Friday, March 31, 2023
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Narendra Modi has chosen the BJP’s interests in Kashmir over the national interest

The Modi government has done to national security what it did with demonetisation to the economy.

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The Kashmir problem has been solved by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, and now there will be peace in the beautiful Valley, or so the BJP wants us to believe.

Removing Article 370 will solve “the Kashmir problem” according to Home Minister Amit Shah. The union territory status is not permanent, he says, the state (minus Ladakh) will have a full state status again once “peace returns”. Peace will return, he is confident, now that the obstacles to peace have been removed. “Article 370 is biggest hurdle to normalcy in the state,” he said, as he moved to abrogate Article 370 Monday.

Articles 370 and 35A “disrupted peace” among the people of Jammu and Kashmir, according to the BJP’s state chief. According to NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, J&K will now have “peace, progress & prosperity”. Aditya Thackeray, who wants to transform his family enterprise Shiv Sena into a centre-Right party, thinks the region has now opened up to the same 3Ps: “peace, progress and prosperity.” AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, desperate to shed his Modi-basher tag, hopes “this will bring peace and development in the state.”

Also read: Modi took Kashmir’s special status away. He must assure people it won’t become a Palestine

Your land is my land

Anyone who thinks the clown-and-dagger dismantling of Jammu and Kashmir will bring peace to the region is either ill-informed or lying.

When the lockdown is removed and Kashmiris start expressing themselves, we will most likely see them angry about just one thing: 35A. They have long felt India wants to settle Hindus from across the country in their state, thus changing it from a Muslim-majority to a Hindu-majority state. Like China in Tibet and increasingly in Xinjiang (East Turkistan), demographic transformation has been a key tool with which repressive states have put down rebellious populations.

The issue of Article 35A is in court. The J&K state BJP chief said in June that if the Supreme Court were to uphold 35A, the Modi government would annul it with a law. Turns out, they didn’t even wait for the court to decide. Article 370, union territory and the separation of Ladakh are going to matter too, but not so much. Those things are more symbolic, because Article 370 had been made meaningless long ago. New Delhi has been de facto running the state directly since 1948. It is Article 35A that’s going to cause a lot of resentment.

Also read: This is General Bajwa’s dilemma after Modi govt’s Article 370 move in Kashmir

They make mayhem and call it peace

If history is any indicator, this resentment will channelise itself into violence. There will be many more angry Kashmiri youth fighting for their land, for many more generations. More protests that New Delhi will ban with declared and undeclared curfews. The banning of mass protests will lead young Kashmiris to pelt stones. The stone-pelters will easily be shot at and killed. Some will lose lives, some only their eyes. This will make them take up the gun. So, we are in for a new round of cyclical violence in Kashmir, and it’s possibly going to be much worse than the uprisings we have seen.

“There will be repercussions, and we might see an upswing in violence — not only in Kashmir, but just about anywhere,” said A.S. Dulat, former R&AW chief, an old Kashmir hand.

An AFP photo showed a document in Home Minister Amit Shah’s hand in parliament Monday. Among the points in this document was “Possibility of violent disobedience in sections of uniformed personnel.” And they say their move will bring peace.

Anyone who thinks removing 35A is going to bring peace will soon have to eat their words. Pakistan-based jihadis and their masters in Rawalpindi must be very happy at the prospect of further tensions in Kashmir. They will aid and abet the militancy, send in suicide bombers across the Line of Control, especially now that their eyes are going to be off Afghanistan.

The move makes not only Kashmir but the entire region unsafe. It will only give a fillip to terrorism. Obviously, the BJP and the Modi government can also see that. Then why have they made this self-goal?

Also read: Modi’s Kashmir move is biggest test for Indian democracy – and for the silent liberals

Against national interest

While rising tensions and terrorism in Kashmir may not be in India’s national interest, they don’t really hurt the BJP. The more the BJP can say ‘look at these bad Muslims’, the more it furthers its Hindutva agenda. The more spectacular terrorist attacks there are, the more India-Pakistan skirmishes there will be. That will only enable the BJP to say “ghar mein ghus ke maara” — the emotion of retribution always handy to cover up for rising unemployment.

In other words, the national interest and the BJP’s interests in Kashmir don’t go together. And the BJP is choosing the BJP’s interests over national interest.

The national interest in Kashmir was to not have discredited Mehbooba Mufti and her party. The national interest in Kashmir was to have held state elections there along with the Lok Sabha elections in May. The national interest in Kashmir was to have carried out a dialogue with the people to make them feel less hostile towards India. The national interest in Kashmir is to let them have 35A, just as there are restrictions on non-state residents buying land in much of the northeast. The national interest in Kashmir was to prevent Indian citizens there from taking up the gun, but the abolition of 35A will make them do just that. The national interest in Kashmir is to reduce the number of soldiers who return home in coffins, not increase the suffering of their families in the name of martyrdom.

This is a bit like demonetisation. It’s going to backfire. Intended to destroy the black economy, demonetisation destroyed the white economy even as the black money owners quietly changed all their currency.

Similarly, instead of bringing peace to Kashmir, the abolition of 35A will only create more violence and mayhem. Perhaps, that is what we want as a nation today.

Views are personal.

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  1. People who write such articles are impractical- they dont realize Indian Armed Forces, our jawans are bleeding i.e indians from rest of the states are bleeding and losing lives. It is an urgency to stop this bleeding and bring peace. Only peace brings prosperity- Sanjiv Sharma New Delhi

  2. The author is absolutely correct in asserting that it would have been in national interest to hold assembly in elections in J&K alongwith Lok Sabha elections. He is also fully correct in telling that the national interest would have been in talking to state Political leaders etc etc.
    These are the basic tenets of democracy and they have to be adhered to. There are no substitutes to these democratic means of doing things and sorting out issues.
    But had only these means borne fruits, there would have been no problems in Kashmir or about Kashmir – all these means have been resorted to continuously by successive center govts since eternity. All the govts at the centre took all these measures – Congress even went to the extent of asking it’s Chief Minister Mir Quashim to step down in favour Faruque Abdulah of National Conference. Nehru – Indira – Rajiv, all were great friends of Abdullahs too and went all the extra miles to appease them at all times perhaps to buy peace. But what had been the results of all these years of going goody goody, is for all of us to see. Everything in Kashmir deteriorated steadily and it had only become a Pakistan narrative, subject of international gossiping and most importantly misfortune of Kashmiries in all aspects of their lives.
    How long a body politik allow one of it’s limbs so vulnerable for so long. The country was just about to enter a closed road, where we would have been cornered and dictated by international pressures.
    Author’s conclusions appear to be one-sided and all-out negative and pessimistic. Yes, there are all possibilities of violent reactions and remarkable number of people heating the roads in protests may be for months to come. But that would be mainly because nothing had been done all these years to making a strong thread from J&K to the mainland. Everything have been done to keep J&K aloof and apart from rest of India. The local vested interests with tacit support from across the boarder had been proud making more and more stonepeltors out of Kashmiries’ youth and the state had become an industry of endless vested interests. So naturally there will be huge protests but it would be contained and taken care of. Some measures may look apparently unpleasant for the time being but may smoothen slowly to the best of normalcy.
    Of course, much will depend on the back up plan of the centre – back up plan for administrative peace and normalcy and more importantly the roadmap for educational, employment, poverty elliviation programmes as also programmes for making people at large aware of the equity of the actions of the centre. The situation and circumstances after curfew/144 lifting and release of state leaders would be very critical and sensitive and would require very careful handling as it has all the potential of huge spark – rather blast. It is hoped that the centre has a good and soothing back up plan keeping the Kashmiri people in centre.
    Author is not correct in observing that the military despansation in Pakistan or the Jehadis must be happy by the centre decision and would be creating more disturbances in the state. In fact, Pakistan must be too shaky and must be feeling out if any narrative and agenda. By and large there is and would be international silence allowing it to die down thereby enter alia confirming this to be our internal issue.
    The issue of the state being Muslim majority is not a thing at all to be harping on every now and then – demographic changes do occur over time. There remains very formidable population of Muslims in our country and they would remain so in future too. Demographic changes have taken place in all the states and everywhere. We should be welcoming it as long as it does not endanger the local cultural and religious customs, rituals and beauty. The centre should take special care to preserve and enhance Kashmiriyat in all ways.
    Moreover, Home Minister has said that the Union Territory status of J&K may be removed and full statehood granted in the times to come. That goes to suggest that the centre does have a tangible road map for J&K which will unfold with normalisation of situation. More sooner than later the centre should try take every stakeholder on board and narrate it’s plans and projects. Once entire intent of the govt comes in public domain, more and more reformative steps may be envisaged too.
    It is too much of the observation by the author that the move is more in BJP interest than the national interest! How long we could allow Trumps and Imrans to go on talking whatever nuisance they feel about J&K – our home. It was during Narsimharao tenure that the Parliament adopted a resolution reaffirming Kashmir being integral part of India – how long we could go on repeating this? Why we should not put a full stop and say unequivocally – J&K is as good as in India as any of it’s state! Why we shouldn’t remove Kashmir as an agenda for any international fora? And what we say about the support that the resolution got in Parliament – from the parties being avowed adversaries of BJP like BSP and AAP and how we explain the stand taken of many of the first benchers of Congress even in the face of it’s official stand of opposing the move! Are all of them trying to please BJP only, as the author appears to suggest.
    In fact 35A had already outlived it’s life. We have moved ahead too far and the Nation was very much in need of doing away with this. Even without prejudice to everyone and everything the truth of 1948 must have been too different than the truth of today. And we must be able to take a decision based on the present day Truth. Let’s not go on talking too much about Sheikh Abdullah, Hari Singh or Nehru. Those were very different days altogether.
    Tomorrow BJP would not be in power but these type of decisions become landmark in a country. It would be too early to jump on any conclusions about what J&K would look like, say after 50 years from now. But with all probability and with all the impartial wisdom, one can trust this decision to be historic, positive, unifying and strengthening our Country!

  3. Exerted much over rhetorical rant? Please take a break! I come to this site to get a neutral perspective and strategic aspects of moves, not your emotions. And I see how you are “hoping” to see regional terror to rise after this move and to me it nullifies any valid reasoning this article may have had albeit unlikely.

  4. India and Congress Party are holding these dialogue sessions for past 70 years and what do we have to show? Stone Pelters, Mobs wielding AK47 guns and support to Pakistan terrorists. So common sense tells that medicine failed to cure the wound. Now intellectuals like you would love to allow it pester so that you can write another article about rising terrorism in Kashmir but sensible state will take a stand and say time is up. Time is up for the healing touch to Kashmiris. Either they fall in line or move to POK. No more dilly dallying with rocks.

  5. As I understand, Kashmir had only 2 solutions.
    1. Independence for Kashmir so that it will get integrated with Pakistan or
    2. Scrapping special status for Kashmir. Start acquiring land for various projects. Bring in investment. Encourage Indian citizens to settle in Kashmir just like they do in any other state e.g. Cities like Pune, Bangalore, Mumbai have huge populations from outside their respective states, diluting “regionality” and promoting the concept of Indian unity. This encourages gradual demise of regional politics e.g. Raj Thackeray in Maharashtra. That is exactly what needs to happen in Kashmir so that it will be integrated with rest of India.
    The road ahead may be difficult, but it the only way to proceed.
    Do you have any other solution to Kashmir? Talking to local politicians was a waste of time as that’s exactly has happened in last 70 years. So if you don’t have an alternative solution, it would have been much more prudent to be cautiously supportive of BJP’s move instead of fear mongering.

  6. The only aim of BJP is to make India a Hindu Rashtra. They will go to any extent to achieve this. The irony is even people who will be at the mercy of Hindutva forces supporting BJP.

  7. Vij! In the same breath you say Kashmiris are angry and Pakistan freed of Afghan problems will unleash its laskhars on India! Make up your mind who’s unhappy Kashmiris or Pakistinis?

  8. Rewind a few days back, and what were the topics folks were talking about? It was decreasing sales and layoffs in automobile sector, warnings from industry leaders about economic slowdow and the unfortunate suicide of CCD owner.

    Any indication from the govt if it’s planning to do anything about these issues which impacts lacs of Indians? How do you take care of your family or EMI if you get laid off? Has the economy kick started with this move? Or are there chances that the security implications may further depress the economy? Any sign at all that this matters to the powers that be? Nothing that’s visible. And they have their priorities clear.

    So the whole country is now busy discussing Article 370 and some celebrating. Quite a few similarities with notebandi, which no one is celebrating today, not even those who took the decision.

  9. If this is your view then we in other states also start protesting right ? Because our lands are also getting robbed.
    Ja re … Pahale apna point of view as a Indian bolke change kr fir article likh.

  10. well said. i think the same. violence will not stop. But now it will be a highly policed state till it become Hindu majority in next five years, 35A or no 35 A, you can not make them happy without full freedom because of abetment from Pak. It is catch 22 for Indian governments and J & K people.

  11. There are thirty states to give full rein to normal political activity. This one is special. It lies at the intersection of the domestic and global aspects of national interest. However much we may huff and puff to the contrary, it is not a purely domestic matter.

    • ashok JI – “huff and puff…this is not an internal matter” because Indians like you view it from Pakistan’s perspective. Wish there were Chinese and English citizens who would have views similar to you on Hong Kong and Scotland respectively. Unfortunately there may be none. Jai Hind 🇮🇳

  12. This dialog nonsense is going on for years and till the time the few political families in Kashmir had their way, the dialogue would never succeed. There is a definite worry about increase in violence post curfew but then hopefully the government, since law & order would be under central now, would take enough measures to keep it under tabs. Some out of box action was required and i think since this govt has taken it, one should support. The most important thing for anyone, especially the journalists is not to do fearmongering and spread negativity

  13. Since yesterday very sad to read all articles in the Print. Do not expect such articles in the Print. This is extremely low level of journalism. Never follow the Print again.

  14. Dear Bulk Burnol-user Shivam Vij, articles on back to back days…. May burnol give you strength to recover from burns.

  15. Any action need iron hand. If Sardar Patel would have had chance to listen to people like Shivam Vij kind of writers, India would have been many countries, in bits and peaces, half of them under Pakistan causing disturbance anywhere. Some writers loose sense.

    • That was infact better some time I feel looking at state affairs in states like UP, Bihar, Jharkhand… these states only pulls down India growth opportunities.

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