Skip to main content

Will New Delhi henceforth be guided only by mistrust in dealing with people of Kashmir?

By Anand K Sahay*
My recent trip to Kashmir has revealed a picture that can only fill one with gloom and dread. Grave political uncertainty and psychological disarray at the level of ordinary people is the standout impression.
At issue are the future of the lives of the people in the Valley, and the quality of the relationship with India they might be forced to endure in the aftermath of the “great betrayal” of August 5, the day on which our Parliament rubbished Article 370 of the Constitution and proceeded with steps for the reorganisation of J&K state.
In order to just hang in there, will New Delhi henceforth be guided only by mistrust in dealing with the people of Kashmir? Will a militarised dispensation, under which will flourish the “new politics” conceptualised by the likes of Amit Shah, the Union home minister, be the new normal?
“We are back at 1947,” said a disgusted journalist in the north Kashmir town of Baramulla. The sentiment is encountered across the famous, and now deeply troubled, Vale of Kashmir. (Identities of the people spoken to for this report cannot be disclosed for fear of consequences for them.)
On October 26, 1947, forced by military circumstances imposed by newly created Pakistan and having being thwarted in his design to remain independent, the J&K ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, had signed the Instrument of Accession to join his kingdom with newly independent India under specific conditions.
The essence of this document was formalised in the shape of Article 370 after prolonged debate in India’s Constituent Assembly -- which means a compact was arrived at, and now stands violated.
The question people in Kashmir have begun asking is whether the choice made by them in 1947 needs to be re-visited. “It has been an illusion,” they say.
With Sheikh Abdullah marshalling popular opinion, in 1947 the Kashmiris put their faith in secular India rather than Islamic Pakistan, although the latter has continued to attract the allegiance of a small section since then. This section has now come alive.
Adherents of Jamaat-e-Islami, a religio-political outfit which believes in merging with Pakistan, now expect to command greater attention
It is perhaps the only set of people in the valley that is pleased about the Modi government’s troubling recent decisions on Kashmir since these have led to disorienting the people wholesale. Adherents of the Jamaat-e-Islami, an influential religio-political outfit which believes in merging with Pakistan, now expect to command greater attention than before.
The speech of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in the UN last month elicits nothing but praise. A young woman lawyer said, “The Pakistan PM spoke about the crisis that hit us after August 5- the jailing of thousands, the communications blackout. He is the only one who spoke about us. Modi, on the other hand, spoke about “shauchalya” (toilets) at the UN! He could have talked about peace but didn’t.”
Said a north Kashmir villager who gets by as an electrician, “Imran Khan has his own interests. We understand that. The people of Kashmir have never been with Pakistan. The show of Pakistan flags in protest rallies, unless the Jamaatis are involved, is only to cock a snook at New Delhi. But now we realise India is not a friend. The trust of 70 years is gone. What was the need for all this? We have been made fools. God knows what the future holds.”
Khan’s speech has appealed even to those who did not hide their pro-India sentiment in a conflict zone. This lot seems to have swung to the side of “azadi”, a word with wide connotations, the most common being freedom from military searches and pervasive military presence that hits day-to-day life and wounds the dignity of people.
Crudely etched in Urdu on a side of the wooden table in a lawyer’s small office in Shopian in south Kashmir, the valley’s most disturbed district, where a killing took place hours after I departed, is the lament “Ghulam Kashmir”-- Kashmir Enslaved. encapsulating feelings in the wake of August 5.
(To be concluded)
---
*Senior Delhi-based journalist, who was recently in Srinagar, Baramulla and Shopian. This is the first article in a series on ground realities in Kashmir following the August 5 crackdown. A version of this article has appeared in the “Asian Age”

Comments

TRENDING

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.

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

VHP doesn't represent all Hindus, Sunni Waqf Board all Muslims: NAPM on SC ruling

Counterview Desk
India's top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as describing the Supreme Court's Ayodhya judgement unjust, has said, it is an "assault on the secular fabric of the Constitution". In a statement signed by top social workers and activists, NAPM said, "The judgement conveys an impression to Muslims that, despite being equal citizens of the country, their rights are not equal before the law."

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.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk  Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”