Ramzan politics in Kashmir

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Jun 2018 14:16:49


By Vijay Phanshikar,









When the all-party meeting at Srinagar appealed to the Central Government to declare ceasefire in Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan, it was obvious to many that the appeal was just a ploy to help separatist politics in the troubled State. The subsequent developments proved that point beyond doubt. And what is happening in Kashmir currently is a direct outcome of that separatist movement.

The Army, however, was alert to Kashmir’s ugly reality and was cautious in its response. It said, in effect, that on its own, it would follow all norms of ceasefire, but would not keep quiet if some elements tried to create trouble purposely even during the holy month. The separatist lobby, supported by many Opposition parties with petty goals in mind, was prompt to brand the Army as anti-Kashmir. But the manner in which the mobs of young people are indulging in attacking Army vehicles, almost compelling the Army to open fire in self-defence, make it apparent that the unilateral declaration of ceasefire by the Government, following the pressure from all political parties in Kashmir, was not a wise decision.

The current episode of heavy unprovoked stone-pelting on security personnel and direct physical attack on Army vehicle by surrounding it and making it impossible for the driver to withdraw from the scene, indicates clearly that Kashmir continues to be in the grip of a massive anti-national movement under a religious garb during the holy month of Ramzan.

The question that dogs sane minds in such a situation is: Does Ramzan permit such a wanton and senseless violence? Does Islam permit young people to take to streets as part of a separatist agitation and attack Armed Forces doing their duty? Does Islam permit painting walls in the city with pro-Pakistan slogans and making a political virtue out of it?

The biggest question among all these is: Couldn’t political parties in Kashmir visualise such dangerous possibilities when they sat together and suggested to the Centre to declare a unilateral ceasefire? And in that case, did they approach the people to abide by tenets of Islam during Ramzan month and allow peace to prevail in Kashmir?
The answers to all such questions unfortunately come in
the negative.

And because this is the situation, another set of questions also comes up in the Kashmir discourse: Let alone a couple of exceptions, were the Kashmiri political parties playing in the hands of separatists?

Were they not aware of the hidden agenda of some unholy elements in Kashmir?

All these issues come to fore menacingly against the background of the fact that Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi is slated to visit Kashmir in the near future. It is obvious to those who can see deep into the issue that all the current trouble is only to ‘welcome’ the Prime Minister and ‘show’ him how things are and how they will continue to be.

These realities make it obvious that the Government can only ill-afford to have romantic ideas about finding a solution to the Kashmir problem via political route. Much to the contrary, the Government will have to take an altogether different route that will include politics as the smallest component, and security operations the biggest factor. But more important than all that will be the big factor of scrapping of Special Status to Kashmir that the Article 370 of the Constitution of India grants.

The biggest problem in Kashmir is that the Special Status bars Kashmir to become part of the national mainstream. Under that condition, common Indians cannot buy property in Kashmir or start a business there. In fact, such facilities are among the most credible unifying factors in any country. In Kashmir, there is a bar exactly on those facilities. Naturally, for the separatists, this is one condition which they will welcome all the time.

What a great tragedy political parties have invited upon the country through Article 370?! Let us understand the dangerous details. Under the garb of secularism, the country’s political community brought into effect the Special Status to Kashmir. But under that so-called secular garb, separatist lobby is playing a totally religion-based politics that also saw a terrible purge of the Hindu Pandit community from the State about 25 years ago. The separatists, aided by terrorists who got the succour for all their dirty tricks from across the border, made the situation so horrible that lakhs of Pandit community people were compelled to leave their own places and move to other parts of India to live life in refugee camps.

And as all that was happening, political parties like the Congress, the National Conference, the Progressive Democratic Front, the Communists of all colours and shades, the socialists of all types refused to utter even a single word of protest, let alone any action such as nationwide protests to condemn that kind of elimination or forced evacuation of the Pandit community.

The only party that made the Kashmir issue as part of its political philosophy was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), thanks to history. For, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the founder President of the Akhil Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the earlier avtar of the BJP, had travelled to Srinagar in protest, only to be arrested and allowed to die in prison under suspicious conditions. But even as the BJP mounted pressure through nationwide agitation, other parties dubbed it as a party playing backward politics. Shame on all those. Shame on their third-rate politics that blinded them from genuine national good.

Today, no one can deny the ugly reality, that the whole Kashmir politics has a three-dimensional foundation: One, separatism; two, Islamic politics, and three, weak-kneedness of the political community at large. Sitting pretty across the border, Pakistan is having the last laugh all the time as the Government in India tries to grapple with the Kashmir issue. The Pakistanis know that India has no traditional answer to the complex issue. It is having a ball when the security forces in the country are left to fend for themselves in the most obnoxious conditions in which a bullet or a pellet fired gets them into trouble (of FIR) and a bullet or pellet not fired gets them to the door of death.

Such a situation cannot be allowed to continue in Kashmir. The Government will have to think outside the box, which may even include disbanding the State Government in Kashmir and imposing President’s Rule in order to deal with the situation in a ruthless and nationalistic manner. It will also have to keep the Special Status on hold at least for a temporary period.

This will certainly require a lot of courage. But then, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has never lacked that.