Skip to main content

Corporate investment in Kashmir in highly communal atmosphere 'can't hold' promise

Pushkar Raj*
Last month, the Government of India with a presidential reference abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to the state under its agreement of annexation with India in 1947. Under the article the state had its own constitution, flag and assembly to guard its autonomy, but now it would be governed from New Delhi.
On face, it seems within the government’s jurisdiction, but for the reason that the said article itself defined its terms of demise providing that such a recommendation must come from the Constituent Assembly, later replaced with the words "legislative assembly" by a government order in 1952, makes it untenable.
As per law the recommendations must have come from the legislative assembly of the state, which was recently dissolved. However, the government decided to bestow all the powers of the assembly to an unrepresentative governor, empowering him to recommend to the president that he issue an order effecting the change.
This is stretching the rule of law to a farce and sets a new low in political machinations for political gains at the cost of the constitutional propriety. One would not fault the government to have taken this step after duly calling election and gaining consent of the assembly, but the will of a nominated governor is not equivalent to will of the people.
Article 370 was an important element of the constitution, serving as an extension of the principle of federalism that provides for division of powers between the central government and the states under Part IX of the constitution.
Reducing a state to a status of a union territory and usurping its powers through an executive order is tampering with the federal character of India, which according to Article 1(a) of the constitution “shall be a union of states.” The action sets a precedent for similar high handedness approach to ‘integration’ in relation to many north eastern states that enjoy similar relationship with the centre as Jammu and Kashmir did.

Worrying trend

In the aftermath of the decision, the government has taken tough security measures in Kashmir. The Internet is shut down, paralysing communication obstructing treatment in hospitals, education in schools and communication with loved ones. More than 3,000 people are in custody and police are monitoring streets.
It is a state of emergency asphyxiating more than 7 million people, and all seems to be happening lawfully with public support. On the contrary people should worry that what goes on in Kashmir today can happen in any part of the country tomorrow.
In the name of fighting terrorism in Kashmir, the government has acquired extraordinary powers. It has recently acquired powers to declare an individual a terrorist. This is bizarre, as any intellectual could be dubbed an "Urban Naxal", called anti-national and linked with terrorism. Given the government’s grip on social and electronic media and the status of the police, it is a stick in the hands of any government to crush any dissent in a pluralist country needing no formal declaration of civil emergency.
While the regions of Jammu has welcomed the government’s action, the Kashmir is extremely resentful amid reports of protests and curfews revealing religious polarization in the state, as Jammu comprises majority of Hindus while Kashmir is nearly all Muslim.
This is depressing news for secularism as Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state, co-existed with majority-Hindu India under the assurance of secularism under which it felt protected. That protection seems to have gone now, at the same time unnerving about 170 million Muslims in the rest of the country who already feel threatened by an increased communal polarisation.
On positive side, the move has benefited tens of thousands of west Pakistani refugees and scheduled castes, deprived of basic human rights like voting and employment
On a positive side, the move has benefited tens of thousands of west Pakistani refugees and scheduled castes, who were deprived of basic human rights like voting and employment in government and could not buy or sell property despite living in the state for more than 70 years.
The political leadership of the Kashmir Valley failed to rise to the expectations of these marginalized groups despite several protests. Besides, hundreds of thousand Kashmiri pandits too might now hope to dispose their properties honourably and feel less exiled than earlier as revocation of article 370 was one of their main demands.

No easy road to peace

The government’s argument is that it has taken this step for greater capital investment from burgeoning corporate sector of the country boosting development of the region and providing employment to youth, weaning them away from radicalization. This could have been possible in a secular India where rule of law was sacrosanct, but in today's highly communalized atmosphere, it does not hold much promise.
It is noticeable that Islamic radicalization in Kashmir is closely linked to the rise of Hindu fanaticism in Indian polity and governance. It is unrealistic to wish one away while stoking the other, as manifested in unabated lynching of Muslims in the country and acquittals of the accused.
The government’s action is likely to be fiercely resisted and lead to a long drawn battle with militancy in the valley. With political support from Pakistan and Taliban coming closer to power in Afghanistan, prospect of peace in Kashmir seems far off from horizon.
---
*Melbourne-based researcher. A version of article was published in “Asia Times”

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.