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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 111

Kashmir- Myths, Riddles, New Commandments

By A Special Correspondent - Syndicate Features)

J&K, a constitutionally privileged state in India, does exactly what the most anti-women countries do under its prevailing permanent residency laws. From 1927, when the autocratic Dogra ruler Hari Singh introduced the law, women of J&K were disqualified as ‘permanent residents’ if they married non-permanent residents that is outsiders. The archaic law was overruled in 2002 by the J&K High Court. But, even after seventeen years, the women of the state still can’t pass on their state subject rights to their children and non-permanent resident spouses.

Hari Singh had brought in the law as an economic protectionist measure against the influx of populations from neighboring Punjab that was under British colonial rule. The law was inserted as Article 35A in the Indian Constitution through a Presidential order in 1954, eight years after J&K acceded to India on October 26, 1947. It was based on the terms on which J&K’s popular leader Sheikh Abdullah negotiated Article 370 with New Delhi in 1949.

Article 35A empowers J&K’s legislature to define the state’s ‘permanent residents’, and their special rights and privileges. J&K’s Constitution, which came into existence in 1956, retained the Dogra autocracy’s law prohibiting non-permanent residents from ‘permanent settlement’ in the state, acquiring immovable property, getting government jobs, scholarships and aid. The law even barred refugees from then-West Pakistan living in J&K since Partition from acquiring state subject rights.

In 2002, when the J&K High Court favored limited ‘gender neutrality’, it evoked brazen patriarchal reactions from regional political parties. Both National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), ironically headed by a woman, tried their best to subvert the verdict by passing a new legislation to disqualify the women who married ‘outsiders’.

Kashmir’s political leadership has been arguing that J&K is not the only state in India with prohibition on ‘outsiders’ to settle, and, therefore, Article 35A in their state should be left alone. This is true. But such regressive laws in India exist only because of xenophobic tendencies and irrational fears about ‘an invasion’ (both socio-political and economic) of ‘outsiders’, which holds no basis in reality.

The common refrain today is that the influx of migrants from ‘Hindu’ India will unleash demographic change and dilute the religious identity of Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.

The fact is, neither Hindus of Jammu nor Buddhists of Leh, despite being state subjects of J&K, have made any attempts to settle in the Valley in the last 72 years. On the other hand, while Kashmir insurgency evicted its entire indigenous minority, Kashmiri Pandits, Muslims have also moved out in massive numbers and settled in not only Hindu-dominated Jammu, but also in ‘Hindu-dominated’ cities like Kochi, Kolkata and Jaipur.

Also, in the overwhelming majority of states where there are no prohibitions on the purchase of land by ‘outsiders’, the basic demographics and cultural identity of different ethnic groups remain intact. No economic or otherwise migration from one state to another has eroded the distinctness and diversity of India’s states. In any case, in a world where cultures are being influenced, and constantly changing, primarily because of mass media and the internet, to think of living in silos is being regressive.

Riddle Of Kashmiri Politics

With the revocation of Article 35A of the Constitution being a big agenda on BJP’s manifesto, how long will this struggle last and how shall the people, politicians and militants in Kashmir keep their struggle alive to defend their homeland, is a question of careful empiricism. The conundrum of democracy, violence and politics in Kashmir of which the whole population has been a victim over the years requires immediate attention and acknowledgement.

Kashmir, since its legal birth, has been raised in an extremely violent atmosphere, be it at the time of partition, post-the instrument of accession, to disputed elections, to militant insurgency groups on the rise and of course the three wars (1947, 1965, and 1999) fought over and on its soil between India and Pakistan over the course of Kashmir’s distraught political history continue to cast a heavy shadow on its present.

With the exercise of Assembly Elections being highly anticipated in Kashmir by all the political parties to muster their desired share of power, what do the assembly elections hold for people? When approached for the purpose of this piece, , Talib Malik, a 25-year- old commoner, who is an engineer by training, simply said, “We don’t believe in the Constitution of India; it violates our special rights as Kashmiris”.

A less lit up aspect of elections in Kashmir is the preservation of ancestral leadership that has been a major element of mistrust among Kashmiri voters. However, now that new faces such as Ex-IAS Officer Shah Faesal, Shehla Rashid and Engineer Rasheed are emerging, it seems that Kashmiri voters have a plethora of options to choose from these days.

Twelve Commandments

“Kashmir’s problems are very complex and they need very careful and tactful handling”, the Lutyen thinkers assert, which means, let’s not stir the pot and allow the ‘Birbal’s khichdi’ cook at its pace!

The solutions to the most complex problems are at times simple. It is a matter of perspective and clarity of vision.

Here, are some recommendations which if adhered to, in letter and spirit can solve this so called ‘Kashmir conundrum’ over a period of time, if not in a jiffy.

1. A very overwhelming sense of immunity across all circles in Kashmir needs to go. Only then would New Delhi be able to see a tangible change in the attitude of the Kashmiris.

A few years back, some journalists meeting Yasin Malik over drinks told him that he should be thankful that the Air Force personnel he killed in 1990 belonged to “India”. Were it some other country, he would have been put on trial and hanged long ago. Make an example out of Yasin Malik, Bitta Karate. Karate is in jail currently in terror-funding case. But he needs to be put on trial for murder of over 20 people (many of them Kashmiri Pandits), something which he admitted in June 1990 on National TV. Make that trial on camera (like Nuremberg).

2. No conviction of terrorists/separatists is possible in Kashmir Valley courts. That is why we have witnessed no conviction even in cases where evidence has been signi?cant. (Example: JKLF terrorist Javid Mir’s wife is a public prosecutor). Bring in judges from other parts of the state.

3. Lay out clear rules of engagement with Police/Paramilitary/Army.

When young boys see that CRPF jawans are being kicked and their helmets thrown away, it creates bravado in their mind. The Indian State becomes permanently weak in their eyes. This should not be tolerated at any cost. If security forces are engaged in an operation with terrorists and local population comes to disrupt, they should be strictly dealt with (Standardize response to levels of disruption across Kashmir. When to open ?re, when to deal with them by other means). Leave no ambiguity.

4. Glamorize Uniform, especially of local Police.

When a cop falls, turn his last journey into a spectacle. Seal a particular route; take his body out in a procession, with top politicians, policemen pulling the garlanded vehicle. Currently, the young population sees terrorists as Che Guevaras, with their long hair and shiny AK-47s. It must be drilled in their head that the “real” honour lies on the other side; it lies when you fall down for India. Remove ambiguity around forces like SOG. Right now, they feel like orphans. They are not even allowed to use their name explicitly as if somehow it is shameful to be associated with such force. Such practice, encouraged by local politicians like Mehbooba Mufti in the past, must go.

5. Hit at the fountainhead of radicalization in Kashmir.
Monitor mosques and arrest people like Mushtaq Veeri who feed boys on a heavy diet of Jihad and anti-India venom. Choke his funding. Monitor what is being taught in schools. Deal sternly with teachers like Hameeda Nayeem, who encourage Jihad/separatism. In 2017, a young boy told a journalist that in the Shopian (fake?) rape case, doctors had recovered hundreds of litres of semen from the two women’s vagina. He had heard this in a madarsa in South Kashmir.

5. In the last 30 years, hundreds of Jamaat teachers have been absorbed in government schools. Identify them, weed them out.
7. Deal with local newspapers, which nourish separatist discourse in the Valley.

8. Review all Centre funds going to Kashmir. What is it going for? What is it being used for? Who decides who gets it or not?

9. Massive crackdown on corruption

10. Monitor and combat forces who are on pay rolls of foreign agencies such as ISI. Many Kashmiri journalists, inside and outside, are part of this propaganda. India fails miserably when it comes to dealing with pro-separatist propaganda in US and Europe. Lot of it comes from South Asian Departments of various universities.

Example: Huma Dar in Berkeley. At every conference/talk in US/Europe, ISI sympathizers (including from its embassies) are present in adequate numbers.

10. Incentivize the Kashmiri Pandit story; use it as a powerful tool to shame the Kashmir insurgency movement. And to tell the international community that Kashmir has witnessed Islamic State-level violence in 1990 itself.

11. Once the situation in Valley stabilizes, identify a 10 by 10 km (single) land where Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) could be rehabilitated, Connect the programme with the Smart City plans. As KPs are full of doctors and teachers, this smart city can become a medical tourism and educational hub.

- Asian Tribune -

 Kashmir- Myths, Riddles, New Commandments
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