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Last week’s National Interest had applied a tough fact and reality check to the five most prominent myths on Jammu and Kashmir believed by our liberal community. It should logically follow that we now do exactly the same with many firmly held beliefs of the Right-nationalists. This is an enormously larger group, given the overwhelming numbers of the Narendra Modi-BJP voter base.

Among them, the belief that Article 370 and the ‘two-timing perfidy’ of Kashmiri leaders is the only problem is even stronger than the liberal sense of collective injustice by the Indian state. This Right-nationalist passion also comes from a lack of understanding of facts, and realities on the ground.

No mythologies, of Left, Right or centre, serve the national cause which, in our book, includes the Kashmiri cause. That’s why we must shine the cold light of fact and reason on these. Because beliefs are lovely but dangerous if not based on facts. I am, therefore, listing the five favourite Right-nationalist myths on Kashmir.

1. The first, and the most central, is that Article 370, and the special status it accorded to Kashmir, was at the root of the problem. It’s now gone, and so will the problem. History is made, and we now have a new dawn.

So far, so good. But history being made doesn’t mean the history preceding this is erased. Article 370 was indeed a very emotive issue in the national consciousness and in Kashmir, but the fact is, over the 69 years since it came into being as a temporary, special provision, it was no longer even a pale shadow of the original.

Every prime minister of India, with the possible exception of the late V.P. Singh, had worked on diluting Article 370. By the time the Modi government moved to abrogate it earlier this month, it was a formality. From only three subjects (defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications) to begin with, now 290 of the total 395 Articles of the Constitution had become directly applicable to Kashmir.

Some irritants remained, for sure: The usual trope over non-state subjects being denied the right to jobs and property in Kashmir being the most prominent. Some of the others, actually, would — and should — have qualified to be liberal grievances. Punishing a Kashmiri woman for marrying a non-Kashmiri by denial of property, inheritance rights and Kashmiri status to children from such a marriage, or non-application of the Supreme Court orders on triple talaq and Section 377 of IPC, for instance. Unjust for sure, but to call them the root cause of the alienation is a lazy stretch.


Also read: Kashmiris must know their battle isn’t against India but against RSS-BJP ideology


The next two important myths in this category have Pakistan written over them. In one, as an occupier that should have been and now must be evicted, and in the other, as a prime provocateur.

2. The Right-nationalist discourse from 1948 onwards is as follows: Indian Army was poised to recover all of Kashmir from the Pakistanis, including Gilgit-Baltistan, but for woolly-headed Nehru taking the issue to the UN. If only it was left to Sardar Patel…

The reality is different, and because it is uncomfortable, it won’t change. After two seasons of fighting, in 1947-48, broken by the winter, the two armies were locked in a stalemate. Read all available military literature from both sides. Factors of geography, topology, logistics, military might and even ethnicity had made any meaningful progress impossible on either side.

Possibly the only time India could have pushed across the Uri bulge into Muzaffarabad was in the very early days of the first phase of fighting in November-December. But it wasn’t possible to bring in the needed troops by air or road until the Banihal Pass was blocked by snow. Many Indian and Pakistani accounts claim a victory was possible in 1948, but these are competing fantasies.

Remember, that this war took place while the two armies were still led by British chiefs. Also, there simply wasn’t sufficient asymmetry available to India militarily. Pakistan, at Partition, inherited one-third of united India’s armed forces and a sixth of its economy. It ruined the country in the course of time, but in 1947-48, that military gap to enable a famous conquest over the Himalayas was just not available.

And can Pakistan be dislodged from PoK now? With great humility, I’d say not really. Despite the many wars and skirmishes we have fought since 1948, costing tens of thousands of lives on both sides, the dividing line between the two armies has been more or less the same, barring minor exchanges in 1971. Even Siachen was unoccupied, uninhabited and taken without fighting. In real combat (not on commando-comic channels), Pakistani forces are quite capable of fighting a defensive battle. Both irredentism for the territory ‘lost’ in 1948, or romanticism for a Bangladesh-style sweep in PoK in a fresh war, are irrational mythologies.

3. The people of Kashmir, by and large, are docile, peaceful, patriotic Indians, but for the ideological contamination of Pakistani propaganda and militant Islam: Of the three, the first used to be true, but it is no longer so. In the earlier phases of this 30-year insurgency, most of the armed fighters had come in from Pakistan. In fact, in the early 1990s, many foreign jihadis (from African and Arab countries) had also been infiltrated by the ISI. These were also deeply disliked by most indigenous Kashmiris. Over the past decade, however, the insurgency has become much more indigenous. The average young Kashmiri has been angry, humiliated, and willing to pick up arms. This shows in casualty figures. A vast majority of identified, killed, or captured militants, lately, has been Kashmiri. This will not change. There are enough caches of arms hidden in the Valley to keep small groups of militants going, and Pakistan will not lose its ability to keep up a supply. Abolition of Article 370, direct rule of the Centre with control over the police will strengthen the security grid. But it will not end terrorism.

4. All Kashmiris need is investment and economic development: To believe this is to betray an arrogant misunderstanding of the human mind. No amount of economic development or central largesse would change people’s minds until their mass sense of anger, humiliation and alienation isn’t addressed. Loose and arrogant talk of changing the demographics of the state by buying property and settling outsiders, and marrying its women, gravely worsens it. This territory of Jammu and Kashmir has always been with India and nobody can take it. But until its (mainly the Valley’s) people aren’t with you, you have nothing new to write home about.

And finally, we come to our most sensitive mythology. It is also the most dangerously self-defeating.

5. Change the demographics, learn from Israel: If you drew the right lessons from Israel, you’d never think of doing so. Israel has been on this project for decades, and it’s a failure. It has brought neither peace, nor affirmed its claims on territory. Further, India already has the territory, the rest of the world, barring Pakistan and China, do not dispute it, and unlike Israel, which is a Jewish state, India is a secular republic. Further, you aren’t changing the demographics of two mohallas of Purani Dilli or a sector of Chandigarh or Gurgaon. This would require moving something like one crore Hindus into the Valley. This will never happen. This isn’t China where you can shift millions in caravans. And even that, remember, has not given China peace in Tibet or Xinjiang. Nor has this given Israel security or stability.

The one thing India has over these two states, whose toughness awes us, is our ability to embrace diversity with ease. That’s the best approach for Kashmir. The battle for the hearts and minds is still the same: Is India offering them a much better deal than Pakistan? With self-respect, dignity and protection of their identity.

Article 370 is good, and overdue, riddance. The way ahead lies in learning from Vajpayee’s method, not Xi Jinping’s.


Also read: Modi has clean-bowled Imran Khan with Kashmir yorker


 

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41 Comments Share Your Views

41 COMMENTS

  1. After reading different comments.one can conclude that while dealing with Kashmir religion plays a big role.
    Everytime we see about Kashmiri Pandits, they are like coins in currency.
    Before commenting about anything we must know what is happening in ground, people start writing comments after searching from Google or they are known to a bit of history.
    The author is true to his writing and 100% reality has been reported.

    IT cells are working with this agenda to oppose truth and paint the story as they want.

    It hardly masters if more people will try to make a wrong a right or vice verse.

  2. Shekhar Gupta article doesn’t address the huge problem of the Kashmiri mindset , the neo- kashmiri doesn’t care for any rights of others including general Indians nor does it care for the Kashmiri pandits in specific. And if this mindset is prevalent it completely erodes the need for “protecting the Kashmiri identity” . The post does not care to explain why “a kashmiri” is any different from say “a tambi” or “a bengali” and also fails to explain why it must be accorded special protection ?
    and what is the Vajpayee Solution ?

  3. All most 20% of indians are Muslims, they do not seem to feel their identity being threatened, what is so special about the Kashmiri Muslims that their identity is under threat. Basically the 370 and 35A temporarily assured them a continuous flow of money from the Indian Tax payer and no questions asked. That had to stop and has stopped. The beneficiaries of this flow were a handful of politicians who cultivated their supporters and the troublemakers in the event this were to stop. A common Kashmiri never was the beneficiary of this flow of money from the taxpayer other than in a cosmetic manner.
    Demographic change by migration succeeds only over years and we will see that in Europe over the next few decades. BUT demographic change does succeed by chasing out a small minority with instant results, what is known as the ethnic cleansing and that has succeeded in Kashmir.
    No intellectual left liberal has ever spelled out what exactly is the Kashmiri Identity or the Special status of Kashmir.

  4. Guptaji ! Those who have burnt their fingers in the situation that is now in Kashmir like me , who is from NE and had seen such situations growing up, knows how true you are ! There are lot of arm chair opinioned adventurers dosed with nationalism and resurgence of India (read Hindu ) power. I am a proud Indian, who supports my current Govt purely for gubernatorial reasons, lucky enough not to be stoned with religious fervor yet, suffered in childhood due to govt clampdowns say that you are right to the boot in this piece. And, do I support the govt actions in Kashmir? Yes, I do. But the aftermath is the most important ………….. and that’s what you are talking about !!!
    My 2 cents,
    Regards,

  5. Well done to epouse the cause of religious hatred of jihadis. Standard practice of left oriented self style communal seculars to peg pounce and pound on BJP and RSS. Catchy meaningless statement of winning the hearts of the people has become a joke in front of Pakistan sponsored jihadis and local Muslim fundamentalists. Article 370 and 35 A was negotiated for winning the hearts. Even after 72 years we are yet to win. Let’s change the approach recognising that we are dealing with a rouge state sponsored terror and Sekar Gupta will be well advised to aid winning hearts by a cooperative effort instead of holding brief for terrorists. Mehbooba and Sheila are softer versions of communal agenda

  6. You have rightly pointed out more Balakot-330 myths. The ‘liberal’ myths did not do anything drastic- in time they could’ve won over the people, These, if acted on as many seem to want, would not bode well.

  7. I would like to believe our Generals of IA as regards take over of POK in 1947. The writer is not qualified to write about Army capabilities. Kashmiri major communities are very nice and accommodative, he says. Difficult to believe that when they were silently witnessing inhuman treatment of thousands of Pundit hindus who are driven out. The whole article seems to say current action on 370 by Govt is not all that great !

  8. Let there be Gujrati colonies in Kashmir valley. Gujjus will employ the jobless youth and make them forget stone pelting and other forms of violence. The Kashmiris will very soon get addicted to dhokla, jalebi, fafda and the desired integration will come very soon.

    • Sir,
      The whites invaded India from South while other invaders invaded India from north.
      Gujarat along with Rajasthan and Punjab suffered most. Punjab got neutralised over a period of time by Muslim Sufis and finally Sikhism emerged from it. And so Sikhs are NOT hard core fundamentalists,
      Rajasthan and Gujarat could not digest them being overpowered and revenge evolved over a period of time.
      Since Gujarat is rich through the history, it was looted too. Gujjus began to develop hatred for Islam in particular. They became communal over a period of time. Any people will develop in this scenario these feelings so did Gujjus.
      And this hatred helped BJP to convert it into Hindutva laboratory. Once they have taken revenge as they did it in 2002, they will become quiet but will take time as absolute power now came to them after a thousand year. They will too behave amicably over a period of time.
      Mind you Mahatma Gandhi is a big flop in Gujarat.
      I have visited Gujarat many times and observed it thoroughly. And read their history too.
      When I say here Gujjus, I mean upper strata and rajputs and some other castes. Not Dalits and tribal people.

  9. Don’t try to cover your loyalty under confusing word web. Accept that it’s your majboori to support BJP. You should be dare enough to oppose policy of the govt. You will not do that. You are acting cat on a wall. When you opposed Congress when it was in power, what prevents you to oppose wrong doings of BJP ?

  10. How is Modi government going to win hearts and minds of Kashmiris? Their pride is gone, their state is gone, and they may even feel their identity is gone too! What would happen if they take a page from the book of the Hong Kong protestors, and fight for their rights? If autocratic China is finding it difficult to deal with these protestors, how would democratic India deal with a far bigger number of Kashmiri protestors demanding their rights? They would certainly draw world’s attention, as the Hong Kong protesters are doing!

    • And what exactly do you thing Hong Kong protestors are going to achieve? Independent Republic of Hong Kong?

      Kashmiri separatists were very clear what they wanted. Mirwaiz Farooq, the so called “moderate” said “ Our struggle is not religiously motivated. But let me clarify our battle cry is Allahu Akbar”.

      Only commies, extreme left wing clueless “liberals” like Indian sicularists (you sound like one of them, the extremist left wingers (New York Times, Guardian types) believe your nonsense.

      They had plenty of rights and special privileges but insisted on violent Jihad. Those who didn’t take RDX bombs and machine guns “exploded” and stoutly justifies Jihad.

    • I wish the Kashmiris start making violent protests so that the forces present can crush them. 2-3 hundred deaths in a short period will create panic and bring them to senses. Hope they have the guts to start violent protests.

  11. If we have to agree with the author, a large area of west Bengal and Assam India has to concede as these states soon will have Muslim majority and hence many new Kashmirs will be born. This agitation is pushed by religious motivation and nothing else. India has to break Pakistan, and it has to start with their economy.

  12. Media people always thinks that they know everything and they can predict everything very precise. And most of them talk in hindsight. In reality, the situation in 1947 would have been different. Sardar Patel handled integration of 500+ princely state, which includes Kashmir. However, when it came to Kashmirl, Nehru started listening Mount Batten than his own Home Minister. Nehru’s ego killed hmself. Initially he played his game with Hari Singh and Sheik Abdulla. Nehru even went on not to recognize the election election Kashmir which was boycotted by Sheik Abdulla. The same Nehru went and jailed Sheik Abdulla for long time. History cannot be corrected and past is past. No point in digging the grave of Nehru as no bones will be found. What was historical blunder, was removed now. We need to move from 2019, not digging from 1947. Hari Singh gone, Nehru gone, Sheik Abdulla gone. Wait for few more decades, none of the current generation will be active. One thing for sure, Kashmir is integrated to India and now can be called as internal matter. Right put, Rajnath said “No more talks on internal matters. If at all there is talk with Pakistan, it should be about POK. Period”. If LeeKuan would have used the opinions of media, we would not be seeing what is current Singapore.

  13. My personal view is that the abrogation of Articles 370 / 35 A – like demonetisation – will not achieve any of its stated objectives. The price tag, not envisioned when the decision was taken, clothed in secrecy, will be humongous. 2. The rest of the world has been muted in its response. However, concerns would have been conveyed in private. Almost certainly the reason why the CAPF have been so restrained in the use of lethal force. 3. Least likely is any improvement in the economy of Kashmir. Ordinary Kashmiris will not receive any peace dividend. 4. Relations with Pakistan will become more fraught. A war will not be unthinkable, as it should be for nuclear armed adversaries. A chill with China as well. 5. If alienation increases, that could draw in unwelcome influences from the Af – Pak region.

  14. A few things are clear whether one looks left or right 1. There is no question of independent Kashmir. It never was an option 2. Legally, entire J&K state acceded to India 3. Pak claim on J&K was based on majority of population being muslim and not on any legal basis 4. Now, we don’t want POK and we are happy to accept LOC as IB. However, as Pak would not agree to this, we have to keep fighting for PoK etc. 5. Kashmiri people want safety, security and money from India but would not be part of India. They need to understand clearly that this is not possible and boundaries cannot be redrawn. Further, they cannot colonize Ladakh and Jammu as well. So they should learn to live with India and maintain their identity as other people are doing. 6. If they fail to accept this, whether on their own or by provocation from Pak, Indian state will have to initiate required measures to protect itself. India tolerated anti India stand, terrorism etc for 70 years and will continue to take all the required measures in years to come.
    Shekhar may like to balance left and right side but road ahead is only this and nothing more.

    • Your wrong when you say that Kashmiri people don’t want to be a part of India. In every household all the opinions exist, be it going for freedom, India, or Pakistan. It’s impossible to say in what numbers, but I would say that before 2014, those supporting us would be leading, or be a close second.

      Now, those voices have been shut up for good!

  15. If everything you say is true then there are no options available for india. You say that Kashmiris being docile and peaceful is a myth. If a majority of Kashmiris want to be Burhan Wani then there simply is no way to win hearts and minds. The best option then might be to trifurcate the state, pull the army to the LoC and hand over an autonomous Kashmir to Geelani that he can run under sharia, that might have a better chance of winning hearts and minds.

  16. “But until its (mainly the Valley’s) people aren’t with you, you have nothing new to write home about.”
    Bad English. ThePrint should have done better.
    It should have been “”But until its (mainly the Valley’s) people ARE with you,…”

    • British could not win the hearts and minds of Muslims, most of whom live on benefits from the state, and were still bombed in their buses and trains. India is a very very small fish.

      • The British aren’t doing the right thing …. The road to the hearts and minds of Muslims, start with Muslim women. Modi is winning hearts the right way. It is a tried and tested method which worked both on Christian sects and orthodox Hindus.

      • Er.. aren’t you contradicting yourself.. if winning the hearts and minds of the Kashmiri people, unity in diversity, etc. is key, why alienate them by abrogation?

        105 Articles of the Constitution can be easily made applicable to Kashmir, without fuss!

        But wait.. what if it gets you votes in certain states?! And better yet, what if keeps the fires burning for a long time to come – violence, and maybe a bomb or two to further polarise the electorate, besides giving the Arnabs their volatile fodder?!

        Now, that, makes logical sense!!

        • @Genius Jake
          Huh?!
          Getting votes in other states is the reason for abrogation of 370?
          What a Fake you are😅.
          You think your propaganda will fly.

  17. Totally agree. India should neither be China nor Israel. Territorial integrity was never questionable, the key point is that is India’s bureaucracy and political leadership capable of coming up with unconventional ways to integrate the Kashmiri population so contaminated by Pakistan without resorting to the usual lathi-charge or tear gas?

  18. Shekhar Gupta seems to have done a balancing act for the sake of balancing where non exists.
    1) He completely failed to explain why article 370 is not the root cause of problems in Kashmir.
    2) He really doesn’t have a clue that POK can be snatched from Pakistan by breaking it into three parts. Pakistan will disintegrate for sure. So Shekhar Gupta failed.
    3) In point 3 Shekhar Gupta didn’t say what is the right winger position. expect the abolition of 370 will stop violence in Kashmir. But this is not the right winger position. He looked confused here and tried to pen few sentences.
    4) In Point 4 he simply puts the Khan market propaganda as right winger position. Situation improves slowly and economic development has an impact. Here also there is nothing that Shekhar Gupat can pin point the views of right wingers.
    5) In point also Shekhar Gupta looked more confused and tried invent things. He completely failed in this point also.

    After reading the complete article, it looks to me that this post has not been written by him but somebody else to simply balance the earlier post by Shekhar Gupta,. In each point he should have clearly first stated that this is the position of right wingers and this my arguments that the position is untenable. But he didn’t used this format. Instead mixed up everything to confuse the reader. This was not expected of Shekhar Gupta. Has he lately come under pressure from libtards.

  19. Sir,
    No one will agree to whatever truth is told to them right now.
    You will be branded as Sickular, Gaddar, Deshdrohi,, Paki, Mulla and what not?
    The reason is people are HIGHLY nationalistic charged and blinded by pure religious, nationalistic emotions.
    No way will they accept your 5 myths, rather will tell your reasons are myths.
    History is evident of such events when people are over nationalists.
    19 th century Europe is an example and those bickerings there finally led Prussia(Germany), Austria to be highly charged, balkanisation of south EUROPE and devestating First world war was the result.
    Then Germany solely threw world to 2 nd world war with human and economic tragedies.
    And today Germany is deprived of army and made military less state. For it was always a rogue state.
    Do we see India in that perspective?

    • And we can straightforwardly say Paki and Jihad violence in Kashmir are NON RELIGIOUS and UNEMOTIONAL beautiful things. Not cr try.

    • ”charged and blinded by pure religious, nationalistic emotions.” Were the Muslims any different ever in the last five hundred years?

  20. From Faizan Mustafa’s words, it seems, our govt has mislead us on many issues regarding Kashmir. It’s also apparent from people in mainstream media and those supporting their views that whatever move our govt makes, has to be absolutely transparent so that people of Kashmir know where they are heading to. They need to understand their rights and govt’s effort in the correct order.
    If our PM’s visit to Israel and their relations are just strategic and not blindly following Israel’s path, we don’t need to worry but otherwise, creating another Palestine would be highly harmful for us.

    • No matter how hard you try to avoid, some troublemakers and their sponsors from Pakistan and within India, will try to create one look like Palestine. The opposition parties are almost decimated, and they have nothing else to survive on.

  21. Questionable if “Right-Nationalists” believes fully or partly all 5 “myths”

    1) No one said abolition of 370 would solve all problems. Only that a disastrous idea led to the poisonous growth of the problem over 70 years. So 370 HAD TO GO. It is the first step.

    2) You are talking about military stalemate, but you haven’t admitted the biggest blunder of Nehru: going to the UN itself. And announcing this on radio! Patel was shocked.

    3) People knew Wahabi Sunni extremism and Jihadi fervor have grown so deep. Burhan Wani is the poster boy. This can be called Pakistanization of Kashmir. Our neighbor invested money and resources to plant this poison.

    4) You are mixing up several things here but again. Removing the Jihad enabling infrastructure has become critical.

    5) Agreed. Keep in mind the separatists owned the propaganda microphone through violence and immobilized the state. Throttling funding and security measures have helped. Defanging them will allow people wanting peace to speak up and move on.

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