Massacre of J&K Laws and Constitution but No Blood on the Streets
PM Modi has asserted publicly that The Reorganisation Act, would “end terrorism” permanently in J&K.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, which was passed by both the Houses of Parliament with two-third majority amid pandemonium on 5 and 6 August, has every potential to redefine politics in the erstwhile state that has been split and reduced to two Union Territories (UTs).
Most of the constitutional and legal exercises made by elected members of the State Constituent Assembly, followed by members of the two Houses of the State Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council in the last 72 years, have been made redundant and buried into archives in just two days.
Legislative Council or the House of Elders has been abolished, even as the Legislative Assembly would enjoy a lease of life in the UT of J&K.
UT of Ladakh would have no legislature.
Special Status Withdrawn
In layman’s language, J&K has been stripped of its special status, as granted to it under Article 370 of the Constitution of India, almost all the central laws have been applied to it and by revocation of Article 35A, separately through a Presidential Order, every citizen of India has been granted the right to own and acquire immovable property in any part of the erstwhile state.
The story doesn’t end there.
Fulfilling its electoral commitment, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has, through Shah’s historic Bill, applied as many as 106 central laws to the UT of J&K. Seven state laws have also been applied with certain omissions. Besides, as many as 164 state laws and Governor’s Acts have been summarily repealed even as 166 state laws and Governor’s Acts would continue to remain in force.
Azadi/accession to Pakistan, complete integration into the Indian dominion, autonomy/self-rule, besides statehood to Jammu and UT status to Ladakh, have been the dominant narratives since 1947. The BJP, with its allies, has obviously gone by its own slogan of “one country, one Constitution.”
Separatists’ Dampened Spirits
Constitutionally and legally, separatists and militants have got nothing to lose. They neither recognise the Constitution of India, nor that of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. They have had no respect or faith in the Indian laws or legislature and have boycotted all the elections held in Jammu and Kashmir after 1987.
Their locus standi is essentially hinged to Pakistan’s belief that the “Indian aggression” could shut the door of international interventions into J&K and ultimately lead to infinite hibernation of the UN resolutions.
Both, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, have asserted publicly that the Reorganisation Act, coupled with the order to repeal Article 35A, would “end terrorism” permanently in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan’s failure to get a resolution passed against India at UNSC, together with the silence at LoC and International Border, has palpably dampened spirits of the separatists.
On the other hand, Valley-based parties like National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have completely lost the chessboard of the politics they have been professing and practising from day one of their inception.
The PDP, obviously, would be the worst sufferer as, in the new domain, it would be nearly impossible for late Mufti Sayeed’s party to contest elections on the symbol adopted by the Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin and other Muslim United Front (MUF) candidates in 1987.
Even retaining the green colour flag would be difficult. There would be no room for waving the green colour handkerchiefs either. And apart from the optics, it would not be easy to transform the cadres who, in the past, have voted for the PDP only to keep NC and BJP away from the government.
No Space Left for PDP’s Green
The PDP’s Bible of Self Rule had promised not only NC’s patented “Autonomy” but also total expulsion of IAS, IPS and IFS officers besides India’s and Pakistan’s “joint control” over the territories in J&K. Some of its leaders had even called for “common currency” on the pattern of the European Union countries.
“All the theories and promises given by our Aristotles in the last 20 years stand buried in a tomb,” exclaimed one of the PDP leaders who has not been arrested or detained till date.
The NC is a little better placed for the advantage of the red colour of its flag, President Farooq Abdullah’s image of a jingoistic pro-Indian and anti-terror, anti-Pakistan politician, notwithstanding his emotional outburst on TV over abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A.
If knowledgeable sources are to be believed amid near-total information and communication blackout, both the NC and PDP are currently under tremendous pressure from their rank and file to put up “strong resistance” to the Narendra Modi government’s Mission Kashmir.
MPs Under Pressure to Resign
The fact of the matter is that over 300 leaders and political workers, mostly from the NC and PDP, have been either placed in detention at home or lodged in different guesthouses of the government.
Authorities have apprehensions that their release at this “crucial point of time” could lead to a mainstream mass movement including resignation of all the three Lok Sabha members of the NC and both the Rajya Sabha members of the PDP en bloc.
“We were for autonomy, not for joint control, Azadi or (accession to) Pakistan. Unlike azadi, autonomy means Indian Army and paramilitary forces, Indian currency, Indian passport and citizenship, Indian judiciary, Indian elections and Indian communications. We have been relieved of everything. It’s an existential onslaught.”A top NC leader whose house-guards did not permit his identification
BJP’s Ex-Ally Sides With ‘Dynasts’
Significantly, even the leaders and activists of the J&K People’s Conference, including its Chairman Sajjad Lone, who was a minister from the BJP’s quota in Mehbooba Mufti’s government till June 2018, have been rounded up and lodged in guesthouses and police stations.
In the last one year, Lone had made the most frontal attacks on Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, calling them “dynasts who have looted Kashmir.” He is now cooling off in detention at SKICC with many of the NC and the PDP leaders. Before his arrest, Lone also shared stage with Farooq Abdullah, Omar and Mehbooba.
While Engineer Rashid has been booked in a terror funding case and lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail last fortnight, his political ally and former IAS officer Shah Faesal has been placed in a hotel beside SKICC in Srinagar.
Absence of local students and artists at the Independence Day ceremonies and not a single statement or tweet coming out in favour of the Modi government’s action from Kashmir indicates that the country’s political and intellectual investment in the last 72 years has gone down the drain.
Yet again, that’s not the end of the story.
Not a single Kashmiri getting killed in any clash or demonstration in the last 14 days makes a soothing statement for the establishment.
Top ranking civil and police officials claim that “not more than 30 incidents of stone pelting” have occurred in which “just 35 persons” have suffered injuries. They claim that most of them have been discharged and those still under treatment are stable.
According to Governor’s Advisor incharge Home, K Vijay Kumar, there had been “concerted attempts” to spread rumours and create mayhem.
He warned legal action against “anybody spreading rumours and fake news with a purpose to create trouble.” He rubbished rumours of unrest in J&K Police and security forces, claiming that they were jointly in control of the situation.
Rumours of the detained JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik’s death and also killing of soldiers in “clashes” between police and security forces have already proved to be concocted.
Not Like 2008, 2010 or 2016
Unlike the street turmoil of 2008, 2010 and 2016, angry and defiant crowds have not gathered or clashed with security forces in the areas under curfew or outside. Community mosques are used strictly for congregational prayers and there’s no abundance of Pakistani or Azadi flags or graffiti on the walls and streets in Srinagar or elsewhere.
Still, everybody from administration to the civilian population is watching keenly how the Valley would behave after lifting of curfew in downtown Srinagar and other places, a possible schedule of agitation from the detained separatists and release of the mainstream political leaders.
(The writer is a Srinagar-based journalist. He can be reached@ahmedalifayyaz. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.