J&K’s Accession: An insider’s account – Punarvasu Parekh

Pandit Ram Chandra Kak & Maharaja Hari Singh
JournalistThe failure of the Indian state to find a solution to the J&K dispute is rooted in its refusal to face the facts. – Punarvasu Parekh

“What Sheikh Abdullah was really gambling for … was an independent principality whose continued existence would be guaranteed by the Indian armed forces and whose solvency was secured by the Indian treasury. There was, however, no idea of a quid pro quo from his side. He did not expect to be called to account either in respect of the internal administration of the state or the utilization of funds supplied to him by the government of India.”

How prophetic these words penned way back in 1955 have been! As Indian soldiers shed their blood to protect J&K from troublemakers of all sorts and as the Indian treasury bleeds to keep it solvent, only to be greeted by chants of “Azadi” from stone-pelting mobs and demand for “greater autonomy” from local sundries, we realize how farsighted the author was in warning us that “Sheikh Abdullah stood only for his own aggrandizement and had no affection for India and no use for her except to the extent she sub-served his ends.” The Abdullah tribe has multiplied several times since then, but its genes and DNAs remain unchanged.

The author Pandit Ram Chandra Kak was the prime minister of princely state of Jammu & Kashmir during the period leading up to the state’s accession to India in October 1947. He left behind a document that records the devious political games played to transfer authority over this Hindu-Buddhist kingdom to Muslims, specifically to Sheikh Abdullah.

Radha Rajan is the editor of Vigil OnlineUnsurprisingly, the document is barely known in “secular” India; its only known public copy is in UK. In a monumental piece of investigative journalism, Radha Rajan presents this document in full, along with her analysis of the communal political game played by Congress leadership in general and Nehru and Gandhi in particular, which has converted Kashmir into a festering sore in Indian polity.

Pandit Kak’s document traverses familiar ground, though it does highlight some less known facts. Its chief merit consists in providing a clear and consistent exposition of the dilemma faced by the State of J&K over accession to India on the eve of independence, by a perceptive patriotic powerful insider who was privy to overt happenings as well as covert machinations in the state, who was in the centre of the storm facing winds blowing from all directions. It tells us why things went the way they did and how India could have averted the current impasse. From the document, Pandit Kak emerges as a man of learning and character, a sterling patriot who had the courage to suffer for his convictions.

In her comments on the selected passages from the document, Radha Rajan shows that what happened in J&K was not accidental, but a logical culmination of the attitudes and policies consciously adopted by Gandhi, Nehru and Congress towards princely states, especially those with Hindu rulers.

The question of accession to India came up before J&K twice in less than a year, though in very different circumstances. Its decision on both the occasions was the same, but for different reasons. Then again, Prime Minister Kak and Maharaja Hari Singh concurred in their conclusion, but not for identical reasons.

Late in 1946, the state was sounded out by the Government of India on the accession to India after the Cabinet Mission had completed its consultations with Government of India and Indian leaders in Delhi. At that time, partition was not on the horizon except as a remote contingency and the accession was envisaged only to the newly-to-be-created Dominion of India.

Sheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru

Pandit Kak tells us that as regards welding India into a single unit, he was not opposed to accession pure and simple. But there was a problem: Sheikh Abdullah, Congress leaders’ (especially Nehru’s) complete identification with him and their refusal to see any other point of view than his.

Sheikh Abdullah started his political career in 1931 as one of the two protagonists of Muslim Conference, an unabashed self-professed communal body. Later he fell out with the other protagonist Ch. Ghulam Abbas and set up his own outfit National Conference. As Ghulam Abbas managed to get close to Jinnah and Muslim League, Sheikh Abdullah approached Pundit Nehru for support. This he received in ample measure and soon he found himself a leading luminary in Congress firmament and President of All India States’ Peoples Conference.

While paying lip service to Congress ideals, Abdullah never forgot his original aim and ambition: absolute control over the state. With the power and prestige of Congress behind him, he started resorting to coercion and bullying against those who disagreed with him, including dissident Muslim groups. Some residents of Srinagar were for years unable to visit other parts of the town for fear of harassment. A maulavi who favoured Muslim Conference was prevented from preaching at the mosque where he and his forefathers had preached for generations before. Hindus began to live in perpetual fear. During the so-called Quit Kashmir agitation in 1946, thousands-strong mobs would surround houses of respectable persons for hours together, terrorise inmates and hurl stones and filthy abuses not sparing women folk of the house. For this reason, he was arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to three years of imprisonment by the state administration.

This was the man backed to the hilt by Congress and its leaders right from the beginning. Nehru, Maulana Azad, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and others visited Kashmir and participated in deliberations and demonstrations of National Conference, which often culminated in violence. After Sheikh Abdullah’s arrest Pundit Nehru insisted on visiting Srinagar despite being told that his visit would be most undesirable in the prevailing circumstances. Nehru was detained in the Dak Bangalow at Muzaffarabad, provided all the facilities possible and the state arranged for his return to Delhi when he so decided. Indeed, after a meeting with Sardar Patel in Mumbai where Gandhi also was present, Pandit Kak facilitated Nehru’s visit to Srinagar in July 1946. Yet, it seems, Nehru never forgave Maharaja and Pandit Kak for his detention.

Against this background, it is not surprising that the decisive factor which influenced Pandit Kak in rejecting accession was the attitude of the Indian National Congress as regards the affairs of the state.

Radha Rajan points out that in the attitude of the Indian National Congress towards princely states, there was nothing peculiar to J&K. It is strange but true that Congress under Gandhi who reached out to the likes of Ali brothers, Muslim League, Jinnah and even Britishers nurtured undisguised hostility towards princely states and sought to undermine them on every conceivable occasion. J&K is the best example to show that this hostility has cost the country dearly.

The issue of accession came up again on the eve of independence when partition had been agreed upon and princely states, which were to regain sovereignty after the lapse of the British paramountcy, were advised to join either India or Pakistan.

J&K again found itself on the horns of a dilemma. It was Jinnah or Nehru-backed Abdullah. Lord Mountbatten told Pandit Kak “you must consider your geographical position, your political situation and composition of your population and then decide.” Pandit Kak rejoined “that means you advise us to accede to Pakistan. It is not possible for us to do that. And since that is so, we cannot accede to India.”

India was divided on communal lines and the only rational course of action for any state before deciding on accession was to ascertain whether its people would support the accession. And with 76 per cent Muslim population, J&K could not be sure of the support of its people if it acceded to India. Accession to India was also hobbled by Congress’s infatuation with Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh Abdullah was in prison at the time of independence. Top Congress leaders were insisting not merely that he be released forthwith, but also that a new constitution be drafted for the state with their advice and power transferred to Sheikh Abdullah. Accession to Pakistan was ruled out because Pandit Kak had no illusions about the nature of Islamic state that was coming up. In other words, Kashmir would not accede to Pakistan and could not accede to India.

Pandit Kak met Jinnah who advised him to join Pakistan and offered favourable terms. However, when Jinnah was told that J&K’s decision not to accede was final, he said so long as the state did not accede to India he would not mind if it did not accede to Pakistan. Of course, he had no intention of honouring this assurance. Less than ten weeks after its formation, Pakistan invaded J&K.

From Government of India side, V. P. Menon, secretary, Ministry of States, had a lengthy discussion with Pandit Kak in Delhi and it was decided that Menon would pay a visit to Srinagar after 15 August 1947 to discuss the future course of action. Pandit Kak, therefore, resolved that under the given circumstances, it would be ideal for all stakeholders if J&K became an independent state, maintaining good relations with India and Pakistan.

Maharaja Hari Singh came to the same conclusion, though for more grandiose, if irrational, reasons. He was dreaming not just of remaining independent, but also of ruling over a larger territory. Fuelling his ambitions was Swami Sant Dev, part of the assortment of swamis, gurus, astrologers and others claiming direct communion with the supernatural collected by Maharaja Hari Singh’s uncle and predecessor Maharaja Pratap Singh. Such was the influence acquired by the Swami on Maharaja that even Pundit Nehru paid him a visit when he came to Kashmir in 1946.

For all his supposed spirituality, the Swami did not neglect the mundane. He was keen to earn jobs, contracts and other favours for his large but non-descript followers and constantly made suggestions to the administration on behalf of his cronies. On most of the occasions, Pandit Kak found it hard to oblige him. The enraged Swami started looking for an opportunity to get rid of the “obstinate” prime minister.

The opportunity came when accession became a live issue. The Maharaja was convinced that after the departure of the British, with the potency of Swami’s supernatural powers, he would be able to extend his rule to new areas. In June 1947, he met with rulers of some adjoining princely states and planned a federation of J&K and some areas now in Himachal Pradesh. When Maharaja Hari Singh sought Pandit Kak’s opinion about his plan, the latter explained to him that it was a futile and impracticable idea; it was utterly unrealistic to imagine that forces which had compelled the British to leave India would allow the creation of a new empire in their midst.

Neither Maharaja nor Swami forgave Pandit Kak for this candid advice, the cold douche he administered to their towering aspirations. Machinations started to remove him from the office. Matters reached Sardar Patel who asked Pandit Kak to convey to the Maharaja that in those crucial days it was essential that the Maharaja and his Prime Minister pulled together, and if that was not possible the situation must be brought to an end immediately. In other words, Maharaja Hari Singh had to choose between swami and Kak. Inevitably, he chose the Swami.

From that point, it was a downhill journey. On 11 August 1947, Maharaja gave Pandit Kak “permission to retire.” It was followed by decapitation of the entire administration. Top officers including Chief Secretary, Chief of the Army Staff, the IGP, Governor of Kashmir, Director of Civil Supplies, the Chief Engineer and several other important officers were removed and replaced by people of little or no experience. Sheikh Abdullah was released in September and lost no time in spreading his tentacles. These developments disheartened and alarmed the citizenry. The result was that when Pakistan attacked the state around 22nd October, it was in no position to counter it. Its helplessness was aggravated by perfidy of the British officers and treachery of the Muslim soldiery.

Pandit Kak had to pay a heavy personal price for his love of truth and candour. Charges of trumpery were forged against him and he was denied permission to leave the state even though he feared for his safety. This enabled Sheikh Abdullah to have his revenge when he paraded Kak and his elder brother through the streets of Srinagar with their hands tied and residents asked to shower shit and filth on them. Kak was pressured to give statement against Maharaja Hari Singh rule. But he did not utter a single word against the Maharaja. Kak later migrated to Kasauli.

The Hindustan Times

With the benefit of hindsight, we can say that Pandit Kak’s idea of an independent state of J&K was not viable. Pakistan would not let it remain in peace. Given its location, onset of the Cold War and China’s ambitions, it would have been a hotbed of international intrigues and a constant source of anxiety to India.

Ideally, J&K should have been fully integrated into India, just like hundreds of other states, small and big. What we now have is a halfway house, an arrangement in which India has the worst of both the worlds. For all nationalist objectives, J&K is an alien state—the steadfast refusal of Sunni Kashmiri politicians to the return of Kashmiri Pundits, establishment of sainik colonies or even temporary facilities for Amarnath pilgrims should clinch the issue. However, India has all the obligations regarding its security and solvency.

Pandit Kak’s document tells us how we could have avoided landing in this position of no rights and all responsibilities. India could and should have insisted that accession of J&K to India would be on the same terms as that of any other state. There was no insurmountable reason why it should be on a different basis. There was no need for India either to accept Mountbatten’s suggestion to make accession conditional upon a plebiscite or transfer power to Sheikh Abdullah or agree to a separate constituent assembly for the state. The Indian army was fighting the state’s battle and the simplest thing was to set up a military administration as was done subsequently in Hyderabad. By the time the military operations ended, a lot of things would have become clear. Then again, there was no need to allow Sheikh Abdullah to oust Maharaja Hari Singh and elect a new Head of State when the issue was being debated in the UN Security Council.

The failure of the Indian state to find a solution to the J&K dispute is rooted in its refusal to face the facts. The two-nation theory was false and pernicious, but after conceding Pakistan Congress lost moral right to oppose it. The country was divided on communal lines and the logic of partition has to be accepted. The existence of a large Muslim population in India does not alter the reality that after the secession of the Muslim component, what remained was and is Hindu Rashtra.

How could India expect to retain the valley of Kashmir with a 95 per cent Muslim population contiguous to the entirely Muslim province of NWFP? Replying to this poser in 1950 by Gordon Walker, then secretary of state for commonwealth relations, Pandit Kak pointed out that it was wrong to assume that the status of the valley affects only its residents and therefore they alone could decide its future. From time immemorial, Kashmir has been cradle to a vital corpus of Hindu thought and rituals. For that reason all the Hindus in India and beyond have a stake in the fate of Kashmir. Kashmir has always been a part of the Hindu Holy Land (punyabhoomi) and the question of handing it over to those who are hell-bent on destroying its Hindu ethos does not arise.

To sum up, reading this book would be a sobering, painful experience for any patriotic Indian. It narrates a sordid tale of historical vicissitudes and human weaknesses from which no player emerges unscathed. But truth, however unpalatable, must be faced. For truth alone liberates from bondage of fear, from folly and its consequences. That is the significance of Radha Rajan’s book.

»  Punarvasu Parekh is an independent journalist in Mumbai.
» Radha Rajan is a political commentator and animal rights activist in Chennai. Pandit Kak’s original document (PDF) is available on Radha Rajan’s website Vigil Online.

Jammu and Kashmir: Dilemma of accession: A historical analysis and lesson by Radha Rajan and Krishen Kak

       Published by Voice of India, New Delhi.  Pages 140, Maps 2, Price Rs 300 

Order from Voice of India or Amazon

India must act if Pakistan makes Gilgit-Baltistan a province – G. D. Bakshi

Gilgit city with air strip is the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan, a Pakistan-occupied territory of India.Maj. Gen. G. D. BakshiShould Pakistan declare Gilgit-Baltistan a province, India must abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution. – Maj. Gen. G. D. Bakshi

Track two talks with Pakistan is fast becoming a profitable cottage industry in this country. This peace talks lobby felt that our surgical strike and fire assaults that had chastised Pakistan last year was just a brave flash in the pan and we could now return to the track two dialogue in a business-as-usual mould. It mattered little to them that Pakistan’s ISI had simply switched tactics and was now using Islamic State fronts, and local Maoists and criminals to sabotage our 1,20,000-km rail network.

In November last year, 150 Indians were killed and 200 wounded in a serious act of rail sabotage in Kanpur. This was virtually equivalent of another Mumbai 26/11. It was sought to be buried under the carpet. Three MPs recently reached Islamabad to signal all was well once more. Possibly Uncle Sam had given the nudge and nod, and the doves were straining to fly to Islamabad in droves. Setting the stage were activists such as Gurmehar Kaur who informed us with a flourish of cards that not Pakistan but war had killed her father. It was time to make peace and the only way to establish it was to gift the Valley to Pakistan on a platter! The Ramjas College fracas now makes much more sense in hindsight.

In 1998, Prime Minister Vajpayee and members of his Cabinet had ridden the peace bus to Lahore. It was a grand gesture like Neville Chamberlain’s (the British PM who had returned to England from Berlin crowing “Peace in our times”. A year later the Second World War had started). In our case, the Kargil War started just six months later in May 1999. Pakistanis have developed back-stabbing into a fine art. The Americans push us into peace talks and the Pakistanis enjoy humiliating us. Even as our Parliamentarians were popping the champagne in Islamabad, the Pakistani Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination grandly announced to Geo TV that a committee headed by Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Ajiz had recommended that Gilgit-Baltistan be incorporated as the fifth State of Pakistan (in addition to Punjab, Pashtunkhwa, Sindh and POK).

The Pak Constitution, he said, would be duly amended soon. It was a highly premeditated and outrageous provocation—a virtual slap in the face and a brazen attempt to turn de facto occupation of Indian territory into de jure ownership. Our Parliamentarians should have flown back the very next day to register our protest. All that we got were rather feeble and anaemic statements from our foreign ministry. It had the air of déjà vu. In the 1950s, China had simply gone ahead and built the Aksai-Chin highway through Indian territory. It took us nearly three years to even find out that such a road had been built in our area. In 2016, China announced the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor with great fanfare and has built the road alignments through Indian territory. Both China and Pakistan held Indian sovereignty over J&K in utter contempt. All we can manage in return is anaemic whimpers of futile protest.

Pakistan claims J&K is a disputed territory. Gilgit-Baltistan is part of J&K and Pakistan never tires of saying the case of J&K is before the UN Security Council. Yet it can unilaterally alter the status of Gilgit-Baltistan. Does it consider India such a weak and pusillanimous state? The onus of asserting and restoring our sovereignty over POK and Gilgit-Baltistan is squarely on India. China is using Pakistan to keep India bullied, cowed down and wholly preoccupied in South Asia. If things go on in this fashion, India will be left with little option but to deal militarily with a Pakistan, whose asymmetric adventurism and provocations scale new heights each passing month. – The New Indian Express, 26 March 2017

Karakoram Highway

Kashmir: Use pellet guns more, not less – Punarvasu Parekh

Narendra Modi & Mehbooba Mufti

JournalistPellet guns are sought to be played down precisely because they worked well and put the fear of God in the heart of troublemakers. … When our country is engaged in a fierce battle to preserve its unity, we cannot allow the adversaries to decide which weapon we should use to fight it. Find out alternatives to pellet guns by all means, place them at the disposal of the armed forces and give them the freedom to choose their option. – Punarvasu Parekh

Modi government’s decisions to use pellet guns only sparingly against perpetrators of violence in Jammu & Kashmir is disappointing. It is symptomatic of the intellectual confusion, moral cowardice and political pusillanimity that have characterized New Delhi’s attitude to this essentially Islamic problem: even when it is winning, it chooses to buckle under the pressure of adversaries who want some respite to regroup and strike again. This follows an old and ominous pattern: every time the security forces manage to gain an upper hand in the beleaguered state, an invisible hand from Delhi reins them in.

Ironically but not surprisingly, pellet guns are sought to be played down precisely because they worked well and put the fear of God in the heart of troublemakers. Poke-marked bodies and blinded eyes suggest that at long last security forces had a weapon that would enhance their confidence while facing the stone pelters and grenade throwers. That is the reason to use the gun more, not less. When our country is engaged in a fierce battle to preserve its unity, we cannot allow the adversaries to decide which weapon we should use to fight it. Find out alternatives to pellet guns by all means, place them at the disposal of the armed forces and give them the freedom to choose their option.

“But why are you so harsh on our own people?” Because they do not behave as our own. Narendra Modi erred when he said that every life lost in J&K—be it an army jawan or a local youth—is a loss to the nation. That may be politically correct rhetoric, but it wrongly equates a soldier making ultimate sacrifice for the motherland with an upstart who has declared a war on the country.

The privilege of soft treatment as citizens and the “Azadi” to attack and kill Indian soldiers, waive Pakistani and IS flags and wish India death cannot be enjoyed simultaneously, even if you happen to be Kashmiri Muslims. If you behave as enemies of India, how do you expect to be treated with kid gloves?

It is no use shying away from the real nature of the current trouble in the valley. What we are up against is not resentment over some local grievances, but a well-orchestrated violent campaign to dismember the J&K Policecountry and create a Muslim state governed by Shariah. In the separatists’ reckoning, this may be the final stage of the battle in which Allah has guaranteed them victory. Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have realized it when he reportedly remarked that the problem is political in nature and could not be solved by ‘development’. Omar Abdullah, the perfidious politician, has seized upon these remarks as a vindication of the stand of all separatists. But he could be in for a nasty surprise. Mr. Modi may have something very different in his mind—let us hope so.

All the calls for “winning the hearts and minds of the people of J&K” have to be viewed against this backdrop. It is a blind alley from which there is no way out. The more you bend, the more will you be asked to bend. Modi government should learn from the experience of Indian National Congress under the leadership of Gandhiji when it sought to win cooperation of Muslims in the struggle for independence. The price of the cooperation went on increasing in direct proportion to the effort mounted to secure it. We all know what it led to.

Modi government is needlessly defensive about the extent of violence in the valley. For one, we are fighting a proxy war to preserve the unity and integrity of our country. Nothing less. We have not courted that war; it has been imposed on us. Preservation of territorial integrity is the birthright of any nation. There is no need to be defensive about it. The world understands it. That is why this time there has been no hectoring from the habitual offenders. As the IS is educating the world about what Islam has in store for non-Muslims and even for Muslim dissidents, the international community positively dislikes the prospect of creation of one more Islamic country in the world.

Yes, the spate of violence in the valley is heartrending. But security forces cannot be blamed for it. The blame must be laid squarely and properly at the doors of those who instigate the impressionable young minds to further their own nefarious designs on the state. If A instigates B to put his hand in fire and B burns his hand, you do not blame fire for it. It is time Modi government provides the necessary political backing to the security forces and takes on those who are out to demoralize them.

Does it mean we should never hold talks with anyone about the problem? No, that is not the argument. Do negotiate, but only when you are in a position to have your way. Guided by Chanakya Chandragupta Maurya did negotiate with Seleucus Nicator, but only when he could demand and secure the territories he wanted. Sardar Patel travelled to Hyderabad to meet the Nizam, but only after the Indian army had put paid to his ambitions of heading an independent state within India. We should discuss new political arrangements with Kashmiri leaders when we are in a position to abrogate Article 370 and fully integrate the state with the rest of India. Till such a situation comes about, we should work for it.

Before this is dismissed as hate mongering and war-mongering, spare a moment to ask what has been achieved by the wise, sagacious, statesmanlike souls who have sought to broker a solution to this vexed problem over the decades. The current conflagration in Kashmir is a blazing testimony to the intellectual, moral and political bankruptcy of homegrown peaceniks of all hues as also of foreign busybodies.

» Punarvasu Parekh is an independent senior journalist in Mumbai.

Kashmir Security Man 2016

Separatism in Kashmir will not be cured by dialogue – Ajay Chrungoo

Kashmiri youth in Srinagar

Dr Ajay ChrungooA de facto Muslim state on the territory of India was bound to move towards religious fascism just like Pakistan. … The present unrest in Kashmir is an expression of a totalitarian stranglehold on the social milieu and political establishment. The unrest is fundamentally regressive in content. It has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with the destruction of freedom. – Dr Ajay Chrungoo

Allowing democratic secular space to promote and perpetuate a regressive fascist political order is the ultimate crime against democracy as well as secularism. In the name of political process this crime has been committed with impunity in Jammu and Kashmir. We have now a situation in Kashmir where religious fascism is expressing itself boldly and brazenly.

What is now being recognised as the radicalisation of the polity is actually continuity. We have seen the progression of an exclusivist religion-based identity movement into an unabashed fascism. In fact, special status, greater autonomy, self-rule, independence, secession to Pakistan or building up of an Islamic caliphate now clearly appear to be stages of an evolving totalitarian religion-based fascist order.

The root cause theories of erosion of autonomy, rigging or bad governance have been actually concoctions of the Indian political class. This class indulged in concoctions to avoid contesting the religion-based identity politics in J&K. They did it so because of a belief that in a Hindu majority country only Hindu communalism has to be fought. They thought all minority communalism is merely a reaction and will be cured automatically if Hindu communalism is contained and defeated.

They forgot that J&K was the only Muslim-majority state in a Hindu-majority country. Its functioning as a healthy secular polity was no less critical than the functioning of the rest of India as a secular polity. It ended up creating a permanent Muslim sphere of interest in J&K. Instead of delegitimising the two-nation theory for all time to come after Partition, they helped to create a special state on the territory of India which was premised on the same principle as the creation of Pakistan.

A de facto Muslim state on the territory of India was bound to move towards religious fascism just like Pakistan. The genocide of Bengalis in undivided Pakistan was the expression of fascism. The genocide of Hindus of Kashmir in J&K is similar. The present unrest is an expression of a totalitarian stranglehold on the social milieu and political establishment. The unrest is fundamentally regressive in content. It has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with the destruction of freedom.

The separatism in Kashmir now needs to be exposed with all its regressive content. The political class must realise that it is not the number of people supporting a movement that makes it sacrosanct but its ideological content that makes it progressive and revolutionary.

Separatism in Kashmir will not be cured by a dialogue but by clear ideological contestation. Fascism is fascism, and it doesn’t matter how many people support it. – Deccan Chronicle, 1 September 2016

» Dr Ajay Chrungoo is chairman of Panun Kashmir

Kashmir Security Force

Kashmir: Nehru’s blunder can be rectified only by history – Amar Bhushan

Kashmir Political Leaders 2014

Amar BhushanIt is time J&K was treated like any other state in India without grandstanding on Article 370. It needs a clean and effective administration, a participatory governance, a police that firmly handles protesters, and security force that guards borders and takes on terrorists aggressively. – Amar Bhushan

Kashmir once again exposes our inability to come to terms with reality. Reactions to the current spate of violence following the gunning down of terrorist Burhan Wani are either opportunistic, pedantic, emotional or needlessly panicky. Since the early Fifties, it has been a familiar tale of violent protests, destruction of properties, curfews and killing of terrorists, civilians and personnel of security forces. Not surprisingly, ill-informed politicians and supercilious commentators have renewed calls for withdrawing security forces to the border and removing AFSPA at a quick pace, notwithstanding the fact that terrorists are operating all over the state. They also insist that police use “maximum restraint” and make distinction between “terrorist and people”, but would neither quantify what constitutes “the right amount of force and restrain” nor identify bullets that pick up terrorists in a mob without inflicting collateral damages. Their concern for the use of pellets is jarring, for pellets can neither be precisely guided nor firing units can comprise “only” sharp shooters. Some even believe that Kashmiris’ alienation is complete and it is time India packed up from the Valley. Others stress that Delhi is foolishly trying to hold the Valley by force rather than win its people and urge PM Modi to open his heart to separatists.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif must be grateful to such self-righteous outpourings. He has since extended full-throated support to Kashmiri terrorists/separatists and indulged in a bit of drama like observing black day and honouring Wani as a martyr. The Pakistan Army on the other hand has been quietly training and infiltrating terrorists like Bahadur Ali and Mohammad Naveed, and using Hafiz Saeed and his surrogates to keep the situation on boil. Where they err is that violence tailored in Pakistan can never be a perfect fit in J&K.

The Kashmir issue has festered because we keep experimenting with ideas. Intelligence agencies bribed Hurriyat leaders for years, hoping erroneously that money would bring Kashmiris in the mainstream. Numerous back-channel and diplomatic initiatives were launched, but Pakistan has neither refrained from interfering in Kashmir nor accepted Line of Control as international border and unrestricted visits, trade and commerce across the border. Its unfinished agenda remains annexation of Kashmir, which India simply can’t deliver.

Mehbooba MuftiEveryone loves talking of finding a “political solution”, which actually means that we allow J&K to secede, become independent or join with Pakistan. Some advocate giving Kashmiris the option of plebiscite, no matter whether it leads to second partition of India on the basis of religion. Others suggest that all powers that Kashmir enjoyed at the time of its accession to India in 1947 be restored. They try not to understand that no amount of devolution of powers will ever satisfy the separatist fringe who simply dream of living with Pakistan. Strangely, Kashmiris seem blind to the fact that in a unified J&K, they will be reduced to minority and their language will be consumed by Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun and Balochi.

70TH Independence Day PM Narendra Modi addressed the nation from the ramparts of Red FortThe other cliché is that we must involve “all stakeholders” to find a solution. The problem, however, is that while political parties may come around to accept a settlement, terrorists and separatists won’t, for their survival depends on how strongly they carry forward the Pakistan Army’s agenda. So long as Pak Army does not abandon its dream of annexing the Valley, there is no possibility of a permanent resolution. Hence, the only option that we have is to tire out Pak Army militarily and burn its mischief wherever it buds. Its proxies in the Valley will fall in line automatically.

It is time J&K was treated like any other state in India without grandstanding on Article 370. It needs a clean and effective administration, a participatory governance, a police that firmly handles protesters, and security force that guards borders and takes on terrorists aggressively. The PDP-BJP government is ideal to accomplish this objective. CM Mehbooba Mufti has her hand on the pulse of most Kashmiris and BJP has the requisite political strength to give her leeway to announce amnesty, provide relief to reluctant terrorists and tolerate their antics like awarding bravery rewards posthumously, raising pro-Pak flags and slogans, writing anti-India graffiti etc.

Opposing political interest groups are in all states and Kashmir is no exception. India is accustomed to managing Naxalites, insurgents and violent crusaders for social causes. There is no reason why it cannot manage unrest in the Valley. It will help if we stop overemphasizing and glamorising the events. The  problem of Kashmir is a historical blunder, which Nehru committed by not integrating it outright with the Indian union. It can now be rectified only by history.  – The New Indian Express, 14 August 2016

» The writer is a former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing. Contact him at amarbhushan@hotmail.com

Jammu & Kashmir Elections 2014

Article 370: The part larger than the whole – Radha Rajan

Kashmir curfew August 2016

Radha Rajan is the editor of Vigil OnlineThere is no point in demanding abrogation of Article 370 without demanding that the J&K State Constitution be rendered null and void too. Article 370 is only the symptom. The malaise is the State Constitution which is completely out of line and not in tune with the basic spirit or structure of the Indian Constitution. – Radha Rajan

When Hindu rulers of the princely states signed the Instrument of Accession, they surrendered legislative, judicial and executive control of three subjects—Defence, Communication, External Affairs and Ancillaries. This in effect meant that the princely states would have the right to decide upon policies, implementation and administration with regard to other issues, through such arrangements as they deemed fit. One such arrangement would have on been for the rulers to frame constitutions for their erstwhile kingdoms; state constitutions, which would have given their arrangements a modern, legal framework.

Hari Singh BahadurBut Sardar Patel, in the course of integrating all princely states into the Indian Union, persuaded the rulers to accept the Indian Constitution in toto and integrate completely into the Indian Union, assuring them that not only would there be no minimising of their royal stature and privileges but that they could and indeed they should send their representatives to the Constituent Assembly and participate actively in the drafting of the Indian Constitution. This, let us remember Sardar Patel did after Gandhi adopted a dismissive and even contemptuous attitude towards the rulers of the princely states who met Gandhi to know his mind about the future status of kings and their kingdoms in the event of political independence from the British. Gandhi far from reassuring them, even made his intent known publicly in one of his prayer meetings that he was quite prepared to hand over all princely states to the Muslim League under certain conditions. Besides, Gandhi also appointed Nehru and the Nawab of Bhopal to choose 92 representatives from among more than five hundred princely states to the Constituent Assembly.

Jawaharlal Nehru & Sheikh AbdullahDeeply concerned by the negative bent of mind of both Gandhi and Nehru, the Hindu princely states decided not to participate in the Constituent assembly and that they would not send any representative. But Gandhi’s assassination in January 1948 gave Patel the space and the freedom to reach out to the princely states again with respect and reassurances. The rulers of the princely states were assured by Sardar Patel that the Constitution would provide for all their concerns and guarantee equal rights to all regions and all peoples. The princely states acceding to India thus accepted the Indian Constitution totally; except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. That was Nehru’s personal fiefdom and Patel was kept away by a determined Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah from dealing with that state.

A brief glance at the history of J&K at the turn of the century leading up to Sheikh Abdullah hounding the Maharaja out of the state and negotiating individually with Nehru will throw a great deal of light on the imponderables that caused Article 370 to be included in the Indian Constitution. The root cause was Nehru’s intense hatred of Maharaja Hari Singh, Gandhi’s similar contempt for the rulers of the princely states and his overwhelming love for Nehru which made him hand over the affairs of the Kingdom of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and the Tibets to Nehru on a platter. .

The history behind Article 370

The RSS and its parivar organizations, except the BJP, is convinced that the only way to render justice to Jammu and Ladakh which have been victims of the Abdullah/Mufti Sayeed clan, is to trifurcate/quadrificate J&K into Jammu, Ladakh, the Kashmir valley and a homeland for the persecuted and displaced Kashmiri Pandits, carved out from the valley itself. Demands for such a division of J&K still ignites jihadi fires in the Kashmir valley.

But what they conveniently choose to ignore is that the two-nation theory of which the J&K constitution, the separate flag, Article 370 are all symptoms, was already implemented in J&K when Nehru conceded every one of Sheikh Abdullah’s untenable demands which made the Muslim-majority state of J&K a special state in the Indian Union. And when the RSS calls for trifurcating the state and when the VHP calls for quadrificating the state, it is not to hand over the remains of the state to Pakistan. Hindu majority Jammu will be fully integrated with Indian Union without the provision of the separatist Article 370; Ladakh will be made into a Union Territory while the Kashmir valley alone or what is left of it after a separate homeland has been carved out for Kashmiri Pandits, can retain Article 370 and its illusory privileges.

The Abdullahs and the secular section of the Indian intellectual class are thrown into a panic as demands for division of the state is made every time jihad raises its head. They declare that such a division would deal a mortal blow to secularism. Implied is the proposition that it is a victory for secularism that the Muslim majority state of J&K chooses and continues to be a part of the Indian Union. And as for secularism, who are they kidding? The J&K state has rejected, from behind the fig-leaf of Article 370, that part of the 42nd amendment to the Indian Constitution by which certain core changes were made to the Preamble which now includes the words “socialist secular” and “unity and integrity”.

The J&K state has steadfastly refused to recognize, uphold and defend the “socialist”, “secular”, and “integrity” parts of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution. That this does not apply to the state of J&K has been stated in the Restatement of the Constitution (Application to J&K) order, 1954, which is Appendix II of some publications of the Indian Constitution. What does the secular brigade have to say about that considering they lose no opportunity to declare that secularism is the basic feature of our Constitution and the underlying principle of governance?

Beginning with the Preamble of the Constitution, Article 370 has defined the jurisdiction of the Indian Constitution in J&K. Let us quickly take a look at some of the more important laws that apply and those that do not apply to the state of J&K. This will help us to understand better the implications and the utter futility of granting any “greater autonomy” to the state or to even consider a return to the pre-1953 status.

The Jekyll and Hyde of Article 370

Article 370 has two personalities, so to say. It is a double-edged tool. It is a legal paradox which both integrates and divides the state from the rest of India. Like Sardar Patel said, it is a mechanism by which the President of India can issue special Orders which extend several Indian constitutional provisions that prevail in the rest of the country, to the state of J&K too. Under Article 370, the President, through the Constitution (Application to J&K) Orders of 1950, 1954 and several times thereafter up until 1994 has so far brought the state of J&K under the purview of 205 national acts and laws. These include several important laws concerning labour, laws concerning customs, excise and other taxes, The Negotiable Instruments Act, The Census Act, The Reserve Bank of India Act, The Imports and Exports (Control) Act, The Banking Companies Act, The Finance Commission (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, The Representation of People Act, The Companies Act, and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act being some of the more important acts which has integrated the state of J&K with mainstream national laws. This is the Dr. Jekyll face of Article 370.

But, as I said, this integration is only one side of the tool, pardon the mixed metaphors. The other side is a dangerous weapon. It is this side which has caused the maximum damage not only to the state but to the national fibre. While on the one hand Article 370 has enabled the extension of several laws to prevail in J&K, it has also kept the Indian Constitution from being implemented in toto. The Mr. Hyde face of Article 370 states that Parliament may make laws for that state only with the consultation or concurrence of the state government. There are several parts of the Indian Constitution which do not apply to the state at all or apply with modifications. A very major section of the chapter on the fundamental rights of a citizen, enshrined in our national Constitution, does not apply to the state of J&K. Two very important provisions of our Constitution which deserve attention in this context, and which either do not apply to J&K or apply with modification, are Articles 352 and 360 relating to declaring a state of Emergency in the country as a whole or in any part of the territory of this country.

As per Article 352, if the President of India is convinced that there is an imminent danger to national security either because of external aggression, possibility of war or because of armed rebellion from within the country, he may, upon receiving a written communication from the Union Cabinet, proclaim a state of emergency in the whole country or in any part of the country which is so threatened. But Article 370 has enabled the modification of this Article with respect to J&K in that while the President may declare emergency in the whole country in the event of a war or external aggression, he may not declare emergency in J&K without the consent of the state government in cases of internal armed rebellion. This means that even when terrorism brings the state to a point of total anarchy or breakdown of law and order, the President cannot declare a state of emergency in J&K without the permission or request of the state government.

As for Article 360 by which the President may declare a financial emergency in the whole or part of this country, it does not apply to the state of J&K at all. Given the runaway corruption in J&K afflicting all areas of governance and administration, and given the lack of political will to deal with it, a state of financial emergency can never be declared by the President even when the state teeters on the brink of a complete economic or financial breakdown. The CBI has no jurisdiction in J&K and neither do the CVC nor the Indian Penal Code. Not that alone, The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 also does not apply to J&K.

Jammu & Kashmir National Conference FlagIf this were not enough, what has escaped media and academic scrutiny is the delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. Though Kashmiris constitute roughly only 22 per cent of the State’s total population, the mechanism cleverly devised by Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference Party in 1951 enables it to capture nearly half of the total Assembly and Lok Sabha seats. The National Conference, with the full complicity of Nehru and successive Congress governments has violated every norm set by the Delimitation Act (which had no jurisdiction in J&K then, courtesy Article 370), and carved out 46 Assembly segments in the small Valley as against 41 segments combined for the Jammu and Ladakh regions which are far bigger territorially and several times more populated than the Valley; and three of the six seats to the Lok Sabha have been cornered by the Valley Muslims alone. This discriminatory nature of representation in the Assembly and Parliament is totally contrary to the rules framed under the Indian Parliament’s Representation of People’s Act, 1951, and those under the relevant State Act of 1957.

This cornering of the major chunk of Assembly segments and Lok Sabha seats has ensured once and for all that the Muslims of the state have a decisive say in all affairs of the state. This not only violates all democratic norms but is also a violation of the principle of pluralism to which passionate lip service is paid by the secular brigade in the media and academia. But the valley is a Sunni Muslim majority region and even the remnants of Hindus after five centuries of violent and coercive Islam have today been hounded out altogether.

Article 32, the pernicious Article 35A and what it means

By far the most offensive and the root cause of all major problems in J&K lies in the modification of Article 35 of the Indian Constitution through the mechanism of Article 370. Not that alone, to Article 35 is added 35A which carries the cancerous cell that has sapped the state of J&K of its vitality and life-force. These changes, like other amendments effected through Article 370, are not a part of the text of the Constitution. Therefore, any reader who does not care to read Appendix II of the Constitution of India will never know that a very pernicious and undemocratic change has been made to Article 35 or that together with 35A they constitute the root cause of the evil side of Article 370. It is because of the changes made to Article 35 and because of Article 35A of the Indian Constitution that Article 370 has to go and its roots, the J&K state constitution. This may be the right moment to raise the question whether these major changes and amendments made to the Indian Constitution through Article 370 and which are contained only as Appendix I and II, are even a part of the Indian Constitution. And as such, are these changes constitutional?

The modification made to Article 35, the inclusion of Article 35A and the fact that Articles 12 to 15 of the Indian Constitution do not apply to the state of J&K must be taken and read together to understand why the J&K constitution is a perversion of democracy. Democracy’s underlying principle is equality before law. By completely disregarding the fundamental democratic principle of equality, the National Conference, whose brainchild the state constitution is, continues to preside over a feudal political arrangement. The ultimate perversion lies in the fact that there is no judicial redress for the affected people of J&K whose fundamental rights have been violated and who have been denied the basic right to equality. Let us take Articles 35 and 35A apart, piece by piece, to see the perversion clearly.

As per Constitution (Application to J&K) Order of 1971, clause (3) of Article 32 will not apply to the state of J&K. Article 32 specifies the remedies available to every citizen for enforcement of rights conferred by the Constitution and contained in the chapter on Fundamental Rights. Clause (3) of Article 32 says that while any citizen whose fundamental rights have been violated or who has been denied his fundamental rights may approach the Supreme Court for redress and while the Supreme Court shall have the power ‘to issue directions or orders for the enforcement of these rights, Parliament too “may by law empower any other court to exercise within its local limits all those powers conferred on the Supreme Court to enforce these rights”. This means not just the Supreme Court alone but any other court in a state or union territory can be empowered by parliament to assume the very same powers as those of the Supreme Court to enforce the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.

The chapter on Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution lists the constitutional rights to which every Indian citizen is entitled. These rights can be enforced through judicial intervention and parliament has the right to make laws for any part of the country or for the country as a whole to protect and enforce these rights. These rights are inviolable except in situation of a state of Emergency in the country. Article 35 declares that Parliament has the right and state legislatures do not have the power to make laws for enforcing these rights, for prescribing punishment for acts declared to be offences under this part and so on. But using the provision of Article 370, the state of J&K has refused to allow Parliament to make laws for the state under clause (3) of Article 16 and clause (3) of Article 32, both of which, besides Articles 33 and 34 are matters mentioned in Article 35A (i) as being areas for which Parliament has the right to make laws.

By refusing to accept the jurisdiction of clause (3) of Article 32, the state of J&K has violated the fundamental rights of a section of the citizens of India residing in J&K, and who do not belong to a category created by the National Conference called “permanent residents”. The National Conference may disclaim any responsibility for the creation of this category with the explanation that “permanent residents” is the new name given to the category of residents of J&K previously known as “state subjects” which was created in 1927 when the state was ruled by the Dogras. But this argument is fallacious because while the Maharaja may have had very good reasons for creating this category (shall come to this shortly), there was no reason for continuing with this classification of the residents in J&K as “state subjects” and “non-state subjects” in independent India governed by the Indian Constitution.

Jammu & Kashmir FlagWhat are the implications of clause (3) of Article 32 not being applicable to J&K? It means that those citizens of India who are resident in J&K but who are not “permanent residents” as defined by Section 6 of the J&K state constitution, cannot challenge in any court the denial by the state government of the fundamental rights guaranteed to them by the Indian Constitution because the J&K state constitution has its own version of fundamental rights which is not guaranteed to all residents of J&K. Only the “permanent residents” of J&K are so privileged. And those residents of J&K who are denied these fundamental rights, cannot approach either the Supreme Court or any local court within J&K for redress because Article 370 has made it impossible for any court to offer redress. The fundamental rights as per the J&K state constitution is discriminatory and there is nothing that any court can do for those who are denied these rights in the state.

And it is this defiance of the basic spirit of the Indian Constitution which has been sanctified and legitimised as Article 35A about which nobody knows, certainly not the shouting secular brigade. Article 35A is not a part of the official text of the Constitution. Article 35A says:

Saving of laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights:

Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution, no existing law in force in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and no law hereafter enacted by the Legislature of the State,

(a) Defining the classes of persons who are, or shall be permanent residents of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; or

(b) Conferring on such permanent residents any special rights and privileges or imposing upon other persons any restrictions as respects

(i) Employment under the state government;

(ii) Acquisition of immovable property in the State;

(iii) Settlement in the State; or

(iv) Right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the State Government may provide, shall be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this Part.

Readers are urged to note the tone and content of Article 35A. It says the state government has classified its residents as first class and second class citizens; those Indian citizens living in J&K who are categorised as “permanent residents” are first class citizens with special privileges. This perversion has been enshrined in the state constitution and notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Constitution, no law existing in the state of J&K and no law which may be made in the future with regard to the matters contained in Article 35A, can be rendered void by Parliament or the Supreme Court on the grounds that it violates or abridges the rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution to all citizens. What Article 370 is doing is enabling the state constitution to thumb its nose at the Supreme Court and at Parliament, and above all at the Indian Constitution. It is in effect saying that the denial of the fundamental rights of the Indian Constitution to that section of Indian citizens in J&K who are not “Permanent Residents” is not justiciable and cannot be enforced.

Sardar Patel saw only the Dr. Jekyll side of Article 370. He either did not see or remained silent about Mr. Hyde. Article 370 derives its evil nature from the state constitution. There is no point in demanding abrogation of Article 370 without demanding that the J&K state constitution be rendered null and void too. Article 370 is only the symptom. The malaise is the state constitution which is completely out of line and not in tune with the basic spirit or structure of the Indian Constitution.

It was criminal culpability on the part of our leaders that they did not stipulate any conditions for the state constitution, had no say in the terms of reference of the state constituent assembly and did not insist on representatives as observers of the proceedings in the state constituent assembly to ensure that the state constitution was in line with the basic structure of the national constitution. Article 370 thus is the root cause of some of the more acute problems in J&K. The root-cause entrenched by Article 35A pointing in the direction of the J&K state constitution.

Article 35A tells us by inference that persons categorised as non-permanent residents of J&K cannot buy immovable property in J&K, are not eligible for employment by the state government, cannot contest or vote in local body or Assembly elections, cannot avail of scholarships and other grants offered by the state government to its state subject residents and above all cannot seek redress in any court, local or national. This then is the reason why there is little or no economic or industrial development in the state. No businessman or industrialist from the rest of India will ever invest a rupee in a state which will not allow him to own property there.

J&K is wholly dependent on Government of India funds not only to meet Plan expenditure but also non-Plan expenditure. Any investment in industry or economic development comes solely from the GOI. Whatever little indigenous trade or industry existed in the state by way of its orchards, carpets and tourism, have been almost destroyed by terrorism and continuing self-pity and apathy. Considering that the state has neither the financial nor natural resources to exist independently of the rest of India, it is greater integration with India that is called for and not greater autonomy. And this can be effected, some thinkers believe, only by abrogating Article 370. But that leaves the question of the mechanism by which to integrate the state constitution with the Indian constitution if you abrogate Article 370 but allow the J&K state constitution to remain?

Is it possible to abrogate Article 370

1. The first and most obvious course of action would be that which is contained in Article 370 itself: The President of India, by a public notification can declare that the Article ceases to be operative. But here is the catch—the President can issue such a notification only upon the recommendation of the state constituent assembly. But the state constituent assembly has been dissolved and no longer exists. The question then is: can the President issue this notification unilaterally considering that it is not possible to procure the recommendation of a non-existent body? Or should we understand that because the state constituent assembly has been dissolved, the President can never ever issue such a notification? It is a crying shame that as a nation, we have still not worked through the nuances of Article 370.

2. The second option rests on the assumption that the rights and responsibilities of the state constituent assembly have been handed over to the state legislature. In which case, the state legislature can issue the recommendation to the President asking him to issue the notification which will render Article 370 inoperative. But considering that the National Conference has given the Muslim majority valley 46 assembly seats against the 41 allotted to Jammu and Ladakh together, no state legislature dominated by the Muslims of the valley will ever seek to abrogate Article 370 under whose dispensation they are the most privileged category of the residents of J&K.

3. The third option would be to take recourse to Article 368 of the Indian Constitution which empowers Parliament to amend the Constitution and also lays down the procedure to be adopted. One would think that Article 368 empowers Parliament to adopt the procedure laid down in Article 368 and amend the Constitution by abrogating Article 370. But Article 370 itself has enabled through the Constitution (Application to J&K) Order, an amendment of the Constitution in such a way that Article 368 applies to J&K only in a modified manner. Clause (2) of Article 368 says that after the Bill for amending the Constitution is tabled in either house of the Parliament and after it has been passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament, the President may give his assent to the Bill seeking amendment to the constitution. But, and here is the catch again, the President’s Order on the applicability of the Indian Constitution to J&K says that as far as J&K is concerned, the President may issue such an assent only as per clause (1) of Article 370 itself which means that the President can issue amendments to the Indian Constitution through his Constitution (Application to J&K) Order, only in consultation with or with the concurrence of the state government. Back to square one. Even Article 368 takes tortuous twists and turns and comes back to Article 370 again.

4. But the cutest trick lies in the amendment effected to Article 249. Article 249 declares that Parliament is empowered to legislate “in the national interest” even on matters enumerated in the state list. Article 370 has made this Article applicable to J&K with the modification that instead of “state list” the clause should read that Parliament, in the national interest may legislate on that matter “which is not enumerated in the Union List or in the Concurrent List”. Very clever, this. Who will read the fine print of Appendix II to understand the “puppy chasing its tail” futility of trying to get rid of Article 370 through the constitutional route? “Any matter not enumerated in the Union List or Concurrent List” indeed! As far as these two lists go, the final position has been stated and adopted by the Restatement of the Constitution (Application to J&K) Orders up until 1994. The only list that remains is the State List and the State List does not apply to J&K at all because unlike the other states in the Indian Union, the residuary powers with regard to J&K lie not with the Center but with the state, rendering the State List meaningless. So how can Parliament legislate with regard to any matter in the national interest as far as J&K goes, if it should not find place in the Union List or the Concurrent List? What other list is there, pray?

Trying to get rid of Article 370 taking the constitutional path is futile and unproductive. We have created and fattened the grossest aberration whereby the miniscule part is larger than the whole. Article 370 is larger than the Constitution because there seems to be nothing in the Indian Constitution into which Article 370 can be subsumed or by which it can be made to go away. We also have the grossest aberration in that the interest of one state outweighs the collective national interest. Our legal and constitutional experts have not even begun to apply their minds on how to get rid of Article 370. If actions have consequences, inaction too has consequences; sometimes worse. – Vigil Online, 4 August 2016

» Radha Rajan is a political analyst and animal rights activist in Chennai.

Kashmir Political Leaders 2014

Kashmiris Vote 2014

 See also

Letter to Kashmiri Youth: Even if you don’t like India, your best bet is to join India – Chetan Bhagat

Stone-throwing youth in Srinagar July 2016

Chetan BhagatThough Chetan Bhagat wrote this letter to the Kashmiri youth in April, it is as relevant today as it was then—perhaps even more so. — Editor

Dear Kashmiri Friends (the ones who don’t like India),

I write in this open forum because something terrible is happening in the Kashmir Valley. The recent events at NIT Srinagar only brought the situation to national attention. Some students burst crackers when India lost the T20 semi-final. Many students were beaten for raising the Indian flag. Thereafter, bloody clashes have broken out in north Kashmir.

I understand that there is little pro-India sentiment amongst locals in the Kashmir Valley. Many would rather the Valley be on its own, some wouldn’t even mind being with Pakistan. I will not judge you. Despite being a patriotic Indian, I won’t hold it against you if you hate India. You must and do have your reasons for it.

However, allow me to present another point of view. Allow me to tell you how your future will be best, on a practical basis, if the Kashmir Valley integrates and assimilates with India. This is not an emotional, political or historical argument. It is simply more rational for people in the Kashmir Valley who seek a better future to do it with India.

Sure, the experts will jump on me now. Experts who have made the Kashmir problem their fiefdom. However, if the problem were indeed solved, how will these people stay relevant? Hence, they always attack any solution with their elitist ‘this is too complicated an issue’ stance. They love complicated. It gives them another conference to attend. You suffer with complicated, as the problem never gets solved.

The issue is complicated for sure. For those who don’t know the Kashmir issue, here it is in a nutshell. India became independent. Princely states were assimilated. Jammu & Kashmir didn’t accede. Pakistan attacked Kashmir, took half of it (and still controls it). Kashmir’s ruler called India for help. In return for help J&K became part of India, but with riders.

J&K would have its own constitution, have more political independence than other states, while the Centre would handle defence, foreign affairs and communications. In theory, it was a good solution, a sort of one country, two systems approach. In reality, it never worked.

Instead of two parents as planned, J&K became nobody’s child and an orphan. Pakistan took advantage and used the common factor of Islam to start a militant movement. The Indian army tried to control it. However, it is difficult to control terrorism that co-exists with a civilian population (case in point: even the world’s superpowers appear unable to control Islamic State).

Hence the Indian army, and India, only got a bad name in the Valley. Thus the ‘we hate India’ slogans and perennially unsolved Kashmir problem.

The question is, what is a Kashmiri youth to do now? First, it is important for everyone, not just Kashmiris, to understand the area and people involved. The J&K map we see in Indian textbooks is far from what exists on the ground. Half of what we see in the map is taken over by Pakistan and China. Even though India may claim it, unless we are okay with heavy civilian casualties (which we are not), we will never get it.

Hence, let’s just focus on the half under Indian control, which can be divided into three areas: Ladakh, Jammu and the Valley. Most of the trouble is in the Kashmir Valley. This is only around 7% of the area Indians see on the J&K map and approximates the size of Manipur. In terms of people it is 7 million, roughly the population of Chennai.

The terrain is rugged and the area is completely landlocked. Even if we were to indulge the argument that India is a terrible country and so Kashmir Valley should be on its own, can you really build a sustainable country out of it? It will be a tiny stub in a troubled area, abused by both India and Pakistan. With no real economy and extreme dependence on its giant neighbours, it risks becoming a cesspool of terrorism, drugs and smuggling.

There is also a risk of its being taken over by fundamentalist Islamic forces. It is unlikely anybody from outside would invest money in such a dangerous place. There would be no jobs and no safety. Would you want to live there? Ditto if it joins Pakistan. India is seen as a major emerging market economy. Pakistan is not even seen as a real economy.

Another issue is women’s rights. Half of the Valley’s people are women. Given the hold of fundamentalist Islam, their rights would be curbed under both the independence and Pakistan options. This half of the population would be better off with India. Or do what women want not matter?

If you are Kashmiri and care for Kashmir, the best thing you can do is to integrate with India. Your population size is small, only 7 million. It is not unthinkable to unite them and create a group of people that talks real business with the Indian government. Your local politician won’t talk assimilation, as he or she would rather hold more power than a typical state government in India. However, for you, the youth, the best bet is to make the Valley truly part of India.

The rest of India should not ask for the removal of Article 370. The 7 million people in the Valley should. Kashmiri Pandits who were made to leave the Valley need to be brought back. Terrorism is no solution, nor revenge and retribution for Indian atrocities. Terrorism is only going to harm people in the Valley most.

So, it is youth in the Valley who have to now start a movement to really solve this problem. Get rid of Article 370. It is not empowering Kashmir. It is only empowering your local politicians, who frankly can do nothing for you without Indian integration.

Don’t blame the Indian army. It has the tough job of weeding out terrorists from a civilian population which is almost impossible without collateral damage, terrible as that might be. However, blame those truly responsible, the Pakistani army, the local leaders who exploited the situation and the experts who did nothing for you.

Don’t burst crackers when India loses. Don’t feel good when India fails.

Because if India fails, you will fail too.

Jai Hind. Jai Kashmir. – Times of India, 16 April 2016

» Chetan Bhagat is a best-selling author and popular newspaper columnist.

Stone throwers in Srinagar July 2016

Young Kashmiri Muslim protesters throw stones at Indian policemen during clashes in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 11 July 2016. Clashes between civilians and police in India's northern region of Kashmir has spiked to at least 16 in the third day of violent unrest that has engulfed the Valley since the funeral of famed separatist militant Burhan Muzaffar Wani on 09 July. A curfew remains in place in many parts of the city, forbidding people from leaving their houses at any point during the day.