Kashmiri Muslims: Must fate play cruel tricks on them eternally?
Often portrayed as the only inordinately blood-spattered Muslim-majority territory in the world where more than 47,000 people have been killed excepting the disappeared ones, the Indian state of Kashmir and Jammu (K&J) — the 70-year-old flashpoint over which Delhi and Islamabad have fought two wars and myriads of bloody skirmishes—has been subjected to an irrationally ruthless action fraught with danger of escalation of further violence. A constitutional coup d’état by the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, headed by Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi, has stripped Jammu and Kashmir, the country’s, of its special constitutional status on 5 August, and split it into two Union Territories—-one is comprised of the Jammu and Kashmir divisions of the now-abolished state, and geo-strategically significant Ladakh region.
Indian Army has Fearing mass popular opposition to its actions, New Delhi has deployed as many as 80 thousand troops, what is believed to be an unprecedented level, while in Srinagar city government forces threw “chili bombs” that affect respiratory systems onto the deserted streets, while a senior official told AFP that nearly 300 administrative officials and top security officials had been issued with satellite phones. Of the total14 lakh active personnel in the Indian Army, some 4 lakh were said to be stationed in Kashmir.
Abrogation of the special status of Kashmir runs counter to India’s conventional democratic vision of unity in diversity, the political edifice of which was built by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India (1947–64). The BJP’s Hindutva agenda include abrogation of Article 370, construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya (the basis of which has not been confirmed by historians) and introduction of a uniform civil code have served as the three key pillars.
Abrogating the broad autonomy that Kashmir enjoyed—at least on paper—under articles 370 and 35 (A) of the Indian constitution, the new governments of the bifurcated state have been given a status inferior to that of the Indian Union’s remaining 28 states, enabling New Delhi to exercise wide powers over the territories’ affairs in perpetuity. [Vide Keith Jones, ‘India’s Hindu supremacist government abrogates Kashmir’s autonomy’, world socialist website, 6 August 2019.]
BJP’s insensitive actions could have incendiary ramifications, both domestic and beyond, such as further inflaming tensions with Pakistan, and constitute further towards dictatorial forms of rule and the promotion of Hindu communal reaction. Successive Indian governments—whether headed by the Congress Party, the BJP, or a “Third Front” of regional parties—have responded to the insurgency with massive state violence, including disappearances and summary executions of alleged insurgents and widespread torture of civilians. With more than half a million Indian army troops and paramilitaries in a state with a population of just 14 million, the mobilization of the repressive forces of the Indian state in Kashmir has been justly compared to that of Israeli security forces on the West Bank. [Ibid]
More than 26 years ago, Indian soldiers allegedly raped more than 30 women in the Kashmiri villages of Kunan and Poshpora. “Those who survived the attack are still fighting for justice”, Aliya Nazki reported from BBC Urdu. It was 23 February 1991. The people of Kunan, a tiny village in Indian administered Kashmir’s Kupwara district, were retiring for the night after a cold winter day. Zooni and Zarina (not their real names) were also getting ready to go to bed when they heard a series of loud knocks on the door. And women were violated. The case is still being heard in the Supreme Court of India. [Vide ‘Kashmir ‘mass rape’ survivors fight for justice’, bbc.com/news/ 7 October 2017.]
The Congress Party, which has its own long history of violating the rights and brutally suppressing the Kashmiri people, denounced the BJP’s rewriting of the constitution as ‘illegal’. “We anticipated a misadventure,” said senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram, “but did not think in our wildest dreams that they will take such a catastrophic step.”
The Stalinists parliamentary parties—the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India (“integral part of the Indian establishment for decades, the Stalinist CPM and CPI have aided and abetted the growth of the Hindu right”) — similarly denounced the BJP’s actions as an attack on the constitution and the rights of the states, without issuing any warning that the promotion of communal reaction and assault on democratic rights is absolutely reprehensible. [Vide Keith Jones, ‘India’s Hindu supremacist government abrogates Kashmir’s autonomy’, world socialist website, 6 August 2019.]
The Congress speaks for those sections of the ruling class that fear the BJP’s stoking of communalism and increasing open break with legal-constitutional norms could reap a whirlwind at home, while doing damage to India’s stature and legal claim to Kashmir abroad.
The Modi government, however, calculates that its provocative steps in Kashmir and incitement of communal reaction will occasion no more than hand-wringing from the Western powers—and above all US imperialism—which are assiduously promoting India as a military-strategic counterweight to China. According to news reports, New Delhi is on the verge of signing the third and final of three “foundational” documents with Washington providing the framework for joint Indo-US military operations. India has already agreed to open its military bases for use by US warplanes and battleships. [Vide Keith Jones, ‘India’s Hindu supremacist government abrogates Kashmir’s autonomy’, world socialist website, 6 August 2019.]
As luck would have it, since the British rule until today Kashmiri people have been viewed from communal angle, but never seen as humans deserving civilized treatment. The earliest purchaser of Kashmir was Gulab Singh, whose father Kishore Singh had his son enrolled in a school where “lying, intrigue, and treachery were all considered part and parcel of politics.” Kashmir was sold out on March 16, 1846, by the colonial British East India Company under a Treaty for Rupees 75 (seventy-five) lakh. Maharaja Gulab Singh was a ‘zar-kharid’ or gold-boughten slave!” [Vide Masood Hussain, The Man Who Purchased Kashmir, June 29, 2015; Kashmir Life, Weekly News Magazine, Kashmir, India.]
Alas, even in 2019 fate continues to play cruel tricks on Muslims in general and Kashmiri Muslims in particular.