Since the arrival Modi in our political scenario in 2002, India has steadily drifted into world of “pseudo-reality”. By 2019, India has fallen deep into “the abyss of a totalitarian society”.
Yet another “master-stroke” hurtling India towards disaster.
The problem here is that since 1947 the UN has regarded the whole of Kashmir (held by India and Pakistan) as “disputed territory” -not either as “Indian territory” (as India claims) nor as “Pakistan territory” (as Pakistan claims). The UN has no obligation to be deterred by lack of “authorization” -either by India or by Pakistan to take up any issue related to the “disputed territory”. The GoI recognizes this -which is why their argument is that they are not changing the territorial “status quo” by either invalidating Art 370, or by splitting the Indian occupied territory into two administrative zones.
The crass action by Modi and Shah has the potential to do immense harm to India’s integrity. Now we know that it is barbaric to suppress separatist sentiments using brute force. As was done in Punjab, and as is now being attempted in Kashmir. The only civilized way to address separatism is to talk, and to negotiate with the malcontents -and if possible, address their concerns. If not possible, conduct a referendum to ascertain what most people in the concerned region want. And then -gracefully respect whatever is the outcome of this.
As India appears to have adopted the Israeli methods to tackle separatism in Kashmir, the outcome here is unlikely to be far different from that in Israel -decades of chaos in the regions of Gaza and West Bank with no end in sight, never mind the retaliatory brutality by a State that has for long adopted a “zero tolerance” policy against the malcontents.
Is there any alternate model that India can consider? One that has been more successful in handling separatist sentiments, including terrorism
The specific actions by the Govt that we object to:-
Arrest of all political leaders of Jammu & Kashmir (except of the ruling party) -the way Indira Gandhi did when Emergency was imposed -an action that is still condemned. Clamp down on the press and other news media in Jammu & Kashmir -again the way Indira Gandhi did when Emergency was imposed -an action that is still condemned. Deployment of heavily armed security personnel all across Kashmir, blocking of the roads with concertina coil, and imposing of total curfew ACROSS the State -something Indira Gandhi did not do at any time, anywhere during Emergency. Total shut down of all channels of communication, including landlines, mobile phones, internet etc -again something Indira Gandhi did not do during Emergency. Not even briefly, in those 2 odd years. Use of pellet guns and automatic weapons to disperse people who defy curfew and come out from their homes to protest. Forget Indira Gandhi, even the Chinese have not resorted to such barbarity while dealing with protesters in Hong Kong.
I would personally prefer India to be be a Union of States, with no State opting to exit the Union. But then colonizing by military force those who do not desire to stay in the Union is unacceptable. This is why a policy of generous accommodation of regional aspirations is so important for India’s unity.
My stand is that it is immoral to “wait and watch how things progress” in a situation like the present. The “best case” is that the people of the Valley will meekly submit to the suppression of their aspirations for greater autonomy by the use of brute force -involving not only pellet guns, but also AFSPA and UAPA. The “worst case” is protracted resistance by the people for year and years. Neither of of the above is worth “waiting for”. Unless we can confidently state that the majority of the people in the Valley have no aspirations for greater autonomy. But if we can say that, then referendum would have been a more legitimate and ethical “solution” to the problem.
Under Resolution 47 adopted by the UN on 18 Mar 1948, a five member United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was set up with the stated objective of taking forward the UN Security Council’s recommendations for restoring peace, and for conducting a plebiscite in J & K. If the territory was not regarded as disputed by the UN, then why the recommendation for a plebiscite?
On 13 August 1948, after discussing with the govts both of India and Pakistan, the UN Commission unanimously adopted a resolution, amending and amplifying the earlier UN Resolution 47. The UN Commission’s resolution (among others) was that the two countries must first establish truce, and then enter into consultation with the Commission for settling the future of the state in accordance with the will of the people. Again, the operative part of the resolution is “in accordance with the will of the people”.
India had sought to integrate the various regions into a single Union under the assumption that this represents the will of the people of the concerned regions. Nehru’s moral error was not to conduct a referendum as was promised by the Govt of India at the time of accession, and also in keeping with the reasonable UN Resolution.
Recent actions by Indian Govt amounts to throwing away the “fig leaf”-the argument that though there was never a referendum, the majority of the people of J&K really wish to be a part of India. J&K had become an autonomous part of the Indian Union -not only on the basis of the Instrument of Accession signed by non-representative King, but also through an arrangement worked out by the Constituent Assembly of J&K with the Govt of India. Doing away with Article 370 -without consulting elected representatives from all regions of J&K -delegitimizes the accession.
This was why the earlier Govts wisely resorted to progressive watering down of Article 370, this always by “appearing” to have taken the elected reps from the State on board. By doing what they did, Modi & Shah have (perhaps irreversibly) alienated the people of at least 1.5 regions of J&K. May be, India can militarily colonize the Valley for years. But it does not take brilliance to foresee that we have created a Palestine within India by this colossal stupidity.
Mousumi Roy is a political commentator