Skip to main content

Kashmir kayoed, bhakts 'jubilant': Much like crowds when Hitler purged Jews, Catholics

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
August 12, 2019 was the great festival of Eid al-Adha (incidentally, for Jews, Christians and Muslims – the sacrifice of Abraham is a very significant one); for the people of Kashmir however, this year Eid was a sad day indeed, what with the lockdown and communications blockade!
Exactly a week earlier on August 5, Kashmir was kayoed in a swift, unethical and undemocratic way. That day will surely rank as one of the blackest days in the country’s history – if not the blackest! In a blatantly unconstitutional and anti-people act, the BJP-led NDA Government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution. The manner in which was done was autocratic and an onslaught on democracy.
The draconian and secretive manner in which the government pushed a sensitive bill, steam-rolling all opposition, without consulting Parliament, without taking the people of Kashmir into confidence – is clear betrayal of the values embedded in the hearts and minds of most Indians.
Article 370 of the Constitution of India is a self-contained one. It determined how the Constitution of India would apply to the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and it also contains clear and specific provisions for the procedure for the abrogation of the Article. The President of India can pass an order under Article 370 (3), removing article 370 only if the Constituent Assembly of J&K recommended the same.
The Constituent Assembly of J&K ceased functioning in 1957, the Supreme Court in its judgement in SBI vs Santosh Gupta (2017) held that the Article 370 has become permanent unless another Constituent Assembly of J&K was constituted. In order to get over this constitutional roadblock, the present regime in New Delhi adopted a devious and unconstitutional route.
Article 370 (1) (d) of the Constitution empowers the President to periodically issue notifications modifying the way the constitutional provisions can be made applicable to J&K. Article 367 of the Constitution of India explains how phrases in the Constitution are to be interpreted. The issue, in case of abrogation of Article 370, was the need for a recommendation by the `Constituent Assembly of the State.’
On August 5, in a devious manner, the BJP-led government introduced a three-step amendment process. In the first step a Presidential Notification under Article 370 (1)(d) was issued amending Article 367 by introducing a new Sub-clause (4) which stated that the expression ‘Constituent Assembly’ in Article 370(3) shall be read as ‘Legislative Assembly of the State’.
The effect was that after this change, Article 370 of the Constitution could be amended removing the necessity to obtain the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly. This is in fact, completely violative of the spirit and the letter of the Constitutional provisions. Besides, adding insult to injury J&K was downgraded to a Union Territory from a state -- something unheard of and absolutely humiliating!
For almost a week before August 5 the government was on an over-kill: with surreptitious yet strategic acts ensuring a build- up, which kept the nation wondering but at the same time the people of Kashmir were kept on tenterhooks and in utter darkness.
There was a massive upscaling in deployment of military forces, random frisking of people, the imposition of indefinite curfew, the arrests of former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah and other key Kashmiri leaders were arrested; a round the clock curfew with a complete black out in communications, the suspension of civil activity, the sudden evacuation of all tourists and particularly pilgrims to Amarnath, in an attempt to terrorise citizens and bulldoze the aspirations of the people of the state.
Ever since the unconstitutional abrogation of Article 370 the people of Kashmir are still being denied the rights and freedom which are legitimately theirs.
The abrogation of Article 370 has always been part of the DNA of the Sangh Parivar. The BJP election manifesto clearly highlights it – and to their ‘bhakts’ they have made good their promise. Several of them are jubilant and celebrating with unabashed adulation – just as the crowds did for Hitler when he began purging the Jews, the Catholics, the intellectuals, the liberals.
There are however several unanswered questions, which even the most ardent of ‘bhakts’ are unable to answer, on this heinous deed:
  • Why was it done in such a cloak-and-dagger manner?
  • Why were the people of Kashmir, their political leaders and others who matter not taken into confidence?
  • Why was the Opposition kept in the dark -- and not given the minimum mandatory two days to deliberate on such a contentious issue?
  • Why are the people of Kashmir kept imprisoned in their own homes, with a complete blockade on communications and being denied their basic human rights?
The BJP and their ilk know that what they have done is wrong, totally unacceptable by anyone, who has a little common sense, who has some degree of objectivity and sensitivity to the larger issues, concerning India and the whole sub-continent.
Several intellectuals and other eminent citizens of the country have taken umbrage on the abrogation of Article 370 and the way it has been done. Editorials and op-eds not only from India but from all over the world, have unequivocally condemned this draconian act of the Government and the fact that it will greatly affect the peace and stability of the region.
Petitions against abrogation of Article 370, media blackout: At this moment, the Supreme Court does not seem to be in a hurry to take up these matters
‘The Telegraph’, of Calcutta, which is well-known for its front-page headlines critical of the Modi regime, likened the August 5 decision, to ‘the Partition’ in big, bold letters. In a hard-hitting article ‘The Ultimate Goal Is a Hindu Rashtra and It Is Now Within Sight’, Sidharth Bhatia, the founding editor of ‘The Wire’, argues that the Sangh Parivar’s dreams are close to being fulfilled and scores of Indians are cheering it on.
Whereas ‘Mumbai Mirror’ (from the Times of India Group) had a strong headline ‘Cloak and dagger that pierced Kashmir’s heart’ reflected its paper’s view on both the decision itself and how it was carried out, without consultation, and while blacking out any news or dissent from the Kashmir Valley.
Pratap Bhanu Menta, the well-known intellectual, in an op-ed in the ‘Indian Express’ (August 6, 2019) entitled, ‘The story of Indian democracy written in blood and betrayal’, writes:
“There are times in the history of a republic when it reduces itself to a jackboot. Nothing more and nothing less. We are witnessing that moment in Kashmir. But this moment is also a dry run for the political desecration that may follow in the rest of India. The way the BJP government has changed the status of Jammu and Kashmir by rendering Article 370 ineffective and bifurcating the state is revealing its true character.
"This is a state for whom the only currency that matters are raw power. This is a state that recognises no constraints of law, liberty and morality. This is a state that will make a mockery of democracy and deliberation This is a state whose psychological principle is fear. This is a state that will make ordinary citizens cannon fodder for its warped nationalist pretensions.”

UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) states, “The fact that hardly any information is currently coming out from the region is of great concern.”
Its spokesperson pointed to the UNHRC’s July 8 report on the human rights conditions in Kashmir, which documented how authorities in India have “repeatedly blocked telecommunications networks to muzzle dissent, used arbitrary detention to punish political dissidents and employed excessive force when dealing with protestors leading to extrajudicial killings and serious injuries;” adding that the latest restrictions “will exacerbate the human rights situation in the region.”
‘The Guardian’ the well-respected news media from the United Kingdom minced no words in an editorial (August 6, 2019) saying:
“Yet the revocation and decision to split the state in two – creating two centrally administered territories in its place – is shocking and perilous. Several legal experts believe it unconstitutional too. Its abrupt and ruthless manner, with the house arrest of well-known politicians, imposition of a curfew and blackout of the internet and phone lines, will likely lead to protests and inflame the resentment which has underpinned an insurgency which has cost tens of thousands of lives”.
Several national, non-partisan and secular organisations like the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) have issued very strong statements condemning the abrogation of Article 370.
Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of the ‘Kashmir Times’ has filed a writ petition on August 10, in the Supreme Court seeking directions to ensure that the State creates an enabling environment for journalists and all other media personnel in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir to practise their profession.
The petition has demanded that the debilitating restrictions imposed through the complete shutdown on internet and telecommunication services, and severe curbs on the movement of photo-journalists and reporters be immediately relaxed in order to ensure the freedom of the press and media.
Besides, a couple of other petitions have already been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the abrogation of Article 370. At this moment, the Supreme Court does not seem to be in a hurry to take up these matters!
Asiya Syed, is a young Kashmiri currently doing her undergraduate studies in Bombay University. Her parents and relatives live in Kashmir – she has absolutely no communication with them these past days. Asiya is not afraid -- she is visible, she is vocal -- passionately espoused to the idea and the cause she believes in “I will speak up, no matter what, and I will not keep my identity hidden even if they kill me”. She goes on to add, “Your million forces and communication blockade will not kill an idea!”
Asiya represents that idea of a free, pluralistic, dignified, sensitive India. We the people, should have the courage to unequivocally condemn the bloody betrayal of a people by standing up for Asiya and the Kashmiris now!
---
*Human rights and peace activist/writer, recipient of several international and national honours for his work for human rights, justice, reconciliation and peace. Contact: cedricprakash@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

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".

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

GM mustard not swadeshi, it's a patent of MNC Bayer, GoI 'misleading' SC: Modi told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 42 farmers’ organisations though their representatives , backed by senior scientists and experts, have said that the Government of India (GoI) should stop misleading the Supreme Court “with untrue and incorrect” statements on GM mustard. Insisting that India does not need unsafe GM mustard, in their representation, they urged the Supreme Court to order immediate uprooting of GM mustard crop in various locations. The representation comes even as a penal of experts, coming down heavily on the GoI for refusing to see how in less than a week’s time the pollen from GM mustard will “start contaminating” non-GM mustard fields with transgenes, including male sterility and herbicide tolerant traits. Alleging that the GoI is actively misleading the Supreme Court with untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where Gov

Amit Shah accused of inciting communal passion: Demand to postpone Gujarat polls

Counterview Desk  In an email representation to the Election Commission of India (ECI), Dr EAS Sarma, former secretary to the Government of India, has objected to the statement reported to have been made by Union home minister Amit Shah, who allegedly justified the 2002 Gujarat riots stating that certain sections of people “taught a lesson” to the rioters. Noting that the statement, if correct, “in effect implies those other than the law enforcement authorities had taken law into their hands”, Sarma says, “Shah's statement needs to be viewed by the ECI in conjunction with the reported fact that it was the Union Home Ministry that cleared the release of the eleven rape convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, directly related to the infamous Godhra incidents in 2002, which triggered the shameful sequence of events that shook the nation's conscience.” According to Sarma, if the statement is true, “I am constrained to draw the inevitable inference that it would have already impacted th

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w