Modi has stirred up the hornet’s nest by changing Kashmir’s status

Aug 8th, 2019 | Category: Articles
With the abrogation of Kashmir’s special status, India, under the leadership of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), has finally taken the plunge. While the party’s hardcore ideologues have triumphed, it is a democracy that has taken a back seat. It’s pertinent to note that no other Indian government had ever contemplated taking such action. While the move is a defining moment in the Kashmiris’ long struggle for autonomy or independence, the unilateral decision is clearly in violation of India’s constitution and thoroughly disregards the solemn assurances made at the time of partition in 1947. Indeed, the state acceded to India on the explicit assurance that it would enjoy complete autonomy; that it will have its own constitution and flag; and that the central government in Delhi would only deal with matters of defence, foreign affairs, and communication. The premise on the basis of which Kashmir acceded to India has been dismantled, thereby generating a crisis that will ignite passion, create more hatred and hostility and usher in a never-ending conflict. The move to abrogate the state’s special status is also in violation of the resolutions set by the United Nation’s Security Council and the Shimla Agreement.
In view of the forthcoming meeting between Modi and Trump, the decision to abrogate the special status of the state would seem more ominous and designed to sabotage any attempt of a third party mediation.
For the unfortunate people of the state, another long night of oppression has begun. Kashmir is the most militarized region in the world. With around 700,000 military and paramilitary soldiers operating in a small area, the rule of law could clearly be a major casualty. It is a perpetual state of the people versus the government whereby any confrontation could take the focus away from areas such as education, the economy, healthcare, and trade to name a few. That being said, the goal of socio-economic emancipation would, thus, remain a dream. The timing of the move is significant. It follows closely on the heels of US President Donald Trump offering to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute over Kashmir. In view of the forthcoming meeting between Modi and Trump, the decision to abrogate the special status of the state would seem more ominous and designed to sabotage any attempt of third-party mediation. India has presented a ‘fait accompli ‘to the world and to Trump. Now everyone — as per the calculations of the Modi government — has to talk to New Delhi within the framework of a new constitutional arrangement for the state. India has to prepare for a long drawn war in the Valley, even as the country’s democracy recovers from a shot in the arm. The situation in the Valley will perhaps never be the same again. Border tensions will rise; the plight of India’s Muslims – who constitute about 15 percent of the population – would become more worrisome; India’s claims to pluralism would be questioned across the world while its stature as the world’s biggest democracy would become a mockery. Because the UN’s resolutions have been flouted, Pakistan has to seriously consider the pros and cons of taking up the issue with the UN. On the face of it, there is a fairly strong case for it to take it to the UN. The US has to be convinced that the abrogation of the special status would generate intense reaction amongst the population which India would try to crush with the use of unbridled force. The US would also be told that the new situation is fraught with dangers for India- Pakistan relations. Additionally, because Pakistan would now be increasingly involved in managing the security along its eastern border, it will perhaps not be able to extend the level of support expected by the US in seeking a resolution to the Afghan conflict. Pakistan must help in any endeavor that seeks the intervention of the Indian Supreme Court in undoing the unconstitutional changes brought about by the Modi government. For sure, many interested political parties in Kashmir would approach the top court to declare the new measures as being inconsistent with the constitution of India. That, in fact, seems to be the only option left for those hoping for some high-level judicial intervention. Modi’s decision would also win support from hardcore Hindu nationalists. The BJP has been pandering to the sentiments of the ultra-right Hindu nationalists for a long time, and this measure would be welcomed by the cadres of such misguided groups. However, the costs could far outweigh the benefits to India’s democracy, its stability, and the rising ethnic disharmony. In a multi-ethnic country such as India, a situation has been created where the minorities would be increasingly driven to desperation and despondency. That in itself does not bode well for the country’s peace and prosperity.

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