In the same Boat

What Congress failed to do  in 73 years Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did it in a stroke. Article 370 in Kashmir has been a thron in Congress party's throat since the days of Nehru. New Delhi had to accept this state of affaris—special status for Kashmir—under compulsions. Nehru succeeded in making some compromises with Sheikh Abdullah but taming Abdullah completely was failure.

Congress is now in an embarassing situation because of 3 times Kerala MP Shashi Tharoor praising Modi for his good and constructive work, implying abrogation of Article 370. Tharoor apart, Jayram Ramesh and Abhishek Singhvi also aired similar remarks. And immediately after abolition of Article 370. Scindia, emerging young leader of Congress, openly supported Modi for his 'bold' action in Kashmir, making things difficult for Congress president Sonia Gandhi to keep her house in order.

The policy of militarisation, or rather the policy of military suppression of the people's movement in Kashmir that specifically began in 1990, none looks formidible particularly after the abrogation of Article 370. Military forces in Jammu and Kashmir operate under emergency powers sanctioned by AFSPA. The unlimited & arbitrary authority as scripted in AFSPA allow the military and para-military forces to curtail civil liberties, denying human rights and dubbing any voice of dissent as 'terroristic' activity.

Lessons of history are never learnt. India's present day rulers believe in myths. It helps them to obfuscate reality. The official position of the Indian government has remained the same since 1947—it seems there is no Kashmir question at all, and if there was one at any time, it has now been settled once and for all. No matter Congress rules New Delhi or the saffron party BJP comes to power. And it is now doubly ensured after the 'obnoxious rider' 370 is gone. It is the policy of India that "we shall keep what they have". What is more Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has made it clear that if there is any scope to discuss Kashmir with Pakistan it can take place only on PoK.

After decades of insurgency the ground reality is that there cannot be any military solution to Kashmir. Every-body talks about political solution but nobody is serious about it. For New Delhi, after total abolition of Article 370, a return to the pre-1953 status is not acceptable. As for Kashmiris what they now demand is restoration of autonomy as per Article 370. So, a new phase of one of contraction and movement is likely to begin today or tomorrow. In other words the cycle of violence will multiply—there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The Kashmiri people by laying down their lives and defying the military boot and gun have proved that they will not give up their struggle for independent existence, free from control of India and Pakistan. Todays Kashmir means absence of the right to dignity, right to self-goverance, right to live and move without fear. The oppressed and marginalised people of India are deprived of same rights. There is a possibility of common front of broad masses of India and Kashmiri people but nothing is emerging in the field.

Over-reacting to Modi's move in Kashmir, Crickter turned Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has done many a silly thing. He thought by downgrading diplomatic relations with India he would be able to garner international support against Modi. No objective situation has changed radically since the beginning of Afghan imbrogilo in the '90s. Barring China, Paleistan being the new weather lackey of Beijing, no nation, big or small, has come forward to bail Imran out of the mess. Peace will never return to Kashmir unless there is an environment of 'give and take'. One-way diplomacy cannot succeed. If it is a bilateral issue to be resolved between the two, then diplomacy cannot be anything but libateral true to the spirit. And now the Modis and their rivals Tharoors are enjoying the Article 370 moment being in the—'We are in the same boat bother'—a la Raul Robson. What Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote long ago can now be interpreted in reverse in the context of Kashmir—
Not on the edge of the knife,
    none on the point of sword,
The ground is without stairs,
    the ceiling white.

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Vol. 52, No. 10, Sep 8 - 14, 2019