Skip to main content

Modi govt's Kashmir moves suggest 'sinister plan' to have one party rule like in China

Green Nobel awardee Prafulla Samantara, part of NAPM team, detained in Srinagar  
By Sandeep Pandey*
A National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) delegation was detained at Srinagar airport on the morning of October 4, 2019 by the district administration of Badgam and then sent back to Delhi. Individual notices in the name of three activists issued by district magistrate of Badgam say that there was an apprehension that these activists would organise a protest in Srinagar on the issue of abrogation of Article 370 which could pose a threat to law and order and hence their entry into Jammu & Kashmir was being restricted till further order.
A Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) officer was confused about why should people be sent back from Srinagar airport. If the government doesn't want them to enter J&K why doesn't it stop them when they are boarding their flights to Srinagar? Before the momentous decision was taken on August 5, when tourists were being sent back, in the end when one of them remained, a 225 seater plane was sent by the Indian Air Force with one passenger! Isn't it squandering tax-payer's money?
The NAPM delegation was planning to visit J&K for two days and wasn't planning to organise any protests or hold any meetings. It was merely planning to meet some common people to find out what hardships they were subjected to because of the various restrictions imposed on the people of J&K.
While the Union government is claiming and the Prime Minister has declared in several languages from Houston that 'everything is all right’, that is clearly not the case otherwise why should the government have to maintain the clampdown even two months after the decision taken to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A as well as division of state of J&K into two parts, downgrading both of them to union territories. There would not have been a need to prevent groups like NAPM from visiting J&K.
All means of communication, except for land line phones, are inoperational. Newspapers – except for one 'Brighter Kashmir’, which was spotted at the airport – are not being printed. The government is desperately trying to open the schools in Kashmir Division but parents find it difficult to send children because of uncertainty related to transportation.
NAPM team detained at Srinagar airport. Second from left: Sandeep Pandey
It is also the case that some schools are being used as camps for para-military forces. Most markets are still closed. Some shops open but only during morning 6 am to 9 am hours. Petrol pumps also open for a few hours every day. The fruit growers are finding it difficult to sell their produce to their customary buyers. Even though the government has agreed to buy their produce but the entire trade and market has been disrupted.
While the government claims that there is no curfew imposed but the fact is Section 144 of CrPC has been applied and people cannot move about freely. Even the Kashmiri officers of J&K government are subject to frisking and security checks by central security forces.
Most social and political activists, who could mobilise people against the central government's twin decisions, have been either sent to jails in different parts of the country or kept under arrest in their houses or some common locations in Srinagar converted to sub-jail. Most of these detentions are illegal, without any written orders of any authority.
In response to a Right to Information query the Home Ministry has pretended ignorance about any orders to block telecommunications and internet or evacuation of tourists and detention of political leaders and social activists. When the curfew-like situation ends there is also a need for enquiry into possible casualties during this clampdown. Right now all news of protests and the reaction of security forces are totally blocked.
There is talk of resuming the democratic process in the state of J&K by holding Block Panchayat elections. However, Panchayat is a state subject under 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. It is now going to be 14 months since the state is without an elected government. It is the duty of state government of J&K to hold the Panchayat elections.
The Central government should facilitate in holding the state assembly elections at the earliest and then also get the decisions taken by it approved by the state assembly, if it believes what it has done is in the interest of the people of J&K.
Only state assembly's endorsement of central government's decision can give it some legitimacy otherwise the manner in which it has been done is outright anti-democratic. If a similar decision, as has been taken by the government with respect to J&K, was taken in the context of any other state without consulting its people would the people have supported it?
Badgam district magistrate's orders
The Central government has to trust the people of J&K. All communications restrictions have to be lifted. Home Minister is claiming that government's decision will bring development to the state. The reality is even the companies which were there are now packing up to leave as they find the atmosphere not conducive to business. Which company would like to invest is a state in which normalcy doesn't prevail?
The Indian Railways has claimed that it has suffered a loss of Rs 2 crore because of the ongoing clampdown. Normalcy is not possible with the massive presence of army and para-military, which should be removed from internal areas of J&K and entrusted with the task of defending borders and checking infiltration of men and material from across the border. Internal law and order should be handled by the state government with the help of J&K police.
The future of the state has to be determined by the state government as a representative of the sentiment of people of J&K. The earlier the government of India understands this the faster the situation will return to normalcy.
Centre has done a potential damage by discrediting the state level political parties and their leaders. How does it plan to fill this vacuum?
It is interesting to note that while the Government of India (GoI's) is negotiating with NSCN (IM) or the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac Muivah) and with Bodos for a concept of shared sovereignty and separate statehood, respectively, it doesn't think Kashmiris worth having a dialogue with. Just as NSCN (IM) represents popular sentiment of people of Nagaland, Hurriyat Conference is a representative of people of J&K.
Only an elected government in J&K can bring normalcy. However, the Central government has done a potential damage by discrediting the state level political parties and their leaders. Are corruption and dynastic rule only a phenomenon in J&K? How does it plan to fill this vacuum, unless it has sinister plans to have only a one party rule in the country like in China?
Otherwise it is not clear how the government intends to restore democracy in the state without taking people of J&K into confidence. How long does the central government intend to rule J&K through the Governor and the armed forces? It is impossible to change people's opinion in government's favour by using force, the reverse is likely to happen.
---
*Magsaysay award winning social and political activist

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…