The Art Of Population Control

Battle for Demography

Ismail Chaudhury

Kashmiris are unlikely to get back what they have lost —relative peaceful life and Article 370. This Article has a unique compromise formula hammered by Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah to keep the Kashmir Valley in Indian union. It worked and it worked for seven decades, notwithstanding so fractions and periodic irritations during anti-New Delhi agitation. If India's stance on Kashmir is allowed to prevail, there is not really much to discuss with Pakistan other than PoK. As for Pakistan they want entire Kashmir—PoK and Indian Kashmir how could dialogue proceed in an environment is a million dollar question. Dialogue cannot succeed in an atmosphere of antagonism. In truth Pakistan doesn't believe in dialogue. They talk of it from time to time, for the international audience, keeping their real intention hidden. Pakistan being a communal-theocratic, remains a cancerous spot in the region. It is being increasingly isolated from the international community for its belligerent role in shelting terror groups and promoting their terroristic activities. The continuing antagonism with India is the major hurdle in the path of development of SAARC—the weakest regional grouping so far across the world. China can talk with India over trade and commerce while keeping crucial border discussion shelved for the time being. No, Pakistan cannot do that. They need Kashmir—the real estate matter. But they will never get Kashmir. Their Kashmir dreams will fizzle out at every turn of history.

Meanwhile, China is the only country that is meddling in India's internal affairs. They have nothing to lose along Luin Actual Control (LAC) for Modi's move to create union territories in Indian union, not in China or Pakistan. Yet, they are interfering in India's internal affairs violating all international diplomatic norms. They all desperate to execute their ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) related projects in Pakistan, their all season lackey. For all practical purposes Pakistan is going to be a neo-colony of China, not in the distant future. If playboy-cum-cricketer turned prime minister of Pakistan is happy to see his people are being subjugated by the Beijing Mandarins it is their business.

It is quite logical for Kashmiris to take to streets when curb is lifted. If there starts another cycle of violence and jihadi outrage, the valley will be on the verge of ruin.

With every passing day the idea of Article 370 is fading away. Right now Kashmiris are more concerned about Demography, rather adverse demographic balance. Currently the valley population is 70 lakh. The saffron ideologues are pondering over how to tilt the demographic balance against the Muslim majority and make Hindus, at least a functional majority, with sufficient political clout to influence the Kashmiri society. Now it is a matter of time for Adanis and Ambanis to land in Kashmir with their multi-billion dollar investment proposals. It is difficult to resist corporate on slaught. Nowhere in India people have been able to stop their forward march. They are going to buy their prime land at exorbitant prices. Muslims will sell land, Pandits will sell land. The return of Pandits who have legitimate right to return to their homes may endanger communal harmony finally poor Kashmiris will lose their land to outsiders as it has happened in Jharkhand.

It is not that easy to drastically change the demographic balance and manipulate 70 lakh Kashmiris who are out and out anti-Indian. The mandarins in Beijing can do it easily as they are doing it in Tibet. In most cases ethnic tribes and indigenous people lose their respective identity when they face outsiders with a brute majority. NE is an ethnic cauldron. The people in this region are unlikely to succeed in resisting outside pressure because of disunity among local people and apathy of administration. The process of assimilation has been going on for long without any tangible results. What stands in the way is their age-old life-style and localised economic bond—which being gradually replaced by all encompassing market economy.

Total demographic annihilation has taken place in Tripura. The ethnic Tipara people have been marginalised beyond recognition. Tripura is now one more Bengali-speaking Bengali majority state in Indian unions. Original inhabitants are minority in their own home-land. The process irreversible. Tiparas will lose once and for all. Rightly or wrongly the British made some safeguards laws to save ethnic identity. But things are changing radically very fast. Old safeguards are crumbling. Newer ones are not emerging. As a result all ethnic groups are in a hopeless situation.

For the Kashmiris the question was never Hindusthan or Pakistan. For centuries they used to face invasion by Afghan hordes. There never arose any possibility of Islamic religious identity. Nor did they encounter threat to Kashmiriyat which they cherish so much. But they had to resist Afghan brutality. And the Afghans despite their superior fire-power and state-craft didn't excort much influence on the Kashmiri's demography. The Kashmiri's always retained their demographic balance to their advantage. The real threat now comes from the business community. Abdullahs and Muftis don't belong to business community. They are aristocratic political elite, born to rule. If Sindhis and Marwaris have their way in Kashmir's business, they will soon dominate. They may even organise communal riots to get what they want—control over Kashmir's market. Communal polarisation is inevitable in Kashmir. And blood-baths will follow. The ensuing battle in Kashmir is not for Article 370, it is battle for maintaining demographic balance intact. Concerned Kashmiris are more concerned about demographic balance, not Article 370. In any way they have lost it to the Modis.

In reality the rigging of 1987 assembly polls changed everything, giving birth to militancy while promoting Pakistan sponsored jihadi. No militancy on for that matter insurgency can be defeated conclusively. It is not happening Latin America where insurgency is endemic. Nearer home NE is a classic example. Naga insurgency—temporary tnuce and cease-fire may allow people to take breathing space but it is no solution. Kashmiris are being forced to fight for peace, democracy and their semi-independent status which they enjoyed for so many decades.

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Vol. 52, No. 20, Nov 17 - 23, 2019