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Panic in Kashmir helps Modi deflect attention from sinking economy, even if fear is real

Why do we not want to believe that it is genuinely a terror alert?

A security personnel stands guard at Lal Chowk during a two-day strike call given by separatist leaders to protest against the legal challenge to Article 35-A and Article 370 of the Constitution, which grant special privileges to Jammu and Kashmir, in Srinagar, on 13 February, 2019 | Photo: S Irfan | PTI
A security personnel stands guard at Lal Chowk | File photo: S Irfan | PTI

Everybody’s calling up everybody else, asking the same question: What on earth is happening in Kashmir?

The speculation is endless. Is the government planning to abrogate Article 35A overnight, thus leading to likely protests and violence in Kashmir? Is the government planning to abrogate Article 370 overnight, which gives J&K state a special status under the Indian Constitution? Is the Modi government planning to trifurcate the state overnight, making Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh three different states, which most people think will further alienate Kashmiris and won’t be in India’s national interest? Or, is this to sanitise the state so that Modi can shift his Independence Day address from Red Fort to Lal Chowk?

It’s interesting that nobody who’s not a Modi supporter is willing to believe the given reason: a terror alert. That’s because anti-Modi people don’t trust Modi’s word.

That is how deep the polarisation in India today is.

Also read: PM Modi won’t hoist tricolour in Kashmir, no plan now to scrap Article 35A, govt says

Consequently, anti-Modi people are again falling into a national security trap. By Monday, the Modi government will likely declare victory, claiming to having averted a major terror attack, saving lives of Hindu pilgrims.

Perhaps, the government has an imprecise terror alert of a possible attack on tourists or Amarnath pilgrims. If a terrorist strike were to happen, won’t Modi critics blame the government for an intelligence failure? Now that the government is acting on an intelligence input, the critics are still unhappy.

Hindu khatre mein hain, Hindus are endangered species, and Modi and Amit Shah are the saviours of Hindus. What about this doesn’t make sense? It’s the conspiracy theories – trifurcation of state, abrogation of Articles 35A and 370, and delimitation.

Remember that any constitutional change in J&K will need a “majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the house present and voting” in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, which Modi doesn’t have. Even most allies won’t support crazy ideas.

The poor communication by the Modi government on the situation in Kashmir is also likely a deliberate strategy. Panic and conspiracy theories will give Modi fans a booster shot that Modi is about to carry out the Hindutva agenda in Kashmir. This is how Modi government handles the politics of waiting. It raises expectations of its own Hindutva constituency only to change the subject. This keeps their emotional state at a permanent high. Remember how there were rumours last winter of a Ram Mandir ordinance? The rumours were allowed to float for days before they were scotched.

The panic and alarm in Kashmir, with people bracing for a possible security shut-down, won’t affect the Modi government. These are people who support militants and don’t vote for the BJP, so why care about them?

The state’s governor, Satyapal Malik, has already clarified that a change to Article 35A is not on the cards. Yet, the BJP as a party will continue to make noise about it and political parties in J&K need to do their own posturing to be seen as holding off New Delhi against changing any constitutional provisions regarding J&K.

Another rumour is that Kashmir Valley is being ‘sanitised’ so that Modi may give his 15 August speech from Srinagar rather than Red Fort. Who spreads these rumours? Who comes up with them? We know that if there’s a rumour, the Modi government will do the opposite. Rarely do these rumours come true. This government prides itself at surprising and keeping people guessing.

Keeping a nation on tenterhooks has its advantages for the government. Most crucially, it will help deflect our attention from a sinking economy and the Modi government’s failure to save the day. That does not mean the terror alert is unreal.

With Pakistan PM Imran Khan having successfully made US President Donald Trump offer mediation in Kashmir, this is just the right time when militants and their masters in Rawalpindi could do with a terror attack in Kashmir. What else do you need to make the international community sit up and take notice? ‘Internationalising’ Kashmir is always on their agenda.

Also read: Amarnath yatris completing their 45-day pilgrimage is a matter of prestige for Kashmir

Views are personal.


  1. Will Removal Of Article 370 Solve Kashmir Problem?
    By Promod Puri
    Some action is better than no action. But this action is a big one, shaking the very status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
    The dillydallying over the Kashmir problem for over 70 years got some kick from the government of India with the announcement that Article 370 is removed from the Constitution. This very article gave special status within the union of India. This special status meant significant autonomy to J and K, which no other state in India has.
    Besides the abrogation of Article 370, the Indian government has also bifurcated the state into two central-controlled Union Territories. One is the Jammu-Kashmir region, and the other is Ladakh.
    Was Article 370 ever help the people of the state in terms of socio-economic conditions. Or did it ever give some autonomy to Jammu and Ladakh regions within the state? Did Article 370 help in resolving the Kashmir problem. The answer is NO.
    Not because anything wrong with the article, rather I support it. Even to the extent that this kind of provision should be granted to every state in India. Autonomy is the key which can guarantee the unity of India by respecting its linguistic and cultural diversities.
    The special status under Article 370, instead of honoring its intents, has been exploited by the Kashmiri leadership, more precisely by the Valley. And over the years the Kashmir Problem has become a full-fledged industry controlled by the few families of the Valley and terrorists within the state and across from Pakistan.
    Will, the removal of Article 370, will result in big migration of people to the state from the rest of the country over the years? Hitherto, only the subjects can buy properties in the state. This kind of law has been in existence in a few other states of India. But no major migration has so far occurred there. So, there should not be any fear that the removal of the status will result in changing the demographics of the state from Muslim majority to minority.
    Although, we can condemn the repealing of Article 370 from the Constitution as the way it got presented in the parliament without any discussion at all, which is not a democratic way. But the whole dramatic exercise is to be considered in the context that over the years the politicians, both in the opposition and in power, talked and talked and talked without resolving the Kashmir Problem.
    Now, we have some action, but no talk.
    Will all this solve the perennial Kashmir Problem? The answer is no. Because Jammu and Kashmir are two separate identities. Keeping them together without giving regional autonomy to Jammu region will keep the frustrations of this region alive. Jammu could be the clue to the Kashmir tangle if it gets a fair share of the power within the state. And then there is the “Azad Kashmir” factor also, which is still legally part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
    Anyway, no action is better than some action to keep the ball rolling. Hopefully, it will stop somewhere, sometime.
    Promod Puri, Vancouver, BC, is native of Jammu, journalist, writer, and author of “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions.”

  2. If this is not an undeclared emergency, then what is it? Extreme jingoism and use of excessive military forces, stifling the voices of the civil societies, main stream political leaders who oppose the present Union Govt. of India will only make J & K situation even worse.

  3. Distraction is this article,since perturbed by what is happening in Kashmir, author trying to put blame.dont worry people are smart nowadays…

  4. Only day dreaming by vij due to deep frustration from this progressive Govt. May be a Cong. beneficiary lamenting for bad days.

  5. Somebody got it right…. U have b@llz….kudos….most have traded in for trp….This and All the noise of pots and crocks clanking being made by lord voldormot’s bozo mps (xss, sads and yogs) by making statements being made to make you angry are not by accident…. No no… but are planned noise to divert from Sinking economy…. Just see all ppl getting fired at mass scale…. The powers to be will be more than happy if worse comes true here as they will have a scape goat for crashing economy into the wall… Coz now it won’t make sense to still blame nehru clan… Coz well they are not in control.

  6. One can understand the frustration of the Lutyens media. Having grown fat on a steady stream of gossip thrown in their direction by the Congress, which the media tried to pass off as source based journalism, they are finding it difficult to put in the hard work required under the new regime. Hence these endless, speculative articles to fill in the blanks. We can expect more such drivel for the next 58 months.

  7. The author has rightly observed, Modi government has yet again trapped the opposition. It would come handy during election campaign.

  8. BAT teams from pakistan who maime and cut heads of INDIAN soldiers they kill have been shot dead. Wonder what extent would desperate corrupt journalists would go against INDIA

  9. Well author has tried to bring a different opinion or reason for cause of current kashmir amarnath yatra curtail and developing situation. But it’s just look like author determined to write some thing about the this topic when other journalists too write about it or just got ANOTHER opportunity to criticise current GOI.

    Article is well scripted and spun all imaginary things, could have been an big box office hit – BOH in hollywood…

    Does any one ever realise how much manpower and resources are getting spent for this current situation. How much people getting affected from day today life and those people (tourist’s) who saved their earnings for years together to get a glimpse of amarnath. How important this yatra in each person’s life.

    Simply they can’t deploy armes forces without proper reasons for higher command. And current GOI trying to bring the change to people and spending resources to bring a standard in their life, its not unlike other past GOI.
    Perhaps I may wrong in my judgement and author is right in that scenario then past GOI also has done similar thing but since media was not able to communicate as freely as now but was allowed to some extend during that period of time. So based on his or her past experience and judgement current article is written? shall we reader assume in such way…

  10. Modi is master who knows how and when to fool his Hindutava majority voters by raising communal tensions and violence in the country.

  11. So as per this article, regardless of whether the threat of JeM terrorists targeting the Amarnath Yatra is real or not, all Modi is doing is deflecting attention from the economy. How about the floods in Bihar and Assam, another distraction by Modi? There is a fine line between being crtical of the BJP and unhinged paranoia and you seem to have crossed this line a long time back. Get help.

    • Are floods anything new? …was it surprising to have floods due to rain in monsoon?… Fund issue? How can it be party at center have formed govts here… So answs are No…coz There is no political will to make preventive action…. That is all

  12. -One important purpose of any law anywhere is to serve the greater good of the country first.

    -As J&K special status temporarily given post accession has become an impediment to security, peace and economic environment of the state and to the greater good of the country it must be removed. Manner of its removal is not very relevant, relevant is changes are made to completely integrate the state removing all possible future issues that can become problems for the country if possible.

    -One explicit objective must remain at all to alter demographics by settling land less people from various different states into J&K specifically the K . As state must be made to feel like any other state and not special.

    (*Look at such examples from our neighborhood are China settling Han people from east China into Xinjiang to alter demographics and bring new skills in efforts to help Ugier population become more Chinese than fester unique identity, they do via re-education /Pakis settling ex-army people into pok)

    -All picking up arms or any weapons must be exterminated and their supporters re-educated till they prefer to see differently. Current local leaders can lead to help their fellow citizens thrive in changing environment and prosper or find themselves on the poor side in a changed future.

  13. I don’t think this can be called ARMY buildup, because only CRPF personnel are being amassed there. If you ask me, this is just a stupid way for Mr Modi to feel powerful. Absolutely NOTHING is going to come of it. No 35/370 announcement will happen, no terrorist attack is threatened. Absolutely nothing is the reason for all this build up. Nor will the Red fort venue be replaced by Lal Chowk. The only reason is: HAVE POWER, WILL SHOW. Someone should tell Mr Modi that he is fast becoming a laughing stock both within and outside India. Now please don’t shoot me for speaking the truth.

  14. Shivam Vij should give answers to a few questions: (1) is Iran threat real? (2) are globalisation and free trade a good way to go for the whole world; (3) is Trump’s tug of war with China laudable?; (4) if the answer to Q3 is NO, then is India immune from these fast moving developments.

    There are many more questions before any discussion on Indian economy should take place.

    • # 1. No. It is a peace loving, civilisational power. 2. Yes. It has helped lift more people out of poverty more swiftly than anything in human history. 3. No. An act of extreme folly.

  15. The economy affects the well being and livelihood concerns of all Indians, in a manner and to an extent that Article 370 or the Ram Mandir do not. It is sinking, whichever metric one uses. It cannot continue like this for five years, without unsettling political fortunes completely. The stage where the usual suspects could be paraded on TV, with their denial and delusions is past. Nothing more can be achieved in an already bruised Kashmir to shore up national popularity. 2. If anything, the downside of Kashmir becoming more fraught needs to be carefully considered. Something truly precipitate would draw global attention of an intensity we do not want. The standoff after Pulwama / Balakot sensitised the world to how swiftly the subcontinent can be plunged into war. That no one wants. 3. Pakistan is getting back into the game, helping extricate America and its allies from a quagmire. Its faltering economy requires foreign aid and support. I don’t think it would be foolish enough to imperil its emerging good fortune by doing something provocative. However, if the state government has issued a travel advisory, that should be taken at face value. For many people to heed pernicious rumours to the contrary suggests the need to build up trust. Difficult to claim credit for anything that is happening.

  16. Senseless write up. One event cannot stop all other events. Army built up is based on intelligence and to prevent human loss. These writers will be happy to report if there is a calamity and keep blaming govt not doing enough and will also run debate shows shouting at the roof from opposition and vested interests.

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