It’s time to show sagacity and large-heartedness in Jammu & Kashmir. Our unwarranted aggression in worthless dialogue may shoo away those who look for a future in India
In an astute political move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have taken steps to resolve the Kashmir problem, which has been simmering for the past 70 years. The scrapping of Article 370 is a decisive move taken by a bold political leadership, focussed on finding a solution to a never-ending crisis. Whether the insertion of Article 370 was justified in the first place or not has been a matter of major debate for the past 70 years but its scrapping should receive approbation of one and all.
The “special status”, which Article 370 accorded to the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir, rather left it languishing and held it to ransom. As the young Member of Parliament from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal pointed out, “by a few political families.” For seven decades, the State was in limbo for being a left-over of the Partition. While Junagadh and Hyderabad, the two other contentious princely States which did not easily integrate with India after independence, are today an undisputed part of Indian sovereignty, we, on the other hand, allowed the wound in Jammu & Kashmir to fester for seven decades.
The move by the present leadership has ended 70 years of intellectual debate on the subject and has taken decisive action, which should or rather will yield positive results. Article 370 was a temporary provision from the very beginning but was made to settle into a deceptive permanent status to suit an entire range of political schemas, none of which particularly pertained to the welfare of the common people, forget about the entire State, even of the Valley.
Namgyal hit the nail on its head when during a speech in Parliament he said, “Members of two families are still intoxicated and think that Kashmir is their father’s property.” The two families, which he referred to are the Muftis and the Abdullahs, whose members have been Chief Ministers of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. In addition to the two, there are other families in Kashmir, aligned to either of the two families, who have dominated politics in the Valley.
Namgyal’s speech came in for appreciation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a tweet, he said, “My young friend, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, who is an MP from Ladakh, delivered an outstanding speech in the Lok Sabha while discussing key Bills on Jammu & Kashmir. He coherently presents the aspirations of our sisters and brothers from Ladakh. It is a must hear!”
The concentration of power and subsequently, wealth, became the primary motives driving governance and administration that influenced the entire State. As Namgyal pointed out in his speech, “Everyone has been talking about equality, saying that if Article 370 is removed, equality will cease to exist. I want to ask why is it that in the past, when funds were allocated for the development of entire Jammu & Kashmir, the amount earmarked for Ladakh was transferred to Kashmir? Is this your equality?”
What Namgyal did not mention in so many words was that these funds ostensibly spent on the development of the Valley finally ended up filling the coffers of a few. Kashmiri awam (common people) today largely lives in a state of penury as they have not been allowed to be part of the Indian mainstream and the growth story.
The Berlin Wall artificially divided East and West Germany. It separated people belonging to one culture. But Kashmir is home to an Indic culture. Article 370 stood like a wall between the integration of the people of the Valley with the rest of the country, both of which have roots in Indic culture. Kashmir is home to the Martand temple, Amarnath shrine and Lalded’s poetry.
The wall has now been brought down with the passage of the Constitutional amendment Bills in Parliament. It’s time to rejuvenate and integrate Kashmir socially and culturally with the Indian mainstream. The onus is on us to prove that this historical move is right and convince the Kashmiris that we’re with them.
A few word warriors in their enthusiasm are saying that they are planning to buy plots in Kashmir. They should realise that by saying so, they are undoing and trivialising the fine political move made by our leaders Prime Minister Modi and Shah. Let’s not indulge in any ludicrous act, which can demoralise the Kashmiri commoner and inhibit his/her integration with the Indian mainstream.
It’s time to show sagacity and large-heartedness. Our unwarranted aggression in worthless dialogue may shoo away those who look for a future in India. Let’s not give an opportunity to India’s rivals to fish in the troubled waters.
(The writer is Chairman, Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, GGSIP University, New Delhi and former Chairman, Syama Prasad Mukherjee College and Keshava Mahavidyalaya of Delhi University)