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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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Keep the promise

Sir, - The Editorial `A retrograde stance' (July 28) needs to be commended. Mr. L.K. Advani was definitely playing to the BJP's hardliner gallery with his comment on denying autonomy to the Kashmiris.

If a constitutional guarantee is not upheld by the Union Government, it is a grave abdication of a responsibility and rightly invites your remark that the ``promise of special powers'' by Mr. Advani to J&K ``sounds deceptive''. It is time the Government stopped playing politics and granted the autonomy that the Constitutional guarantee in the Instrument of Accession promises Kashmiris. With the growth of greater political space, militancy is bound to fizzle out and the resources expended can be redirected towards much-needed development works. Setting out to make peace with Kashmiris should be our first task before we give in to the grand design of summit-level talks with our neighbours. If we are seen as being true to our word, who knows Kashmiris across the LoC may wish to rejoin the Indian state on their own. Cross-border terrorism will then never be a moot point again between Pakistan and India.

Mushtaqh Ali,

Chennai

Sir, - Kuldip Nayar's `Reneging

on the promise to J&K' (July 27) betrays an ignorance of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution as well as of the Constitution of India.

Though, under the Instrument of Accession, 1947, Defence, External Affairs and Communications were the only subjects on which the Dominion of India could make laws applicable to J&K, another reality is that the Constituent Assembly adopted, in November 1956, the State's Constitution in which Section 5 says, ``The executive and legislative power of the State extends to all matters except those with respect to which Parliament has power to make laws for the State under the provisions of the Constitution of India.'' New Delhi's powers thereby went much beyond the Instrument of Accession, and this fact has been enshrined in the J&K Constitution that was enacted, not by New Delhi, but after nearly five years of debate by representatives of the State, elected through adult universal suffrage in 1951.

Any demand for a pre-1953 status for J&K would mean the abandonment of the J&K Constitution that came into being in November 1956.

Arvind Lavakare,

Mumbai

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