Saffron India’s Kashmir Policy: Deceit and Tyranny

Iqbal Khan

After its massive victory in 2019 election, the BharatiyaJanata Party (PJP) plans to further trivialize and marginalize Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK) on its own strength, and it is expected to be an operation with no holds barred. Kashmir’s increasing violence was the backdrop for India’s recent elections, which saw Prime Minister NarendraModi returned to power. Preliminary data shows that Occupied Jammu and Kashmir recorded a turnout of only 29 percent compared to a nationwide average of 67 percent. Hundreds of polling stations recorded no voters at all. BJP has vowed to end the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.

Delimitation of the state assembly is on the cards to create more seats for the patches like Jammu where there is Hindu majority. This is being done to ensure a Hindu Chief Minster in due course of time. The Election Commission of India is considering to hold the Assembly elections in IoK later this year.

Saffron leadership seems determined to correct the “historic” injustice inflicted on the Hindu Rashtra ever since Islam invaded and struck roots in India. One can vividly recall the tone and tenor of the electoral campaigns launched by Modi and Shah and one couldn’t have missed the message central to their theme:  restoration of Hindu pride.

According to Asian Age, Shiv Sena announced on June 06 that ‘Kashmir will not be given to Muslims as a gift’. Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna commented: “The population of Muslims in the valley is 68.35 per cent, while Hindus make up to 28.45 per cent of the total strength in the state. This does not mean Kashmir will be given to Muslims as a ‘gift’.”

“They are Indians, too, and the laws of the country must be extended to them. For this, Article 370 must be abrogated”. BJP manifesto reiterates party stand on abrogation of Articles 370 and Article 35A. Defence Minister Rajnath said: “No option than to abolish Article 370, 35A if someone talks about separate PM for JK.  No question of separate Prime Minister for Kashmir”.  Article 370 protects and grants special status to the sovereignty of the state and gives it the power to make a separate set of laws to be applied for its governance. “Politics in the state has so far been played in the pressure to keep the Muslim population happy,” Saamna added.

There is another perspective from India as well. Indian Nobel laureate AmartyaSen said that atrocities carried out in IoK have been grossly mishandled by Modi government and has become the “biggest blot” on New Delhi in the West.

According to India Today, Sen was quoted as saying, “It is the biggest blot on Indian democracy. Basically, we have mishandled it for a number of decades. Right now, we are mishandling it very badly indeed”, he added.

Traditionally pro-India National Conference has vowed that it “Won’t allow BJP, RSS to repeal Jammu and Kashmir’s Special Status. The National Conference said it is the Article 370 that sanctifies the bond between New Delhi and Srinagar and any stride on the special status of the state will put a question mark on the connection of the state with the union of India. 

The National Conference said the BJP and the RSS should stop parroting the impish demand, and that any assault on the state’s identity is akin to playing with fire.” Any such misadventure aimed at abrogating the special status of the state will have far reaching consequences; the move will put the state to flames. Abrogating Article 370 will nullify Maharaja’s accession with the union of India,” National Conference general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said in a statement.

The BJP cannot tolerate even one Muslim Majority State within the Indian Union. The presence of a Muslim majority State has remained an anachronism for the saffron brigade. BJP and its top leadership are somehow convinced that the Kashmiri worm’s back is broken and Modi has to just do ‘himmat’ (effort) for bringing it to a close. Yet another dimension. Kashmiri Pandit delegation recently met Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. All of them were extremely eager to return to their homeland.

They emphasized that they do not want to live in separate and segregated colonies but like in the past want to live among all in common neighborhoods. Mirwaiz assured the delegation that all Kashmiri Muslims want them to come back and live together as before, as Kashmir belongs to them as much as it does to those who did not leave. He informed the delegation that the entire majority Muslim population wants the community to return to the valley.

Last year was Kashmir’s deadliest since 2008 and the bloodshed has worsened since. The Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a local rights group reported: more than 586 people were killed in 2018, including militants, Indian security forces, and 160 civilians. The Indian government puts the civilian death toll at 37. This year is already threatening to surpass the last: the rights group recorded 162 total deaths from January until March.

Violence in Kashmir has left at least over 95000 dead since 1989 uprising.   Shotgun pellets have been used as a crowd control method in Kashmir since 2010 – the only Indian state in which they are deployed. More than 6221 persons received pellet gun injuries in the seven months following the July 2016 unrest, according to the IoK government.

Under Modi’s first term in the office, the BJP had been accused of stoking anti-Muslim sentiment across the country in general and in the IoK in particular; the second term is not likey to deliver anything better.