News Wrap


Jammu's "Nationalist" Bar Association are on an indefinite strike from 02 November 2019, protesting against former governor Satya Pal Malik's 22 October 2019 order that transferred from the judiciary to the revenue department, the power to register land documents in Jammu and Kashmir. Paper work will now be done by revenue officials, rather than the lawyers, hundreds of whom will be left virtually jobless. Malik's order sanctioned the creation of a new department of registration, under the central law, Registration Act (1908), for the registration of documents, relating to immovable property. This department will function under the revenue department. The J and K administration is following the practice that exists in the rest of India. A key reason for the scrapping of J and K's special status was to bring its laws in line with the rest of the country. The lawyers are demanding that the land-document related registration powers should continue to be vested with the judicial authorities.

Ambedkar on Kashmir & 370
Ambedkar's well-documented spee-ches, writings and parliamentary debates, which are available on the ministry of External Affairs' website, make it evident that he sought a quick solution for the Kashmir issue and had, in fact advocate a plebiscite.

Ambedkar even said that, 'the Partition was the right solution for Kashmir'. In a speech Ambedkar rendered in the Parliament on 10 October, 1954, while resigning from Nehru's cabinet, he said, "Give the Hindu and Buddhist part to India, and the Muslim part to Pakistan, as we did in the case of India. We are really not concerned with the Muslim part of Kashmir. It is a matter between the Muslims of Kashmir and Pakistan. They may decide the issue as they like".

He had specifically suggested a zonal plebiscite and said, "…If you like, divide it into three parts the Cease-fire zone, the Valley and the Jammu-Ladhakh Region, and have a plebiscite only in the Valley. What I am afraid of is that in the proposed plebiscite, which is to be an overall plebiscite, the Hindus and Buddhists of Kashmir are likely to be dragged into Pakistan against their wishes and we may have to face the same problems as we are facing today in East Bengal".

Hence, far from wanting Kashmir to remain a part of India under the compromise formula of Article 370, Ambedkar was of the view to give the Muslim part to Pakistan. Quite the opposite of what the Prime Minister or Mayawati have been saying in public. Unsurprisingly, the Nehru government didn't accept Ambedkar's suggestions.

In another speech in 1953, during a parliamentary debate on India's foreign policy, Ambedkar said, "The key note of our foreign policy is to solve the problems of the other countries, and not to save the problems of our own. We have here the problem of Kashmir. We have never succeeded in solving it. Everybody seems to have forgotten that it is a problem. But I suppose, some day, we may wake up and find that the ghost is there".

There is no evidence to show that Ambedkar was against Article 370.

Referring to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Ambedkar said, "Parliament has no room to make any provision with regard to the representation of Kashmir". He had also mentioned that the J&K government is supreme. "The Article relating to Kashmir says that only Article 1 applies, that is to say, Kashmir is part of the territories of India. The application of the other provisions of the Constitution, that Article says, will depend upon the President, who may in consultation with the Government of Kashmir, apply the rest of the Articles with India.

So, what about the quote that Vice President Naidu and Union Minister Meghwal have used in their articles pertaining to Ambedkar and Article 370? This is how they quoted Dr Ambedkar, "You want India to defend Kashmir, feed its people, give Kashmiris equal rights all over India. But you want to deny India and Indians all rights in Kashmir. I am a Law Minister of India, I cannot be a party to such a betrayal of national interests".

But here's the interesting thing. This quote is not a part of any official government record.

We found that this quote appeared in an article written by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Balraj Madhok which was published in the RSS mouthpiece, on 14 November, 2004.

It is said that the quote was based on a compensation between Madhok and Ambedkar, however, there is no proof of the same.

One may as well ask: When Ambedkar spoke to fearlessly and in such as articulate names on so many issues of national interest, including Kashmir, why did he never express the views being claimed by the current leadership in the Parliament in a publicly made speech?

While the abrogation of Article 370 may have its merits as well as demerits, political leaders and sections of the media have misrepresented facts to shape public opinion on Kashmir's special status.

How else could Ambedkar have gone from being a supporter of plebiscite to someone who opposed Article 370.

Terrorist Attacks In Mali
Northern Mali came under the control of Al-Qaeda linked jihadists, after Mali's army failed to squash a rebellion in 2012. A French-led military campaign was launched against the jihadists, pushing them back a year later. The jihadists have regrouped, and widened their hit and run raids, and landmine attacks to central and southern Mali. The violence has also spilt into Burkina Faso and Niger where militants have exploited existing inter communal strife, leaving hundreds dead. Fifty three soldiers were killed on 01 Nov 2019, in a "Terrorist attack" on a Mali military post in the northeast of Mali. A civilian was also killed at the outpost in Indelimane, in the Menaka region, close to the border with Niger. Reinforements have been despatched to secure the area, and hunt down the attackers. The attack comes a month after two jihadist assaults killed over 60 soldiers near the border with Burkina Faso. The deadly assault of 01 November sparked protests outside a military camp, in Mali's capital Bamako. Mali's army has been struggling in the face of a jihadist revolt, that has spread from the arid north to its centre, an ethnically mixed and volatile region. The recent assaults are also a humiliation for the so-called G5 Sahel force, a much publicised initiative, under which five countries created a joint 5000—man anti terror force, and for France which is committed to shoring up the fragile region. On 02 November 2019, a French corporal, Ronal Pointeau, aged 24, died after an armoured vehicle in which he was travelling, hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), near the city of Menaka. Pointeau and his colleagues were escorting a convoy between the cities of Gao and Menaka.

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Vol. 52, No. 25, Dec 22 - 28, 2019