Skip to main content

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.
In medical emergencies hospitals are practically out of reach. Vehicles ferrying patients can’t easily get past militarised check-points. A human rights issue is looming. Journalists are under tight monitoring. Controlled news is the order of the day.
A burst of gunfire can be clearly heard in a recent BBC television report. The police have not fired a single shot (since Kashmir’s special status became extinct earlier this month), says the government. Then, did BBC doctor the video, or did another uniformed force let go a volley on protesters? Or, was it the other way round- armed militants concealing among protesters shooting at the security forces? There are no details forthcoming, or even an accusation against BBC. Just blanket denial.
In the fog of one-sided propaganda, facts are a casualty. Political sources no longer exist when communications are down. Shah Faesal, a young bureaucrat-turned politician trying to leave the country, was arrested at Delhi airport and taken back to Srinagar. Senior opposition leaders on fact-finding missions were refused entry and made to turn back from Srinagar airport.
In under four days of the commencement of the state of disquiet on August 5, more than 400 Kashmiri politicians were thrown behind bars, including the hapless Sajjad Lone, who had cozied up to BJP. Ali Mohammed Sagar, the National Conference general secretary who has not lost a state legislator’s election from Khanyar in Srinagar since 1983, has been despatched to a jail in Bareilly in faraway UP.
In Srinagar, on the day of Eid-ul-Azha, one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar, the largest mosques and Islamic sites of prayer of Muslim Kashmir, were out of bounds for the faithful. This has to be a low point for religious freedoms.
This writer can recall visits to the valley in the militancy years of the early ‘90s when the Indian state had to shoot its way out of the corner. The clampdown did not seem so severe then, though there were many serious problems.
In political terms, what the regime may have succeeded in doing -- for the first time -- is to unite all the political and social tendencies in a straight line against the Indian state. In conditions of extreme repression, this should ordinarily mean the deepening of repression.
In such a situation, there is real danger that the day of the mainstream politician -- especially of a party like the National Conference (NC) -- may be over for the foreseeable future. Consider the enormity and the tragedy. But for the NC and its stalwart founder-leader Sheikh Abdullah in 1947, when Jinnah pleaded with Kashmir to join Muslim Pakistan, Kashmir had chosen “secular” India.
All this is forgotten. There is hypocrisy, doublespeak. If a concerned citizen wonders whether the BBC report about firing on protesters is accurate after all, ‘Pas-Darshan’ -- as distinct from the government television Door-Darshan which, now doesn’t seem so outrageous -- knocks her on the head and questions her “nationalism”. How dare you swallow a foreign lie and ignore home-cooked official facts? That’s the new trend in our journalism.
If another citizen says that in a zealot Hindu dispensation very unusual goings-on are occurring in Kashmir perhaps because the valley is mainly Muslim, he is clobbered and warned not to be “communal”. In New India, inversions of the truth are welcome.
Undiluted propaganda and the falsification of history about Article 370 are peddled. ‘Pas-Darshan’ beams the catechism with gusto. The provision was “temporary” and had to go to bring the whole country under one law, says the government. Many have fallen for this, but not the Supreme Court.
Post-1947, even people of Jammu, who could have legitimately settled in the Valley, chose not to do so in any significant way
In 1968, in Sampat Prakah vs the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and then again in as recently as 2016 in SBI vs Santosh Gupta, the top court made it clear that Article 370 was by no means “temporary”. This means that Union home minister Amit Shah, in the Rajya Sabha on August 5, built his case on a dubious premise. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the strongman in the forefront of integrating the princely states in 1947, is falsely invoked to justify ending J&K’s special status when the Sardar was central to the discussions and negotiations that produced Article 370 and related provisions.
Another element of propaganda is that 370 came in the way of Kashmir’s development. This has to be a wilful departure from facts because the facts are laid out in the official statistics. On social and infrastructural indices like education, health, nutrition, roads and housing, J&K- especially Kashmir valley- surely ranks among the best places in India.
In his recent address to the nation on Kashmir, wittingly or unwittingly, the PM too has seriously erred. He said Kashmir “had been deprived of the Right to Education (RTE)” because J&K’s special status under Article 370 prevented the application of Indian laws to Kashmir. This is monumentally at variance with the reality.
The facts are that there is perhaps not a single law passed by Parliament that did not apply in J&K if New Delhi wished it to, and this was made possible by the much reviled Article 370. As for the RTE, Kashmir -- unlike the rest of India -- does not need it.
Since as far back as 1950, education was made wholly free in government schools and colleges right up to the most advanced level in Kashmir. It is probable that young Kashmiris may be among the best educated people anywhere in South Asia.
In the Kashmir context, there appears to be well-crafted propaganda at work. The agenda is to misrepresent and misinterpret the known facts in deference to BJP’s ideological imperatives, and to falsely suggest that the special status for J&K, arising from Article 370, has paved the ground for terrorism in the Valley.
Ergo, remove the special status, and permit people from other states to buy property in Kashmir. When that happens, and Hindus settle in the Valley, separatism or terrorism would vanish, runs the unstated logic.
Apart from the presumption that Muslims are terrorists by temperament, there are two problems with this Israel-like settlement plan (operational in Palestinian territories). The first is that the Israeli settlements have failed to bring peace and have indeed made matters worse, just like the Chinese plan for Xinjiang or Tibet. These do not constitute a solution.
Two, in the post-1947 period, even the people of Jammu, who could have legitimately settled in the Valley, chose not to do so in any significant way.
There is some anxiety even in BJP-held Jammu now about being flooded by property-seekers from outside.
We are summoning a disturbing, uncertain, future.
---
*Senior journalist based in Delhi. A version of this article first appeared in The Asian Age

Comments

Ramadan is upon us and Muslims around the world are getting ready for this. However, a problem rises, on which exact date Ramadan is going to start?

TRENDING

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Mayawati's 'success' depends on how BSP taps new crop of young Amdekarite leaders

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Whatever be the election results in Uttar Pradesh on March 10, it is extremely important to understand: that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its leader Mayawati have the potential to rise like a Phoenix any time.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

India's actual Covid death rate about 2500 per million, third highest in world: Study

By Rajiv Shah  There is now well-researched proof, if it can be called that, indicating that the Government of India may have fudged data to show lower Covid death rate. A new paper, published in “Science”, has said that while officially the Government of India’s Covid-related death estimates as of January 1, 2022 – 345 per million population – are one-seventh of the US death rate, the actual analysis of crude death rate in India suggests, this may be a gross underestimation. 

Barbaric, inhuman attack on Odisha villagers to implement JSW project: NGO networks

Counterview Desk  A “solidarity statement" issued by three top civil society networks, Friends of the Earth India (FoE India), Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has asked the Odisha chief minister to ensure that the “inhumane barbaric attack on the villagers of Dhinkia, Odisha” in order to implement a corporate project.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Haridwar call for genocide direct result of Modi 'tolerating' Islamophobic policies

By Our Representative  A high-level briefing organised in Washington DC, in which as many as 17 human rights and interfaith organizations -- including Amnesty International USA, Genocide Watch and Hindus for Human Rights, apart from several persons in their individual capacity -- participated, has come down heavily on what they called "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for a genocide of Muslims."