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Posted at: Nov 30, 2015, 12:09 AM; last updated: Nov 29, 2015, 10:50 PM (IST)

Include 'secular, socialist' in J-K Constitution: Panthers Party

QUOTE: “Now, the onus is on the self-proclaimed nationalist BJP to make J&K a secular state by incorporating these two words (secular and socialist) in the Constitution of the state through an amendment,” Balwant Singh Mankotia, president, Panthers Party.

Dinesh Manhotra

Tribune News Service

Jammu, November 29

Even as the issue of “intolerance” has generated nationwide debate on secularism, the demand for making the J&K Constitution secular and socialist has also gained momentum.

Jammu and Kashmir, which is the only Muslim-majority state in the country, is yet to incorporate two words “secularism and socialism” in its Constitution.

Unlike other states, J&K has its own separate Constitution. The successive state governments have been accused of adopting delaying tactics on incorporating the two words in the Constitution.

Words secularism and socialism were incorporated in the Indian Constitution through the 42nd Amendment in 1976. The then J&K Government had extended some clauses of the 42nd Amendment of the Indian Constitution to J&K but the two words were not incorporated in the state’s Constitution.

“Now, the onus is on the self-proclaimed nationalist BJP to make J&K a secular state by incorporating these two words in the Constitution of the state through an amendment,” said Balwant Singh Mankotia, president of the Panthers Party.

Since 1996, the Panthers Party has been demanding an amendment to the state’s Constitution to get the two words incorporated. He said the BJP was now an important part of the government in J&K so the party was duty-bound to incorporate the words in the state’s Constitution.

Panthers Party leader Harsh Dev Singh, who remained a Member of the Legislative Assembly from 1996 to 2014, has moved resolutions six times in the Legislative Assembly to include the two words in the preamble of the state Constitution to make Jammu and Kashmir a “secular and socialist” state in the real sense.

Singh had moved the resolution in the Assembly on March 29, 2006. After a discussion, the resolution was referred to the Select Committee on February 9, 2007. The committee held five sittings on March 5, March 23, April 5, April 19 and May 17 in 2007. The Committee, in its report on May 25, 2007, had recommended that the resolution be passed in its original form to amend the Constitution to incorporate the words socialist and secular in the Constitution but nothing has been done so far.

“The Preamble of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, 1957, is an adaptation of the Preamble of the Constitution of India. However, the words “socialist” and “secular”, which are the hallmark of the Indian Constitution, have been omitted from the Preamble of Jammu and Kashmir,” said historian Prof Hari Om.

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