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Opinion | Kashmir needs more than just cosmetic changes, can’t let the gains of Article 370 fritter away

·5 min read

In my book, Unbreaking India, I had analysed the events leading up to Article 370, and appreciated the measure on the following counts:

  • Pakistan's Naya Medina narrative had been punctured

  • The very seed that nurtured separatism had been removed

  • A large number of institutionally discriminated communities had been integrated

  • Constitution had been fully extended to the only leftover state of the country

  • The J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019 liberated Ladakh from the overlordship of the Valley and rationalised the extent of the various Central, State and Riyasat Laws.

  • A chance had been made available to those people who believed in 'India First', especially within the Valley

  • A chance for completely defeating and burying the anti-national forces had arisen

  • Corruption could finally be eliminated, or at least minimised

At the same time, I had underlined the importance of proper follow-up action in order to fully establish the imprimatur of the state in Jammu and Kashmir. I had also advocated for the liberation of Jammu from the overlordship of the Valley. I had stressed the fact that the old discredited 'establishment' should be completely discarded and no compromises should be made with it, because these elements are deep in bed with the subversives and separatists, and use the Islamic card to further their interests, which lie along a destabilised Valley. I had also stressed that people within the country must be made aware of the fundamental inequities and realities of the Islamic doctrines.

I had made these recommendations in light of another highlighted fact: That the nullification of Article 370 was heavily resisted by a section of the 'establishment' both in Srinagar as well as in Delhi.

However, after the initial euphoria, I began to realise that the elements who were resisting the nullification of Article 370 had taken control once again in the name of familiarity with the state, and had started patronising those very elements that had either led the jihad in Kashmir, or had acted as its overground and underground workers. In effect what happened was that Article 370 became ineffective de jure, but continued to exist de facto as Delhi once again opted for a dozen times failed policy of winning the hearts and minds of separatists, instead of consolidating itself in the hearts and minds of those wholesome elements that preferred India over the jihadis.

As a result, the de jure Islamic state created on the soil of India through Article 370 got dismantled, but the de facto Islamic state continues to hold fort. The same mindset that abandoned the Ikhwans and led a person like Kuka Parrey, who helped India recover Kashmir, be killed; once again allowed all the gains to be frittered away. An attempt to create an artificial 'feel good' narrative without dealing with the fundamentals was never going to work.

Right now, if there appears to be a revival in terrorism, it is squarely due to intelligence agencies-backed failed policies. "Naya Kashmir, Purane Chor" became the buzzword once tainted characters like Baseer Ahmed (who was an accused in CBI investigation in Roshni scam and now in a fake gun licence case) and Farooq Khan (whom Jaipur Dialogues has named as a triple talaq perpetrator) were the best that Delhi could find in the Valley to become advisors to the LG. Add the backroom manoeuvres to appease the Abdullahs and the Muftis and the cycle was complete. It was grotesque to watch the J&K administration defend the Roshni scam in the J&K High Court even after the Roshni Act was struck down. Jammu is up in arms over the attempt to carry out delimitation on the basis of the flawed 2011 Census that has been challenged before the Delimitation Commission by every Jammu-based party, including the Congress and the BJP. That underscores the keenness of Delhi to appease the jihad and the jihadi of the Valley.

To compound the problem, the narrative correction that should have followed the nullification of Article 370 never even got attempted. The change in narrative that should have dealt with the three major denials and three major foreign policy corrections vis-Ã -vis Pakistan never happened. Let me lay them down:

The 3 denials:

  1. Denial of Nature of Jihad: What is happening in the Valley is Islamic jihad. Terror is only one of its facets. Jihad is a 'Total War' Doctrine. It begins with brainwashing of minds and operates on multiple fronts. The book Quranic Concept of War, which is taught in Kakul Military Academy of Pakistan is never read by our civil and military leadership. Otherwise they cannot figure out why the very existence of a non-believer is considered oppression and injustice.

  2. Denial of Genocide: Indian state officially treats Kashmir genocide as migration and denies Hindus a minority status within Kashmir. It is truism that denial of genocide results in duplication of genocide. This is what is there behind the spurt in fresh killings of Hindus.

  3. Denial of Pakistan as an idea and treating it only as a territory: We have to recognise that the mainstream Indian Ashraf-Mulla-Maulana class has never condemned the Kashmir jihad.

Unchanging foreign policy towards Pakistan:

  1. Treating Pakistan as a normal nation-state: It should be treated as an abnormal state, i.e., an Islamic military state. That would make steps like declaring it a sponsor of terror much easier.

  2. Treating destabilisation of Pakistan as a threat to India: Nothing could be more juvenile than this. India should not shy away from exploiting its fault lines and attack it along them in order to defend itself.

  3. Not taking pre-emptive steps to keep Pakistan on tenterhooks. We should not let Ghazwa-e-Hind operate from its soil.

I have only delineated the bare minimum. I have dealt with many of these concepts in fair detail, particularly the nature of jihad and its enabling environment, and its enablers. Unless we go to the fundamentals and neutralise them, we will be in a self-defeating cycle forever.

The writer retired as Additional Chief Secretary to the Government of Rajasthan in 2020. He is the author of three bestselling books, including 'Unbreaking India', dealing with all facets and background of making Article 370 ineffective, and enactment of CAA 2019. He is also the chairman of Jaipur Dialogues, a leading Indic think tank and YouTube channel. The views expressed are personal.

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