Reorganisation of Jammu & Kashmir – Part 3
As expected, Government’s decision on erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) has invited a lot of debate. Frankly there is no problem with such debate as we live in a democracy where dissent, contrary views and counters to any government decision are always welcome and can only strengthen democracy in its true spirit and meaning. The only rider, if any, in exercising this right by citizens is that criticism must be constructive. This rider becomes even more important and critical when such opinions are expressed by those in the society who are well established in public domain and can influence public opinion. Unfortunately, the debate by some politicians and learned intellectuals of national repute on Government’s move to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A in J&K has been far from constructive.
Rahul Gandhi’s claims in an impromptu press briefing late at night, while the Congress Working Committee (CWC) was in session, about things being horribly wrong in J&K and reports of many killings was one such instance. He did not offer any proof or evidence of the situation in J&K despite having just come out of a presentation on the same subject. Was he indulging in fear mongering? Why did he not share some proof that was shown to him during the presentation? Also there was an obvious lack of conviction in his overall demeanour as he was speaking to the press. Surely this was not constructive criticism by any stretch of imagination. Taking a cue from their leader, other Congressmen went ballistic in the same vein.
Mr Chidambaram communalised the issue when he stated that had J&K been a Hindu dominated state, the government would have never revoked the two articles. Party’s Leader in Lok Sabha said that India had no right to do anything in J&K as it was being monitored by United Nations since 1948 and the issue cannot be treated as an internal matter. Some compared the current situation in J&K to Nazi concentration camps while another, who was the Chief Minister of J&K at one point of time, went on to say that locals who were seen sharing meals or in discussions with the National Security Adviser (NSA) were paid and hired people for photo ops. All kinds of bizarre statements have emanated from the Congress camp after the government’s move. But then Indian politicians have never been known to be constructive and more so today when most of them have got a hiding of their lives at the hustings in last five years at the hands of Mr Modi and his party. Many of them are in a vindictive mode and the nation or what is good for it, does not figure in their scheme of things as they strive to remain relevant in Indian polity today.
But what is even worse is when highly educated and nationally renowned intellectuals follow suit. A well-known columnist penned a piece on the editorial page of India’s leading English newspaper where he compared government’s action to China’s takeover of Tibet, China holding over a million Muslim Uighurs in concentration camps and Israel’s relentless creation of Jewish settlements on the Palestinian West Bank. He finally ruled out the first two and proclaimed that the last one was a distinct possibility with Indian government establishing fortified Hindu settlements in J&K with the aim of isolating Muslim majority areas and separating them from one another. The aim being to create a Hindu majority demography in the state. Imagination is supposed to have no boundaries but realities do have limits. If it is author’s imagination then it is time he stops his imagination from running wild and if he cannot do that then it may be best for him to keep it to himself. If he feels there is a reasonable chance of this being a reality then he is far removed from reality itself if he thinks India’s Kashmir problem and Israel’s West Bank problem are alike. Either way what is certain is that his views will increase mistrust of local Kashmiri Muslims towards the central government and increase communal divide across the nation. Surely such criticism is not constructive. The author may do well to understand that Israel is fighting for survival as a nation in a hostile land surrounded by enemies. India on the other hand has no such issues. India is only ensuring that its territorial integrity is maintained, its security interests not compromised and all parts of the country have a reasonable opportunity of sharing development and progress as the nation moves forward.
In this whole unprincipled debate government detractors have missed the moot point that is the nearly peaceful situation in J&K post government’s move over a week ago. No doubt there were restrictions of various kinds on movement of people, on communications and public gatherings. But these precautionary measures are inherent to any such big move and this is not the first time they have been in place. Relaxations have already been introduced and normalcy will return in not too distant a future. Such measures are primarily for benefit of local population and their safety to avoid any law and order issues in the heat of the moment. Surely no one can make a case that the move should have been announced without such precautionary measures in place. There has been a lot of talk of considering people’s will that indirectly translates into a referendum of some kind for many. Frankly, even if a decision that had been arrived at after a referendum had to be implemented, there would still have been a need to take similar precautionary measures, as are in place today, since a part of the population would have certainly opposed the implementation.
Many in the press and political circles have called government’s decision as unilateral and draconian that will lead to civil unrest, increased terrorism in the state apart from escalation of tensions on the border with Pakistan. The axiomatic truth here is that any decision, arrived at in any manner, on asserting our rightful claims on J&K would have invited a similar reaction. The question here is can a nation keep deferring important decisions like this for all times to come? The more such decisions are delayed, the greater is the cost that a nation has to pay. India has already paid dearly in this regard in J&K for over seven decades as absence of foresight, vested interests and lack of will of decision makers prevailed over national interests. This had to be corrected and now it has been done. What cost the nation will pay for this move is a million dollar question that time alone will answer. Meanwhile, it may be prudent to believe in the age old adage ‘fortune favours the brave’.
Perhaps the more important question is whether this move is in overall interest of the nation with a long term perspective. Fortunately there is only one answer to this question and that is a big YES. If that be so, then it becomes the duty of every Indian to work towards success of this decision and to stand by his country in this hour of need.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.