Kashmiri Pandit-Muslim Harmony Threatened Post Art 370: NC Leader
Even a month after the abrogation of Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir continues to face restrictions.
Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim
Cameraperson: Shiv Kumar
Almost a month ago, the BJP-led NDA government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Since then, a communication lockdown and an information blockade have ensconced Jammu and Kashmir.
Several leaders, including People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (J&K NC) leaders Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah, continue to be under house arrest as a ‘precautionary measure’.
The Quint spoke to Dr Sameer Kaul, who is a top oncologist and the spokesperson of J&K NC, to discuss the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the impact it has had on the lives of people in Kashmir.
(For all the live updates on Jammu and Kashmir click here.)
Kaul believes that the government has committed “treachery” by revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
“It's a sort of constitutional treachery. You can sit there and say that, 'Yes, it is constitutionally correct.' But, it is a manipulation of the Constitution.”
Read an excerpt of the interview here:
What are your views on the abrogation of Article 370? What impact has it had on the people?
I don’t feel good about it. And I believe that the rural Kashmiri Pandit will now face multiplied acrimony from the local Kashmiri Muslim who is the majority. Their whole future, whether it was in the camps or wherever else they are in the country or abroad, depended completely on future where they go and live with Kashmiri Muslim. That, unfortunately, has been dealt a complete death blow.
Many leaders of your party are also under house arrest. Have you had any talks with them? What do you think will be NC’s plan, going forward from here?
We are going to have a tough time telling the people that, 'We brought you to this country for a better future and now we can’t do anything about what has happened.' All the top leaders of my party are either arrested at home or in unknown locations. Most of them, even the second rung, is in jail. They have, I am sure, not been able to talk to each other. People who brought Kashmir to India and people who stood for India amongst numerous assaults by Pakistan and other things, are today, completely marginalised. What face will they show to their people? Is this the country we brought you to? And what will we tell them? A difficult question. Today, our very core, believing in the soul of India, believing in the plurality of India, has been thoughtlessly challenged and thrown into the gutter. Only once people get out of shock and are allowed to talk to each other will be a possibility to know what to and what not to do. At the moment, everything is in tatters.
Do you think that there could have been an alternative to this?
If you actually feel, which the government does and keeps saying, that most people of J&K and Ladakh wanted, then there was a good point in asking them. There would have been no violence and I am not sure if anyone would have reacted in a violent manner to something like that because that’s the truth for them. They won’t have felt cheated. Today, they feel cheated and stabbed in the back. They had to do what they had to do because it was in the BJP manifesto and they are in power, so I can’t say 'Don’t do it.'
What do you feel about the competing narratives being presented by the national and the international media?
You can manipulate the press in your country and all of us know that’s being done and they are complying, the ones who have gone on helicopter rides and other stuff, and strengthen that narrative. And no, you can’t cry foul that BBC, and New York Times, and Washington Post and The Guardian and Voice of America, are anti-Indian and therefore, they are showing something different. But I don’t know. My humble request to the government is to allow some dissent.
Have you been able to speak to your friends and family in Jammu and Kashmir?
A few minutes back, I received a phone call from a friend of mine in Kashmir who wanted to give me respect by making the first phone call after his landline at home got restored. And he was so happy about it. Now if that is the kind of situation in today’s age, what can I tell you?
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