India is probably the only country in the world where a nationalist party has been promising its people to abrogate an Article of the nation’s Constitution, that is, Article 370, because it is “anti-national,” in the sense that it has hampered the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir and bred a sense of separatedness among its people. Rallying people against their own Constitution is a unique fascist characteristic, but at the same time, over the decades, Article 370 and the demand for its abrogation has become a part of the propaganda against Kashmiri Muslims. The general Hindu masses in India do not see the Article in isolation. They identify it with the Muslims of Kashmir, adding negative features, like what is being termed as its “anti-Hinduness.”
The recent positioning of some Kashmiri Pandit organisations has accentuated the virulent anti-Muslim character of the attack as several such groups are strongly pro-RSS and subscribe to its ‘integrationist’ ideology. This is not surprising. The venom against Kashmir Muslims, and for that matter, against all Muslims, is embedded in the political and ideological genes of the RSS and the BJP. In 1951, when Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee resigned from the Nehru- led Congress cabinet, he launched the Jana Sangh with the blessings of RSS – Kashmir and its integration being the issue with which to whip up emotions. The Praja Parishad agitation across the whole of North India, with Jammu at its hub, was a product of the Jana Sangh. Finally, Dr Mookerjee was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir, and died of heart attack at a Cheshma Shahi Bungalow in June 1953.
The BJP, the political heir of the Jana Sangh, is given to think that Dr. Mookerjee sacrificed his life for the abrogation of Article 370 and Kashmir’s “full integration.” Which means that Kashmiri Muslims should be denied natural and legal rights to live in Kashmir because people from all over India should settle and own properties and land in the Valley so that its inhabitants are turned into an alien minority in their own home. They should be swamped by people from outside Kashmir.
The BJP’s manifesto for the coming elections promises abrogation of Article 370, equal and rapid development of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, return of Kashmiri Pandits with dignity and honour, good governance, addressing the issues of refugees from Pakistan and dealing with insurgency with an iron hand, etc. The BJP cannot be blamed on some counts, because successive state governments, the NC-Congress combine in particular, have never put actual facts before the Indian public.
People in India generally have a frozen view of the situation, as if, for example, nothing had been done for the Pandits, Ladakh, and against insurgency. The RSS- backed BJP too is not interested in facts because that could dilute its anti-Muslim agenda. They are out to build a state on communal and fascist lines. They are not interested in the fact that Article 370 and the constitutional guarantees associated with it are already history. That it has been reduced to nothing, and only serves as a propaganda tool against Kashmiri Muslims. Successive Congress governments have dealt a death blow to the Article.
The emasculated Article hardly needs votaries like Farooq Abdullah to defend it. It is now a code name for propaganda against Kashmiri Muslims, and Farooq Abdullah has been in the vanguard of this project everywhere, including international fora. What Modi dreams of doing, the National Conference has already accomplished. Having been in power for decades, all it has done is destroy all vestiges of Kashmir’s selfhood.
Be it the massive militarization of land, the resulting dispossession of its inhabitants, handing over the state’s water resources and power projects, instituting a state-within-a-state in the form of shrine boards, or enacting land transfers, those who today vow to defend the Article have done it all. What is left there for the BJP and the RSS to do? Except use the false cries of these fake defenders to intensify action against Kashmir’s Muslims.