Published On: Mon, Dec 15th, 2014

Narendra Modi failed in his burden of proof

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

Under normal circumstances as in other Indian State that have both acceded and merged into Indian union, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election pledge, “”Give me a chance, I will end corruption here,”  “I will give back your love with interest,” I will give you development,” and “I have come to provide justice to you” would mean enough to consider to give him a vote of trust. However, when it boils down to the State of Jammu and Kashmir the political narrative of all Indian leaders is looked upon with suspicion and it undergoes a rigorous litmus test on the basis of past experience.

One does not have an issue with Narendra Modi’s heartfelt cry asking the people of the State to see whether there is any other father (or fathers) who has a better Beta (son) and a better Bete (daughter) than the on-going Abdullah and Mufti families and whether there is an alternative to Congress as well. He may be right in asking the people to punish the three namely, NC, PDP and Congress for exploiting the political scene in Kashmir. The problem intervenes when he makes his supplemental proposal to trust BJP instead.

As a start Modi has fallen to a wrong advice on Kashmir. Even Jawaharlal Nehru in his article dated 1940 published in the Eden of the East by S N Dhar writes that, “I had addressed many great gatherings in Srinagar and outside, but I had gone to Kashmir more to learn and to understand than to teach”. Pandit Nehru addressed four gatherings and he writes that two of these gatherings were under the auspices of the National Conference and two under the auspices of the Yuvak Sabha, the organization of the Kashmiri Pandits.

Pandit Nehru writes, “I spoke at some length on the minority problem at Yuvak Sabha meeting…and warned them not to fall into the trap into which minorities so easily fell. I spoke frankly and freely, for, having been born in a Kashmiri Pandit family. I could take liberties with my own people”. Nehru adds that, “While every individual and group deserved equal protection and help from the State, the idea of special safe-guards for a minority group was full of peril for that group”.

Prime Minister Modi does not have the Kashmiri background like Nehru and would need more learning on Kashmir. He has committed an error which he could have avoided as advised by Pandit Nehru in 1940 in respect of Kashmiri Pandits. The BJP proposal to allocate 3 seats for Kashmiri Pandits and 5 seats for refugees in the assembly has its own merits and demerits. In common political arithmetic it means inducting a communal content in the legislature and creating a control mechanism through these eight seats in the assembly.

In addition to this flawed start which favours a communal segment in Kashmir politics, Narendra Modi has to overcome the serious problem of trust deficit in Kashmir. Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao promised  ‘Sky is the limit’ in 1995, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee came up with “Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat” in April 2003 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh organised three Round Table Conferences on Kashmir in February 2006-May 2007 and set up five working groups to deal with improving the Centre’s relations with the State, furthering the relations across the Line of Control (LoC), giving a boost to the State’s economic development, rehabilitating the destitute families of militants and reviewing the cases of detainees and ensuring good governance.

We see that all the three Prime Ministers from PV Narasimha Rao to Manmohan Singh failed in their promise and programme. The potential of a failure is inbuilt because Delhi has been using state machinery, mostly the intelligence agencies and the police, for a final input in understanding and addressing the people and habitat of Jammu and Kashmir. These inputs are rarely in the interests of the people and on the basis that the question of equality and self-determination of the people remains justiciable at the United Nations.

The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has a Stand Still Agreement with the Government of Pakistan and in addition to this Pakistan is a party to the dispute and has taken upon trust duties under UNCIP Resolutions in two administrations at Muzaffarabad and Gilgit. Therefore, inputs from Kashmir to Delhi how to manage Kashmir are not enough and the status quo is not going to work.

Even if for the sake of argument (without prejudice to the jurisprudence of Kashmir case) we accept that Pakistan has agreed to settle the Kashmir dispute through a bilateral discussion with India, one needs to remind Delhi that it has to satisfy the principal party, that is, the people of Kashmir as well. Even Pakistan cannot conclude any discussion with India unless Pakistan takes into confidence the people of Jammu and Kashmir as agreed in its Constitutional arrangement with people in Muzaffarabad and Gilgit. Pakistan continues to support a resolution under the UN Resolutions based on a free and fair vote of the people of Kashmir. It can’t afford to cascade on the question of equality and self-determination of the people.

UN mechanism on Kashmir has set out and encouraged the bilateral dialogue and it has to be in co-operation and under the supervision of the UN Security Council. All political parties in Jammu and Kashmir accept that Srinagar-Delhi relationship is not final and it is justiciable under the bilateral agreement of October 1947 made with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and under the UN Resolutions passed following a debate on the Indian application made to the UN in January 1948.

The argument that UN Resolutions on Kashmir have passed their sell by date has no merit. It is argued by non-Kashmiri elements (harbouring a communal approach) sitting in Delhi administration, who regard Kashmir as a colony and its people as vanquished subordinate people. Right of Self Determination based on the principle of equality of people does not expire.  If one UN Resolution is argued to have turned old, then all international relations would come to a sudden halt and intra-State relations would collapse in a second. Each State would start reneging on its promises and obligations towards each other, turning the global order into an unmanageable disorder.

Over the years and in particular post 1990 the administration in Delhi and its wide spread apparatus in Jammu and Kashmir has shelved all its democratic and other moral traditions including rule of law in Kashmir and its modus operandi in Kashmir and towards Kashmiri Muslims (Valley in particular) is disturbing. Delhi has succeeded to paint the Rights Movement in the Valley as an upsurge of Muslim terrorism and has succeeded to undermine the two disciplines imposed on its security forces in Kashmir, under the provisional terms of accession and UN Resolution of 21 April 1948.

Prime Minister Modi is a man of action and his political beliefs help him to reach out to people at home and the Indian diaspora. However he has to keep at bay those that identify themselves with BJP ministerSadhvi Niranjan Jyoti philosophy of having “Ramzado” or a “Haramzado”. Kashmiri Muslims could not be expected to live up to Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti test because they are Kashmiris. If Modi keeps to his election pledge to provide justice to a common Kashmiri (which would mean a Valley Muslim in particular) he shall have to revisit the Pandit Nehru’s approach to visit Kashmir to “learn and to understand than to teach”.

Kashmiri Muslim is not averse to any teaching that is required to update his narrative but he is equally jealously conservative to keep the count that between 70,000-100,000 youth in Kashmir have died within the territories inhabited by over 700,000 (7 lakh) security forces, admitted into the Valley to defend the territory and protect life, property and honour of the Kashmiri people.

The BJP Government and the opposition in India have a duty to ensure that they do not handover Kashmir to Indian media manipulated by intelligence agencies and other communal forces, hell bent to frustrate and sabotage a harmless exercise of a vote for a routine purpose and create a hype that it is a vote against Separatists or a no faith in the age old political struggle of the people. It should not be described as a trust vote for India because any such vote has to be in accordance with the UN mechanism.

Common man in Kashmir should be the beneficiary  of the visions offered by PV Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee,  Manmohan Singh and Nraendra Modi and should not be left to the unhelpful working (and unlawful) of secret agencies, which have created a regime of Security Index and have blacklisted over 60,000 families without any lawful authority in Kashmir. It is not the rule of law but a police officer, who decides whether a Kashmiri Muslim can go to perform Hajj or can get a job in the Government. The State has 471 interrogation centres and 1 in 6 Kashmiri Muslims has been tortured.

Prime Minister Modi has rightly claimed a credit for taking action against army men responsible for killing two teenagers in Budgam. He is right that

“For the first time in 30 years, the Army admitted its mistake”. It is time that BJP led Government in Delhi takes time to look outside the A4 size file maintained on Kashmir by various state elements based in Kashmir and takes urgent steps to scrap laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Public Safety Act, Enemy Agent Ordinance, Arms Act, Prevention of Sabotage Act and other such laws used to hold Kashmiris nose down on the ground. This is a heavy burden of proof that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to discharge.

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