Centre moots granting compensatory Article 371 to J&K

A group of senior politicians from Kashmir which includes PDP patron and former deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beig have already given an indication that they were willing to settle for Article 371.

The Central Government has mooted the idea of granting Article 371 to the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as compensation for the revocation of Article 370, which granted the erstwhile state special status.

Sources told DH that Union Home Ministry has sent a proposal to J&K Law Department for feedback in this regard. “The proposal is currently being deliberated and contours of the new arrangement are being discussed threadbare,” they revealed.

A senior official while confirming the development said by mooting the idea of Article 371 for J&K, the Center was trying to draw the contours of post-Article 370 Kashmir politics.

“The arrangement may be based on the pattern of neighbouring Himachal Pradesh to protect the interests of locals. But the effort is still tentative in nature,” he added.

The demand to grant Article 371 as compensation for revoking Article 370, has gained momentum not only in the Muslim majority Kashmir Valley but in the Hindu dominated Jammu region in the last few months.

Jammu-based parties have demanded that stringent laws on domicile be enforced to safeguard the interests of the state.

Gulchain Singh Charak, former minister and president of Jammu-based socio-political organisation Dogra Sadar Sabha, said: “The domicile certificate should only be issued to persons who have spent a minimum of 30 years in J&K. This is a must to protect the state’s identity.”

He also said the government should not permit any non-local to set up an industry that already exists in the region.

Another former minister and president of Jammu-based National Panthers Party Harsh Dev Singh, said, “Only J&K residents should be entitled to jobs in the Union Territory and outsiders should not be allowed to purchase land.”

A group of senior politicians from Kashmir, which includes PDP patron and former deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig, have already given an indication that they were willing to settle for Article 371.

“We are a hill state and the Constitution has provided special provisions under Article 371 for all the hill states with domicile rights like those they enjoyed under Article 35A,” said Baig last month.

However, it is not clear whether he enjoys the blessing of his party in pressing the demand. PDP President Mehbooba Mufti is in jail and for the time being, her daughter Iltija is operating her Twitter handle. But no tweet from her showing support or disapproval for Baig’s activities has been posted so far.

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