On 5 August, the Narendra Modi government effectively abrogated Article 370 and divided the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. On being questioned during a discussion in the Rajya Sabha, the home minister Amit Shah had claimed that Article 370 was “anti-women and anti-Dalit.” Shah said, “What is the percentage of OBC there? OBCs are unable to get reservation there. Tribal and Dalit people are not given political reservation, which is why behen Mayawati’s party has supported this decision.” He also said that after Article 370 was removed, Kashmir would become an inalienable part of India.
According to RK Kalsotra, however, Shah lied in the Parliament. Kalsotra is a member of the All India Confederation of SC, ST, OBC (Jammu and Kashmir). He has been working for the rights of the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes communities since 1990. He noted that the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir had a provision for reservation. “The government of Hindustan is targeting the people of Jammu and Kashmir by placing the gun on the shoulders of Dalit, Adivasi and OBC people,” he said.
Nawal Kishor Kumar, the editor of Forward Press Hindi, interviewed Kalsotra at the latter’s home in Jammu on the government’s decision on Article 370.
Nawal Kishor Kumar: Questions regarding reservation in Jammu and Kashmir have been raised before as well. Is it true that Jammu and Kashmir does not have any provision for reservation?
RK Kalsotra: I was surprised when I read that the union home minister Amit Shah had said so. He is lying. There are provisions for reservation at government jobs. However, these reservations came into effect in Jammu and Kashmir twenty years after the Constitution had guaranteed the whole of India the benefits of reservation. For this, we had to struggle a lot.
NKK: Why was reservation not implemented in Jammu and Kashmir earlier?
RKK: You need to understand the social history of Jammu and Kashmir. There are two groups which are majorly influential. Among Hindus, they are the Dogra Rajputs and the Kashmiri Pandits, and among Muslims, they are the upper-caste Muslims. When India became independent and there was some consensus regarding the merging of Kashmir into the Indian union, that is when the question of [Article] 370 came forth. At that time, the Dogra Rajput, Kashmiri Pandit and the upper-caste Muslims were in power. They were the ones with predominance. They did not want to extend the benefits of reservation to Dalits, OBCs, Adivasis, and nomadic communities. This is the reason why we had to struggle for reservation for twenty years. Our leader Bhagat Amar Nath martyred himself for it. [On 23 May 1970, Bhagat Amar Nath began a fast unto death in Jammu. He died nine days later. The state government yielded and enforced a notification on the implementation of reservation. Many consider Amar Nath as the BR Ambedkar of Jammu and Kashmir, owing to whose efforts Dalits, OBCs and Adivasis received the benefits of reservation in the state.]