Talking of vague and self-contradictory Vajpayee doctrine is not enough

BJP’s Kashmir policy
During his second visit to Jammu after he was anointed as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate by the RSS, mainspring of the Hindutva outfits, as a part of a vigorous multi-crore election campaign, backed by the corporate- controlled media, Narendra Modi promised to carry forward the Kashmir policy of A.B.Vajpayee. enunciated by him as the Prime Minister in the NDA government at the Centre. He described this policy as “Insaniyat, Jamoohriyat and Kasmiriyat” (humanity, democracy and brotherhood). Vajpayee as Prime Minister heading the NDA government, in which the NationalConference was also an ally with Omar Abdullah enjoying a ministerial berth, had talked of resolving the Kashmir problem “within the limits of Insaniyat” without explaining what that means. Apart from the fact that large-scale violations of human rights took place during the five year NDA rule, and no steps were taken to reduce the level of troop deployment in civilian areas and for revocation of draconian Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act, it was the Jajpyaee government which rejected the near unanimous demand of the State legislature for the restoration of state autonomy to pre’53 level.

BJP (Jana Sangh) in its original form has been a part of the Kashmir problem. It has been the failure of the Indian state to honour its commitments made to the people of Kashmir at the time of the signing of Instrument of Accession that has been the root cause of the prolonged Kashmir problem. New Delhi not only failed to ascertain the wishes of the people on the question of accession but also eroded the promised autonomy as envisaged under the Instrument of Accession. It was the Praja Parishad, an RSS floated outfit in Jammu, which had launched an agitation in the name of “Ek vidhan, ek nishan and ek pradhan” for the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, fully backed by the Jana Sangh headed by Dr Syamaprasad Mukherjee. This agitation created a wall of mistrust and suspicion between the people of Kashmir and the rest of India. The process of eroding state’s autonomy began soon after leading to the undemocratic arrest and removal of Sheikh Abdullah as the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Next is history.

It’s not enough for Modi and the BJP just to talk of Vajpayee policy on Kashmir. The BJP still stands for closer integration of the State with India and for abrogation of Article 370, which it has only kept in backburner till the party comes to power on its own. This has been done to seek the support of the non-BJP parties which are opposed to doing away with the special status and separate Constitution of the State. Let BJP and Modi state categorically that they are opposed to abrogation of Article 370. That they support the demands for restoration of state’s autonomy to pre’53 level, that they favour revocation of AFSPA, PSA and other draconian laws and support the demand for removal of troops from the civilian areas, probe into all cases of human rights abuses and punishment to all those, including the armed personnel, found guilty. 

Modi’s anti-Pakistan rhtoric, calling the neighbouring country as enemy and his political adversaries favouring India-Pak friendship and cooperation as “Pakistani agents” leaves no one in doubt about his hawkish approach to the problem. Let Modi and BJP come out clean on these issues. Let them say how far they support the process of peace and composite dialogue between India and Pakistan. What is their vision about the democratic demand for the involvement of Kashmiris in the dialogue process in relation to the Kashmir problem, about withdrawal of troops from Siachen Glacier, about release of all political prisoners lodged in different jails of the country and withdrawal of cases against them. They must also enunciate their stand on the question of strengthening Kashmir-related CBMs, relaxation of visa regime, expansion of trade and travel facilities across the Line of Control. Modi and BJP have yet to apologise for the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, demolition of Babri mosque and attacks on Muslims, dalits, adivasis, women and other minorities.