Modi’s unusual supporter: Sunanda Tharoor speaks up against Article 370

Sunanda holds former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru responsible for Article 370 and dislocation of Kashmiri Pundits from the state.

The huge uproar that started after Bhartiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi sought a ‘wider debate’ on Article 370 has found an unusual opposser. Union minister Shashi Tharoor’s wife, Sunanda Pushkar-Tharoor has supported Modi’s statement that the Article 370 is discriminatory against women.

She also found herself in a twitter war with Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah after she voiced her concern.

In NDTV’s show “buck stops here”, Sunanda revealed some interesting facts about the discrimination that women face in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sunanda is a Kashmiri Pandit and speaking on the show in that capacity she said that she attempted to buy land in Kashmir in 2006, 2007 and 2008. But every time she was denied on the account of Article 370. She was told by the government officials that she was a non-Kashmiri because she had married outside Kashmir. In 2010, government officials notified her that her state subject wasn’t renewed. Then she had to buy land in her father’s name.

Later on, Sunanda mentioned to the officials that she had a Muslim friend who was married outside Kashmir but she was allowed to buy land in the state and now her children will also inherit that property. Even then her request was overlooked.

Speaking to the host Barkha Dutt on this particular incident, Sunanda said that denying me land will then be a case beyond discrimination against women as it will then amount to discrimination against a religion.

While Sunanda put this in twitter, Omar, at first, assured to help her. However, Sunanda said, he later on revealed that her son would not be able to inherit the property which made the issue come to a full circle.

Although she praised Modi for bringing up the issue, she also held BJP responsible for not doing anything while it was in the government in state.

Sunanda held Jawaharlal Nehru responsible for the situation that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is in while begging to differ from her husband who represents Congress party saying that she was a Kasmiri woman too other than being his wife.

She said that the accord that was signed between Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir and leader Shaikh Abdullah with mediation of Jawaharlal Nehru was supposed to “go away”. “In fact if I am not misinformed by my family and elders, Jawaharlal Nehru took the portfolio of Jammu and Kashmir while then home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was not part of handling the issue of Kashmir. Now, why would somebody do something like that?” she questioned.

When asked on the show that would she not be able to deny the history because the instrument of accession was signed under special circumstances, she said that she would absolutely not be able to deny history. She said that she was glad to be a part of India.

Recounting that when Kabbali raid took place in which her ancestors were killed, she said that the Maharaja took the right step at that time. While saying that “it was okay that they (kashmiris) had special status, she raised the issue of Kashmiri Pundits dislocated from the state.

“Where are the Kashmiri Pundits today? They were relocated in Bombay, Delhi and in other states, but why not in some place in the valley itself? They were given only 10 districts in the beginning…but they could have protected us within Kashmir,” she said.

“Jawaharlal Nehru talked about sabhyata but we Kashmiri Pundits do not have our sabhyata intact because we were not protected in our land and we are still not able to do so,” she added.

The issue of Article 370 is indeed a big one. The huge disconnect that is present between the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India and the duality of the provisions has only lessened the nationalist sentiments.

However, the historical circumstances hold the ‘adjustments’ right.

But there is no denying that the matter is sensitive and it needs debate.

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