Musings on the State and Fate of Jammu and Kashmir

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Syed Ali Mujtaba | Caravan News

THE abrogation of Article 370 that binds India to Jammu and Kashmir has come as a rude shock to all those who believe in the maxim “Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat, Insaniyat”. It is a roadmap to tackle the problem of alienation of the restive border state of India.

The BJP government with a sledge hammer of brute Parliamentary majority clubbed the state into a Union Territory without any consultation, debate or discussion with any of its stakeholders. It’s an unprecedented move which has far-reaching consequences that only time may tell.

The arbitrary move will certainly be challenged in the Supreme Court. Some legal experts have expressed their reservations about the hurriedly brought legislation. They are of the view that the legislation may not withstand the legal scrutiny. However, we have to wait for the verdict of the apex court before coming to any conclusion.

What if the court does not endorse the legislation? Are we prepared to accept the supremacy of the parliamentary legislation over the Supreme Court verdict? Will this be the right precedent?

Many may agree that the way this legislation was brought in the Rajya Sabha is an assault on the federal character of India. If the state of Jammu and Kashmir can be turned into Union territory, clearly any other state may fall prey to the whims and fancies of this majoritarian highhandedness. This one act of the Centre clearly outlines India as a unitary state with federal features, where only the will of the majority in Parliament would prevail.

The same fate must be awaiting Nagaland and Tamil Nadu. While Nagaland wants greater Nagaland, which though is impossible to grant, the obvious solution would be to turn the state into a Union territory and govern it from New Delhi.

Somewhat similar is the case of Tamil Nadu too. Here, one can find acute abhorrence towards Hindi language and Aryan culture which does not fit into the oft-repeated BJP narrative, ‘Hindi. Hindu, Hindustan’. Hence, Tamil Nadu too does not comply with the Central Government’s scheme of governance. Will it be in the firing line of the Union government has to be seen.

So far, Article 370 served a bridge between India and Kashmir. Now that the bridge has been dismantled, the state is reduced to the status of a colony or a vassal state of India. As such the Kashmiris are bound to feel subjugated. No wonder there will be a struggle to break from the shackles. Hence, the army will remain stay put in the troubled valley pitted against the locals while those discredited as terrorists or supporters of terrorism would emerge masquerading as freedom fighters.

To sum up, prolonged and interminable violence will be the logical outcome of these developments. There will be a spurt in militancy from three corners.

First, the global jihadists who are busy fighting in West Asia might head to the new theatre of ‘Islamic Jihad’ i.e. Kashmir. With the abrogation of Article 370 the government has unwittingly sent an invitation to global terror outfits like the ISIS and Al Qaida.

Pakistani militants and Afghan Taliban are already raring to go and take on the might of Indian state. They may be keen to play ‘Holi’ with our brave Jawans.

The third source of violence will come from the local armed rebels. The frustration caused by the development will draw the local youth to militancy. There will be more recruitment by militants in the coming days. In such a scenario, the peace that the government is promising through the legislation will remain elusive as ever.

It is not the politician but our brave soldiers who will bear the brunt of the abrogation of Article 370. Already 600,000 army personnel are stationed in Kashmir to suppress the rebellion; many more will join their ranks. But how long will the deployment ensure peace in the state is anyone’s guess.

The political upheaval the state is going through is bound to give rise to rebellion giving the army the reason to go all out to crush the rebellion. The violence that ensues will shoot human rights violations. This will bring India under the scanner of human rights watch groups who might seek a resolution of the conflict through the intervention of the global community. In such a situation India will no longer be able to take the moral high ground of a peacenik and a victim of cross-border terrorism.

If such a situation arises, who will bail India out at the Security Council? Can we look to Pax Americana that would certainly have, besides the US, France, England, and China on its side? It’s Russia alone that may have a differing voice, but its vote can’t be taken for granted. Hence, our diplomats have to make extra efforts to paint India’s peaceful intentions and keep pinning down Pakistan as a source of terrorism. Will they be successful in their diplomacy and if they fail to do so, are we prepared for such an eventuality?

It’s apparent that only war will decide the fate of Kashmir. With the abrogation of Article 370, India has given an open invitation of confrontation to Pakistan. We have left no space for negotiation. There won’t be talks with Pakistan for a long time to come. Pakistan will certainly make noise about this development and appeal for tri-lateralism at various international forums. Can we tell them to shut up?

Pakistan can now say from the rooftop that it does not recognise Simla Agreement. It does not recognise the line of control as bilateralism is now a dead horse. Can we force our point of view on them and make them stick to bilateralism? Are we prepared to tackle the fallout of Pakistan’s propaganda?

Last but not the least, all the political leaders in Jammu Kashmir have lost their relevance in the state which has now become a Union territory run by a Lt Governor. The political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir who have been calling the shots on the democratic plank in the state are being reduced to irrelevance. Will they sit in peace and sing India’s tune now.

It is beyond comprehension to what extent these political leaders of different hues will create trouble for India. Till now, they were the only ones who had held the lid on the simmering discontent in Kashmir.  They will all unite now to confront the writ of Indian state by opening the lid.

Next on the agenda of the government could be changing the demography of the Kashmir valley. The move will go against globally accepted conventions and hence there will be huge international fallout which we can ill afford.

Coming back to the Kashmiris, how the government thinks it can win their hearts and minds? They already have been sulking having suffered for long in the hope of some elusive justice to be meted out to them. With the abrogation of Article 370, this hope too has vanished in thin air. How can such sullen souls be brought in sync with the rest of India?

As far as Indian Muslims are concerned, they have no option but to go with the majority. Some may pray in silence for the protection of their brethren. They cannot do anything beyond for fear of being branded as anti-national. The one couplet that sums up their predicament is: Banā kar faqīroñ kā ham bhes ‘Ghālib’;- tamāshā-e-ahl-e-Chaman dekhte haiñ (In the disguise of a saint I watch the goings-on of the motherland).

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. Views expressed here are that of the author. He can be contacted atsyedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com

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