Illegal Annexation Of Kashmir: Is India’s Democracy Dead?
“Will the fifth of August be the day that marked the point of no return for Kashmiris’ divorce from India, or will it be the day that India’s hollowed-out liberal opposition finally found its voice? Where’s the evidence for India’s noisy dissent and pluralism?” questions an article published by ThePrint.
It noted that the ruling BJP knows that the move does not enjoy public support and thus has brought in even more troops to maintain ‘law and order’.
And even the discredited Mehbooba Mufti told BBC that this was to “occupy our land” and “reduce us to a minority and disempower us totally.”
Also read: India Abolishes Special Status of Occupied Kashmir Through Presidential Decree, Bifuricates The Region
The article mentions that scrapping the Article 370 had always been on the BJP agenda. Thus, the then BJP vice-president KR Malkani in 1993 had wrote about his party’s solution for the Kashmir issue.
He had said that Article 370 was “temporary and transitional” and “must go. But it can go only when there is a two-thirds majority for it in Parliament. That is going to take some time.”
Malkani, however, had suggested that as and when the Kashmir Valley is set up as a state, the language “Kashmiri must be introduced as the medium of instruction and administration … [to] strengthen and revive Kashmiriat and checkmate the appeal and influence of Pakistan.”
“The BJP of today has no interest in reviving any such idea of Kashmiriat; it only seeks to impose its idea of a Hindu Rashtra on what it imagines is a crushed and hopeless people.”
The article also mentions Edward Luce: “In The Retreat of Western Liberalism, Edward Luce optimistically prophesies: ‘Though Narendra Modi … harbours Bonapartist traits, it is hard to imagine he would try to close down the system. It is still harder to see how he would succeed. So ingrained is India’s culture of noisy dissent and sheer pluralism that I would rate democracy as now safer in India than in parts of the West.” And then he adds that the “biggest thing India has going for it is growth’.”
It said Luce has been proven wrong with a diminished growth and Modi’s Bonapartist tendencies have come to the fore. “The ‘scrapping’ of Article 370, without even the fig leaf of a debate, is Indian democracy’s most severe test.”
Meanwhile, Turkish news agency Anadolu in a report quoted prominent constitutional expert AG Noorani as saying that Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India in 1947, only on three subjects – defence, foreign affairs and communications.
“By 2019, 94 of the 97 entries in the Union List and 26 of the 47 in the Concurrent List have been applied to Kashmir. As many as 260 of the 395 Articles of India’s Constitution have been applied, all in the name of integration. Nothing remains of Article 370 except to protect citizenship provision under Article 35 (A),” he said.
Noorani wonders why Hindu right-wing RSS was obsessed with abrogating this right in Kashmir only when it existed in tribal areas of India’s southern province of Telangana, northern hill state of Himachal Pradesh and in north-eastern provinces of Nagaland and Sikkim.
“For this, the approval of the state’s constituent assembly is necessary. Any concurrence of the state government is always subject to the assembly’s final approval. When the state is under the central rule, neither can accord that concurrence. The Centre [federal government] cannot acquire concurrence from its own handpicked appointee [governor] removable at will,” he added.
Noorani termed the current steps taking by Indian government illegal and against the spirit of its own constitution.
Historian Prem Nath Bazaz records that it was actually Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) who had launched agitation early 20th century, forcing the then Hindu ruler Maharaja Hari Singh to enact a law to bar outsiders to buy land or seek employment in the state. The law was necessitated to prevent residents of neighbouring Muslim Punjab province to settle and marry in the picturesque Kashmir Valley.
According to Noorani, the 1952 Delhi Agreement, between then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Kashmiri leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, has explicitly given the solemn pledge to protect identity and culture of Kashmiri people by preventing outsiders to own land in the disputed region as well as to protect its demographic character in the Hindu majority India, an identical reason that compelled Hindu ruler to enact the law in 1923.
Abdullah, who had played a key role in Kashmir’s conditional accession with India had expressed fears about the future of a Muslim majority region in India.
“There is not a single Muslim in Kapurthala, Alwar or Bharatpur, some of these had been Muslim-majority states before independence. Kashmiri Muslims are afraid that the same fate lies ahead for them as well,” he told Nehru, while insisting to safeguard any demographic change in Kashmir.
Another legal luminary and politician Muzafar Beg said that the Indian Supreme Court, in its judgments, had already upheld the validity of Article 370.
Leading security analyst Praveen Swamy writes that ideological opponents of special status are looking at Chinese Xinjiang-like demographic model for transformation.
Noted commentator Bharat Bhushan said the BJP has a grand plan to take control of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for which elections may be announced soon.
Indian government’s former interlocutor on Kashmir MM Ansari also warned New Delhi that usurping federal powers guaranteed to Jammu and Kashmir would have its consequences.
“Time has come to delegate more powers, rather taking away, what they already have. It will only fuel a sense of disempowerment and further unrest,” he said.
Ansari believed that unlike other countries in the region, India’s strength has been its democracy, federal nature and diversity, not in unity and assimilation. “India’s’ diversity and pluralism are its asset, which needs to be preserved,” he added.