It is over three months that the Article 370 has been abrogated. The procedure laid down by the law has been given a go bye and through a majority in Lok Sabha, bypassing the people of Kashmir the act has been done. While many a falsehood has been promoted, lately two such surfaced yet again. Paying tribute to Sardar Patel on 31st October, Sardar’s anniversary, Narendra Modi, dedicated the abolition of this article to him. Interestingly it was Sardar who was crucial part of the Committee which had drafted the said article. Also it was Sardar Patel who had moved the resolution of Article 370 in Constituent Assembly as Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, one dealing with the issue as External Affairs minister, was away to US at that time.
With lapse of time not only the ancient and medieval history is being doctored to suit the communal politics, even the recent history is also under mutilation by likes of Modi who are currently ruling the roost. The other point which the Prime Minster and the other top officials are harping strongly is that it was this article due to which terrorism was getting a boost! The point they want to make is that with the abrogation of this article terrorism will be controlled in the troubled state. As public memory is short it is necessary to recall that while hurling the disaster of demonetization on the country, similar claim was made that counterfeit currency is fuelling the terrorism and demonetization will wipe out the militancy in Kashmir. As the matters turned out along with other claims about merits of demonetization even this claim turned out to be totally hollow and false.
As a blockade has been put on Kashmir, normal life brought to standstill, local leaders arrested and national leaders not permitted to visit the valley, in a very clever manner a delegation of some European right wing MPs has been put together by some business person, in the name of an NGO. The invitation to the MP, Chris Davies, who said that he will like to meet the local people on his own; was withdrawn right away and the compliant MP’s did come for a the trip. Their job was to give the ‘All is well’ certificate to the Modi Governments move after the ‘conducted tour’, which they enjoyed.
During this period despite the presence of military in large numbers, despite the claims that the abolition of this article will curtail terrorism in the valley, already disturbing killings have been taking place. In one such tragic incident five migrant workers from West Bengal have been done to death, shot dead in Jammu Kashmir’s Kulgam. Prior to this there was attack on people related to fruit trade. In another shocking and painful incident one person died and fifteen injured in a grenade attack in Srinagar, in a vegetable market where vendors were targeted.
On one hand the people of J&K are feeling humiliated as their state has been demoted to a Union Territory and on the other there are boasts that this is what was the dream of Sardar Patel!
The false hood that India has eliminated one big reason behind terrorism is totally away from truth. This understanding negates the facts of history and builds the narrative to suit the politics being pursued by BJP. Why was militancy there in Kashmir? As such the story begins with Pakistan’s attack on Kashmir, in the form of Kabayalis (Tribal), who were backed by the Pakistan army. Since Kashmiri people did not want to succumb to the “Two Nation Theory” propagated by communal elements, since they were more for secular democracy, they did request Indian Government to quell the Pakistani aggression. The complex process leading the treaty of Accession and later article 370 through Indian Constituent Assembly has been dealt with extensively by serious commentators.
The efforts of likes Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to put pressure to forcibly merge Kashmir with India, the rise of communal politics in India sent the feeling of disenchantment to Sheikh Abdullah in particular, the one who as such was instrumental in accession of Kashmir to India. To cut the long story short, Sheikh’s apprehensions were answered by putting him in the prison and this is what sowed the seeds of alienation among people of Kashmir. This alienation of Kashmir people duly supported by Pakistan is what has been the root cause of terrorism in Kashmir. Article 370 was the protective cover which by giving the autonomy to the state of J&K was a big obstacle to the proliferation of terrorism as such. Of course the global situation where by America sowed the seeds of Al Qaeda to fight against Russian army added on to the problem as the Al Qaeda and its clones, after defeating the Russian army in alliance with anti Soviet Forces, made their entry into the troubled state, and communalized the militancy. Thirty years down the line now the picture is being presented in an obverse way.
What was needed was to instill more democracy in the state and involve the disgruntled elements into the process of dialogue. Of course the negative role of Pakistan, backed up thoroughly by America has been the major factor. The problems can be solved only when the correct diagnosis of the issue is made. The warped understanding of recent history by communalists, is dictating the current politics and so the blame of militancy is being put on article 370. Article 370 has also been blamed for lack of development in Kashmir.
The truth is that in social development indices Kashmir’s indices are better than many states and above the national averages. Time alone will tell how Pakistan behaves, how the cancerous Al Qaeda type elements will be tackled within the state. An all round process of dialogues on the issue is a must. Strengthening of democratic process seems to be the only way to restore peace and overcome the violence which is the tormenting the people of Kashmir!
Ram Puniyani was a professor in biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and took voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full time for communal harmony in India and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org