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Demand of some Kashmiri Pandits to restore Art 370 is illogical, lacks historical support

Most of the cases challenging Modi govt's decision seek to maintain exclusivity and deny the emotional and economic integration of J&K with the rest of India.

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In a vibrant democracy such as ours, no government decision goes unchallenged. And so, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, as well as the creation of two Union Territories out of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state on 5 August 2019, were no exception. While the local political parties, which had warned of serious consequences, have been immobilised and national parties have turned cautious in voicing their objections, an organisation named ‘Reconciliation, Relief and Rehabilitation’ headed by one Satish Mahaldar has demanded the restoration of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

Let’s not get swayed by the fact that the organisation comprises Kashmiri ‘Pandits’, which itself is a highly ambiguous expression since the term used to indicate Shaivite Pancha Gouda Saraswat Brahmins of Kashmir. There is nothing wrong in identifying oneself with one or all of these features. But there are individuals and outfits who claim to be different and demand restoration of Article 370 to keep the rest of Indians out of Kashmir.

Thankfully, the vast majority of Hindus displaced from Kashmir do not agree with this viewpoint and steadfastly support the Narendra Modi government’s action.

The demand for the restoration of statehood of J&K is understandable, and Home Minister Amit Shah has promised to do it as soon as the situation in Kashmir becomes normal. But what is unreasonable is the demand to restore J&K’s special status as enumerated in Article 370.

Also read: ‘Left to die’: J&K sarpanches, touted to usher in Modi’s Naya Kashmir, feel let down

The non-existing Kashmiriyat

The argument advanced by some lesser known outfits, ostensibly with political linkages and comprising only a few individuals, is totally untenable. To seek restoration of special status for the protection and furtherance of Kashmiriyat is neither logical nor backed by any historical support.

Kashmiriyat cannot be different and separate from Indianness common to all Indian citizens. It is not a religion or separate identity exclusive to the inhabitants of a state. Even if it was, it should be common to both Hindus and Muslims. The exodus of Hindus from Kashmir in the 1990s, when they were forced to leave their ancestral homes and haven’t been able to return home since, nailed the misconception of Kashmiriyat being a common identity to everyone in J&K.

There is very little doubt that a section of the political class had either played into the hands of inimical forces or had totally failed to contain the attacks on Kashmiri Hindus, attacks that were carried out with a clear plan of orchestrating a genocide. There is also no denying that the element of goodwill that existed between communities had long disappeared, leading to a state of chaos and political decay.

Three decades on, the return of Kashmiri Hindus to their homes and their resettlement with full dignity, honour and safety is a must, otherwise the whole purpose of abrogating Article 370 will be defeated. The situation in the Valley must become normal so that these families no longer have to live as displaced persons in their own country.

Also read: Kashmiri Pandits’ return to Valley is a must for ‘idea of India’. But here are the obstacles

Point of no return 

Most of the cases in the Supreme Court that challenge the constitutional validity of the Modi government’s decision, seek to maintain the exclusivity of J&K and deny its psychological, emotional and economic integration with the rest of India.

The attorney general representing the Centre has told the Supreme Court that “the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 has now become a fait accompli, leaving sole option to accept the change”. This submission clearly echoes the words of Prime Minister Modi. “Duniya bhar ke saarey dabao ke bawjood, inn faislon par hum qayam hain aur qayam rahengey (Despite pressure from all sides, we remain firm and will continue to remain firm on these decisions),” he had said while addressing the people in his constituency Varanasi

Given the resolve of PM Modi to firmly go ahead with his decisions ‘in the best interests of the nation’ and considering the BJP’s strength in Parliament, there is zero possibility of any drastic reversal of the August 2019 move.

Article 370 was brought in as a temporary provision to work as a procedural mechanism to extend the provisions of the Indian Constitution to the troubled state of J&K in the wake of Partition, military aggression by Pakistan and accession. But the provision began to be misused by political elements and under its cover, a number of hurdles were created in the implementation of the state government’s several measures. More than 130 laws, including the Right to Information (RTI), Right to Education (RTE), Prevention of Corruption, and laws related to SC/ST/OBC were kept out of the confines of the people of J&K, denying them their legitimate rights.

All this had grown to build against Article 370, which was like a wall between J&K and the rest of India, a near-unanimous support for its abrogation. With that wall now gone, it is possible now for any Indian citizen to settle in J&K and contribute towards its development. And so, there is no going back to how things were a year ago.

Also read: BJP has no competitor in Kashmir right now. But it’s still unable to create new politics

Job’s not done yet

The abrogation of Article 370 and subsequent strong actions have resulted in significant fall in terror-related activities. The number of local youth joining militancy has dropped by more than 40 per cent and terror-related incidents have gone down to 120 from 188, according to a news report in The Economic Times that cites ‘official data’. The abrogation has conveyed India’s message loud and clear across the border that enough is enough as far as our western neighbour’s shenanigans in J&K is concerned.

But there is still some work left to do. The Modi government must immediately attend to the pending issues such as providing employment, overall economic development, reviving the badly hit tourism and handicrafts industries, resettling millions of displaced Hindu families and, above all, building a political consensus so that political overtones do not derail the revival process and push J&K once again into an uncertain future when the statehood is restored.

The author is a member of the National Executive Committee of the BJP and former editor of Organiser. Views are personal.

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  1. Kashmiriyat died when people started speaking Urdu and in the name of god plundered raped murdered and cleansed Kashmiri Hindus.

    If after all this Kashmiri Hindus still want 370 and 35 a restored then being sounding callous Kashmiri Hindus deserved this slaughter.

    To prove this watch Shikara written by Rahul pandita who suffered the atrocities during religious cleansing. When he had an opportunity to tell me he reality he chose some romantic utopia.

    If this is is the mindset of Kashmiri Hindus then they deserve to be refugees in their own country.

    • You must be sitting in a comfortable and secure place and typing on the computer somewhere in urban India, you are trying to judge people who have suffered.

      Kashmiri Pandits have suffered enough. And so have Kashmiri Muslims. Pandits have lived there for centuries with Muslims, they know best for themselves and their future generations. Give sane voices a chance. An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

  2. The political map of the fragments of an empire takes a long time to settle and reach equilibrium. The 1947 war was one episode , the war with China in 1962 another episode and the creation of Bangladesh a third episode and the abrogation of Article 370 and fragmentation of J&K a fourth episode which changed the political map of the subcontinent. The story has not ended and the serial drama has many more episodes pending in the future. The latest twist linked to the fourth episode was a dramatic interlude in Ladakh and the story is still evolving but the latest story has again changed the political map of the region with many fingers previously under Indian boots now under Chinese boots. How the map of the region changes with time will continue to fascinate Observors but that it will change, of that there is no doubt if History is our guide

  3. Article 370 has moved into the history books. Whether that is a good thing or not, history will judge. However, we should now be thinking of what comes in its place. What efforts will be made to reach out to ordinary Kashmiris, without many of the facilities and freedoms we take for granted in the rest of the country. When the tourists will return – leaving the pandemic to one side – for so much material well being is tied to that. Whether at all there will be any increase in investment and job creation. When young men will stop coming home covered in shrouds. When important institutions, led by the apex court, will demonstrate by their actions that the bond with the people of the state is as strong and unbreakable as India’s physical dominion over the land. Treat the Kashmiris with respect. Don’t foist a joke like the Apni party on them.

    • History will judge? The Chinese judged that what Modi did on 5 August 2019 in Kashmir was not a good thing! The result is they are in East Ladakh in a big way, occupying some Indian land. They had objected when the status of J&K was changed from state to UTs. You say, ” …. we should now be thinking of what comes in its place ….”. Well you know now the Chinese have come in place of Article 370.

  4. Excellent piece. In fact, reading the views of some of the disaffected Pandits is discombobulating. One may quickly get confused on the historical facts of the past and present realities.

    With greatest respect to many of the senior members of this grouping, their nostalgic trip down memory lane has no relevance to the legal status of Kashmir in the Union of India today. They are mostly yearning for a past which may have never really been, and where it was real, only enjoyed by the privileged few. Mostly they, along with powerful local Kashmiri Muslims, maintained themselves as a privileged class above the rest.

    The beating heart of the Kashmiri Pandit community supports the integration of Kashmir fully and formally into the Union. Let’s move onto build a greater future together and not squabble over what was always a constitutional anomaly.

  5. A single paid stooge who has no feeling of attachment to his community does not invalidate the views of all others. Pandits and dogras should be given arms training and should organise as well equipped and trained militia, to settle in their own villages near their ancestral homes while remaining safe from bigoted kms’.

  6. Mr Chari and comrades were the first to speak up for Kashmiri Pandits , but are the first to abandon them when they question what was done to Art 370.

    Chari hides several facts which have also not been brought out by our hyped up TV channels

    a. Almost 80% of Art 370 clauses had already been made inoperative by a series of measures by Nehru and successors. A gradual and subtle approach would have avoided alienating the Valley and people of Jammu also who are now worried about the implications of Aug 5th 2019.

    b. The same residence clauses which were abrogated in J&K are operative in many parts of NE under various sub sections of Art 371. That makes Aug 5th look like an action driven by vote bank sectarian politics.

    c. BJP is trying to spread a fiction that emotional integration will be brought about by lawmaking. That has never been the case in any nation, and that argument is also part of the new generation of vote bank politics.

    BJP could have instead have entered into dialog with the J&K Assemply and shown more confidence in the people who are voters there , and worked out a firm time table to bring in whatever residuary laws remained to be promulgated in J&K.

    • Let’s assume for a second the 370 was being diluted slowly.

      Was this action giving

      1. Citizenship to 7 lakh migrants from west Pakistan
      2. Was it giving them right to vote in a democratic society
      3. Was it invalidating the JK constitutional provision which said the valmiki community and their kids will only get cleaners jobs
      4. On what basis 1 lakh rohingyas were given citizenship but not the migrants of west Pakistan or the valmiki community
      5. Why sharia was imposed in 2008 in a secular country of ours
      6. Why the Kashmiri Hindus were murdered, raped, plundered and cleansed in 1990 in the name of Arab god.
      7. Why after spending lakhs of crore on JK there contribution to the country is 0.

      If you answer these question based on facts and not done hyperbole then we can drive this conversation forward.

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