Kashmir is a deep scar left unhealed by the Partition of the Subcontinent. It continues to bleed even seven decades after it was inflicted on the body and soul of millions of Muslims of this Valley. However, on Monday, Hindu nationalist government of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) succeeded in inflicting another wound by depriving the disputed Himalayan region of its special constitutional status.
The President of India on Monday morning signed a law to remove Articles 35-A and 370 from the Constitution only an hour or two after Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament in India, approved the amendment amid protest by the opposition parties, especially the Congress.
The abrogated Article 35-A gives special rights to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir and places a bar on any person to acquire immovable property if he or she is not a permanent resident of the state. The Article 370, granting special status to the Valley, lays restrictions on Delhi’s legislative powers in the region.
Nothing could be more cunning and far from reality than the approach adopted in the Statement of Objects and Reasons to the bill which says that on the demand of the people of Ladakh and “prevailing internal security situation fuelled by cross border terrorism in the existing State of Jammu and Kashmir, a separate Union Territory for Jammu and Kashmir is being created”.
It seemed recent developments in Afghanistan tilting balance in favour of Pakistan and President Trump’s two successive statements about US mediation on the Kashmir dispute created a panic in the BJP camp leaving Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an awkward situation to clarify his position amid pressures from the Indian opposition parties.
However, preparing to alter the constitutional status of Kashmir, the BJP government about 10 days back reinforced its military deployment in the Valley and on Sunday arrested almost all political leaders of Kashmir and locked down the entire Valley by suspending all communication and media services, including Internet. India also increased its attacks and activity along the Line of Control targeting civilian population with Cluster bombs.
Sensing the gravity of the situation, Pakistan’s National Security Council (NSC), after its urgent meeting on Sunday, warned that any escalation in military activity by India would destabilise the region, but firmly responded.
The concerns of the NSC were endorsed by the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General who, in a statement on Sunday, expressed concerns over increase in military activity on the Line of Control and appealed to “both sides to exercise maximum restraint”.
But could these messages influence the Indian nationalist government to go for rational and peaceful policies with its neighbours as well as with minorities, Muslims being the largest segment. At present, Modi, possessed by a spirit of jingoism, will hardly be willing to listen to any saner voice. He must be finding himself in a state of ebullience and ecstasy after his BJP, an ideological inheritor and successor of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, Vishva Hindu Parishad and Shiv Sena, crossed a major landmark in its journey to realise its long-cherished dream of Hindutva.
And what could this latest development mean to Kashmiris? Syed Ali Geelani, a leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, in a SOS to “all Muslims living on this planet” tweeted on Saturday ‘if we all die and you kept quiet, you will be answerable to Allah the Magnificent. Indians are about to launch the biggest genocide in the history of Mankind. May Allah protect us!”
We don’t know if the international community — the United Nations and the European Union — or the Muslim Ummah and its timid representative body, the Organisation of Islamic Countries, would take any notice of Geelani’s SOS, but the poor Kashmiris may continue to suffer with the Valley likely to take another major bloodbath and probably for a long time to come.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2019.
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