DISTRESS IN PARADISE ON EARTH: KASHMIR ISSUE
Author: Shivendra Pandey, II year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad
Jammu and Kashmir has again been conspicuously in news due to the spike in the killings of innocent civilians as the local militants resort to selective killings.
While the perturbed image of Jammu and Kashmir as being a theatre of muscular Hindutva nationalism still stands true in the opinion of many, the claim that the abrogation of article 370 would bring an end to the barbarity in the valley has certainly failed. Terror elements from the ‘friendly neighbour’ have started to breed terrorism again in the state as a reaction to the dilution of article 370. The government has failed to reach out to all Kashmiris and instead forced integration in the name of integrity upon the state. While the government has no iota of acknowledgement that integration is mere homogenization and the edifice of moral disposition towards the truth and honesty still stands untouched. Fresh attacks on the minorities- Kashmiri pandits and Sikhs in the valley has stilled a feeling of fear and dismay yet again in the “Paradise on earth”. The violence which is owned by the shadow organization of Pakistan based- Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is yet another reminder of what radical Islamism inspires. The radical Islamists and the militants have dreamt of ethnic cleansing of the valley for a long time. The pitiful condition of Pandits and Sikhs in the valley has not been new. The mass exodus of 1990, the Wandhama massacre of 1998, Chittisinghpura massacre of March 2000 are a few more episodes of the wave of violence that has emerged in the valley.
To overcome the existing traumatized conditions of the valley, the ruling government on 5th August 2019 abruptly ended the special status (article 370) that afforded Kashmir a limited degree of autonomy in India by the presidential order. On the same day, India’s upper house passed the resolution and Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 was passed.
The central government took the charge of both the union territories and they shall be ruled by the president. Part-8 of the constitution kicks in under which the union territories are created. Under Article 239 the President has the power to administer the Union territories through the designated officer who is appointed by him- lieutenant governor. Although this revocation faces several legal challenges as per experts, the ostracized Kashmiri Pandits were relieved by the move not realizing that this would not end their throes.
The British rule over Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India terminated in 1947. During partition, Kashmir was promised a referendum to choose between India and Pakistan, however, this plebiscite never took place. For the first few decades, the conflict was limited to interstate affairs between India and Pakistan, but since 1988 the Kashmiri separatists spurred the liberation movement of Kashmir. The armed conflict has claimed thousands of lives and made the economy bleed. The abolition of the autonomy provided by article 370 without the consent of Kashmiris has raised fear among the people of the valley. The findings by a New-Delhi based Concerned Citizens Group (CCG) which say that the valley will be infiltrated by the outsiders after the abrogation of 370 has heightened the fear and suspicion regarding their identity and demographic culture.
The government continues the argument that article 370 was responsible for the corruption, misgovernance, terrorism and alienation of the state. While this debate can continue and the legislation process can be questioned, the paramount importance of the lives of civilians- especially minorities in the valley needs to be preserved. The Kashmir issue is a secular issue and needs to be solved within the secular framework. The radical Islamists made it an issue by trying to establish Islamic shariah. They cannot think of progressing separately. Right now, the issue is standing in a stalemate condition between India and Pakistan. The mainstream political parties and the Hurriyat leaders have always threatened the Centre to support separatism.
The Road Ahead
We need to relook at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s doctrine of- “Kashmiriyat (Kashmir’s legacy), insaniyat (humanism), jamhooriyat (democracy)” for the Kashmir solution which aims at a peaceful resolution of all the outstanding issues surrounding Kashmir and Pakistan otherwise this forceful imposition of stringent measures in the valley would certainly result in the outburst sooner or later. From a human rights perspective, the supreme court must come forward for the people of this country who have been subjected to genocide and also balance the traditional and linguistic rights of the Kashmiris ensuring the constitutional values of equality and secularism.