In an exclusive interview with Fayaz Wani, PDP’s founding member Muzaffar Hussain Baig, who is under house arrest, said the provocative statements by mainstream politicians provoked the Centre to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A.
He said mainstream politics has now been reduced to the municipality and advised the parties to strive for granting of Article 371 and restoration of statehood to J&K.
Mainstream politicians used to say Article 370 was a bridge between India and J&K. Now that it has been revoked what is the status of J&K?
We are still Kashmir but a broken Kashmir. J&K was earlier part of India with special status but now they have integrated it with India. Constitutionally it was very difficult to remove Article 370. Sometimes power overrides constitutional restraints. The best course would have been to leave the matter to the Supreme Court, where we would have got an opportunity to argue.
Are mainstream politicians responsible for the revocation of Article 370?
The mainstream politicians are also partly responsible because some statements made by them provoked the powers in Delhi to do more than they might have wanted to do. I had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi some three weeks before abrogation of Article 370.
He did not seem to go to this far. When I suggested that judgment on Articles 370 and 35A should be left to the Supreme Court, he seemed to be quite sympathetic to my view. He said you should not worry about it. I also met Home Minister Amit Shah but he was non-committal. But some statements by politicians of mainstream parties provoked centre to revoke the law.
Is there any remedy. Can it be challenged legally?
I don’t think it will be rolled back. It can be challenged in court. But I don’t think the apex court will overturn the parliament’s order.
Now that Article 370 has gone, what should J&K politicians demand from the centre?
We should seek Article 371, which grants land and job rights to the local population. The North Eastern States and Himachal Pradesh enjoy this status. The parties should collectively demand Article 371 for J&K.
Some people say violence is the only option now?
Some people thought so in Palestine. What has happened to them now? They are fighting. The capital of Israel has shifted to Jerusalem and now nobody talks about Palestine. There was a time when only one country supported Israel but today not a single country supports Palestinians because of the gun.