Kashmir: On July 28 when Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti spoke about tinkering with the Article 35A of Indian Constitution she ruffled many feathers. Withal her statement once again brought into focus the deflection of the coalition partner, Bharatiya Janata Party, as the later had confined its position vis-à-vis this sensitive issue to paper only. Referring to a recent development that sent the case – challenging this Article – to a larger bench of Supreme Court, Mehbooba warned that in case this process (of challenging) continued there would be no one in Kashmir to shoulder the Indian tricolour. Instant reaction to her assertion came from none but the coalition partner, BJP, of the government headed by Mehbooba. Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh in a way rejected her assertion saying that the tricolour would fly everywhere including J&K state. The state BJP unit came out with a rebuttal saying that Article 35A is “not a sacred cow that cannot be touched”.
The case that is being heard in the Supreme Court has been filed by an NGO J&K Study Centre that is being run by RSS, the ideological fountainhead of the BJP. The other case challenging the state flag has been filed by BJP leader, former IPS officer and currently the administrator of Lakshdweep, Farooq Khan. It is ironic that the party which entered into an alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in J&K by assuring to protect the constitutional position has waged a war over it by taking a judicial recourse. As of now there are six cases pending in Supreme and High Courts through which the constitutional position under Article 370 has been challenged. This is how the BJP has tried to keep both the positions intact. While it made a commitment through Agenda of Alliance (AoA) to protect the constitutional position by not taking any political decision, it is using the courts to fulfill its agenda. It is a clear example of deceit with both PDP as also to its electoral vote bank. By committing to AoA, it wanted to be part of the power structure in the state and it is clear now that whatever commitment it made in that agenda, it never believed in it. And it was just for power to thrust a political party completely divergent to the views of mainstream local party and also to that of the people into a power sharing agreement. By doing so the BJP has not changed anything vis-a-vis Kashmir but has made it clear that the party is no different than Congress when it comes to fulfilling the promises. It further buttresses the approach that Delhi has adopted since 1947 and remains unaltered.
What Mehbooba Mufti said in a seminar in Delhi was a major political statement that certainly made her coalition partner uncomfortable. Because it hits the core agenda of BJP, which is looking at further consolidation of its electoral strength in the run up to the 2019 general elections as the party wants the repeat of its comeback with absolute power. “Conquering” the rest of non-BJP ruled states is also on the agenda. Difficult task could have been Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim majority state but that has been accomplished with the help of PDP.
Here the BJP does not take into consideration the complete drift Kashmir has witnessed in past few years. Over dependence on military might to crush both militancy and also the dominant political sentiment has been its policy. Its clear message is to delegitimize the sentiment that revolves round the resolution of the political issue and the recent step to tighten the noose around the separatist Hurriyat Conference through the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is one example of how the policy is being pursued. While there can be no room for complacency as far as taking on those who violate the laws and indulge in money laundering is concerned, but here the pattern seems to be part of the larger design to decimate the political voices that represent the dissent. Kashmir’s history is replete with such handling but eventually New Delhi has stepped back and one example is that of Kashmir Conspiracy case that was silently buried with the cajoling aimed at bringing Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah back to mainstream.
It is a fact that Pakistani money has flown like a river and it has also passed through the barriers of the state. Not only has Pakistani money played an important role but Indian money has also spoiled Kashmir to the hilt. While today the Hurriyat is under radar was it not the case three years back, since the Narendra Modi led government has been in power. By shutting down the Hurriyat, New Delhi is only creating and legitimizing the space for extremist elements who want to expand the base for the violence in Kashmir. Does this suit New Delhi in justifying the military approach vis-a-vis Kashmir; perhaps yes. Talking about the Hurriyat as a force that represents the other political view comes with a caveat that no one should escape the law but any action should not be a witch hunt and a mean to crush the political dissent. Politics is a battle of ideas and it could be fought politically and not by administrative measures. Mehbooba also maintained that an idea cannot be jailed or killed, and that is the first and only layer of reality that is prevailing in Kashmir.
By pushing a particular political ideology to wall or jailing it the Government of India is not helping itself or for that matter the pro India political camp to regain its foothold. That is how it comes into discussion what Mehbooba said about the flag. Pro India parties are the flag bearers of India in Kashmir and the two parties—National Conference and PDP have their politics etched in the special status. That is why fiddling with special status makes them restless. In case the tampering with the status takes place, it makes them irrelevant and Mehbooba is right in saying that even they would not be in a position to hold it in their hands. Past few years have seen the space for mainstream in Kashmir shrinking and that is worrying the NC, PDP and Congress. When Mehbooba was speaking in Delhi she sought to join hands with NC (in protecting the special status) and pointed towards NC’s provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani who was seated in the front row. With Delhi’s unmoving approach, the mainstream parties have been pushed to the wall and the by-election for Srinagar parliamentary seat on April 7 made it amply clear how they have lost the ground. Postponement of Anantnag election that was to follow put the seal on the stark reality that existed on the ground. But New Delhi’s refusal to acknowledge the strong anti India sentiment that is rife at present has further squeezed their space. By presenting this reality with one odd flag of ISIS or a video by a militant who has been appointed chief of Al Qaeda through remote, it only reinforces the view that there is interest in promoting such a fringe reality.
The flag statement needs to be understood in the backdrop of how people behave on ground. But they won’t understand. Does that mean the PDP should continue to give legitimacy to a party that is preparing its (PDP’s) final rites in Kashmir – that is something the PDP will have to ponder over. Any tampering with the special status will wipe out the mainstream and then it will be all BJP with or without people, if that is the agenda.
courtesy :Rising kashmir