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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 37 September 9, 2023

Security, integrity secondary to BJP’s communal considerations in J&K and Manipur | Faraz Ahmad

Saturday 9 September 2023, by Faraz Ahmad


It is now abundantly clear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP government have no intention of restoring Article 370 and 35A through which our Constitution framers gave certain special distinctive powers to the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh which Modi abrogated with one stroke of his pen on August 6, 2019, but even the Supreme Court appeared disinclined to restore status quo ante in the newly created twin union territories of J&K and Ladakh, never mind the mood of the people in all the above three regions, regretting the BJP government action.

While the Government described in the apex court the reduction of J&K to a Union territory a ‘temporary measure” it refused to give a time frame for restoring statehood to J&K, even after the Supreme Court demanded a categorical reply in this respect. And going by its visible bias against the only Muslim majority state in the country, it is anybody’s guess whether this temporariness would last years, or decades or infinity. And this when in these five years since Articles 370 and 35A were overnight abrogated by a sledge of Modi’s pen, the people of Ladakh and Jammu, who had enthusiastically welcomed the scrapping of 370 initially are regretful and apologetic of their immediate reaction. They have since agitated in Jammu and later in the national capital for restoration of 370. Political observers of the region say that if a kind of referendum were to take place today in Ladakh and Jammu, the overwhelming majority would vote for restoration of 370 “with some amendments.”

The Modi government’s act to reduce J&K and Ladakh to two union territories also appears to be guided not in the least by security considerations as stated by the government in the Supreme Court. For if securing border states were so important to the BJP government then the Central government would have done so in Manipur soon after May 3, this year on account of widespread murders, rapes and arson, encouraged and patronised by the state chief minister N. Biren Singh against the traditional age-old Christian Kuki-Zoomi tribal inhabitants of the peripheral hilly districts bordering Myanamar. Most people, Opposition parties and even impartial security forces like Assam Rifles, led by an Army commander, have been openly or discreetly seeking the removal of the corrupt, inefficient and partisan chief minister and imposition of President’s rule in the state. Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey, feels so helpless in the face of Central lack of concern over Meiti marauders, that she rushed to Delhi to do a Havan to save Manipur. But Modi and Shah are refusing to heed to the appeal. Because this communal poison was injected into the body politic of Manipur by none other than the RSS/BJP to secure the Hindu majority Meitis as their captive vote bank.

Apart from Article 370 there are Articles 371A-J granting special protection from alien plunderers who only eye the vast land and natural resources in these forest or hilly lands. Not just that for close to two decades now starting with Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime of 1998-2004 the Central government have been in negotiations with the leading militant groups of Nagas demanding a separate flag and other related features which would make Nagaland virtually an independent state adjoining India. And the BJP is in alliance with the Naga People’s Party (NPP) both in the state and at the Centre. That doesn’t seem to bother Modi or the BJP/RSS about sovereignty and integrity of India.

Remember that Kashmiri Muslims of the valley put behind the Muslim massacre in Jammu in 1947, variously assessed at 100,000 to 500,000. Instead of being carried by communal poison, the residents of the valley, Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits stood alongside the Indian armed forces to repel the Pakistani marauders out to forcibly capture the state. All under the leadership of a secular nationalist Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the first ‘Prime Minister’ of J&K. That caused huge disappointment to communal Muslim leadership of Pakistan, while secular democrats of the Indian subcontinent; stood vindicated that a Muslim majority in J&K had such steadfast faith in India’s commitment to secular democracy thanks to the vision of its founding fathers and Constitution framers. It is worth recalling this today because 370 seems to raise hackles among the highest judiciary as well. 370, they say is a threat to the security and integrity of India. How Mohammad Ali Jinnah might be mocking Sheikh Abdullah somewhere there saying, ‘I told you so.’

Is J&K a suspect in the eyes of the Indian establishment, because it is the only state with a Muslim majority. And if that is the cause of suspicion why did the BJP form a government led first by Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) leader late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and three months after his death in January, 2016 with his daughter Mehbooba Mufti. President’s rule was imposed upon &K under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution, when Mehbooba resigned voluntarily. Why did she resign? Because of the shocking Kathua rape of an eight-year-old innocent child and the communal support to the rapists by her ministers belonging to the BJP. Obviously, that made her continuation in office unpopular among her people and thus untenable.The Centre justified the abrogation of 370 and downsizing a state to two union territories pleading breakdown of constitutional machinery. But who was administering the state? The Central Government through the Governor, which it is doing to date. Soon after the abrogation of 370 hoardings and posters appeared in Delhi and parts of Haryana, saying the people from mainland were now free to marry Kashmiri women and buy land in the valley. In effect to change the demography of J&K. That’s what set alarm bells ringing not just in the valley but in Jammu and even Ladakh, with people fearing the entry of land sharks in their midst.

Muslims of Uttarakhand, living there for generations, are being forcibly exterminated from what the neo Hindutva mob comprising of bodies like VHP, Bajrang Dal and other saffron clad sadhus likes to calls ‘Dev Bhoomi’ by openly threatening Muslim annihilation if they do not leave ‘Dev Bhoomi.’ Never mind that all the menial work is done by migrant Muslim labour. The Constitutional guarantees to all Indians, whatever be their caste, religion, or region to work and settle any part of the country be damned. The Centre finds fault with the J&K laws preventing outsiders buying property and settling in the state of J&K, which also includes Ladakh. But in Uttarakhand, where there is no such law, for months this Muslim extermination has been going on. No court, no government has woken up to it.

Nearer home, poor Muslim workers of Gurgaon and around have similarly been forced to leave their work places and flee Gurgaon. This is the ugly face of posh, upmarket world class township. The bulldozer action too was all directed at the Muslim villagers of Nuh. The two Punjab and Haryana High Court judges G.S. Sandhawalia and Harpreet Kaur who stayed state’s communal bulldozing and describing it as “ethnic cleansing” were replaced overnight and case assigned to a different bench. After much dilly dallying the agent provocateur of Nuh violence, Bittu Bajrangi was briefly arrested by Haryana police but bailed out soon after by a lower court finding no case against him. Meanwhile Monu Manesar, accused in the Nasir, Junaid murder case is still in hiding in Haryana, putting out his photos with senior BJP politicians and Police officers. Finally, everyone has a right to buy property and settle in J&K but Muslims have no right to work in Uttarakhand or even Gurgaon. This is Modi’s New India.

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