Published On: Mon, Dec 22nd, 2014

BJP needs to update itself?

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

Elections 2014 in Jammu and Kashmir are complete. December 23, 2014 will reveal the manner in which the common voter has responded in electing the 87 member assembly. It is unfortunate that the valley voter was hit by severe floods and may have had to compromise his free transfer of will with his urgent needs to be re-housed and rehabilitated etc. Elections in general are a means to elect a local assembly. But the electoral process in Kashmir has continued to be a subject of rigorous debate at home in Srinagar, in two other assemblies of the State at Muzaffarabad, Gilgit and outside State in Delhi, Islamabad and at the United Nations. It is clear that BJP has found a foothold in Kashmir. Before it opens its political account in the assembly either by structuring an alliance to govern or by choosing to occupy the opposition benches, it has to update itself on the people, habitat, politics and jurisprudence of the Kashmir case.

It was alleged (later admitted) that Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections of 1987 were rigged and the local mundane political process graduated into a militant resistance. The choice and the use of a gun on a scale that we have witnessed in the State in early 1990s may have been a misdirection of wisdom. One does not need to use a gun on a massive scale to undo the fraud committed in an election. The remedies to redress an election grievance, that too, of an ongoing one are domestic and ought to be used as such. These could have been taking the case to courts and to election monitoring agencies in India, Pakistan, other capitals and even to the United Nations. Correcting any electoral abuse through the use of a gun, is a misinterpretation of wisdom and amounts to dignifying these elections beyond their local day to day jurisprudence.

International law and the United Nations do provide for the use of a gun, only in cases where there is an occupation and more so a colonial occupation. We do not have a colonial occupation in any part of Jammu and Kashmir. Unless the security forces violate the discipline of duties set out in the bilateral agreement and violate the terms set out by the United Nations on their number, behaviour and location. If we have such a situation, it would be the United Nations that would consider the use of military force. The people of Jammu and Kashmir remain a protectorate of the United Nations, India and Pakistan.

India has entered into a bilateral agreement with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir (provisional accession) in October 1947 and the same remains justiciable at the United Nations. Although Government of Pakistan had gained a foothold in the State through Stand Still Agreement much earlier than India in August 1947, it has further been added as a legitimate party in the process agreed at the UN to determine the future status of Jammu and Kashmir through a free reference to the vote of the people. The duties to arrange an atmosphere to ascertain the free choice of the people have been primarily outsourced to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Government of India. Government of Pakistan has also accepted duties under UNCIP Resolutions in regard to the future status of the State.

It is important that BJP keeps the course and does not err in misinterpreting the poll process in Elections 2014 in Kashmir. As a start it has to respect the Kashmiri vote as explained by the common man and woman (Muslims in particular) before voting. It has been made clear by the voter that he is voting to elect his local representative as in the past to serve his day to day needs. Explaining a vote before voting is an international practice used at the United Nations as well. Countries explain their vote (for or against) before voting on a motion during any debate at the United Nations. It would not be fair if BJP or any party attempts to abuse the choice of the people by attributing any other meaning to it.

BJP has been able to access the common people in Kashmir through the election campaign led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other leaders. BJP share of vote in the Elections 2014 would be from only a part of the State as cautioned by the United Nations in its Resolution of 30 March 1951 and embedded in the wisdom of article 48 of the J & K Constitution as well. Therefore, the vote should not be interpreted as a vote of confidence in the Union of India and against separatists or the Rights Movement that has continued from 1877 when Kashmiris presented the first charter of demands to the Viceroy.

Kashmir has lost between 70,000-100,000 lives during a full scale militant struggle. A sacrifice of that number is always voluntary and conscious. It would be un-necessary and unwise to make any effort and put up the poll participation as a vote against the gun. As explained earlier the emergence of gun in Kashmir remains in close proximity with 1987 elections. More so, the argument may encourage a new debate and the people are likely to fall into two camps again. Each camp would have its own signatures and the answer to this argument would force the constituency of gun to reassert.

BJP has to revisit the pattern of politics and examine the most recent pledges made and not kept by Prime Minister Rao, Vajpayee and Singh. It has to understand that Delhi and its forces in Jammu and Kashmir shall be running the risk of turning an agreed relationship (pending validation) into subjection, which could have serious consequences. If Delhi fails to keep to its agreements made with the people of the State, with Pakistan and at the UN its presence in Kashmir on the strength of military force would amount to subjection. Someone at some point is responsible for the death of 70,000-100,000 in Kashmir. All these were Kashmiri Muslims and it makes a serious numerical case when one notes that the total number of Kashmiri Pandit registered votes in Kashmir is only 92,000.

BJP would be in a position to turn a new page in the history of the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, in her neighbourly relations with Pakistan and in enhancing her status at the United Nations, if it returns to the jurisprudence of Indian presence in the State, role of her armies agreed before their admission in the State, role of Indian security forces explained by India at the UN, conditions stipulated by UN on the number, behaviour and location of Indian army in Kashmir and at the same time if it performs the daily chores to enrich the life of the voter as promised during the elections.

It would be a serious error of judgement if participation in elections is misinterpreted and the opportunity to engage the people, the various parties and co-operation and supervision of the United Nations are either put on hold or lost. The new Governing outfit cannot afford to duck the situation or hide its head in the sand and try to sell autonomy or self-rule anymore. The division of the State is at the heart of any future resolution and Indian relationship with the people of Jammu and Kashmir remains justiciable through the vote of people living in all the tree administrations of Jammu and Kashmir and the Diaspora. The vote in Elections 2014 has been sought from only a part of the territory and the issues highlighted by parties have been keeping BJP away (as a curse), misrule, corruption and poor governance.

BJP has to update itself on the principle of equality of the people and their right to self determination. It needs to revisit the jurisprudence of its presence in Jammu and Kashmir. There has to be a starting point and let us begin with the duties that Indian security forces have to perform under the terms of accession, which is further justiciable at the UN.

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