As we were going to press, the right-wing Hindutva government of Narendra Modi took the unprecedented step of ending Indian occupied Kashmir’s special status guaranteed under Art. 370 and Art. 35-A of the Indian constitution. Kashmir for practical purposes has now been turned into the kind of occupied territories Israel controls in Palestine with armed settlers supported by Israeli Defense Forces.
This completes the dark vision of Hindutva fanatic, Syama Prasad Mukherjee, who had raised the slogan, “Ek Desh mein do vidhan, do Pradhan, do nishan nahin ho sakte”. Mukherjee had founded Bharatiya Jana Sangh, with the help of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1951, with one overarching goal of abrogation of Art. 370 – Jana Sang later became BJP.
Mukherjee died of a heart attack, in 1953, in custody of Jammu & Kashmir government where he was detained as a protestor. History has thus moved full circle. Extreme Hindutva fanatics that were responsible for the assassination of Gandhi and once battled the Indian governments on streets are now in power and are redefining India in every possible respect.
In terms of Pakistan this tantamount to a popular rule by the likes of TLP founder, Khadim Hussain Rizvi on Islamabad and Punjab. No one knows how future of South Asia turns out, but it does not look good. Though BJP has done lots of legal chicanery in executing this, the issue was much studied, debated and written about in India – and this action is patently unconstitutional and more so: illogical.
What Modi regime has done is an affront to India’s international obligations under the UN resolutions, violates several guarantees built in the Indian constitution and flies against the previous decisions of the Indian Supreme Court. But given the intense religious emotions, BJP has unleashed across India it will perhaps be impossible for the court to take any stand.
Kashmir valley had already existed as a war zone with the highest ratio between soldiers and adult civilians anywhere on the planet. In the last few days more troops and paramilitary units were sent in and its obvious that Delhi intends to crush Kashmiris with an iron hand – for an indefinite time period.
Plight of Kashmiris is going to agitate public sentiments in Pakistan and will raise difficult challenges for Imran Khan government that was eager and sincere in improving relations with India. All this happened at a time when the US President Donald Trump – while meeting Pakistani PM, Imran Khan – had offered to mediate on Kashmir.
Many Indian analysts think that Trump-Imran meeting and talk of Kashmir as a dispute to be resolved made Modi and his cabal insecure – and thus act in haste. This has also happened at a time when US-Taliban dialogue was making progress and a resolution in Afghanistan looked possible.
Delhi that had invested significantly in creating strategic influence in Kabul found itself out of the end game and was naturally very apprehensive. BJP’s rash actions in Kashmir may not remain confined inside the valley – we fear that waves of instability will be felt far and wide. We hope we are wrong!