THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART The Society Kashmir and Kashmiris: Blasphemy is it?

Kashmir and Kashmiris: Blasphemy is it?


The Government of India, very recently in the month of August 2019, through a Presidential order and the passage of a resolution in the parliament abrogated Article 370 thereby revoking the special status given to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This article, along with Article 35A, defined that the Jammu and Kashmir state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to resident of other Indian states. As a result of this provision, Indian citizens from other states could not purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir. In addition, the  Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act was passed by the parliament, enacting the division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories to be called Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh.

Justifying its action, the Government of India says that by doing away with Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir has been fully integrated with India thereby paving the path for growth and development which otherwise was exploited by separatist forces in the pretext of having an independent identity. On 16 August, in a major diplomatic victory for India, the United Nations Security Council in a “closed consultation” acknowledged India’s measures to bring normalcy and development to Kashmir. India’s move on Kashmir was acknowledged by France, Russia and the US who contended that India and Pakistan must address the Kashmir dispute in a bilateral setup.

What defies logic is the fact that even today Kashmir is in a state of lockdown. Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have arrested nearly 4,000 people since the scrapping of its special status last month, government data shows, the most clear evidence yet of the scale of one of the disputed region’s biggest crackdowns. A government report dated September 6 and seen by the Reuters news agency, says more than 3,800 people were arrested, though about 2,600 have since been released. In more than 50 interviews, residents in a dozen villages in Kashmir told The Associated Press that the military had raided their homes since India’s government imposed a security crackdown in the region on August 5. They said the soldiers inflicted beatings and electric shocks, forced them to eat dirt or drink filthy water, poisoned their food supplies or killed livestock, and threatened to take away and marry their female relatives. Thousands of young men have been arrested. Asked to respond to the recent allegations of abuse, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, spokesman of the Northern Command, the Indian army’s headquarters in Srinagar, dismissed the villagers’ accounts as “completely baseless” and asserted the Indian army valued human rights. Since the crackdown began, at least 3,000 people, mostly young men, have been arrested, according to police officials and records reviewed by the AP news agency. Thousands of others have been detained in police lockups to be screened for their potential to join protests.

The lifting of communications restrictions in Indian-administered Kashmir depends on Pakistan stopping deploying “terrorists” and fomenting unrest there, India’s national security adviser (NSA) has said. NSA Ajit Doval said that “100 percent” of landlines are now working but that a further easing depends on Pakistan, which he said has sent 230 armed fighters into the region. “Lifting the [restrictions on] communications depends on how Pakistan behaves,” Doval told reporters. “We are determined to protect the lives of Kashmiris from Pakistani terrorists even if we have to impose restrictions.” Well, a statement like this is quite baffling in itself considering a democratic nation like India promises to restore democracy based on impediment to terrorism by a barbaric country like Pakistan. Why is it that the situation in Kashmir choses to remain same as it was prior to the abrogation of Article 370? Why is it that the people of Kashmir continue to spend their days in fear and protest, subsequently the nights in tears and hope? Why is it that Amnesty International had to launch an urgent campaign to end the protracted blackout in Kashmir?

When 33 years old Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, Kannan Gopinath quit his service over the Kashmir crisis, it should have been a bolt from the blue for the Government that an officer who was lauded for his efforts during the 2018 Kerala floods, whose honesty and commitment borne by the fact that Hon’ble Administrator gave him 9.95 out of 10.0 on 24 Dec 2018 for his APAR of 2017-2018 chose to quit the coveted government job on August 21, alleging there was a denial of “fundamental rights” to lakhs of people in Jammu and Kashmir for weeks which disturbed him enough to put in his resignation papers. Arundhati Roy, the Booker prize winning author was criticized and rightly so when she spoke about the Indian state waging war on its own people in states such as Manipur, Nagaland, Kashmir, Punjab, Goa and Mizoram. “All these states were targeted because their population is either Muslim, Christian, Sikh or tribal,” she is heard as saying in the video, which seems to have been recorded earlier and was tweeted recently by Tarak Fateh, the Pakistan-born Canadian journalist. How is it that a persona of this stature speaks against her own Government?

Abrogation of Article 370 is indeed a bold step, one which was long impending. The move not only has made Kashmir an integral part of India but has paved the way for development in the valley. This was something which even Pakistan had not anticipated and in spite of its diplomatic tactics to woo the global community it had to concede defeat. In an exclusive interview to Russia Today, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said: “India has annexed Kashmir, so it is no longer a disputed territory as far as India is concerned. They have made it a part of India. Sadly, I would have expected the world to react much more than it has.” But the question which looms large and brings to the fore a thought that whether the issue could have been more deliberately handled. Diplomatic community aside, the people of the land should be taken into confidence first. Pulwama attack was a disaster and the atrocities thereafter was no less a pain etched in the realms of history. The perpetrators of the heinous act were no doubt taken to task, but by doing so, somewhere down the lane they were attributed as martyrs. The motive of the Government is to bring peace and development in the valley, but in the process it also has to ensure the appeasement of the people who matters. A prosperous India will truly be on the cards then.

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