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Kashmiris will accept Modi-Shah deal if govt assures no demographic change, the biggest fear

Kashmiris say Modi and Amit Shah raising Kashmir in assembly elections – from Maharashtra to Jharkhand – was like rubbing salt on their wounds.

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Four months after the state of Jammu and Kashmir was dismantled, two sentiments can be felt brewing in Kashmir. One is of deep fury and humiliation, an anticipation of a trigger that will unleash fresh violence bringing the Narendra Modi government to its knees. The second, which almost coexists with the first, is of despair that the changed status is now irreversible. Despite all the international posturing, neither Pakistan can ensure azadi (freedom), nor will any new government at the Centre restore the pre-5 August ‘special’ status of Jammu and Kashmir. Irrespective of the unjust or illegal nature of the Modi government’s move, Delhi won’t be able to wish it away.

Dafa (Article) 370 was once a 50-storeyed building. Over time, it had been reduced to a mere two-storeyed one. But people felt betrayed by the manner in which it (J&K’s special status) was removed. However, now that it’s done, we will have to live with it. Delhi should also try to win back people’s faith,” says Chaudhary Rafiq Balot, the newly elected chairman of the block development council in Uri.

Balot’s sentiment is echoed by the Congress sarpanch of Nambla B village, Shahidul Islam. Despite the security threat, village councils demand funds and security so that their members could go out in the field and implement the J&K government’s Back to Village programme in militancy-hit areas. Last week, militants killed a sarpanch and an official of the state agriculture department in an attack on one such programme in Anantnag district’s Badasgam village.


Also read: Modi govt wants to end Kashmir dominance over Jammu with new administrative division


Different voices, different demands

Every group has its own expectations from Delhi. The business lobby, which, according to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has already suffered a loss of about Rs 12,000 crore and more than one lakh jobs, expects sops; apple growers who couldn’t sell their produce want crop insurance; those who had made EMI purchases before 5 August 2019 demand interest waiver. Private schools, institutions, hospitals and other establishments have either retrenched their staff or not paid them salaries; they want monetary assistance. Even dhaba owners like Daljeet Singh at Udhampur’s Jakhani Chowk seeks the resumption of the older and freer Amarnath Yatra, not the recent regulated one that badly affected local business.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s J&K unit also has its long list of demands – the restoration of statehood, an amendment to Article 371 that puts Kashmir at par with northeastern states, a law against land purchase by outsiders, a firm assurance that the new Union Territory’s demography will not be changed. “Delhi doesn’t understand the ground reality. How will we go to the people? The Centre must release the boys detained for stone-pelting. Families of militants should not be harassed,” many BJP workers at the party’s Srinagar office say.

Detained politicians are on a different path. Some of whom I spoke to vow to overthrow Delhi’s rule. The furious National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders send messages out that once they are released, Kashmir will be on fire. It has also brought the NC, PDP and the Hurriyat on a common platform — walk out of the Union. Their anger does reach people but the latter have lost faith in them. In the absence of any leadership, the rudderless Kashmiri seems willing to accept a new deal if it gives an assurance against the demographic change, the most pressing fear at the moment.


Also read: MEA distances itself from envoy’s ‘Israel model’ remark for Kashmiri Pandits — with silence


An imposed silence

Even though Delhi interprets the near-absence of violence since August as its success and a sign of ‘normalcy’, Kashmiris reject it. “You know why we are quiet, why there is no stone-pelting this time? Because we are mentally dead,” says an MSc student who studies in Srinagar but, with the university closed, now sells blankets outside Shopian’s Jama Masjid. The Hurriyat has been cautious because it doesn’t want to shift its focus from azadi to Article 370.

Amid all this, the desire for a new deal emerges not out of ‘normalcy’ but despair, despite an intensified anti-India sentiment, and yet, Delhi is not listening. With the youth comprising 50 per cent of Kashmir’s population, Kashmir urgently needs major investment in education and jobs.

Having unilaterally snatched J&K’s autonomy, the Narendra Modi government should have introduced many measures to win people back. But all that Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have done is raise Kashmir in various assembly elections – from Maharashtra to Jharkhand. This, Kashmiris say, was like rubbing salt on their wounds. The proposed renaming of Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Stadium after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel also hurts the Kashmiris.

But that precisely is the Centre’s ploy, something almost every Kashmiri pointed out over the nine days that I travelled from the southern Anantnag to LoC villages in Uri: crush the Kashmiri soul to the extent that they never raise their head. Let them remain hopelessly engaged with the essentials; physical pain will eventually dominate the mental agony. Large areas of Kashmir had power cuts, water shortage and snowfall in November, but the administration took little steps to even clear the snow. How does the simmering insult unfold later is anybody’s guess.

The treacherous ploy will hurt India more than it does Kashmir because the desire for azadi runs much deeper in the Valley than Delhi is willing to admit.

Exhibit A is the manicured Shaheed Park in the heart of Pulwama city. The district that saw the most devastating militant attack in recent years has a sprawling memorial for the “martyrs”, just a kilometre from the District Collectorate’s office. If that doesn’t sound odd, plaques in the park inform that it’s been “developed and maintained” by the former state’s biggest bank, J&K Bank, in which the J&K government has the majority stake. Funded and sustained by taxpayers’ money, the memorial was inaugurated by the bank’s then-chairman Mushtaq Ahmad in November 2011.

New Delhi has stepped into a chakravyuh without an exit plan. Any procrastination will worsen the crisis.

The author is an independent journalist. Views are personal.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. You spoke to a joe Blow on the street or was it Anecdotal survey or real unscientific survey result with no cops around???

  2. So far as Kashmir Q is concerned NM& AM according to best of knowledge is the one of excellent decision made . Now the wounded Kashmir for last 50 years now at least a year or two given .

  3. It took 72 years to shake away the old. But, 72 years from today Kashmir will be a thriving economy and a wonderful state of India.

  4. Kashmir is a dead issue locally and internationally. World is changing so quickly that hardly any country want to invest their diplomatic efforts in this issue. Almost all major powers are busy securing their own economical and geopolitical interests, be it a China, US or EU. As long as Kashmiris shouts slogan “Kashmir banega Pakistan”, it won’t have any sympathy from ordinary Indians or international community. I haven’t met any Indian who is interested in buying land in Kashmir and want to settle down in Kashmir. Kashmiri people need to get out of this false illusion of Azaadi. Pakistan is almost bankrupt and most unstable at the moment and can not risk it’s own territorial integrity for Kashmir . Kashmiris need to accept the path of education, economic development, democratic rights and peace guaranteed under Indian constitution rather than being used as a proxy by Pakistan.

  5. 1. To move forward, we must ensure that there is atmosphere conducive for return of normalcy in the Kashmir valley. I think for creating atmosphere of mutual trust, it is time all Kashmiris, politicians of the Kashmir valley, including Hurriyat Conference leaders, accept two ground realities: (a) Kashmir is, and will forever remain, part of the Indian Union. (b) NDA govt. will never discuss the Kashmir issue with either separatists or with Pakistan. 2. Is it not true that time is running out for many Kashmiri politicians and the ordinary people of Kashmir? They must decide either to support NDA government so that terrorism is wiped out from the Kashmir valley or to join those anti-national groups who provide support to Pakistan trained terrorists and face the danger of being marginalized at the hands of these terrorists. Further, if the terrorists get a free hand, there is every possibility that many ordinary Kashmiris will be driven out of Kashmir valley by the terrorists just the families of Kashmiri pundits were thrown our of the Kashmir valley.

  6. All along they told us that Article 370 was a sham – and now they talk about how angry they are because it is gone. For 70 years we have been told that we have to win their hearts – which mostly means that we have to shower them with subsidies while they can continue their endless complaining. They want India to be secular (and many of us agree) but then they conduct ethnic cleansing and lionize people who are blatantly communal. Just as so many Kashmiris are frustrated, so is the majority of India with their hypocrisy and dishonesty. Reconciliation will require Kashmiris to meet somewhere in the middle with the rest of the country.

  7. You can also say that Muslims will accept being second class citizens in Hindutva India as long as they are not physically attacked !

    • For muslims who do not accept Indian democracy, who do not like secular India, Who feel that they are 2nd class citizens in majority Hindu India – Must move out of India whenever they please. Why it is ONLY muslims have problem with majority Hindu population? If in India majority population is Hindus – is it Hindus fault? Pakistan was created 70 years back Bangladesh created with Hindu blood. There are 52 muslim or Arab nations. Why NOT leave India for Hindu and go somewhere else?

      • You’re wrong, there’re more than 250 million Muslims in India and they cannot be simply written off, they’re part and parcel of present day pseudo secular India (sub continent) which is now unsustainable as the mask of secularism ha come off and majority are asking for Hinduvta/Manusmriti (Brahmanical order) Hindu Rashtra. It’s this new order which endangers all of India’s minorities especially Muslims therefore, division of this humongous country in inevitable where by cow belt gets its Hindu Rashtra, Muslims get their own country as well Sikhs get Khalistan. South Indians would most probably go with countries based on languages like Bangladesh. That way everyone lives happily

        • 250 million and calling them minority is sin. Second these Kashmiries were converted Hindus . Converted by force. Instead of sympathising with Pandits they drove them out of valley to change demography. Muslims did it everywhere! They drove Zorostrians out of Persia. Chrstians out of Iraq, Syria. Hindus from Punjab, Kashmir valley. But brought in Rohingyas to Jammu.

          • Dhoti Hindu, Kashmiris are Muslims & Buddhists. Your Hindu terrorist sena drove out Kashmiri Muslims from their lands. Muslims ruled over Hindus for centuries. Had they wished, they would have forcibly converted all of you Hindus who today make up 84% majority. You Hindus were Jains & Buddhists who were forcibly converted by Brahmins as Dalits & Sudras. Muslims of Iran, Iraq and Syria are indigenous people. RSS brainwashed dhoti Kaaloo Hindu.

      • @vinny Hindus hate not just Muslims, but also Sikhs, Christians and low-caste Dalits.

        HINDU TERRORISM IN SO-CALLED SECULAR & LARGEST DEMOCRACY – ALL HINDU TERRORISTS WALKING FREE & CONTESTING ELECTIONS
        1969 Gujarat riots-430 Muslims
        1980 M’bad riots-400 Muslims
        1983 Nellie Massacre-2191Muslims
        1984 Sikh Riots-30000+Sikhs
        1989 B’lpur Riots-900 Muslims
        1992-3 Bombay Riots-575 Muslims
        2002 Gujarat Riots-50000 Muslims
        2008 Odisha Riots-100 Christians
        2013 M’nagar Riots-42 Muslims

  8. Just wait govt will bring normalcy, I hope the Govt learns from Xinjiang policy of China. This is the only way to deal terror.

    • It is Kashmiris who are suffering state terrorism from Modi. You will travel to the Muslim countries to bring oil after getting circumcised there, and forced to eat cow meat.

  9. Neither Kashmiris nor Pakistanis give any importance to what India says. To them, Kashmir continues to be a struggle for the freedom from India’s state-terrorism. Modi and Amit have just written off India’s demise.

    • You can keep dreaming. What you do not recognise is that the nature of the Indian state has changed. What Kashmiris or Pakistan want is not the reference point, but what India is prepared to do. It does not matter if Modi goes, whoever comes will not undo what has happened. Most Indians have had enough of Pakistan and Kashmir.

      India can live with the status quo in Kashmir forever. It may not win a popularity contest but that is not the idea. For all the talk about winning hearts and minds, it is brute force which controls the streets in Kashmir. And Pakistan can do nothing beyond the usual provocations, for which there will be an appropriate, electorally viable, response. Future Indian Governments will be compelled to follow the same course atleast in the medium term.

      • @anonymous: India has faced no provocation from Pakistan. Just ask Modi to lift the curfew and then see what happens. Do not then run to the UN and to the international community, like during the Kargil conflict.

        India is a time-bomb waiting to be exploded, due to the casteism, religious violence by majority Hindus, different races, ethnicities, languages issues. India cannot even defeat the homegrown rifle-carrying naxal forces for decades.

        • India went to the UN in 1948 to get justice in Kashmir. The naivety was exposed soon enough. In the Kargil conflict, Pakistan begged the US to interfere and mediate. India refused to entertain any such plea. It was winning the war on the ground anyway and territory was recovered inch by inch.

          Mian Sahab ran to Washington to make an honorable retreat for Pakistan after he realised the magnitude of what had happened. For a country which has never won any war with India, Pakistan has a lot of bluster. That is because the Pakistani state shamelessly defines victory as just survival to fight India another day. Make no mistake, Pakistan can never win any war with India ever. The asymmetry is just too great and becoming wider.

          Pakistan cannot get peace with India on its terms as it has nothing of value to offer. India is the status quo power and does not see any utility in reaching out to Pakistan on its terms. So the perennial conflict. This will not impede India’s growth or well being in the future. But I am not sure if I can say the same for Pakistan.

          • India was dragged by Pakistan to the UN for its occupation of a Muslim-majority territory. In Kargil, Slumdogs ran to the United States for beg Pakistan to stop supporting Mujahideen. Ask from Indian journalist Barkha Dutt who has told in her book how PM Vajpayee made unending calls to Bill Clinton. Pakistan still six peaks captured from Kargil, including point 5353. Also visit Dras War Memorial to see how many casualties India suffered.

            Who told you that Pakistan has never won war against India? Most of the wars were cease-fire mediated by the UN and Soviet Union, except for internal civil-war. You slumdogs received a thrashing from a small country on Feb 27, 2019.

            Those who are 24/7 brainwashed by a jingoist media and vote parties on basis of how to teach a lesson to Pakistan, should not use the term ‘peace’. Nuclear-armed Pakistan has put third-world shithoIe land which cannot even manufacture indigenous rifles, into guttar where it has always belonged. Your starving and inexperienced military has no experience to fight modern warfare. You slumdog upper-caste Hindus can never proper by turning minority Muslims into subhumans and low-caste Dalits by treating them worse than animaIs.

  10. If Kashmiris can enjoy all rights available to Indians outside their States, why an Indian from outside Kashmir enjoy same right in Kashmir? This demand is an attempt to bring back Art.370 through the backdoor. Central Government should stop subsiding Kashmir. Then they will know what it means to earn a living.

    • Completely agree. Free movement of labour is the hallmark of a healthy democracy. Property ownership can be restricted, but free movement, absolutely NO. Any attempt to thwart free movement for personal or economic reasons by instruments of terror should be dealt with forcefully. Any one who opposes this either lacks basic understanding or is a hypocrite to the core.

      • Which state in India wants to allow free movement of labor? Every state wants reservations, jobs in the states reserved to the extent of 80% and so, for the local workers! First this should be straightened out before talking about free movement of labour! Second, “an amendment to Article 371 that puts Kashmir at par with northeastern states” as mentioned in this article is required! EQUAL TREATMENT OF ALL STATES IA ALSO A HALLMARK OF HEALTHY DEMOCRACY! YOU CAN’T GIVE NAGALAND ITS OWN FLAG AND CONSTITUTION, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME TAKING AWAY j&k’s statehood, flag and constitution!

        • Uniform laws; uniform movement. Aspire to be like the US, Canada etc. then start bringing changes. Ownership rights can be different, but why should there be restrictions on movement? Whether a Bihari wants to work in Maharashtra or Kashmir, why should he be stopped? If this is not the case, this should be changed.

  11. This is not China, where the Han majority is being encouraged to settle in regions like Tibet or Xinjiang. Whatever else the future may hold for Kashmir, swarms of “ mainlanders “ coming in with their bori bistar is not on the cards.

    • Mr.ashok, How abt swarms of Kashmiri Pandit chased out (killing many and raping many of them) from their mainland, homeland Kashmir? They r the original Kashmiris.

      • “Swarms of Kashmiri Pandit chased out” by handful militants, not the bulk of India-loving Kashmiris! No Delhi government, including the Modi government had any interest in relocating the Kashmiri Pandits! Even the last coalition government of BJP and PDP in J&K didn’t do a thing to relocate the Kashmiri Pandits. NOBODY CARES FOR THEM, ALTHOUGH POLITICIANS TRY TO USE THM AS A TOOL TO BEAT UP ON OTHER POLITICIANS! AS EVERYTHING IN INDIA, THE KASHMIRI PANDITS ARE ALSO POLITICISED! WAKE UP!

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