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

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Fascism on prowl? Religious meet 'deeply pained' at silence of Church, bishops, priests

Counterview Desk  The ‘Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace’which held its 17th National Convention at the Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana from 22 to 24 September 2022 on the theme “Deepening our Identity as Religious: Responding to the Signs of the Times”, has expressed concern “at the deteriorating situation of our nation on every front”, especially stating, “Fascism seems to have come to stay” in India. At the same time, the convention, which took place with the participation of 60 persons from 16 states representing 20 religious congregations, in its unanimously-adopted statement added, “We have reached abysmal depths on every parameter: be it social, economic and political”, underlining, “The poor in India become poorer every day; the rich and powerful continue to profiteer at their expense and amass scandalous amounts of wealth.” Text: We, members (63 women and men Religious, from 16 states representing 20 Congregations) of the Forum of Religious for Justice

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

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".

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

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.