APRIL 29, 2019
THE scheme that India’s ruling BJP is working on is at variance with the basic tenets of democracy. By all indications, the BJP believes that its best shot at securing a victory in the general election in India is by driving a wedge between the majority Hindu community and the minorities, which by no means constitute ‘small’ sections of the population. Armed with Hindutva ideas that are blamed for pre-deciding the polls on the basis of religion, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gone about employing tactics that are meant to intimidate and scare off opponents and force large-scale public surrender to the BJP doctrine. In this search for models to communicate the Modi message to large sections of the Indian people, the long-smouldering occupied territory of Kashmir is but a natural hunting ground for the champions of Hindutva. Within India-held Kashmir, perhaps there is no leader who draws greater wrath from the rulers in New Delhi than Yasin Malik. Now in his 50s and accused of murder and abduction and much else, Mr Malik retains the old aura that links him and yet sets him apart from the other big names in the Hurriyat, the umbrella organisation of parties fighting to free IHK from Indian captivity.
There are a number of Kashmiri leaders who command respect from the people in their own right. Frequently, political analysts come up with their own assessments about who among them is more relevant or more active at a particular moment in time. The phased Indian general election that will conclude next month provides fresh proof of just how wary those who attempt to exercise their authoritarianism in IHK from Delhi can be of the Hurriyat leaders, collectively and individually. Mr Malik’s arrest and the banning of his Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front mark the continuation of a policy of division that had only recently seen a harsh crackdown on other Hurriyat parties. The clampdown against the Jamaat-i-Islami has been particularly severe. Sane analyses of the situation warn the BJP against the serious repercussions that new measures of suppression can lead to. Even if there was no such advice, a party that has been around for quite long would be expected to understand that the seeds of discontent sown now can get it into dire trouble in the future — especially in an already troubled territory. But then, a BJP which thrives on communal strife of its own making, would be even less inclined to ponder over these ‘fine’ points at the time of an election. This world is not short of evidence about how democracy is used and defamed by the clever going overboard in their exuberance to win a vote. This is one such moment for the democrats — not just in India but around the world — to contemplate and denounce.