Kashmir’s Dilemma: Nehruvian Blunders or Modi’s Policies

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Does the turmoil in Kashmir find its roots in what Union home minister Amit Shah boldly labels as “Nehruvian blunders,” or is the present-day predicament a consequence of the more recent and contentious move by the Modi government to abrogate Articles 35A and 370? The debate rages on, with both historical decisions having far-reaching implications for the region.

Amit Shah’s scathing remarks in the Lok Sabha, blaming India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, for the predicament in Kashmir, are not merely a political tirade but an assertion that Nehru’s decisions during the 1948 conflict with Pakistan were monumental ‘missteps’. According to Shah, the announcement of a ceasefire and the subsequent involvement of the United Nations were nothing short of historic blunders, resulting in the birth of Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK).

The bills discussed in the Lok Sabha, the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Amendment) Bill, 2023, aim to provide rights to those who allegedly faced injustice, particularly referring to Kashmiri Pandits. Notably, the focus on rectifying grievances extends to Kashmiri Pandits, despite the historical and predominant Muslim character of the region.

Amit Shah’s claims, asserting that legislative measures would bring justice to those allegedly neglected for decades, demand a closer scrutiny in light of historical realities.

However, delving into the annals of history reveals a narrative that distinctly emphasizes the plight of the Muslim population in Kashmir rather than the Hindu community.

Historical incidents such as Kunan Poshpura, the discovery of mass graves, and the prevalence of half-widows serve as haunting reminders of the profound challenges faced by the Muslim community in the valley. These incidents underscore the darker side of Kashmir’s history, revealing the human rights violations and atrocities that have transpired, at the behest of the Indian state.

Moreover, the policies enacted by the Indian government have transformed Kashmir into the most heavily militarized zone in the region. It is the Muslim population that has disproportionately borne the weight of these decisions, experiencing the brunt of militarization, curfews, and the erosion of civil liberties. Rather than addressing the grievances of the Muslim community, these policies have exacerbated their suffering.

In essence, the assertion that legislative measures will rectify historical neglect must be critically examined through the lens of the actual experiences of the Muslim population in Kashmir.

As Shah’s assertions criticizing Nehru, however, sparked an uproar in the Lok Sabha, with Congress leaders walking out in protest, terming it an insult to Nehru, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah, vehemently defends Nehru, emphasizing that there was no alternative but to take the Kashmir issue to the United Nations. Abdullah highlights that even figures like Lord Mountbatten and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had suggested this course of action. According to him, strategic military decisions were necessary to save regions like Poonch and Rajouri, diverting the army from advancing towards Muzaffarabad.

Against this backdrop, two bills were passed in the Lok Sabha – the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Amendment) Bill, 2023. Shah contends that these bills aim to rectify historical injustices, particularly benefiting oppressed, backward, and displaced communities, including Kashmiri Pandits.

The reorganization bill, in particular, seeks to increase the number of seats in the J&K assembly, reserved for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, Kashmiri migrants, and displaced people from PaK. It also transforms the erstwhile state into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, emphasizing the government’s commitment to development in the region.

Critics, however, question the need for such legislation and the impact of the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Shiv Sena’s Binayak Raut demands clarity on when the benefits of these changes will be realized on the ground, particularly for migrants and those in PaK. The debate underscores the lingering uncertainty and skepticism surrounding the government’s actions.

The specter of demographic change also looms large in the discourse. The increase in the number of seats, the reservation for specific communities, and the overall reorganization prompt concerns about the Modi government’s intentions.

Is this an attempt to reshape the demographic fabric of Kashmir, altering its socio-political landscape in favor of a particular move to devoid Kashmiri Muslims of their rights being a Kashmir?

While Shah touted the achievements of the Modi government in bringing development and ending terrorism in the region, it is also evident that the abrogation of Article 370 has intensified the challenges faced by Kashmiris, particularly Muslims. The heavy deployment of security forces and the continued violence raise questions about the claimed normalcy in the region.

The international community has not been silent on Modi’s decision, with opposition and concerns expressed globally. The involvement of the United Nations in the Kashmir issue reflects its disputed status, requiring a resolution in line with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. The contested nature of Jammu and Kashmir suggests that India cannot unilaterally decide its fate.

The concern here is not just about the historical context but also about the current trajectory. The fear is that the demographic changes in Kashmir and the targeting of ethnic and non-Hindu populations could lead to far-reaching consequences, not just for the region but globally. The parallels drawn with the Israeli model for Palestine raise questions about the stability and peace of the region – spillover will impact the world ultimately as Kashmir is the nuclear flashpoint between Pakistan and India.

To conclude, the debate on Kashmir’s suffering is complex, involving historical decisions, legislative actions, and their perceived impact. The international community’s involvement underscores the disputed nature of the region, and the fear of adopting a controversial model raises concerns about the potential consequences. As India, under Modi’s leadership, steers its path in Kashmir, the question remains: What are the true aspirations, and what implications do they hold for regional peace?

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Editorial Desk

Your go-to editorial hub for insightful perspectives and informed analysis on pressing policy issues, both regionally and globally

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