Hari Prasad is a Tech-Savvy Crusader

The scrapping of article 370 regarding Kashmir and robbing it of statehood have gladdened the hearts of many. What is a bit curious is that in the Rajya Sabha, even the AAP and the BSP have supported the resolution? Arvind Kejriwal has proved that his earlier shouts demanding statehood for Delhi and condemnation of Modi on theĀ  issue of federalism was mere electoral gimmick; he really prefers to swim with the current. The Trinamul Congress members have staged a walk out at the time of voting, showing that they did not want the central government's resolution to be defeated. The real question is whether and how far the broad masses of Kashmiris will be benefitted by the decision. Already there are disquieting reports that in Kashmir, normal life is paralysed with the imposition of curfew, telephone and mobile connections are suspended, cable televisions are stopped. The reaction of the entire country to the latest move by the central government is available, but not that of Kashmir and Kashmiris. Kashmir seems to be an isolated strip of territory. Just prior to this announcement, the government sent large numbers of troops to Kashmir in order to reinforce the already existing military and paramilitary arrangements it gives some hint of the government's ultimate design. It is a matter of shame that those who are rejoicing over the denial of special status to Kashmir are not at all concerned about the condition of Kashmiris. They do not say that Kashmiris are as much entitled to normal life and its privileges as are other citizens of India. They are concerned with the soil of Kashmir, not with the people inhabiting the soil. A considerable number of them were earlier in favour of gunning down Kashmiris for the sake of 'national integrity', of course, if their worldly interests were not harmed. They are now gloating over Amit Shah's steps; they, in perfect conformity with their ingrained jingoism, do not consider in the least the possible reaction of Kashmiris and the need to earn the loyalty of Kashmiris to the Indian Union. They believe in the logic of guns. This logic has certainly been promoted with the arrest of Omar Abdullah and Mehbuba Mufti. The point is whether the decision to scrap Article 370 will make Kashmiris more loyal to the Indian Union. It is difficult to expect such a thing to happen. If the broad masses of Kashmiris do not approve of the decision by the centre, how can the central government exercise its rule over Kashmir? Will it do so by means of bullets and bayonets, just as the USA once tried to rule South Vietnam and later, Cambodia? Loyalty to the Indian state requires the generation of a conviction among Kashmiris that they are not inferior to the citizens of other states, and are entitled to the same rights as those of the latter. Otherwise, Kashmir will become a big prison. Transforming Kashmir into a prison will certainly defame India's image internationally, and licking the feet of Donald Trump will scarcely be of any help. Whether it is admitted or not, there has been created a deep chasm between the government of Delhi and the population of Kashmir, which has generated a sense of alienation among Kashmiris about Indians in general and has allowed Pakistan to fish in troubled water. To attribute all the troubles to Pakistani machinations is foolish enough. The chasm has not appeared overnight; it is the upshot of a long process. The point is how to bridge this chasm without going back to the period when the crack first showed up. Articulated Indian public opinion is divided over this point, but one thing is clear. Unless this chasm is bridged, depriving Kashmir of statehood or scrapping article 370 will create more problems than it will be able to solve. Without cooperation of Kashmiris, it is well-nigh impossible for the Modi-Shah combine to continue to rule Kashmir. Of course, the central government may nurse the illusion that it will be able to rule Kashmir at gunpoint, but the costs will be heavy and the Indian people will have to bear them. The trouble in Kashmir has a long history, dating back to the time when Lord Mountbatten was the Governor-General of independent India. Amit Shah should be aware of this history and also of what Nehru publicly and why. But he, in order to blame Nehru, wants not to dig out the whole range of facts, because they are too embarrassing for the likes of him. Amit Shah has declared that the government's next target is Pak occupied Kashmir, called Azad Kashmir by Pakistan. Of course, Mr Shah is perfectly entitled to express his own views and assert that Pak occupied Kashmir is a part of India. But it must be kept in mind that here too the decisive factor is the mind-set of the broad masses of people of Pak-occupied Kashmir. Amit Shah may well launch a military expedition to liberate the other side of Kashmir from the clutches of the government of Pakistan, but if the people of the other side do not cooperate, or even resist, the expedition may well end in a fiasco.

Finally, it is well-known than the political lineage from which Shah, Modi and their followers have descended were faithful lackeys of British rule and at the same time, admirers of Hitler and Mussolini. Savarkar, after some initial sufferings at the hands of British authorities, became a loyal servant of the latter. Those who know of this history may well find the Modi-Shah combine chanting the slogan 'Bharat Mata Ki Jay' a bit disconcerting. They, however, have a safeguard that their followers are ignorant of this sordid history. History is replete with examples of the self-defeating nature of jingoism, although sometimes some sort of collective madness makes people forget about it. But in this case, the costs of the decision will be heavier with the passage of time. o


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Vol. 52, No. 8, Aug 25 - 31, 2019