No Heaven On Earth: How The BJP Govt Has Alienated Kashmiris More Than Ever Before
Kashmir needs healing touch not more thousand cuts.
Kashmir has always remained in the spotlight for its heaven-like beauty and tragedies associated with it. The place often termed as the ‘heaven on earth’ has a bitter side also — its history. Who knew that its pristine beauty and glory would get ruined because of its history? In 1947, when British left India, they sowed the seeds of conflict, carved Pakistan out of Hindostan and created two separate dominions India and Pakistan that have been fighting over Kashmir from seven decades. And the ultimate sufferer is the Kashmiri. There were several princely states at the time of independence that refused to join initially but later did. J&K was one among these states. It was an independent state under Maharaja’s rule. J&K’s accession to India was purely conditional. India was supposed to withdraw the forces, and a plebiscite was promised to decide the fate of people of J&K but the plebiscite never happened. Article 370 was inserted into the constitution of India, and it gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir. This article was a concession given to J&K for its conditional accession to India.
It was in the early 1970s that the movement to free Kashmir from Indian occupation began. In 1984, the founder of JKLF Maqbool Bhat was hanged in Tihar Jail. In 1989, Kashmiris took to the path of armed rebellion to free Kashmir from Indian occupation. Thousands have been killed since then. Mass graves, disappearances, tortures, rapes, widows, orphans, exodus of Kashmiri pandits and what not. The decades followed were accompanied by bloodshed and devastation. We all know what the consequences of militancy have been. It afflicted pain and misery on Kashmiris, nothing else. The unnecessary force used against the Kashmiris is probably the one reason for hatred towards their country. One can never win over people with force but with love and affection.
(Photo: Twitter/@NehalAhAnsari6)“The country of Kashmir may be conquered by the force of spiritual merit, but not by the force of soldiers” ~ Kalhana.
Taking away the special status of J&K was a decade old agenda of BJP’s. The current leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was hell-bent on doing away with Articles 370 and 35-A. Nobody would’ve thought that the Central government would come up this early and strategise a covert plan to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The surprise and shock for the people was the introduction of the J&K state re-organisation bill in Parliament on 5th August. The bifurcation of the state and making two union territories Ladakh and J&K, the former without a state assembly and the latter with a state assembly.
Nevertheless, there are many northeastern states with special provisions, but why no one has ever been vocal about the removal of special provisions in these states? Why only J&K? When experiments that don’t yield fruitful results are tried again and again, they turn into disasters.
The troop buildup in Kashmir and the hasty evacuation of tourists and Amarnath pilgrims was an early signal that some shady deal for Kashmir was in the offing and trouble had come to knock the doors. But we failed to get the message and Kashmir was descending into a state of hopelessness and scare — fear and anxiety all across. Ever since the announcement of bifurcation of J&K and abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A, Kashmir has been turned into a jail. Armed forces on every nook and corner; barricades, checkpoints, curfew, communication blockade, no schools, restrictions on journalism, mass arrests etc. During the first 20 days of turmoil, it was a big deal if one could get the baby food and life-saving drugs. We have no whereabouts of our family and relatives. We have no idea what is happening outside. It is more like a state emergency, and some fundamental rights such as Right to Life have been taken away if I’m not wrong. Which democracy does this to its citizens? Human rights violations, brutalisation and dehumanisation of Kashmiri people are happening in broad daylight, and people in mainland India are watching like mute spectators. How can you expect Kashmiris not to have a feeling of alienation? The silence of Indian liberals and civil society over the unprecedented trauma that Kashmiris are going through will be remembered always. Government’s claims of normalcy in Kashmir are absolute lies and deceit. Life is not normal in Kashmir. The Kashmir issue has gained international attention again, and that’s not a good signal for India.
The mainstream leaders like Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Sajad Lone and others were put under house arrest a day before the big announcement. Thousands of political workers and Kashmiri youth have been arrested. A vast number of detainees have been sent to jails outside J&K. The strict curfew somehow managed to keep things in control in the beginning, and the ‘expected uprising’ against the ‘unexpected move’ was not witnessed anywhere across the state. The protesters hit the streets to defy restrictions and scores have been injured, and it has gained momentum after Imran khan’s speech in UNGA on 27th September. Pellet guns are for Kashmiris only and not being used in any other part of India. But one thing I would like to add here is that Delhi is trying to contain the situation with the military measures and that is a temporary solution tried and tested before. Tumour can’t be treated with a band-aid. Kashmir is a problem that needs an effective solution. I believe that the aggression and anguish among people have turned into sadness this time; sadness that is beyond words. Articles 370 and 35-A were sacred for people of J&K. The sentiments of people have been hurt, and it will definitely have serious repercussions, if not now but in the near future.
Taking away special status has been done against the aspirations and will of the people of J&K. It is related to the people of J&K, and it will affect them only not others who are cheering for scrapping the special status but unfortunately they(people of J&K) were not given the remotest idea of what was being planned for them in Delhi. Do our opinions not matter? The irony is that our mainstream leadership was not taken into confidence about what was going to happen in J&K. If India considered us the equal citizens and had enough trust in us, they would have attempted to build a consensus among our leadership and people about scrapping the special status and bifurcation of the state. We could’ve agreed or disapproved of the move, and that would have been a demonstration of democratic values. BJP did what fascism instructs — thrust the right-wing ideas and decisions even if they are anti-people. Delhi did it with the military might and tactics of suppression, and today Kashmiris feel more alienated than before and consider themselves an oppressed community whose rights could be taken away at any moment. The ‘idea of India’ is disappearing and current dispensation in Delhi is proving Jinnah right!
Central government’s move of scrapping Article 370 and bifurcation of state has awakened my conscience and has put a question mark on my nationalism and patriotism and my love for India which I wish never fades away, for it was done not democratically. I am exasperated. I hope that my faith and belief in the constitution and the idea of India remains intact. Let’s hope there is no more agony and bloodshed. Let’s hope there are better tidings for us. Let there be no miseries and pain. Kashmir needs a healing touch, not a thousand more cuts.