Tuesday, October 22, 2019
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BJP’s Kashmir agenda

K.N. Pandita

If the Home Minister’s Kashmir priority is outside media hype, it passes for the much-delayed initiative of tackling the issue at brass-tacks. Without questioning his sagacity, the deskbook rule is that astute statecraft does not permit overdoing issues howsoever listed as a priority. Away from other Kashmir related matters bouncing at the Home Ministry, two current events invite our attention. One is the detailed report on Kashmir –- things are done or to be done under Governor’s rule – to the Niti Ayog with strong advocacy for a “special NE - type package: for J&K”. What is new in that? Nothing: J&K has been breathing through the oxygen chamber installed by Nehru in the PMO when accession was made in 1947. Ever since, “special packages for J&K” including provisos like 370/35-A, the oxygen chamber has been pumping oxygen whenever the state cries of gasping for air. What miracles will his “NE-like package” work for the Kashmiri youth, remains vague. We are not privy to the activities of armed insurgents in the valley but the killing of five CRP jawans on the road which Amarnath cave pilgrims are supposed to take should fix onus on the Governor. Contrarily, he has outsmarted the policy planners and managed and legitimized the extension of his tenure.

The second noticeable development is the great convention of State BJP cadres held in Jammu city in which a unanimous resolution with far-reaching policy and political decisions was passed. In a sense, it is a historic resolution touching on the very core of the fundamental issue of a discriminatory approach by previous governments to equitable justice to all the three regions. In particular, the resolution stipulates shifting of one-third of the reserved 24 assembly seats of POJK to the refugees who migrated to Jammu in the aftermath of the tribal attack of 1947. Political empowerment of these refugees has remained elusive and is to be preceded by their right to permanent residence. This and the revival of constituencies delimitation process need a Presidential ordinance sufficiently hinted at by the new dispensation in the centre. All this and as well as the report of the Governor to the Niti Ayog are pioneering steps when completed. Nevertheless, while talking loud of removing regional discrimination, neither the Governor’s report nor the resolution of the Jammu BJP General Body speaks a word about two most crucial issues, viz. political empowerment including return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, and liberating Kashmiri (and Greater Kashmiri) Muslims from the stranglehold of Wahhabiism/Salfiism of Jamaat-i-Islami brand. Remaining tongue-tied on these issues, means the Pandits have no space in the Kashmir chemistry of NDA which is a replication of the policy of all national and regional parties that hitherto ruled the roost. Are the Pandits to be treated outside the matrix of Indian secularism and democracy? Except for an odd sentence which the PM uttered in his last Kathua election campaign about the KPs, there is nothing to show that the party manifesto or the Jammu resolution is willing to touch on the subject. If the Jammu BJPconclave can muster the courage to demand one-third seat reservation for the refugees from POJK, well and good, but then what hindered them to adopt the same policy in regard to either providing three reservations for the exiled KPs in the assembly or asking for them constituencies in exile? Nothing of the sort is there and all one can say is that they want to fight discrimination by adopting the discriminatory attitude. Besides two KP MLCs, the General Secretary and the President of Jammu BJP, all the victims of Kashmir terror were very active in the convention. They should have mustered the courage to respond to the voice of their conscience.

Amit Shah will be paying a visit to J&K on June 30. This will be his first official visit. He is not only the Home Minister but also the party president. He has made a commitment to his party doing away with Article 370 and 35-A. This is an important national issue or policy matter in which the Pandits do have any direct role though from day one they have been vociferously enumerating the disadvantages of this proviso. The BJP President will do a good deal of spade work before taking the crucial step in the direction of abrogating Article 370. He needs to be reminded that he will be taking this step at a point of time in contemporary history when Islamic resurgence is pursued by the entire ummah all over the world. The covert means adopted by the Pan-Islamists are much more dangerous than their overt means. Mr Amit Shah should take the most careful decision to ensure that the identity and status of the regions of Jammu and Ladakh are given assurance of preserving their civilizational identity.

(The author is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies of Kashmir University, . Feedback- [email protected])

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