The unfortunate decision to call off Foreign Secretary level talks has again taken the relations between two Countries back to square one. Even sixty seven years after partition, these two countries are wasting their precious resources in meaningless squabbling and one-upmanship. Kashmir is one single most issue which is eating into the vitals of both the Countries.
While some political pundits have called India’s move an overreaction to a minor irritant, others have called it a self goal and a diplomatic faux pas. Internationally, India has invited a censure, though in sotto voices. While the actual provocation behind such an extraordinary step is not clear, one thing is quite visible- India has given credence to Pakistan’s oft-repeated complaint that “Bilaterism” on Kashmir is a failure . The move has once again brought Kashmir issue into international focus and has raised the status of Hurriyat to an even level with India when it said – “Talk with us or Hurriyat”. India’s taunting remark comparing Kashmir with Balochistan is ridiculous in so for as Kashmir is an internationally recognized dispute while Balochistan is not.
Coming back to the motive behind the move, Modi has attempted to kill many birds with one stone. One-it has attempted to reduce Kashmir to a territorial issue between India & Pakistan to the entire exclusion of people of J&K. Second & more plausible one is the sinister RSS plan to abrogate Article 370 of Indian Constitution. Having come to conclusion that it cannot be done by a simple presidential notification, it has a plan to abrogate it through legal means. That needs a little bit of explaining.
Modi has already made his Mission +44 public and put the process of securing it in motion under the leadership of Amit Shah. Without realizing its long-term consequences on the body politic of the State, it has polarized Jammu to such an extent that Hindus whether owing allegiance to Congress or BJP share the common goal of installing a Hindu Chief Minster over the State.
Having secured majority in thirty plus assembly segment in Jammu and Ladakh in recent parliamentary elections, which cause was helped by participation of nearly five lac west Pakistani refugee voters in electoral process (they are not entitled to vote in Assembly elections) , BJP is quite upbeat about getting a simple majority in J&K Assembly elections due in coming months by putting in a little extra effort. Hence its plans to grab few more seats in Kashmir, having high concentration of migrant Pandith Votes, by turning the Hurriyat Boycott to its advantage. Media reports also suggest that it is hobnobbing with few local parties like Sajjad Lone’s people’s Conference to obtain more electoral muscle. While Sajjad has not rebutted BJP’s assertion, a few more seats in Kashmir, whether in or outside alliance, will also lend it a credibility of being a Pan J&K party.
So what is the game plan? Once inside the assembly with a simple majority, BJP intends to give State legislature concurrence to a President’s order of abrogating Article 370. Though it is widely believed that this concurrence can be given only by Constituent Assembly, which is non-existent at the moment, care has to be taken of Judgment of Supreme Court in Mohammed Maqbool Damnoo vs the State of J & K, in which the apex Court held that "the essential feature" of Article 370 is "the necessity of the concurrence of the State Government", not the Constituent Assembly. It needs to be noted that the bench which pronounced this judgment did not refer to the earlier judgment delivered in 1959 in Prem Nath Kaul vs State of J&K, in which the existence of Constituent assembly was held as a sin-qua-non for according the consent. Notice has also to be taken of a fresh writ petition, admitted by Supreme Court, challenging virus of Article 370 filed by a little known Delhi based NGO. In case of Afzal Guroo’s hanging, Supreme Court has already laid down a new doctrine of “ satisfaction of collective conscience of nation” and abrogation of article 370 definitely fits in this new doctrine.
The ball is now squarely in the court of pro-resistance leadership to respond to the new challenge.
The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org