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KASHMIR: Nation's Achilles-Heel
6/23/2019 11:41:05 PM
Col J P Singh

There is a country wide apprehension that Kashmir is nation's Achilles-heel. Hence besides Amit Shah, many top BJP leaders committed that if Modi got another term, all discriminatory clauses for J&K will be removed and the state fully integrated into the Union. This assurance resonated country wide. In J&K, Jammu and Ladakh gave unprecedented mandate to BJP. Hence the very first surgical strike (not literally) of the new govt on the discriminatory clauses of the constitution, acting as barrier between Delhi and Srinagar, may not be a surprise when there is a chance for the BJP to redeem Sh. Syama Prasad Mukherjee's pledge. Let us wait for Amarnath Yatra to conclude. Modi led new govt has kick-started the process of understanding the ticklish/core issues which confront the nation from day one. They are plenty. Some more serious than others. Some can wait, some can't. Days of controversial Articles 370 and 35 A, perceived cause of the imbroglio, therefore seem numbered. It is not because they are in BJP's manifesto, but because Kashmir has become nation's Achilles-heel and hence under attacks from across the world including the recent one from OIC. Geo-political status of J&K and the sub-continental political scenario also pose serious security challenges to the union govt. Modi govt is inclined to do whatever best can be done to come out of 'K' trauma.
Nationalism and security were the key issues in the election. Recollecting horror of Pulwama, related to the K issue, killing 44 CRPF braves and the associated gory sights at the site of incident, followed by the depressing scenes when whatever was left of the martyrs (corpses) reached end destination, nation was surcharged with anger and ready for a full scale war. Nation would have stood with Modi like it stood with Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1965. Luckily the political brinkmanship overtook the war hysteria and ended up as Balakote Air Strike. Safe return of Wg Cdr Abhinandan infact saved a war. Suffice to state that such mass hysteria dictates why it is important for Modi to resolve Kimbroglio to prevent a future election defeat(s). Kashmir is drenched in blood. Nearly one lakh persons have been killed. 30 years old insurgency is showing no signs of abating. Thousands of body bags have gone home and the trickle continues during operation 'All Out'. Nation has paid a heavy price for Kashmir. India can't see the blood of innocent on Kashmir soil forever. Kashmir (Pulwama-Balakot), as we all saw, was the key election winning factor. But for this, results may well have been different. Addressing 353 MPs in the central hall of the Parliament, PM stated that his govt will try to balance 'National Ambitions and Regional Aspirations' (NARA). In J&K regional aspirations mismatch with national ambition. While the national ambition is 'regional supremacy'; the regional aspirations in J&K revolve around sectarianism, Azadi, self rule, greater autonomy and/or sub-regional autonomy. Regional aspirations override national ambition by virtue of a flawed federal status given to J&K. This has given rise to Pak sponsored militancy. The very idea of Indian Union is challenged in the Valley. For India to be a regional power, persistent internal dangers do not augur well.
Just about 30 years ago China faced a popular students led 'Democracy Movement'. It started on 15 April 89 as challenge to one--party political system's legitimacy. At the height of the protests, about one million people assembled in the Tiananmen Square. The movement was forcibly suppressed on 4 June by what is known as 'Tiananmen Square Massacre'. How difficult the decision would have been to crush such popular movement is beyond imagination. The students didn't ask for moon. They demanded democracy, freedom of the press, greater accountability and freedom of speech; not a big deal really. Compared to Azadi, it is nothing. The international community, human rights organizations, and political analysts condemned the massacre. Considered a watershed event, the protests set the benchmark on political activities in China till date. Its memory is widely associated with questioning the legitimacy of Communist Party rule. Though the Chinese story is absolutely out of context in this discourse, the reference is to highlight the compulsion of a system when it clashes with the national ambition. Students unrest mismatched with Chinese national ambitions of 'economic and military supremacy'. Today China is a super power perhaps because of such harsh decision. China has ruthlessly suppressed sectarianism in Jinxiang province. Pakistan continues suppressing sectarian uprising in Gilgit-Baltistan and Baluchistan. America went into an all out civil war for the sake of integrity and is a super-power. Sometimes harsh decisions are unavoidable. But in India, Delhi continues with appeasement, as seen in Governor's call to militants, even if no avail. Kashmiris regional aspirations are unique. They enjoy special political powers because of Article 370 which grants special status to the state and wish to rule Jammu and Ladakh like colonies. It has given rise to home grown militancy, separatism and radicalisation. Legitimate socio-economic and political grievances of Jammu & Ladakh are paid no heed. New narratives based on religious perceptions were built time and again to suppress Jammu's case of discrimination. Recent example is the Rassana Case. The way it was projected in the media is a classic case of communalization which ended up trivializing the case as Hindu (Jammu) Vs Muslim (Kashmir) issue. The message which went across was that Jammu is a place of religious persecution of Muslims through rapes and murder. This discourse ultimately shammed Jammu at the national and international level. Its inhabitants, the Dogras, were coloured communal and pro-rapist. When Jammu called it a conspiracy and protested for a CBI probe, it was projected as protest to shield rapist. Even Jammu Bar Association was branded as communal and pro-rapist. It got rap on the knuckles from the Apex Court. Luckily Jammu's regional aspirations do not confront national ambition. Since the regional aspirations of two regions of J&K are different and polls apart from Kashmir, let the state be divided into three sub-states under Article 244 A of the Constitution and specific Kashmir issue tackled separately. Jammu should be happily looking at the prospects of end of fear, uncertainty and discrimination in pursuance of NARA. Today Modi is the embodiment of the nation's strength. His predecessor Atal Behari Vajpayee had tried with Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat to find a pathway to the Kashmir issue. But he fell short of the mandate. My understanding is that the stronger and majority nationalist govt in New Delhi would try to accomplish quickly, what the weak govts of the past tried to achieve piecemeal. Modi's appeal to Indians is beyond caste or religion. There is no better place than Kashmir for him to prove that he has the political-will and capacity, which nation saw during Balakot Air Strike. Modi has the mandate and the time to do what others could not. If nothing happens now, how long will the elections be fought and won/lost on ticklish/core issue? Time of their reckoning has come.
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