denouncing it as a “murder of democracy”. My question is this: How many of these parties have the moral right to do so? One of the parties which is crying itself hoarse about this murder of democracy is the D.M.K. It is the leader of the same D.M.K. who played a key role in bringing about the dismissal of the A.I.A.D.M.K. Government in Tamil Nadu in 1980. The D.M.K. leader camped in New Delhi for several days exclusively for this purpose. He persuaded those at the Centre to dismiss the A.I.A.D.M.K. Government. The very next day after the dismissal was announced, the D.M.K. leader returned to Madras triumphantly. The next morning, when he landed at Meenambakkam Airport in Madras he was accorded a rousing, tremendous reception and hailed as a conquering hero by his partymen. He was garlanded profusely. For what? For bringing about the dismissal of the A.I.A.D.M.K. Government, a Government democratically elected with the overwhelming support of the people. But the very same D.M.K. leader today denounces the change in the Jammu & Kashmir State Government as a murder of democracy. Is this not the greatest irony, the biggest, bitterest joke of the 20th century? The A.I.A.D.M.K. firmly believes in the principle that any democratically elected Government should be allowed to function for its full period. This is our firm policy. At the same time the A.I.A.D.M.K. also maintains that any activity which leads to the disintegration of the country or endangers the security and unity of the nation should not be permitted – not only in a sensitive border State – but in any State in the Indian Union. Another party which condemns this so-called murder of democracy is the Janata Party. The Janata Party, I presume, is a national party. At least that is what we were led to believe until recently. I have a great deal of respect and regard for the Janata Party leaders.

But let us take a look at Karnataka. It is the Janata Party which is in power in that State. The Janata Government in Karnataka has decided to accept in toto – the recommendations of the Sarojini Mahishi Committee’s report on job reservation opportunities in public sector undertakings. The recommendations essentially boil down to two dangerously disruptive demands – namely – that in public sector industrial and commercial undertakings in Karnataka – 80% of jobs should be reserved exclusively for Kannadigas – and secondly – the remaining 20% jobs should be given only to those who know the Kannada language. Both demands are dangerously chauvinistic and parochial – containing every element guaranteed to undermine Indian unity and destroy the common rights of Indian citizenship. Yet the Janata Party Government in Karnataka has accepted these recommendations in toto. This is all the more amazing since the Janata party claims to be an all-India party and therefore answerable to the people living in the different States of the Indian Union. If all States were to follow this principle what would happen? The Indian Union would cease to be one country – but get reduced to different countries. Today, when the Farooq Abdullah government is dismissed in Jammu & Kashmir under the provisions of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir – the Janata Party denounces this as a gross violation of democracy. Yet when the same Janata Party came to power at the Centre in 1977 – did it not dismiss several non-Janata State Governments, making use of Article 356 of the Constitution of India? Arguments may be advanced, differentiating between the merits of each case. But the plain unvarnished truth is that when it had the power to do so – the Janata Party did not hesitate to make use of that power, to do exactly what it is protesting against so vehemently today. Next, let us consider the Telugu Desam Party, which is most vociferous in denouncing this murder of democracy. On his return from the United States of America, the Telugu Desam leader, Andhra Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao has gone on record saying that India has made no progress at all in the 37 years after Independence. The Telugu Desam leader is full of praise and is all adulation for Yankee enterprise and Yankee culture.

He has gone to the extent of saying that the American roads are more beautiful than the bedrooms of Indian houses. Yet Mr. N.T. Rama Rao the leader of the Telugu Desam Party tries to project himself as a patriot and a national leader. One can say that one’s State, or one’s community or the poor and underprivileged sections of the country have not progressed sufficiently, but how can one say that the country as a whole has not progressed at all? It should be borne in mind that in 1947 the population of India was 30 crores. Today in 1984, it is 75 crores. In the 37 years since Independence India’s population has more than doubled itself. Despite the severe economical restraints – inspite of having to shoulder the massive burden of caring for, feeding and housing such a vast population – nearly one-sixth of the entire human race in the world today – yet, India has emerged as a colossus among developing countries. Today India is considered a major force to reckon with, respected even by the world’s super powers. India has taken gigantic strides forward in the fields of industry – energy – science and technology. Despite our enormous handicaps, still India has succeeded in establishing itself as one among the 10 nuclear countries in the world. We have sent a scientific team to Antarctica. We have sent an Indian into space. India has several magnificent achievements to her credit. How can anybody say India has made no progress at all? Unfortunately, the Telugu Desam Chief Minister does not seem to regard all this as progress. Does the leader of the Telugu Desam Party, who so openly declares that he is ashamed of his own country – have any moral right to speak about the murder of democracy in this country? Has he not murdered the image of India in the eyes of the world? Now Mr. N.T. Rama Rao has gone to the U.S.A. again for heart surgery. We extend our best wishes to him for a total recovery and for a long life. Before his departure, while referring to the daily allowance in foreign exchange permitted to him by the Government of India – Mr. N.T. Rama Rao angrily asked – “Am I a coolie to be given such a paltry amount as daily allowance?” Is this sort of attitude democratic? I have mentioned these issues only in order to make one point.

Amongst the various political parties which are raising a hue and cry about the murder of democracy in Jammu & Kashmir, and claim to be interested in national unity and the welfare of India – whether it be the D.M.K., the Janata – or the Telugu Desam – these parties should first do some soul searching themselves – and others should also give deep thought to the same question – as to whether these parties can truly claim to be national or democratic in character and outlook. I would like to remind them that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. It has been announced that a session of the State Legislative Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir will be convened very shortly – and an opportunity will be given to both groups of the National Conference – to prove on the floor of the House which group has a real majority and is constitutionally entitled to form the Government. Meanwhile – the main issue has yet to be resolved – as to which is the real National Conference – and whether the defectors have voting rights or not. Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s Government has been far from ideal. I am not holding any brief for Dr. Farooq Abdullah. However I do strongly submit that instead of allowing a government based on defections to administer Jammu & Kashmir – it would be better to place the State under Governor’s Rule – until such time as the Centre decides fresh elections may be held. In conclusion – I wish to point out that so long as such a provision which deals with dissolution of a State Assembly or dismissal of a State Government is retained whether it be the Constitution of India or the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir it is bound to be used again and again by the Central Government – irrespective of which party is in power at the Centre. Given certain circumstances, no Central Government can resist the temptation to make use of this provision in the Constitution to suit its own ends. The Congress-I Party has made use of Article 356 to dismiss non-Congress-I State Governments. The Janata Party has also made use of it to dismiss non-Janata State Governments. As mentioned earlier, we ourselves, the A.I.A.D.M.K. have been victims of this provision in the Constitution. The dismissal of the Farooq Abdullah Government in Jammu & Kashmir under the provisions of its separate Constitution is nothing new. It is not the first, nor is it going to be the last such instance in Indian history after Independence _ as long as such a Constitutional provision is allowed to remain. Therefore – if we really want to prevent the recurrence of such undesirable events again – the one and only way is to abolish – to scrap – to completely do way with Article 356 of the Constitution. There is no other way.

Finally – I now pose 2 Questions to the Hon. Minister for Home Affairs – 1. Will the Centre consider placing Jammu & Kashmir under Governor’s rule? 2. Why delay Jammu & Kashmir being integrated with the rest of the Indian Union and why not bring it under the purview of the Constitution of India, – in conformity with all the other States of the Indian Union?

Courtesy: TNE

Read full speeches of Jayalalitha here.