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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 30 New Delhi July 14, 2018

J & K and its People are an Integral Part of India

Sunday 15 July 2018

by K. Narayana

The Jammu and Kashmir State is under fire since its formation. Above all, it is a sensitive region and geographically strategic place too. Any incident in Jammu and Kashmir will have its impact on national sovereignty and national security as well. The real danger to our country is not from outside or from the Opposition parties but mainly from the ruling party and its policies. India administers 43 per cent of the region—Jammu, Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and Siachen Glacier. Pakistan administers 37 per cent, that is, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit, Baltistan, whereas China controls the remaining 20 per cent of the region, namely, Shaksgam Valley and Aksai Chin region.

The overall Muslim population in Jammu and Kashmir region is roughly 60 per cent. In the Jammu area Hindus are in a majority and in Kashmir Valley Muslims are in a majority whereas in Ladakh Buddhists are in a majority. On the whole Hindus are in a minority in the entire Jammu and Kashmir region, but for political manipulations the BJP is ruling the State. They should have been very careful in the State where there are several religions in good number.

The BJP made alliance with the PDP. Both belong to the North and South poles. The BJP’s coming to power in the State was most opportunistic. Every political personality visualised that it would collapse at any moment. The BJP withdrawing support to the PDP is a blunder. If it is not a mistake, then it is clear that their intention is to implement their hidden agenda through President’s Rule. But the BJP rule is continuing practically in this sensitive area and strategically a more important region on our borders.

Though the BJP talks much against insurgents, terrorists and extremists, in reality it is having relations with these groups in Manipur, Tripura and Assam and in other places of the North-Eastern region.

Let us have a glance at the short history of Jammu and Kashmir, which is not out of context to mention here. Many princely states have joined the Indian Union, but Kashmir’s joining the Indian Union was a special and specific one. Article 370 of our Constitution exempted the State from the complete applicability of the Constitution of India. The State Constituent Assembly was dissolved on January 25, 1957 without recommending either abrogation or amendment of Article 370. In 2014 the RSS pleaded for the abrogation of Article 370. But the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir in 2015 ruled that the said Article cannot be abrogated, repealed or even amended.

Even today the Jammu and Kashmir people are willing to be with India. Their problems should have been tackled on a priority basis by the Central Government and they should have been very careful in dealing with them.

Frequent conflicts between India and Pakistan are taking place. Three wars took place so far. The Kargil war broke out just before the parliamentary elections in 1999. The BJP roused national sentiments and got political benefit out of the war at the cost of the loss of lives of our heroic soldiers. At present there are conflicts between local insurgents and Indian Government. The dispute is over local autonomy based on self-determination. But surprisingly in the 2008 and 2014 elections, the voters’ turnout was very high. In 2016 Burhan Wani was killed and unrest erupted. The Kashmir issue has to be resolved through dialogue only. The Shimla Agreement of 1971 pointed out that the de facto border will be the Line of Control. The stationing of military forces will be in the borders but not inside the State.

But practically what is happening? The Armed Forces Special Powers Act has become the symbol of excessive state power and has no role to play in a democracy. Communal violence, encounters, custodial deaths, arbitrary arrests, tortures, frequent cordon searches, and extra-judicial killings have become the order of the day. But the Armed Forces Special Powers Act prohibits soldiers from being prosecuted for alleged violations. The AFSA clearly violates international law and its conventions like Convention against Torture, and also protection of all persons from forced disappearance.

Apart from the AFSA, another draconian Public Safety Act is being promulgated which allows the police to detain a person up to two years without charge or trial if he or she is “deemed” to be a threat. So far more than 20,000 were held under this law. Media also report that there is not a single Kashmiri family that is not directly or indirectly a victim of India’s state-sponsored violence in Kashmir and 6000 mass Kashmiri graves have been unearthed.

In this crucial situation the following steps must be immediately taken by the government.

1) On a priority basis confidence has to be created in the people of Kashmir that their lives would be protected from militants outside and inside Kashmir and above all the from armed forces too.

2) Start dialogue with all stakeholders.

3) Excessive powers to the armed forces through AFSPA and Public Safety Act must be curtailed.

4) BJP should stop implementing its hidden agenda of polarising people along communal lines.

5) It is the responsibility of the Union Government to create a peaceful atmosphere in the State by honouring the elected representatives.

Dr K. Narayana is the National Secretary, Communist Party of India.

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