Article 370 abrogation wasn’t needed as 99 pc of laws were already operational in Kashmir: Sibal

New Delhi, May 20 (PTI) Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal on Monday said the abrogation of Article 370 was a “political decision” and there was no need for it as 99 per cent of the laws of India were already operational in Kashmir.

Sibal also said that he does not see assembly elections being held in Kashmir unless the results on June 4 are different, an apparent reference to the possibility of the INDIA bloc emerging victorious.

He also said Kashmir is not an India-Pakistan issue anymore but one that is between our government and the people of Kashmir.

Speaking at the launch of the book ‘Covert: The Psychology of War and Peace’ by A S Dulat, Asad Durrani and Neil K Aggarwal, Sibal said after August 5, 2019, when Article 370 of the Constitution was abrogated, the die was cast.

“Actually you did not need to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution for the simple reason that 99 per cent of the laws of India were already applicable in Kashmir, they were already in operation in Kashmir,” said the noted lawyer who had argued in the Supreme Court against the scrapping of the controversial provision that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“So there was no need to abrogate Article 370 but the reason why they abrogated Article 370 was nothing to do with laws, it is something to do with your political decision,” Sibal, who is an Independent Rajya Sabha MP, said.

“You (government) want to tell the people of this country ‘See, we did it’,” Sibal said.

What impact that has on the psyche of Kashmir is perhaps one will have to look into in the next book, Sibal said to the authors.

“What impact it will have on the people of Kashmir we still don’t know. Perhaps only time will tell what impact it will have.

“I remember our Home Minister (Amit Shah) saying ‘We will soon have elections in Kashmir when everything is stabilized’. That was in Parliament in 2019 and we are in 2024 down the road and they don’t talk about assembly elections at all,” Sibal said.

The government has to have parliamentary elections because the Constitution enjoins them to do so, he said.

“But the fact of the matter is that they are Union territories and if you want to bring back statehood they have to have elections and the consequence of elections we do not know,” he said.

The Home Minister does not know the outcome because then the people will come and vote, he said.

“The consequences of that nobody knows. Nobody wants to take that risk. So I feel they will not have elections, it will continue like this and the only way elections will be held is if the results on June 4 are different,” Sibal said.

Talking about the subject of the book, Sibal also said that in the book Dulat and Durrani realise that people on both sides want peace but it is those in power who don’t want peace as it does not suit them.

“The cost of peace is much greater than the cost of war because the cost of peace would mean losing an election, the cost of peace may mean giving up PoK, the cost of peace means that all you have said in the last 70 years doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

“It is easy to have the status quo but people are getting killed, (however) it doesn’t really matter,” he said.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah said Kashmir has been like a “football” between India and Pakistan.

He said both India and Pakistan must end hostilities, asserting that he stated earlier that Pakistan is not wearing bangles and could use atom bombs and asked wouldn’t the Indian side retaliate.

Abdullah said his remarks were given a “political twist” when he was talking about how the two sides must end the “hatred” between them.

He also accused the government of creating divisions in society and said, “As a Muslim, I feel sad that this is not the India that I dreamt of”.

Abdullah said that at a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370, he told the PM, “You don’t trust us and we don’t trust you.”

While Dulat is a former Secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing from 1999 to 2000, Asad Durrani is a former Director General of the Pakistan Army’s military intelligence and Aggarwal is a psychiatrist.

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