Skip to main content

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.
At such a time it ceases to matter that the Supreme Court should be unseeing and should conduct itself in unhurried, complacent, fashion, mindful only of the technical routine, superficialities, and of the urge to be seen on the same page as the government, as though nothing exceptional occurred on August 5 and imagining that nothing came apart in Kashmir on that fateful day.
Thus, it is of little consequence to the top court that around 250 habeas corpus writs, many of them in respect of children, should lie with the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) High Court, practically unattended. A habeas corpus writ denotes urgency. However, at the current rate, their disposal could easily take a year or more.
By then the world for the people of Kashmir would have altered forever, with Kashmiris becoming indifferent not just to India but to the idea of India, to the foundational values of our republic in which they had placed their trust 70 years ago instead of simply stepping over the line and joining the Islamic Republic next door.
The ugly truth our citizens in Kashmir have been confronted with since the first week of August continues to grow hideously in size. The message they receive, subliminally, is that in their case the very idea of justice is no longer in the landscape of the possible.
This impression is reinforced by the fact that the country’s top court has not just waffled on habeas corpus, it has postponed hearing the constitutional petitions that challenge the Modi government’s jettisoning of the core of Article 370 and creating two Union Territories out of the present J&K state, a decision which takes effect on October 31, to mid-November, in order to be overly-solicitous of the government and give it one more month to frame its reply.
By then the decision to dissolve the state of J&K would, in effect, have become irreversible, making the constitutional challenge mounted against it pointless and irrelevant. This Supreme Court would be remembered in judicial annals for abetting the current goings-on, and overlooking the constitutional view that a state of the Indian Union cannot be dissolved.
An ordinary recitation of the facts should shake the government out of its slumber, but this seems too much to expect in the present case. This is because regime propaganda has prevailed, and that fills the government with hubris.
The message Kashmiris receive, subliminally, is that in their case the very idea of justice is no longer in the landscape of the possible
But the facts won’t go away – namely, that around 4,000 people in Kashmir- professionals, businessmen, and politicians of every shade, and not just the separatist Hurriyat Conference – have been locked up. The valley’s Juvenile Justice Committee has informed the Supreme Court that as many as 144 children were booked under the draconian Public Safety Act.
After weeks of shutdown, schools have been ordered open because the government is keen to advance the new surrealism that life is back to being normal. But children do not attend, partly out of fear of the men in uniform who are now thought to number a few hundred thousand in the valley, and partly because, for Kashmir, quiet disobedience has emerged as the new paradigm of protest.
The matrices of defiance are changing when gun-toting men in uniform populate every street of every town in the valley. At the present juncture, Kashmiris are unlikely to present themselves as objects for target practice.
In the eyes of sympathetic and unsympathetic observers alike, the Kashmir arena is apt to resemble a vast military encampment rather than a platform that instils amongst the populace greater security awareness and raises hopes of economic development in conditions of peace, the big promise made by New Delhi and touted internationally.
Mobile phones and the Internet still do not work 60 days on, and people are unaware of events taking place only metres from their homes. Landline phones have indeed been restored, but not many people have these outdated instruments. Severe restrictions in Kashmir, some of which will draw human rights concerns, are not opposition propaganda, as some in high political executive have maintained. They are frighteningly real.
But in the rest of the country, people are ignorant of the history and the current reality. With high-pitched, violent, religion-based, nationalism being presented by the highest in the land, a whole new vocabulary is purveyed through the pliant sections of the media which reminds us of Orwell’s “1984”.
Thus, Article 370 of the Constitution, which has been scrapped for all practical purposes, has been falsely converted into a “temporary” provision in the public perception (and this is being canvassed abroad) by those at the highest levels of government, and is thus presented as a fit case for abrogation. 
Two judgments of the Supreme Court – the first by a constitution bench in 1968, and the second by a two-judge bench in 2016 – which have emphatically pointed out the opposite, are being suppressed. The apex court too is silent on this. 
A whole new vocabulary is purveyed through the pliant sections of the media which reminds us of Orwell’s 1984
In order to kowtow to the political bosses, the media refuses to make a critical analysis because the people of Kashmir, doubtless on account of their religion (which is bad-mouthed by adherents of today’s dominant ideology), are practically been seen as “the enemies of the people” of India, and are therefore deserving of no consideration, let alone the protections available to all as a matter of right in a democracy.
A little-known fact is that the official doublespeak, dutifully reproduced especially in the television media, was being beamed to the people in the Valley day in and day out, right through the communications clampdown. In Kashmir, the people saw themselves being demonised everyday by high-pitched television anchors who assumed the mantle of religious warriors, not journalists discharging their professional responsibility with scrupulousness.
It seemed as if shades of the normative ethos of the Third Reich – which targeted people of a particular faith – and the Russian gulag, when Big Brother decided that being locked up, beaten, and denied basic rights, was best for the people, had been resurrected.
A perceptive Kashmiri fruit-grower said to this writer recently, “Over the years, the Valley has protested many actions of the government in New Delhi. But it is for the first time that the people of Kashmir have been depicted as antagonists of the people of the rest of the country. The story has been converted into people against people.”
In 1947, the dominant Hindu political elements in J&K did not urge Maharaja Hari Singh to merge his kingdom with India. Instead, they acquiesced in his ambition to try and remain independent. When that gambit failed after the attack by Pakistani raiders, monarchy was ended, and political power passed to the people via Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference, the Hindutva outfits violently agitated for Kashmir to be dissolved into India.
Seventy years on, that communal goal has been realised, riding roughshod over the Constitution. The so-called rationale of security and economic development being trotted out is for the birds. Political Hinduism has notched its most significant victory in independent India, surpassing the Ayodhya demolition.
---
*Senior journalist based in Delhi. A version of this article was first published in the Asian Age

Comments

TRENDING

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

'Favouring' tribals and ignoring Adivasis? Behind coercion of India's aborigines

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Tribal people account for 8.2% of India’s population. They are spread over all of India’s States and Union Territories. Even so they can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first grouping consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations. These are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people.