Article 35 A

We have a story, with a beginning, middle and end- but it is the end that is confounded by “the others,” who have their ‘meal tickets in the pursuit.’For confusing the end, they not only collaborate with the coercive forces in strengthening the ‘hegemonic discourse’ but also indulge in what academic’ describe as the ‘violence of   hermeneutics.’

The ‘others’ that is the tribe of political folks who don’t represent the political sentiment of the overwhelming majority have used the ‘violence of interpretations’ as a tool to blur the people’s political goals. They have fattened and are fattening on the political uncertainty in the state since 1947. To safeguard their interests, they lose no opportunity to use this mode of violence,but for their manufactured interpretation of various developments, the Kashmir problem would have been resolved long before, even  it wouldnot have emerged as a nuclear flashpoint. Moreover, instead of earning the dubious title of “most dangerous place in the world,” our land would have emerged as an oasis in the most vulnerable region, where three inimical nuclear powers are facing each other. One could validate with many instances from the history that but for the political leadership of the state in 1947 and 1948, using the violence of interpretation  the Kashmir tragedy would not have been born at all.

In 1947, M. A. Jinnah’s statement about Kashmir, ‘the apple did not fall far from the tree’ suggesting that undivided Kashmir with its eighty percent Muslim population would not prefer to distance itself from the newborn Muslim country- that was recognized as home for the South-Asian Muslims.The sentence was subjected to violence of interpretation by playing upon parochialism of Kashmiris and made to read ‘Kashmir was rotten apple bound to fall into his lap at any time.’

On October 27, 1947, the landing of Indian troops in Kashmir was justified by the National Conference leadership by ‘abusing hermeneutics’; invoking Surah Al-Feel (Chapter 105) from the Holy Quran, ‘comparing Indian Air force planes to Ababeel’ birds mentioned in the book of Allah. Flocks of whom  God Almighty had sent to protect Kabbah against the invaders on elephants.

In 1964, the Holy Relic movement that had shaken the world in general and Muslim World in particular also suffered the violence of interpretation- the people’s movement for the cherished goal exercising the right to self-determination was interpreted as a movement for the release of Sheikh Abdullah. Thus, this historic opportunity that ostensibly had changed New Delhi in as much as it had started looking for a trilateral dialogue was lost.

In 1975, the violence of interpretations was used to discredit the twenty-two years sufferings and struggle of thousands of the Plebiscite Front workers ;  first by interpreting the struggle for the right to self-determination as resistance “for the quantum of accession and not against quality of accession ,’ then it was denigrated as  22 years journey in the wilderness.

In the post, 1990 scenario there are many glaring examples when fatigued resistance leaders also resorted to the violence of hermeneutics on more than one occasion and used weird statements  such as;  “every Kashmiri will have to taste hemlock’, suggesting that they have to reconcile to the status quo.

Since 2013, dangers of changing the demography of the state by annulling ninety-year-old state subject law through judicial route have been looming large in the state. The state subject law was provided a shield of protection under Article 35 A, through a Presidential order, after the National Conference leadership through the controversial Delhi Agreement had surrendered before New Delhi as a bear with rope in his nostrils does before his master. The leadership had allowed New Delhi to erode whatever autonomy the state enjoyed under conditional and temporary “Instrument of Accession” signed by the Maharaja of Kashmir and the Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten.The fact and date of the “Instrument of Accession,” has been questioned by prominent international and Kashmir historians. That at the moment  is not subject of this column but what has become immediate cause of concern is the protection of the state subject law and the rights that accrue to the people of Jammu and Kashmir across regional, religious, ethnic and caste divide through this law-  protected by  Article 35-A. The protection of this Article is not a cause of concern only for those in the vanguard of the resistance movement or the civil society or those in the race for entering into the corridors of power but of every hereditary state subjects. It armors them against cultural  onslaughts, protects their ethnic identity and equally their rights to employment and economy.

In a larger context, it should also be  the cause of concern to the United Nations Security Council  in as much as the august body has conferred right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and through its various resolutions provided them a mechanism for exercising of this right.  These resolutions, after India and Pakistan signed them in the presence of the comity of nations have got sanctity of the international agreements- India and Pakistan as member countries of the Security Council are bound to honor these agreements. Moves, for changing the demography of the state in the context of the United Nations resolution of 1948, 1949 and 1957 tantamount to violation of theinternational agreements, to which India and Pakistan are parties.

Seeing unequivocal support of people forthe protection of 35A,some political parties tried to use the ‘violence of   hermeneutics’  for scoring some browny points over the resistance leadership and trying to push  them into a bind. These endeavored to interpret the pro-active support of the JRL  for protecting the Article 35A  as them recognizing the Constitution of India. Scion of the Abdullah fan and former Chief Minister used the microblog Twitter for scoring a browny point over the JRL. On August 6, he tweeted:

“Protecting #Article 35A is a tacit acceptance that J&K’s future lies within the Constitution of India otherwise how would it matter if it were struck down or diluted?”

I don’t know the real objective behind the tweet, if it was making some brownie points vis-à-vis New Delhi  or it had been whispered to him__ nonetheless, it ostensibly suggested that he wanted to dissuade the JRL from raising their voice in support of protecting the rights of the people that percolate to them from the state subject law now dovetailed to the Article 35A. His tweet was followed by a couple of statements from ‘the others’, which interestingly demanded the right to self-determination and plebiscite and tried to belittle  the importance of Article 35A- the abrogation of which people see as an existential threat.

It seems, the leadership, the civil society and people in general sufficiently understand that the priority at this juncture is protecting the state subject law that could be achieved bybringing people of all the three regions on one page. That could be attained by countering the violence of interpretations andthe ‘alternative narratives’ conjured by the ‘others.’ The most potentweapon is the unity of people of the state.

Z. G. MUHAMMAD is Srinagar based author and writer

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  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    There are attempts to snatch away whatever little freedom kashmiris have through special status. The debate on Article 35A is one such attempt to stop the voices advocating self determination. Such attempts to suppress people must be condemned

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