13 Jun 2019
massive mandate in the 2019 General Elections, the Narendra Modi government is
firmly in the saddle again. Now Mr Amit Shah, who seems to be the most powerful
person in the BJP after Modi, is the Home Minster. It is expected that he will
pay special attention to the nagging Kashmir issue. Different social groups,
the victims of the turmoil in Kashmir, have also been looking for initiatives
that can restore peace and sanity in the area.
reports that Mr Shah is proposing delimitation in Kashmir. We know Kashmir
itself is multi-ethnic, multi-religious. In the Kashmir valley, Muslims are the
dominant social group while in Jammu, it is Hindus. The other components of the
population are Buddhists and tribes. Now, delimitation should serve for better
representation of the area, it should also involve the exercise of taking
popular opinion into consideration. One only hopes that the aspirations of the
people of Kashmir are taken into account while doing this exercise; it should
not just be for the political agenda of garnering more seats for a particular
things which have been on the manifesto of the BJP time and again are abolition
of Articles 370 and 35 A. Article 370, part of the Indian Constitution, has
been there in the background of the clauses of the treaty of accession, as per
which Kashmir will have autonomy in all matters barring defence, communication,
currency and external affairs. Article 35 A relates to the buying of property
by non-Kashmiris in the area. Both these had to be there as Kashmir acceded to
India under special circumstances. It was in the wake of aggression by
Pakistan-supported tribal groups-plainclothes armymen that Raja Hari Singh, the
Sovereign of Kashmir, asked for help from the Indian state to quell the
aggression. Earlier, Hari Singh had decided to keep Kashmir as an independent
state. But in the face of this aggression, the negotiations with the Indian
state led to this treaty after which Indian army could go quell the attack from
the Pakistan side.
merger of Kashmir with India was to take place with the opinion of the people
of Kashmir, the referendum, which never took place. Shaikh Abdullah, Lion of
Kashmir, had a major role in accession of Kashmir to India. He did become Prime
Minster of Kashmir. The rise of communalism in India in the form of murder of
Gandhi and demand of instant merger of Kashmir into India, from the likes of
Shyama Prasad Mookerjee of Hindu Mahasabha, unsettled Sheikh Abdullah. His
responses to the overtures from Pakistan, US and China led to his being jailed
for 17 long years. This is where the process of alienation of the people of
Kashmir begins. This alienation is the root of the problems of Kashmir.
militancy in Kashmir was initially on the grounds of Kashmiriyat. Kashmiriyat
is a unique synthesis of Vedanta, Buddhism and Sufi traditions, best
exemplified in Nooruddin Noorani (Nund Rishi) and Lal Ded. The festival of
Kheer Bhavani, jointly celebrated in Kashmir is one manifestation of the deep bonding,
which transcended religious boundaries and incorporated the people of both
major religions in Kashmir. The communalisation of the militancy due to the
coming in of Al Qaeda-type of elements has been a big bane, for Kashmiris as a
whole and for Hindus, Pundits in particular. The selective targeting of Pundits
has sent wrong signals to the detriment of inclusive traditions of Kashmir.
in its extreme forms has led to the exodus of over 3.5 Lakh Pundits and also of
a large number of Muslims from Kashmir. Not much has been done for the Pundits,
despite different governments ruling at the Centre. The plight of Pundits needs
a fresh look when today we are talking of articles 370 and 35 A. During Modi-I
regime, there was talk of rehabilitating Pundits in a separate enclosure but
nothing seems to have come of it.
BJP talks of abolition of these articles, it had no hesitation in joining hands
with Mehbooba Mufti, who has been appreciating the separatists. During the
PDP-BJP alliance and during the previous Modi regime, the process of dialogue
has been given a go-by.
militancy and calls for separatism went up during the past few years. The
victims of pellet guns have gone up in number. The process of alienation has
not been addressed at all. Why have so many of young boys and now girls come to
throw stones despite the knowledge that it will lead to dire consequences? Can
we quell the dissidence-alienation by bullets is the question. If we take a
bird’s-eye view of the situation in Kashmir, it is clear that the muscular
nationalist polices have led to bigger destruction of the social fabric than to
the possibility of winning over the hearts and minds of Kashmiri people.
Modi-II government is in a unique position with its massive mandate. The issues
to be addressed are to undo the alienation of the Kashmiri people which is the
root of the problem. The people of Kashmir have been the victims of different
types of violence. A healing touch is the need of the hour. The democratic processes
and concept of Human Rights have to be the guiding principles of our policy.
These were very well-articulated by the late Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when he
gave the framework of Kashmiriyat, Jamhooiriyat (democracy) and Insaniyat
(humanism) to deal with the issue of Kashmir. To take further Mr Vajpayee’s
formulation seems to be the best option for us even today. A jumbo-size
majority in Parliament can give the licence to the ruling party to unfold its
programme, but one hopes this programme will take into consideration the
strengthening of dialogue and the deepening of the process of democracy.
whose hurt is to be assuaged are the ones who have suffered violence from
different quarters, the half-widows, the Pundits and the average person in Kashmir
who has borne the brunt of militancy and presence of the army in civilian areas
for several long years. The report of Interlocutors (Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha
Kumar and MM Ansari) also needs a relook if we wish to bring peace and amity in
views expressed are personal.