After-effect: Kashmir in turmoil

The Narendra Modi government has achieved in a short span of ten weeks after beginning its second consecutive term at the Centre, the foremost of the three-point agenda set out by its ideologue--the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. 

It pertained to ending the applicability of Article 370 in the sensitive border state of Jammu and Kashmir on the specious plea that it did not benefit the people of the only Muslim-majority state in the country. The Article inserted subsequently as a temporary provision, however, continues to remain a part of the Constitution. However, it may be recalled that the former Princely states became part of India without any provisional arrangement like Article 370. It is not surprising that several leaders of the Congress party supported the move. 

The remaining two issues on the RSS agenda pertain to building a Ram temple at the pilgrim centre of Ayodhya in UP and having a Uniform Civil Code.

Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh never had any similarities. At the same time the distinct identities of the three regions stood out. While J&K, which lost its statehood, and Ladakh have become Union Territories. There has been a long standing demand for the latter. Simply put, they now come directly under Central rule. As expected yet again Pakistan is back to its gambit of internationalising the Kashmir issue. Aided by its all-weather friend China the matter figured at an informal meeting of the United Nations Security Council which affirmed that the 'K' issue must be resolved bilaterally. 

The firm support of other powers like the US and France that New Delhi was well within its rights of reorganising J&K which was its internal matter proved to be another rebuff to Islamabad's machinations. 

Modi as the head of government and the union Home minister Amit Shah are being credited with correcting a historical wrong. The BJP believes that Article 370 was the main stumbling block in the integration of J&K with the rest of the country.  

The Modi government has achieved a significant agenda before it, thanks to its fresh mandate of crossing the rubicon of 300 seats for the first time in the 543-member Lok Sabha. There is no doubt the task ahead is going to be challenging. 

The lingering and simmering anger among the people of J&K is no secret. There is consternation about the situation coming to such a pass where in one stroke it has lost its special status as well as statehood. Further, the fear of losing land to outsiders has gripped the Valley.

Simultaneously, the administration is trying to curb fear mongering. Clearly things have not stabilised after J&K's destiny was unveiled in Parliament earlier this month on the fifth of August. The argument is that the BJP is pursuing its Hindu nationalist agenda in the Muslim-majority region. 

At the same time other discriminating organisations pondering over this matter have alluded to rampant corruption in the system. The ruling political class in J&K has been accused of acting arbitrarily in making appointments. It was apparent there was a price for everything. Then, one needed the right connections at the right places. 

The irony of it all is that every home in the erstwhile state has been adversely affected. Hopes of the people were shattered that Articles 370 and 35-A purportedly guaranteed them land and jobs. They got nothing and the long wait has been one of frustration and tribulation. 

The Kashmiri centric parties failed to govern J&K properly having raised the slogan of complete autonomy and self rule leaving the three subjects of Defence, Communication and Foreign Affairs with the Centre. 

The people at large in the Valley have seen through their game all these years where governance had become a casualty. Barely three years back in 2016 Kashmir faced the worst violence and agitation in decades when hundreds died and large number of others were injured and treated in hospitals. 

Even when the erstwhile state was on the boil, the J&K government did not allow the police to act against the mischief mongers. It also did not allow schools to be opened leading to avoidable mayhem including burning down one school after another. 

Politicians in the Valley must accept responsibility for having failed to pursue peace and promote development. What is worse is that suggestions to put the instigators behind bars under the stringent Public Safety Act were rejected. 

One will have to wait and watch how things pan out in the coming days in J&K. What has come to the fore is the need to take a balanced view of the prevailing situation in the interest of the people of the new Union Territory. 

It has become imperative that peace prevails and the people are able to lead a life of dignity in their traditional atmosphere with ethnic, cultural and linguistic identities duly protected. Regrettably, the Kashmiri leaders have failed to inspire confidence among the people with their utterances and action on the ground.

The writer is a senior journalist and commentator.

- T R Ramachandran

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