By Caroline Vimla and Inamul Haq
The abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the state of Jammu & Kashmir have received a mixed response from different states. While the BJP supporters celebrated and termed it a victory, there were huge protests against this unconstitutional move. People who believe in the constitution termed it as dictatorship. The main conspirator Ajit Doval visited Kashmir earlier to check out the situation. After a few days, the plan B was adopted to create fear among the Kashmiris, as visitors were told to leave the valley as soon as possible. A heavy contingent of forces was rushed to Kashmir Valley and the local Jammu and Kashmir police were disarmed. The educational institutions were turned into army camps. A few questions arise: Why were people of Kashmir put in a dilemma by the governor for a long time? Why were they put under detention? Why is there an internet and communication blockade? These are questions Kashmiris want to ask those who are celebrating the move.
On 5 August, with the stroke of a pen, the President of India abolished Article 370, thereby removing the autonomy accorded to the Muslim-majority state for the past seven decades, rendering the Instrument of Accession null and void. The Home Minister Amit Shah proved a deceitful man and an autocrat. To champion the cause of Hindutva, he performed an open heart surgery on the people of Kashmir in broad daylight.
The Indian authorities did not barricade the general population but detained and put under house arrest the mainstream leaders. Prior to the revocation of Article 370, the Government of India and the ruling party’s representatives in Kashmir always maintained that drastic decisions involving Articles 370 and Article 35A will not be made. This is because of the legal implications involving the decision and the voices of dissent. However, these have been proven to be untrue. The blatant deceit of the GOI indicates that Kashmiris have been led ‘like lambs to slaughter’ under the guise of ‘national integration’. India has paved the way for an alteration of the demography of Jammu & Kashmir, inviting an inevitable bloodbath at the expense of Kashmiris who will fight to the death to preserve their identity.
Most of the Indians are misinformed about the implications of the article being revoked. Their assumption is that they can easily move to Kashmir to acquire lands overnight.
Second, there are celebrations from pro-BJP supporters on the ground that Modi and Amit Shah have fulfilled their party’s manifesto made prior to the general election in May.
Third, the reaction of Indian citizens on social media indicates that they view the abolition of the article as a prelude to Kashmir truly becoming ‘a part of India’. Nothing can be further from the truth. Kashmir never was and will be an integral part of India. Further, as India tightens its hold on an already oppressed Kashmir, it may lead to a massive loss of life as Kashmiris can go any extent to defend their identity.
The north-eastern states are worried with the abrogation of Article 370, as they fear that they might be the next. The states of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Sikkim, Mizoram are speaking up fearing that their identities would be compromised too. Their apprehension is justifiable. If the constitution was amended to remove the special provisions accorded to Jammu & Kashmir, a similar fate could befall these states which like Kashmir have special provisions. Since the abolition of Article 370 involves the Indian constitution, such protests and display of solidarity with Kashmir cannot be viewed as ‘anti-national’, ‘anti-India’ or ‘pro-Pakistan’. People from all walks of life including activists, union leaders, students and the civil society from Delhi to Bangalore to Bhopal have taken to the streets to show their disapproval of the Indian government.
The abolition of Article 370 will drive a wider wedge between Indians and Kashmiris. While prior to this move, Indians were welcomed to the Valley, hospitality will be replaced with hostility now.
The communication blockade and indefinite curfews that were imposed on the Kashmiris do not denote a victory for India. The ongoing situation in Kashmir echoes Frantz Fanon’s formulation that the colonial forces focus on two things: it creates a division and the frontiers are populated by barracks and military forces. It is the military man who is more powerful than anyone else and they are frequent in their actions in order to maintain contact with the natives. The creation of fear is one of the tactics the colonizer employs and, in the process, he uses brute forces. The result of the muscular force is never beneficial to the state as it leads to alienation through the methods of torture. The abrogation of Article 370 might lead to the alienated people taking up guns. The decision of the Indian government proves that it wants Kashmir but not the Kashmiris.
Caroline Vimla is a Malaysian citizen and works as lecturer. Besides, she works for human and animal rights in both Malaysia and Kashmir.
Inamul Haq, Research Candidate, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, India.
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