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Kashmir And Hindu Nationalists: ‘They may have bitten off more than they can chew’

The BJP government’s approach to Kashmir goes beyond what Milosevic intended for the Kosovo Albanians: subjugation, said an article published by BCC, as it cited Serbia’s Milosevic regime decision in 1989 of unilaterally revoking Kosovo’s autonomy and imposing a police state on Kosovo’s Albanian majority.

It said “the Hindu nationalist government seems to ultimately aspire to assimilate rebellious Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir into a form of Indian national identity defined by its movement’s ideology. This approach is akin to China’s policy towards the Uighurs of Xinjiang”.

However, it noted that the Hindu nationalists know that India is not an authoritarian one-party state. “The outlook is grim.”

“The Kashmir gambit may help the BJP’s prospects in elections in a few Indian states in October, and it may temporarily deflect attention from India’s faltering economy. But its radicalism may have re-invigorated the Kashmir conflict in a way the dynamic duo will find difficult to manage going forward.”

“In the sheer radicalism of their approach, they may have bitten off more than they can chew.”

Discussing the Modi government’s move to revoke Article 370, the writer – Sumantra Bose, listed the challenges faced the Indian government.

“Hindu nationalists have for seven decades vehemently denounced Article 370 as an example of ‘appeasement’ of India’s only Muslim-majority state. This objection to Article 370 was also congruent with the Hindu nationalists’ ideological belief that India should be a unitary and centralised nation-state.”

He noted that the reorganisation of Indian-held Kashmir also reflects a longstanding Hindu nationalist agenda, as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had demanded in 2002 to divide the state be divided into three: a separate Hindu-majority Jammu state; the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley; plus union territory status for Ladakh.

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But the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had gone even further: a separate Jammu state and Ladakh as a union territory, plus the carving out of a sizeable area, also with union territory status, in the Kashmir valley to be inhabited solely by Kashmiri Pandits. What remained of the Kashmir Valley would then be left to the Muslim majority.

The article warned that a further carve-up of Indian-Held Kashmir may be on the anvil, as advocated by the RSS and VHP in 2002. That could trigger polarisation between the Hindu and Muslim populations in the region.

The writer also said that the claim made by Modi and Amit Shah that the autonomy enshrined by Article 370 is the cause of separatism is disingenuous.

The reason is that the autonomy had already been largely stripped away by a series of integrative measures imposed on the state by federal governments between the mid-1950s and the mid-1960s.

Similarly, Article 35A, which prevented outsiders from buying land or property in the state and assures priority in jobs to state residents, was not unique Indian-held Kashmir, as a number of Indian states – including Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and several states in India’s north-eastern periphery – have very similar protections for native residents.

The actual cause of “separatism” in the state, which exploded in insurgency in 1990, was the de facto revocation of its autonomy in the 1950s and 1960s and the manner in which it was effected: through the collusion of puppet local governments installed by Delhi and by turning the place into a police state ruled by draconian laws.

About Modi’s promise to hold elections for a legislature for the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, it said any such election will likely be boycotted in the Kashmir valley and by most Jammu Muslims, and produce a toothless union territory government led by the BJP.

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