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Article 370-The Constitutional History of J&K

Book Review By Abdul Majid Zargar

03 February, 2013

Bibliographic information:
Author A. G. NOORANI
Edition FIRST
Length 474 pages

The constitutional History of J&K is much more than simply setting forth the outlines of the state government. And when it is explained Vis-à-vis Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, it assumes more color & significance. That is what A.G.Noorani, the noted legal luminary, has done by writing an admirably clear & concise book “Article 370-The constitutional history of J&K” which brings to fore the intricate relationship between law & politics.

The book is divided into twelve chapters. The author states the theme of the book in the introduction itself which is of high quality and he succeeds in effectively setting the scene. Each chapter following the introduction, is a compendium of most valuable documents, confidential & otherwise, resolutions, letters, presidential orders & white papers arranged in such a way so as to Kashmir problem easily comprehensible.

The book essentially starts with the happenings of post 1947. Time moves on and events unfold that changes everything. The book progresses towards a disturbing crescendo, after which misunderstandings occur that force Sheikh Abdullalh & Nehru apart, not to be reunited until a decade later. In fact Sheikh is forced to leave everything behind and start a new life in politics.

The book lucidly proves with documentary evidence as to how Abdullah, to whom Kashmiris had bequeathed their sole representation rights, was out-done & out-maneuvered by New-Delhi in all departments of the political game played at initial but defining stages of constitutional evolution. Two instances will explain this. First is the unilateral change of draft article 370(at that time numbered as article 306A) by Gopalswamy Aiyengar & Moulana Abul Kalam Azad before it was adopted by Indian Constituent assembly .The duo first approached Abdullah for his consent to the required change in said Article which was turned down by him. Thereafter they made the changes on their own and got the article approved by Constituent Assembly. But what was team Abdullah(the other members being M/s Afzal Beg, Maulana Masoodi & Moti Lal Baigra) doing at that precise moment. Sitting in Parliament Canteen sipping tea or indulging in other recreational activities? They did not bother to be in the Assembly to safeguard their interests and further failed to move an amendment resolution once the treachery came to their notice. Incredible!

Another important document published in the book is the Confidential letter dated 23rd August 1974 written by Abdullah to G. Parthasarthy. Beg-Parthasarthy talks were in full swing at that point of time. Abdullah Categorically refuses to assume power unless accorded 1953 position. On 25th February 1975.the talks culminated in Abdullah being sworn as chief Minster of State and New-Delhi not agreeing to even change in nomenclature of his post. It is a matter for political scientists to unfold by a systematic research as to what happened between 23rd August 1974 to 25th February 1975, which compelled Abdullah to a meek surrender –a La issi Tankah par kam kareing-

While this book is obviously of interest to people of J&K, it should be of interest & use to others as well. There are several reasons. First, anyone interested in state constitutional history generally can use this book to gain a basic understanding of the different stages of the evolutionary process and the situation prevalent at each stage. Second, J&K has a fairly unique history. Having been forced to accede to Union of India against all norms settled for partition of sub-continent, its leaders shared some of the worst fears of the horrible incidents of partition. That is necessary for every Indian to know who along with people of J&K and Pakistan are ultimate arbiters to find a durable solution to the festering wound. The former ,particularly will come to through this book that the basement of Kashmir problem is messy which will not allow construction of a clean top floor unless drastic remedial measures are taken. This makes the book a must read for everyone concerned with Kashmir problem.

The historical detail in this book is tremendous and so evocative that it is extremely hard to put down once you have started it. The Book is of high quality and certainly a contribution in its own right. It needed to be written and it needs to be read.

(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at amzargar1@indiatimes.com)





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