On Article 35-A ……….. and the ‘Violence of Interpretations’

We have a story, with a beginning, middle and end – but it is the end that is confounded by “the others,” who have their ‘meal tickets in the pursuit.’ For confusing the end, they not only collaborate with the coercive forces in strengthening the ‘hegemonic discourse’ but also indulge in what academic’ describe as the ‘violence of hermeneutics.’

The ‘others’ that is the tribe of political folks who don’t represent the political sentiment of the overwhelming majority have used the ‘violence of interpretations’ as a tool to blur the people’s political goals. They have fattened and are fattening on the political uncertainty in the state since 1947. To safeguard their interests, they lose no opportunity to use this mode of violence. But, for their manufactured interpretation of various developments, the Kashmir problem would have been resolved long before, even it would not have emerged as a nuclear flashpoint. Moreover, instead of earning the dubious title of most dangerous place in the world, our land would have emerged as an oasis in the most vulnerable region, where three inimical nuclear powers are facing each other. One could substantiate with many instances from the history that but for the political leadership of the state in 1947 and 1948, using the violence of interpretation the Kashmir tragedy would not have been born at all.

In 1947, M. A. Jinnah’s statement about Kashmir, ‘the apple did not fall far from the tree’ suggesting that undivided Kashmir with its eighty percent Muslim population would not prefer to distance itself from the newborn Muslim country. The sentence was subjected to violence of interpretation to play upon parochialism of Kashmiris and made to read ‘Kashmir was rotten apple bound to fall into our lap at any time.’ On October 27, 1947, the landing of Indian troops in Kashmir was justified by the National Conference leadership through ‘abusing hermeneutics’; invoking Surah Al-Feel (Chapter 105) from the Holy Quran ‘comparing Indian Air force planes to Ababeel’ birds mentioned in the book of Allah. Flocks of whom God Almighty had sent to protect Kabbah against the invader.

In 1964, the Holy Relic movement that had shaken the world in general and Muslim World in particular also suffered the violence of interpretation- the people’s movement for the cherished goal, was interpreted as a movement for the release of Sheikh Abdullah. Thus, this historic opportunity for the resolution of the Dispute was lost.
In 1975, the violence of interpretations was used to discredit the twenty-two years sufferings and struggle of thousands of the Plebiscite Front workers, first by interpreting the struggle for the right to self-determination as resistance “for the quantum of accession and not against quality of accession ,’ then it was denigrated as 22 years journey in the wilderness.
Since 2013, dangers of changing the demography of the state by annulling ninety-year-old state subject law through judicial route have been looming large in the state. The state subject law was provided a shield of protection under Article 35 A, through a Presidential order, after the National Conference leadership through the controversial Delhi Agreement had surrendered before New Delhi as a bear with rope in his nostrils does before his master. The leadership had allowed New Delhi to erode whatever autonomy the state enjoyed under conditional and temporary “Instrument of Accession” signed by the Maharaja of Kashmir and the Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten. The fact and date of the “Instrument of Accession,” has been questioned by prominent international and Kashmir historians. That is not subject of this column but what has become immediate cause of concern is the protection of the state subject law and the rights that accrue to the people of Jammu and Kashmir across regional, religious, ethnic and caste divide through this law- protected by Article 35-A. The protection of this Article is not a cause of concern only for those in the vanguard of the resistance movement or the civil society or those in the race for entering into the corridors of power but of every hereditary state subjects. It armors them against cultural on onslaughts, protects their ethnic identity and equally their rights to employment and economy.

In a larger context, it should also be the cause of concern to the United Nations Security Council in as much as the august body has conferred right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and through its various resolutions provided them a mechanism for exercising of this right. These resolutions, after India and Pakistan signed them in the presence of the comity of nations have got sanctity of the international agreements- India and Pakistan as member countries of the Security Council are bound to honor these agreements. Moves, for changing the demography of the state in the context of the United Nations resolution of 1948, 1949 and 1957 tantamount to violation of the international agreements, to which India and Pakistan are parties.
Seeing unequivocal support of people for the protection of 35-A, some political parties tried to use the ‘violence of hermeneutics’ for scoring some browny points over the resistance leadership and trying to push them into a bind. They endeavored to interpret their pro-active support for protecting the Article 35-A as them recognizing the Constitution of India. Scion of the Abdullah and former Chief Minister used the microblog Twitter for scoring a browny point over the JRL. On August 6, he tweeted:
“Protecting #Article35A is a tacit acceptance that J&K’s future lies within the Constitution of India otherwise how would it matter if it were struck down or diluted?”
I don’t know the real objective behind the tweet, if it was making some brownie points or it had been whispered to him__ nonetheless, it ostensibly suggested that he wanted to dissuade the JRL from raising their voice in support of protecting the rights of the people that percolate to them from the state subject law now dovetailed to the Article 35-A. His tweet was followed by a couple of statements from ‘the others’, which interestingly demanded the right to self-determination and plebiscite and tried to belittle the importance of Article 35-A – the abrogation of which people see as an existential threat.
It seems, the leadership, the civil society and people in general sufficiently understand that the priority at this juncture is protecting the state subject law that could be achieved by bringing all people of all the three regions on one page. That could be attained by countering the violence of interpretations and conjuring of ‘alternative narratives’ by a most weapon the unity of people of the state.