The Hindu Business Line

Ar­ti­cle 370 had to go, but dark clouds re­main

While the govt’s move was long com­ing, the con­cerns on the road taken in re­or­gan­is­ing Jammu and Kash­mir can’t be ig­nored

- RASHEEDA BHA­GAT AP India News · Politics · Tonga · Jammu and Kashmir · Jammu and Kashmir · Jammu · Bharatiya Janata Party · Nagaland · Assam · India · United States of America · Donald Trump · Narendra Modi · Pakistan · Taliban · Atal Bihari Vajpayee · Bangalore · Haryana

Which­ever side of the po­lit­i­cal or ide­o­log­i­cal di­vide you might be — ex­cept for the mi­nus­cule mi­nor­ity that has shut its minds to rea­son — you will wel­come the ab­ro­ga­tion of Ar­ti­cle 370 in Jammu and Kash­mir. It is the col­lec­tive fail­ure of suc­ces­sive In­dian gov­ern­ments, in­clud­ing those headed by the BJP, that in 72 years, the gov­ern­ment failed to take re­me­dial mea­sures to ren­der un­nec­es­sary a prom­ise made to the peo­ple of Kash­mir in the In­stru­ment of Ac­ces­sion.

Its true that other States such as Na­ga­land and As­sam have en­joyed spe­cial priv­i­leges too, but for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, the rul­ing dis­pen­sa­tion had to make this sur­gi­cal cut first in the Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity Val­ley. Else, the crescendo of sup­port wouldn’t have been this thun­der­ous. As the Kash­mir

caul­dron has been boil­ing, and the see-saw of peace and vi­o­lent protests has played out over the years, the sen­ti­ment against Kash­miris in the rest of In­dia has never been this neg­a­tive in its in­ten­sity.

In comes Trump

The BJP’s manifesto was as clear as crys­tal in the run up to the 2019 polls — elect us to power and we will end the spe­cial pro­vi­sions un­der Ar­ti­cle 370 in J&K. A party that comes to power with such a brute ma­jor­ity as the BJP did this time, has to keep at least some of its prom­ises.

But the un­due haste and mus­cle­flex­ing with which it was done last week is shock­ing. The less said about the supine In­dia me­dia the bet­ter, but in the in­ter­na­tional me­dia, there is the ar­gu­ment that US President Don­ald Trump trig­gered the gov­ern­ment’s flash de­ci­sion to re­or­gan­ise J&K. Re­fer­ring to the Don­ald TrumpIm­ran Khan meet­ing in the Oval of­fice, which re­sulted in Trump’s fan­tas­tic claim that Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi had sug­gested to him that he should me­di­ate in Kash­mir, and his ef­fu­sive an­swer: “If I can help, I would love to be a me­di­a­tor,” a Guardian com­men­ta­tor said: “Kash­mir be­trayal by In­dia

may pro­vide con­clu­sive, cat­a­strophic proof… of his (Trump’s) ig­no­rance of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs”.

The rea­son­ing by in­de­pen­dent Western me­dia an­a­lysts that Trump’s cosy­ing up to Khan as the US needs Pak­istan’s help in deal­ing with the Tal­iban, spooked the In­dian gov­ern­ment to act speed­ily, is cred­i­ble. The to­tal lack of con­sul­ta­tions and the man­ner in which this de­ci­sion was taken af­ter push­ing ad­di­tional mil­i­tary boots on the ground sends omi­nous sig­nals. The Modi gov­ern­ment can­not dis­miss le­git­i­mate and wellar­tic­u­lated con­cerns that the mid­night im­pris­on­ment of Kash­miri politi­cians and cut­ting off all forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tions is bound to leave a huge blotch on In­dia’s democ­racy.

The few voices com­ing out from Kash­mir say that the gov­ern­ment has turned the Val­ley into a huge prison. And de­spite the claims of peace and quiet, a BBC News video has sur­faced show­ing the op­po­site — a protest by an es­ti­mated 10,000-strong crowd with Pak­istan flags, chant­ing Azadi and scream­ing be­trayal by In­dia.

Re­sult­ing fall­out

The charges made by Modi and Home Min­is­ter Amit Shah that over the years the mas­sive eco­nomic pack­ages given for J&K’s devel­op­ment have been mis­ap­pro­pri­ated by “three fam­i­lies” can­not be de­nied. The ab­ro­ga­tion of 370 too has to be de­fended, be­cause it did im­pede in­te­gra­tion of Kash­mir into main­stream In­dia. It can­not be de­nied that this spe­cial sta­tus did help Pak­istan keep the caul­dron boil­ing in the Val­ley.

But to right such a wrong, do we have to com­mit an­other, maybe more griev­ous, one? On the one hand Modi con­veys his greetings to Kash­mir’s Mus­lims on Id; but on the other, Kash­miris have to line up for 3-6 hours to make one call, which is given as a char­ity, from the per­sonal mo­bile phones of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, three of which were con­verted into helplines. Isn’t this a mock­ery of the BJP pa­tri­arch AB Va­j­payee’s dream of “win­ning the hearts and minds of Kash­miris?” And dur­ing that call to her son in Bengaluru, a mother had this cyp­tic mes­sage: “Please don’t come home for Id.”

On the pos­i­tive fall­out, the op­por­tu­nity to buy land is bound to boost in­vest­ment, but what kind of minds would talk in the same breath about the op­por­tu­nity to “marry Kash­miri girls”. On so­cial me­dia pic­tures of Kash­miri girls have been posted with such de­mean­ing mes­sages. And the lat­est to shame­lessly re­peat this non­sense is Haryana Chief Min­is­ter Khat­tar. And that too, when the con­text was about sav­ing and ed­u­cat­ing the girl child.

Also, de­priv­ing J&K of State­hood by mak­ing it a Union Ter­ri­tory, which the gov­ern­ment says will be short­lived, is an­other blow and smacks of au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism. Amidst this sce­nario the only hope is a magic wand that the gov­ern­ment has to make things right for Kash­mir and win over its peo­ple. Like the ma­gi­cian pulling out a rab­bit from his hat…

 ??  ?? Protests scream
Protests scream
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