Recent Indian parliament showdown on the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill of 2021 once again undid the pre-August 5, 2019 reality of the land and ended up only wasting law books of the erstwhile state.
Inside the dusky warehouse of National Law Agency in Srinagar, cartons of Kashmir Law books are piling up as waste.
Mournful proprietor of this oldest law book store in the valley is junking the books which once sold like hot cakes.
“Being the main dealers of the law books in the valley, we suffered dearly due to the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s semiautonomous status,” said Irfan Rasool, owner of National Law Agency.
Before the abrogation of Article 370, the erstwhile state had its own laws, separate flag, and constitution. There were separate books for all these Laws and Acts of the region.
However, after the August 5, 2019 unilateral decision by Delhi, these books lost their value and market.
“We’ve several law books related to Jammu and Kashmir Governance including Land Laws, J&K Constitution, RPC and CrPC,” Irfan said. “These books are very costly.”
Worth thousands of rupees, J&K Laws come in around 20 volumes.
“Since Indian laws are applied in J&K now, the books on J&K laws turned obsolete,” the bookseller added. “No one since the abrogation has purchased these books from us.”
Habeel Iqbal, a High Court lawyer, had purchased Law books of around Rs 30,000 just before abrogation of Article 370.
“They’ve now become pieces of paper because most of the laws have been amended and many have been replaced by the new laws,” the lawyer said.
He wants to archive his Law books for the reference of the future generation now.
“The ways things are going on, I think the government will try to erase these things even from our minds,” the advocate argued.
“And that’s why, from the historical point of view, these books have attained more value in the sense that they will serve as our past memoir. People must know that Jammu and Kashmir was once a state and had enjoyed a ‘special status’ under Article 370.”
Seconding Iqbal, advocate Zafar Qurashi stressed that these redundant books should be at least preserved for Law students.
“Why cannot government preserve these books? These books form the major part of our history,” he said. “Students need to know the political history of Kashmir, the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Even Law students assert that these books should be preserved in libraries.
“Books related to Kashmir Laws and Acts will serve as references for historians and authors who want to write literature on Kashmir history,” said Ahriza Ahmad, pursuing law from Kashmir University.
“Pass-out law students also need to revisit these books for knowing the laws that once governed the erstwhile state.”
Back at National Law Agency, Irfan is getting anxious about thousands of law books lying as waste in his warehouse.
“They’re worth Rs 25 lakh,” he said. “The government overnight changed the laws in Kashmir without informing anyone. Now, tell me, who would buy these books from us?”
Clearly, there’s a fear that books on Kashmir Laws and History might disappear from the market in coming time, and people who want to revisit them might not have access in near future.
“That’s why after abrogation, I approached the government with the proposal to keep these redundant Law books in archives for future reference,” Irfan said.
“But the administration paid no heed to it.”