The horrendous murder of forty CRPF jawans by a Kashmiri suicide bomber has shaken the nation. People everywhere, barring, of course, Kashmir, have condemned the killing in the strongest possible terms. Everywhere they have lit candles, raised slogans against the terror-master Pakistan and appealed to the government to respond in an effective manner. Led by the prime minister leaders of all political parties have paid a touching tribute to the martyrs.
An all-party meeting convened by the PM has passed a resolution condemning the dastardly killings and committed the nation to a measured response. Kashmiris too have observed a day’s strike, but not to mourn the death of the CRPF men. No, to protest the sporadic attacks on fellow Kashmiris in certain parts of the country following the Pulwama killings. On Saturday, shops, petrol pumps and all other business establishments were shut on the call of various trade bodies in the Valley.
All modes public and private transport were off the road. This day-long bandh underlines the gulf that separates Kashmir from the rest of India. The absence of such solidarity among Indians in the rest of the country has prevented a purposeful action by successive governments in New Delhi. Whether you like it or not, we have mollycoddled Kashmiris from day one in the hope they will join the mainstream. They will not. But what prevents the mainstream to populate Kashmir is that ill-considered Article 370 which has become a noose around the neck of India.
The most ill-thought-out provision in the Constitution fighting which Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the founder of the Jana Sangh, the earlier avatar of the BJP, gave his life needs to be deleted outright. As Mukherjee said, One Nation, Two Constitutions, is highly anomalous. It perpetuates separatism. But a weak post-Partition leadership surrendered to the blackmail and intimidation of Sheikh Abdullah. And the nation has not stopped paying the price for that astounding folly both in terms of men and materials ever since.
We have tried every possible solution to minimize, if not stop outright, paying the costs of that singular folly, — along with the gratuitous internationalizing of what they call the Kashmir dispute by going to the UN — but without any success. We have fought three wars with Pakistan on Kashmir without getting anywhere near a workable solution. Another war will not serve the purpose. Regardless of the fact that both countries are now nuclear-powered, abolishing Article 370 should be a national mission.
Fear of separatist Kashmiris or their masters in Pakistan should not deter us from pulling down this artificial wall that has kept the rest of India from Kashmir. Having tried everything possible to restore a modicum of peace in the Valley, the only solution now is to mainstream Kashmir by demolishing constitutional barriers so that all citizens have the freedom to settle in Kashmir, to conduct business and to settle there like anywhere else in the country.
This action of a bold leadership in New Delhi will be a greater provocation for Pakistan than if India were to go to real war with the instigator-in-chief of terror in the Valley. The international community will understand why we are abolishing that constitutional provision. More than forty nations have condemned the Pulwana attack. But if in its wake we seek to extinguish the fountainhead of mischief, if the international community is divided, so be it. We have to take that risk, rather than bleed constantly at the hands the Pak-inspired jihadis.
Once the Americans get out Afghanistan, which will be very soon, the Taliban warriors rendered redundant will be made to turn their attention to Kashmir. Why wait for that ugly eventuality? Why not bite the bullet in the backdrop of the barbaric massacre. And confront the fall-out which cannot be worse than the huge loss of life at the hands of the jihadi elements.
Do note, two days after Pulwama the ISI proxies killed an army major. In short, it will remain an unending spectacle of gore and blood, death and destruction unless we have the guts to assimilate Kashmir and Kashmiris into the mainstream. As we said, more than a military approach to Pulwama, a constitutional approach by initiating the process to delete Article 370 must be undertaken on a war footing.
In the absence of J and K Assembly, the State Governor can initiate the proposal to fulfill the constitutional requirement. An extraordinary situation calls for an extraordinary response. Let us not be squeamish about the constitutional niceties when the challenge we face is so arduous that it calls for an out-of-box solution. Meanwhile, the human rightswallas and PIL habitués who will react angrily can be ignored. They don’t bleed for the sake of the nation. The jawans do. Removing Article 370 is for their sake first of all.