While ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured people that the time had now come when gold would grow instead of grass, milk canals would flow in exchange for water in the rivers and springs and the skies would sight flight of Kashmiris not the birds.

Article 370 of the Constitution of India, that had guaranteed semi autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir after its accession, was declared a big hurdle in touching the skies of development and the promise to build “Naya Kashmir” was made the buzz word across the region. However, the growth index showed J&K is one of the higher revenue generating and developed states than the commercially vibrant metropolitans of India.

Most of the world’s democracies trusted Modi, remained silent and supported the move tacitly.  They are waiting for the moment when they will lay their hands on the milk flowing streams of Kashmir.  Unfortunately, the streams seem flowing muddy water with blood and sweat of local people.

Kashmiris would have also shared the ‘trust sentiment’ of world leaders, but how could they? They knew Modi of Gujarat when the killing of nearly 2,000 Muslims in 2002 sent shivers through their spine and had to accept the message of “emerging Hindu India”. Many cursed their ancestors for choosing secular India to Islamic Pakistan at the time of partition. Since then, they have either become ‘suspects’, or considered ‘termites and ants’ against whom a systematic programme of disempowering and lynching has started with political sponsorship.

Kashmiris didn’t believe a single word Modi had uttered because the picture of 1992’s Modi is still engraved on every mind and heart when he came to Lal Chowk to hoist the tricolour amid the peak of the armed movement and warned the people that the fight for their political rights will not be only crushed but they will be robbed of their land, constitution, culture and identity. The day was not far away when he devoured the region in one gulp and created the constant shadow of terror and horror to such an extent that people have started hating their own existence.

Earlier, some people used to think of Modi as Vajpayee, who too had the heart of the RSS in his chest, yet he reiterated in various forums that “Kashmiris have suffered a lot and now their wishes needs to be fulfilled. The time has come to work with Pakistan to resolve this issue and restore the political rights of Kashmiris”. But they were disappointed when they found out that Modi was in fact a follower of that cult of RSS that has vowed to snatch Kashmir from its inhabitants, persecute minorities and create a fear of life and livelihood among Muslim population. Episodes of systematic attacks in Delhi, Muzaffarnagar and Gujarat have forced them to flee their homes and become rootless in their own country.

Ironically, the environment across India has become so saffronised, that so-called secular political parties had to toe the line of Hindutva by expressing willingness to join the foundation ceremony of the Ram Mandir at the site of the demolished Babri Masjid recently.

The Mosques was vandalised in 1992 by BJP activists led by L K Advani. It was the courtesy of the Corona virus that glued them to television screens to watch live coverage of this momentous triumphalism.

And then, how Modi could have shared the immense happiness of this historical moment with others that would have potential of splitting his Hindu vote bank.

Mohammad Yasin, a trader, says that what we could not achieve in seven decades, Modi has made it easy for us and India has lost Kashmir by his belligerence. “Last year, Modi imposed a “collective punishment” on Kashmiris, turning a state of 12 million people into a prison in the dark of night, depriving 1.5 million children of an education, arresting 13,000 young kids and sending them in prisons outside Kashmir. Lockdown and communication blockade of one year deprived 500,000 people of jobs, ruined the Kashmiri economy with a trade loss of Rs 40,000 crore, deliberately paralyzed the tourism industry and reduced more than 200,000 families connected to tourism to mendicants”.

Modi had pledged that the gun would be wiped out of the Kashmiri population and it will become one of the peaceful societies. One of the police officers who wanted to remain anonymous said to me, “So far there is no detailed list of the seizure of the guns, but two hundred and fourteen youths had been killed in encounter operations and fourteen hundred injured are recovering in many health centres of the valley. Hundreds of houses have been blown up and millions of properties reduced to ashes”. .

More than one lakh Kashmiri students in different states of India had to return to Kashmir due to fear of Hindutva attacks and traders were forced to leave their businesses in order to save their lives.

The Modi government has recently described its ‘ Kashmir performance’ in a 35-page paper, which reminds of General Goebbels, who spread so many lies in support of Hitler’s fascism that even Hitler  had to ask himself, “had I really said that”. More than a billion population might have believed Modi’s progress report except Kashmiris who did not find any mention of those measures that have been initiated to annihilate the Kashmiri race.

In this one year, Modi has enacted a number of laws that are meant to change the demography in the region by giving domicile status to non Muslims. This law has made it mandatory to issue citizenship status to East Pakistan refugees, Ghurkhas, Valmiki refugees, officials in administration, police and students from other states. More than a million soldiers have been deployed in the valley for decades. According to an unconfirmed source, the first plan to issue citizenship certificates to four lakh non-Muslims has been already implemented.

Another law introduced would allow the army to acquire land at any location and establish a base when millions of kilometres are already under the military occupation.

An “Israeli formula” has been borrowed to build settlements in safe havens for Kashmiri Pundits and non-Kashmiri citizens, for which land identification and construction has been started in several districts according to sources in government

How can one overlook the fact that if Kashmir will not be safe for Kashmiris, will it be safe for non-Kashmiris?

If nations were wiped out at gunpoint, India and Pakistan would not be like two independent countries today, South Africa would not be free from apartheid, Kosovo would not be free from military barbarism…

In fact, Modi’s Kashmir plan has not only failed but has also become the most dangerous plan for whole of India, the contours of which are now becoming so shady that soon the people of India will have to start a campaign for independence from Kashmir as the renowned novelist Arundhati Roy has also claimed in her latest book. Believe me; it has to happen one day……

(Writer is an ex editor of BBC Urdu and penguin author).

 

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