Centre eroding Kashmir’s distinct identity: Lawmaker

Srinagar, June 7 (IANS) An independent lawmaker in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday vowed to protect his state’s “distinct identity” and accused successive governments at the Centre of “colonial behaviour”.

“Delhi has played with our sentiments and reneged on its promises. But, unfortunately our local leaders, be it National Conference or Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, have surrendered our national pride to save their chair,” legislator Engineer Rashid said at a public meet in Srinagar.

He said Jammu and Kashmir has its own flag, constitution and anthem which were guaranteed by parliament through the 1952 Delhi Agreement.

“Today we ask the Indian leadership to restore the Delhi Agreement and live up to their promise. This is the only way to bridge the gap and alienation between Srinagar and Delhi,” Rashid said at a meet he called “State-flag day”.

On this day in 1952, the then Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly adopted the state’s flag.

Rashid – the legislator from Langate in Kupwara district – demanded June 7 be named “State Flag Day” and declared a holiday in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The Constituent Assembly had passed a resolution regarding the flag, that it will be rectangular, red in colour with three equidistant vertical lines next to the staff and a white plough in the middle with its handle facing the strips.

“Twenty-one members of the assembly, including Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Mirza Afzal Beigh, Kirshan Dev Sethi, gave speeches, but not a single one of them used the word ‘J&K state’ but referred it as a country and promised to protect its distinct status, irrespective of caste, creed, colour or religion,” he said.

Rashid said accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the union of India in 1947 was on “certain conditions” which have to be respected.

“We are not begging before Delhi. If you won’t honour this flag of ours, people here will have no option but to waive green flags,” he said, in a reference to separatists waving Pakistani flags at a recent rally.

“Syama Prasad Mukherjee’s dream of one country, one constitution and one flag slogan won’t work here,” he said, referring to the Jana Sangh leader’s opposition to the state’s separate constitutional status.

Rashid said Article 370 of the Constitution, that accords special status to Kashmir, should be restored to its original position.

“If the article goes, so will go the state’s accession with India. Article 370 acts as a bridge and its threads hold Jammu and Kashmir with India,” he added.

Rashid accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-Peoples Democratic Party ruling alliance of pushing Kashmiris to the wall, and Chief Minister Sayeed of dancing to the tunes of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

He also accused the government of conspiring to appoint non-locals and non-Muslims to key posts in the state administration.

“I am not a communal person. Non-Muslims constitute 25 percent, give them their share. But what about the rest of the people? You (government) are creating a dangerous situation here,” he said.

He accused Kashmiri Pandits of “reaping benefits” under the garb of being victims.

“Pandits have every right to return but tell me how many of them were killed for raising the Indian flag here?”

“They (Pandits) claim to be victims but it was actually Kashmiri Muslims who were killed either in the name of militants, policemen or as supporters of pro-India groups,” he said.

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