The agenda is clear. Whip up frenzy and sentiments outside Kashmir for the ‘bold’ decision on it. The celebrations on the street look as if you have ‘occupied’ a territory and the way responses are coming they reflect how much divisions we have created in this country. Right and wrongs are now clearly based on your religious identity. The decision on J & K is basically based for 2024 elections and prior to that for the Maharashtra elections where Shiv Sena and BJP have already gone on rampage for this ‘historical’ decision. The country has got a ‘new’ leader for 2024. It is the new ‘sardar’ of India, Mr Amit Shah. That is the way how the projections are being made and how he has been anointed as the leader of the country by the cheerleaders in Delhi.

Any article in the constitution can always be amended and corrected so that there is no doubt it. What is important about democracy is not merely geographical area but the people. Now, article 370 can only be abrogated if the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir recommend that and since that does not exist, it would only have meant for the current legislative assembly in the state but since it has been suspended, there is nothing. Question is can the governor who is merely an administrator on behalf of the center, sign on the document as the representative of the people of Kashmir ? Second, to scrap the law, you need bill passage through 2/3rd of the majority in the house. So, frankly speaking, there are so many layers and lawyers suggest that the entire article is not done away with. This is the crux of the issue.

Frankly speaking, BJP has found a way out to deviate from the real issues of the country. It has to bring Muslims and related things to the main agenda. It want to pretend that it is doing a great service but its best supporters know that the party is punishing. Look at the triple talaq bill, where the party never bothered to speak to Muslims and their representative. The entire happy going class on TV and celebrating the passage were the savarna Hindus. Look at Kashmir, we are told that the entire India is celebrating but what about kashmir. We are informed that people in Kashmir are celebrating it and said that it should have done long back.

‘Now there wont be two flags. This country will have only one flag. No two samvidhans. Obviously, the two samvidhans were just on papers. Frankly many things had been diluted over the years. The terms sadar-e-Riyasat for Governor and Vajir-e-azam, for the chief minister had already done away with in the 1960s itself. Supreme Court was taking cognizance. You were appointing governors and police officers. What was that India was not able to do inside Kashmir in these seventy years.

The only bone of contentions were two things. One political leadership of the valley of all varieties were uncomfortable with the current regime and second article 35a which protect Kashmir’s land and water resources and does not allow outsiders to procure the land there. Ofcourse, just because it is a conflict zone people wont go it. Special regions need special proections. We have similar provisions in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and other states because these states are border states and have specific cultural context. Ofcourse, you invite investment for ‘development’ and we are witnessing how the corporate are for the grabbing of all the natural resources in these regions violating all the environmental norms. For those who think every natural thing is for the sale and profit mongering, they wont understand the importance of a beautiful zone. They are killing the beauty of Uttarakhand, in the name of development, they will do the same in Kashmir too.

Question is not that you cant do it. The question is how to do it. If you wanted to do it, what was the hindrance. You feel the political leadership. What have you done to take them into confidence. For years, all those leaders, who faced blame from the Pakistanis and the militants for being the lackeys of New Delhi , have been put under house arrest. So you do not want to speak to them. You want to put each one of them under the category of being anti national.

Agreed that Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have different conditions and needed separation. This kind of solution were given by many but can a state be denied of its identity without speaking to its representative. Can a presidential order undo a state. The historical fact is that Jammu and Kashmir was a state and if it had to be trifurcated or bifurcated, it needed to be done by the political leadership and state assembly and then approved by Parliament. A centrally appointed governor, who is the custodian of the constitution but can not be called as representative of Jammu and kashmir, and can never be bigger than the state assembly as a whole, cant really sign on behalf of the people.

A state is divided when there is a popular demand. We had heard this demand by Jammu but it never became a movement. So a state suddenly become a union territory.

The issue is of moral stand the nation. News media is broadcasting how Kashmir is peaceful. Now, after imposing all restrictions, downing the internet lines as well as blocking communications, you suggest that it is peaceful, is hypocrisy. The question is what effort government made to speak to Kashmiri leadership or it just want to communicate that each one of them have turned anti Indian is a disgrace because in the last 30 odd years, militants or terrorists killed many Muslims who they considered pro Indian. Many panchayat level leaders were killed who contested elections to make it successful.

We know the country is celebrating it. BJP feel that 2024 elections have got an agenda. Jo kahte hai wo karte hai.. the agenda is to teach the minorities, dalits, adivasis, dissenters a lesson. Ram Temple will be built, Triple Talaq bill is done, Kashmir is India, reservations have already gone, so time for savarna celebrations.

It is sad that regional parties who might be victims of the powerful central party in future, supported many bills for safe passage in Rajya Sabha. They supported revamping RTI and now the Kashmir bill. Except for DMK which has a historical legacy and thankfully, it stick to that, all other parties have totally surrendered or compromised with their stated position. It is the question of India’s federal structure and democratic way of governance. Did the government really initiated a dialogue with the national opposition parties on the issue. It did not because, it wanted to score big political point. When a decision of this magnitude was being taken, apart from the top Kashmiri political leadership, the government should have taken into confidence, the opposition parties and called the big meeting. It must have called the meetings of Chief Ministers and governors of all the state about the development but it did not. So where is the democratic process ?

There is nothing wrong to attempt to improving things but remember it is a political issue and intimidating administrative measures can not resolve the crisis. Sooner or later, government will have to find political leadership and trust of the people in the valley. Once you have kept each one of them in the jail under various charges, you will have to find new and the credible faces. Will it be that easy ?

Moreover, why this frenzy by the cheerleaders ? Why this celebration as if some territory is occupied. Was Kashmir not part of India in these 70 years. Yes, the issue is how to win it, and our feeling was through winning the heart of the people of the state and through political process and not through the might of your administration. We hope the government will understand this and initiate the political process in the valley at the earliest and stop flaring up communal passion elsewhere in the country.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist


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