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Indians 'need to place themselves' in position of Kashmiris to understand their travails

Farooq Abdullah
By Sandeep Pandey*
When the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Farooq Abdullah was absent in Parliament on the day when the state’s fate was being decided on August 5, 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah informed Parliament that he had chosen on his own will not to come to the Parliament. He even went to the extent of saying that he can’t bring Farooq Abdullah to the Parliament on gun point.
Farooq Abdullah had claimed that he was under house arrest. When Rajya Sabha member Vaiko, who wanted to invite Farooq Abdullah to a programme in Tamil Nadu, moved a habeas corpus petition seeking production of Farooq Abdullah before the court to set him free, the government imposed Public Safety Act on the 81 years old politician on 16 September finally formally detaining him.
This implies that Farooq Abdullah was under illegal detention for over a month and the Home Minister lied to Parliament. Two other former chief ministers of state Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are also under similar house arrest.
Amit Shah has also claimed that three families have looted J&K implying that the act of abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A was in effect freeing the people from the clutches of these families. If what the government claims about situation being in J&K being normal and everybody there being happy with its decision, such behaviour of the government only betrays its insecurity about its inability to handle the situation once the restrictions are lifted.
Farooq Abdullah happens to be the son of Sheikh Abdullah, easily the most popular mass leader of J&K till date. Even though Sheikh Abdullah was fighting against the Maharaja of J&K to free the people from his autocratic rule and was sentenced for imprisonment by the Maharaja, when the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession with Governor General Lord Mountbatten he informed the Governor General that he intended to set up an interim government and sought Sheikh Abdullah’s help in assisting his Prime Minister in the emergency situation.
Lord Mountbatten also expressed satisfaction that the Maharaja had invited Sheikh Abdullah to be part of the interim government. Sheikh Abdullah was appointed as the head of emergency administration with the consent of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru and the Maharaja and his Prime Minister left for Jammu virtually leaving it to Sheikh Abdullah to defend Srinagar.
The series of events highlights the important role of Sheikh Abdullah in accession of J&K to India. Sheikh Abdullah having received his education in different parts of India, was inspired by the progressive values of freedom struggle and played an important role in aligning J&K with the leaders of Indian freedom struggle rather than with Pakistan. Mohammad Ali Jinnah had laid a claim on J&K because of its majority Muslim population.
By subjecting Farooq Abdullah to humiliation the historical role played by Sheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru is bringing J&K to India’s fold is being sought to be negated by the Bhartiya Janata Party government at the centre. This humiliation of people of J&K can never be understood unless the people of India who support the Narendra Modi government’s decision on J&K place themselves in the position of people of J&K.

Imaginary scenario

Let us imagine that in a meeting of the Security Council of United Nations, United States and England decide that the Government of India is unable to administer the country on the count of having lost control over law and order or the economy going bankrupt and an administrator needed to be sent to govern it.
An administrator arrives from England to India purportedly to help the Indian government administer the country. Along with him also arrives UN Peacekeeping force. Security personnel belonging to different nationalities comprise this force. As they are not familiar with the citizens of India they enforce a regime where they require every citizen to produce an identity card to identify themselves when out in open.
Citizens of India are subjected to routine questioning and examination. The security forces also enter houses for search. At times there are human rights violations by the security forces. When the local population resists pellet guns are used on it in which sometimes even children caught in the crossfire lose their eyes.
Some idealistic youth inspired by historical characters of Bhagat Singh or Chandrashekhar Azad, when try to counter the forces through militant means, are declared as terrorists. They are arrested and tried or sometimes even summarily executed which are described as encounter deaths. The elected government feels helpless in the presence of an outside administrator and the security forces.
By subjecting Farooq Abdullah to humiliation, historical role played by Sheikh Abdullah and Nehru in bringing J&K to India’s fold is being negated
When the revolt crosses a threshold limit, the foreign administrator recommends to the Security Council that Government of India had lost all control over the country and needed to be dismissed. Although Russia and China could have vetoed this decision but they keep quiet as they’re more sympathetic to Pakistani interests. The administrator’s status is now enhanced to Governor General. He promises early elections but keeps postponing them on one pretext or the other.
Suddenly, one day the quantum of UN force is increased, all communication network within the country and with outside world are disrupted, all institutions shut down, all foreign tourists advised to return to their countries and important leaders of all political parties, including Narendra Modi and Sonia Gandhi, are placed under house arrest.
A resolution is passed in the British parliament that India’s independent status as a country is being revoked and henceforth it would be treated as a British colony. For the record consent of the Governor General is taken as the representative of the people of India. The Queen of England becomes its sovereign.
There are some murmurs from around the world but because of the of the management of media all dissenting voices emanating from within India or from outside are muffled. Some Indian citizens are produced on national and international media who support the unilateral decision arguing that British rule was far superior to the Independent Indian government’s rule which essentially allowed the politicians in power to loot the country. All local politicians are painted as villains and British rule is projected as something in the interest of the common people of this country.
If any citizen of India feels indignation with this above described imaginary scenario then s(he) should feel empathy for the people of J&K.
---
*Magsaysay award winning social and political activist. Contact: ashaashram@yahoo.com

Comments

Anonymous said…
Dear Mr. Pandey
Your effort at inspiring empathy for the average Kashmiri is to be appreciated. However, while attempting this, you defeated your own purpose by the imaginary scene you describe... The union government is not made up of aliens from another country. Kashmir is not a sovereign nation in its own right. Even if you try to portray Kashmir as a colonial outpost of Delhi, that narrative fails to resonate (nor inspire empathy) among the vast majority of Indians (whose political support the union government is clearly enjoying) because they view present day Kashmir as a war zone, and not as a place for political niceties.

Maybe, you may need to find empathy towards your fellow countrymen within yourself first. That may allow you to find the creativity needed to inspire them towards seeing things from your vantage point. I am sure the ordinary Kashmiri is going to need a lot of that kind of creativity from a lot of well meaning Indians in the coming days.
Thanks

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