RSS Think Tank Speaks Up For SCs In Kashmir

13 October 2015
The Hindu
Vikas Pathak

New Delhi: An RSS-related think tank is seeking to mobilise opinion on the Kashmir issue in terms of the rights of Scheduled Castes and women. The Kashmir issue has always been important for the Sangh Parivar, but the discourse around it is undergoing a subtle shift. As distinct from the familiar focus on India's oneness, the concomitant demand for repeal of Article 370 that grants Jammu and Kashmir special status, and the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, the Jammu and Kashmir Study Centre is invoking the rights of marginal groups to attack the State's special status. The Study Centre has RSS point man to Jammu and Kashmir Arun Kumar as its mentor and has former key ABVP Delhi state functionary Ashutosh Bhatnagar as its general secretary. On Monday, the organisation criticised the Jammu and Kashmir High Court's recent judgment that Article 370 was beyond the amending powers of the Constitution. The petition that led to the judgment had challenged the extension of SC-ST reservation in promotions in the State as per the 77th constitutional amendment Act. For, no Presidential Order had been issued for the same, a procedural requirement under Article 370. Urging the NDA government to get the required Presidential Order issued to extend quota in promotion benefits to the State's Dalits and tribals, the Study Centre said on Monday: 'The judgment creates a situation where the SCs-STs in Jammu and Kashmir would be deprived of the benefits that are available to SCs-STs in rest of India In view of this judgment the rights of around 25 lakh Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are being taken away ... .' 'The issues of Dalits, tribals and women are so important across India but it is an irony that none wants to discuss their interests in Jammu and Kashmir,' Mr. Bhatnagar told The Hindu. Article 35 A The think tank has also taken up the issue of Article 35 A of the Constitution, which, it claims, was wrongfully added as an annexure to the Constitution in 1954, bypassing the constitutional amendment procedure with a special majority of Parliament as mandated by Article 368. The think tank says this Article has denied permanent resident status to husbands and children of women marrying outside the State and made sanitation workers of the Dalit Valmiki caste stay tied to their occupation. The Study Centre lists the things one loses out when denied this status: government jobs, admission to government professional colleges, voting and property rights. Safai karmacharis Descendants of 200 Valmiki families brought in 1957 from Punjab to work as safai karmacharis can't get other jobs and admission to government professional colleges as their permanent residence status is tied to the work, the organisation says. As for women, while they retain their status if they marry outside the State, their husbands and children can't hold property, cast their vote, get admission to professional colleges or get government jobs in the State because of Article 35 A, it adds. There is a gender bias here, as the same disabilities do not apply to men marrying out of the State, the think tank underlines. It also points out that thousands of refugee families that came from west Punjab after Partition still do not have permanent residence status in the State.