Skip to main content

Kashmir: Mainstream academia, civil society sections 'never stood up' for people's rights

Counterview Desk

India’s top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), calling abrogation of Article 370 a year ago “arbitrary”, has vowed solidarity with the “resistance” of the people of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), even as calling for intensifying the struggle to “end oppression, militarization and corporate loot.”
Calling abrogation of Article 370 “blatantly unconstitutional”, NAPM* said in a statement, “While mainstream Indian academia and even sections of civil society have not adequately stood up for the rights of the Kashmiri people, the media and the culture industry have objectified Kashmiris and misrepresented the India-Kashmir equation. The courts have often betrayed the Kashmiris too.”

Text:

August 5, 2020 marks the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which took away the political autonomy of the only Muslim majority state in the country, severely jeopardized the future of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and struck a massive blow to Indian federalism. While the government is busy claiming the ‘positive impact’ of the move in terms of ‘success in the war on terror’, ‘development of the state and integration with India’, the reality is quite different.
The step last year was marked by an unprecedented communication blockade, huge increase in militarization and surveillance, curbs on the media, and arrest of political leaders and human rights activists. The combined effect of these was a severe downturn in economic activity, leading to untold hardships for the people of the valley.
Once the pandemic started, the additional lockdown meant inadequate access to medical facilities and covid-related information, which in turn complicated the already existing mental health issues caused by the enforced isolation. Far from facilitating ‘integration’, the move has alienated Kashmiris from India more than ever.
Article 370 is a constitutional recognition of the conditions mentioned in the Instrument of Accession that the ruler of Kashmir signed with the Government of India in 1948. The Schedule appended to the Instrument of Accession gave the Indian Parliament power to legislate for Jammu and Kashmir on only defence, external affairs and communications.
Kashmir is not the only state for which there have been special provisions put in place either during the early years of the republic or later. Under Article 371-A, Nagaland has a special status, and no Act of Parliament is automatically extended to Nagaland unless its legislative assembly so decides in matters of the religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and practices, ownership and transfer of land and its resources. BJP’s tampering with special provisions specific to regions is integral to the Hindutva project of one nation, one religion, one culture.
Concerning J&K, Article 370 had been tampered with right from its inception, in both letter and spirit. By the Presidential Order of 1954, almost the entire Indian Constitution (including most constitutional amendments) was extended to Jammu and Kashmir. Ninety-four out of 97 entries of the Union List applied to Jammu and Kashmir even before the abrogation last year.
Politically, there is a long history of betrayal of the Kashmiri people by successive Indian governments. The plebiscite promised at the time of accession was never held, and the Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah was imprisoned for 11 years.
Democratically elected governments in Kashmir have been dismissed and elections rigged to put in place pro-India governments. Once the repeated betrayals led to the rise of militancy, Kashmir has faced brutal military oppression – rapes, murders, disappearances and constant surveillance.
The mass rape at Kunan Poshpora, the hanging of Afzal Guru to satisfy the “collective conscience” of India for the 2001 Parliament attack (despite only circumstantial evidence of his involvement), and the pellet gun attacks in the first term of the Narendra Modi government, are blots on the India-Kashmir relationship. Despite these betrayals, Article 370 helped to retain the fragile historical specificity of the relationship.
While mainstream Indian academia and even sections of civil society have not adequately stood up for the rights of the Kashmiri people, the media and the culture industry have objectified Kashmiris and misrepresented the India-Kashmir equation. The courts have often betrayed the Kashmiris too. The abrogation of Article 370 was blatantly unconstitutional.
Last year was marked by an unprecedented communication blockade, huge increase in militarization and surveillance, curbs on media, arrest of political leaders and  activists
Article 370 could not have been deleted without the consent of the Kashmiri people. Yet, Indian courts have failed to strike it down. At present, 23 petitions challenging the abrogation are pending in the Supreme Court. Over the last one year, petitions have challenged the constitutionality of the restrictive orders suspending internet, tele-communications and movement. While Indian courts have accepted that bars on free speech and movement would violate fundamental rights, these bars have not been struck down!
J&K, alongside Ladakh, now stare at an uncertain future, and so does India. The revocation of Article 35-A alongside Article 370 threatens to open Kashmir up to large scale land acquisition by the Indian Army and by big corporates in the name of ‘security’ and ‘development’, thereby undoing the historic land reforms of 1950, which helped retain the socio-economic indicators of J&K higher than many other states in India. The isolation, restriction, surveillance and state repression show no signs of ending.
The suspension of the political rights of the people of Ladakh is also unacceptable. As far as India is concerned, not only is the move a blow to the federal imagination, it also threatens to de-stabilize the geo-politics of the region and the whole of South Asia in turn. Alienation of a whole people in a region which is ridden with border conflicts does not bode well for the future of India’s much-emphasized “national security” concerns.
National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements salutes the resilience and resistance of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and stands in unflinching solidarity with them.
  • We unequivocally condemn the moves of the current dispensation which has brutally eroded the political autonomy and long-standing aspirations of the people of the region.
  • We urge the Government of India and the country’s institutions including the higher judiciary to work towards restoring the special status of J&K, de-militarize the region and fulfil the old promises made by the Indian State to the Kashmiri people.
  • The true litmus test of India’s democracy, (or the lack of it), in many ways, lies in our respecting the democratic rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. 
  • We call upon the citizens of this country to reflect on the history of brutality and betrayal in the region and stand with the people of the valley towards a peaceful and just future for them. 
---
*Click here for signatories

Comments

TRENDING

HSBC shareholders seek exit from funding Adani's 'contentious' Australian coalmine

By Our Representative  In a move that may embarrass India's top business house known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shareholders of HSBC, a British multinational investment bank, the largest in Europe with total assets of US$2.715 trillion, are likely to decide at its AGM on May 28, 2021 a plan to exit coal financing related to the Adani Group, as it begins digging the Carmichael mega coal mine in Australia, reports Melbourne-based South Asia Times.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

Ciminalising 'tool' created, name: Gujarat Land Grabbing Prohibition Act 2020

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Rejitha Nair* The year 2021 in Gujarat opened its account with 647 alleged land grabbing cases under investigation, 16 FIRs filed against 34 land grabbers within 35 days of Gujarat Land Grabbing Prohibition Act 2020 (GLGPA), as informed by the Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Gujarat State, in a press conference on January 22, 2021. He further informed that of 647 alleged cases, 605 applications of land grabbing were received by different collectors who have initiated suo moto proceedings in 42 cases. The total land in these cases is estimated to be around 1.35 lakh square metre, worth Rs 220 crore as per jantri rates (ready reckoner of land prices in different parts of the state). By March 15, 2021, at least six even cases are before the Gujarat High Court. Of about 11 cases reported in the daily newspapers, in three cases, grabbing of government land is charged, and the rest are land disputes between two individuals. The promptness of the district collect

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.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.