Autonomy—A way forward

By Rauf Ahmad
Kashmir is again on boil. History of Kashmir is a saga of pain and betrayal. Throughout the annals of history the Vale witnessed the uprising against the tyranny of Imperialists. The struggle with full force is still going on patently. The upsurge in 1931 against the Dogra Raj headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah (SMA) was the voice of millions of Kashmiris who were throttled by the measures of oppression and suppression by the despotic rulers at different point in time. The S.M. Abdullah was up in arms against the Dogra Raj and the pundits of Kashmir were working in close association of their leader to dethrone autocratic regime. The ambivalent feelings of Raja Jawar Maharaja Dhiraj, Maharaja Hari Singh drifted the Kashmir issue away from the area  of imminent  resolution. Maharaja Could not give mind to Lord Mountbaton about future of Jammu and Kashmir when the latter visited valley to ascertain the decision of merger either with Pakistan or India, before the independence of India and Pakistan was finalized.  To him joining India would mean to work under S M Abdullah as having close proximity with Nehru. Even Maharaja took no heed to the advice of Gandhi or Mountabtten and allowed the sands of time to run out . Hari Singh knew mood of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru when, after his arrest at Kohala in June 1946, he said “Highnesses and Excellencies do not count in the new conditions of India and the mood of people”. Besides, joining theocratic Pakistant was out of question for Hindu Raja. However, sensing the mood of Nehru and conceiving his future status, the Maharajas preference was for independence. He was obsessed with the idea of creating his independent state as “ Switzerland of East”. Taking a step further in this direction, the Maharaja entered into the standstill agreement with both India and Pakistan, the latter agreed but the former rejected the idea with an aim to the full accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir State.
The indecisiveness of Maharaja about the accession brought the Kashmir under the tribal attack from Pakistan side. One of the reasons of the attack was that the Muslims in the valley were facing atrocities under the Hindu Raj. In hurriedness without looking into pros and cons the Maharaja acceded with India on 26th of October, 1947, in respect of three areas alone – defence, foreign affairs and communication. On the next day viz 27th of October, 1947 the Indian army landed in the valley. On the same day Mountabaton wrote a letter to Maharaja that “ as soon as law and order has been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invaders, question of State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people”. Lord Mountbaton accepted the accession on October 27 1947 and made it conditional on the aspiration of Kashmir’s to be ascertained through referendum. In actual practice Jammu and Kashmir remained an independent State from August 15,1947 to October 26,1947 till Indian forces landed in Jammu and Kashmir State on 27th October. The mastery over oration, Muhammad Zafrullah Khan failed the strategy of India, who on insistence of Mountbatten pleaded to get Pakistan declared as an aggressor. The focus shifted to plebiscite instead of aggression and the security council changed the title of “the  Jammu and Kashmir question”  to “the Indo-pakistan question.”  There are cogent reasons that Mountbatton, because of deceitful tactics and empathy with Nehru, played a second fiddle to the Indian polices viz a viz Kashmir. The Government of India has itself invoked and submitted to the jurisdiction of UN and has accepted its role for resolution of the dispute.  The United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was appointed for implementation of the resolution of Security Council.
The special status within the Indian Union was given by the parliament by adoption of Article 370 on October,17,1949. The Renowned legal luminary and an authority on the Kashmir’s constitutional history  has aptly stated that the Article 370 makes six special provisions for the State, I) Its own constitution II) restricts parliament power to the three subjects III) President is empowered to extend to the state other provisions of constitution to provide a federal frame work with the prior approval of State Government IV) the same needs ratification from the states constituent Assembly. However, with the continuance of onslaught, the Article 370 has remained a hollow shell and rendered ineffective.  The prominent mainstream party “National Conference” who fought elections on restoration of autonomy on the assurance of Indian leadership, in the year 2001 moved a resolution for restoration of autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The resolution was passed by the majority in both the houses of the State legislature. To utter dismay of all mainstream political parties, the same report was virtually thrown into dust bin, even not sanctified, though for the sake of formality, by placing before the parliament. It was a cruel face of Indian democracy which publically admitted that like colonial rule in India, the Kashmir has been treated as a colony in Indian democracy and all the powers and rights of people are usurped.  It is claimed that India is a federal state where federating states are fully autonomous. But, while framing constitution powers have been centralized to such an extent that federalism has remained only on papers.
It cannot be denied that there has been a strong section of people in the State who right from 1931 were strongly advocating complete secession from India. The sequence of events spreading over the political landscape of the Jammu and Kashmir presents a very horrible picture of Indian pseudo- democracy. India’s loyal S M Abdullah’s arrest in 1953, Nehru-Abdullah Accord of 1952, and 1975 Accord, all proved well orchestrated game plan to kill and bury the deep aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmi. The crafty Manipulative art and maneuvering of Indian State was at the best. The betrayals after betrayals by the Indian state cemented the alienation among the masses in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The fallout of Plebisite movement and of Alfatah was the birth of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990. The rigging of elections in 1987 by Farooq Abdullah led National Conference reinforced the alienation among the people. The resistance groups believed that gun had achieved what passive movements for decades could not. By this they meant that Kashmir was being discussed international levels and drew media attention.
Kashmir was seen the nuclear flash point between the two neighboring countries. The wounds of brutal killings enmasse, Kananposhpora mass rape case, cold blooded murder of hundreds of youth at Gaw kadal, Karan Nagar and Bijbehara are still fresh in the memories of people. The draconian laws like AFSPA, Public safety Act, Disturbed Act were introduced to tackle the mass movement with these lethal weaponry providing constitutional cover by the  so called biggest democracy of India.
Misrule, erosion of Article 370 which gives special status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir and a promise of referendum which was put at the back burner became the contributory factors to mass uprising in the valley. To crush these sentiments virulent oppressive methods were enforced painting every Kashmiri a terrorist. Almost every day the mutilated faces, the bullet ridden bodies, the part of limbs of the common people scattered on streets could easily be found across the nook and corner of the State. This was an everyday affair. Freehand was given to so-called security forces to maintain writ of the Indian State in the valley at any cost. This bloody drama was played in the name of combating with terrorism.
The upsurge in 2008 and 2010 was purely indigenous movement left no scope for India to paint it with any sort of terror activities. Yes, Indian establishment lost no time in stating that it was supported by the Pakistan. The mass uprising this time was disciplined and effective, which was the biggest deterrent for state’s counter narratives. G.H.Jansen, at the early stages of the uprising had said, “two things are clear. The Kashmir’s of the valley enmasse want to have done with India and they have lost enmasse their fear of India’s security apparatus…… once the fear is lost it can never be re-imposed……..”
All the political and historical developments that took place in past have once again become the source for resentment against Indian State. The 2016 uprising is quite different in qualitative approach. The killing of Burhan Wani, a Hizb commander in south Kashmir has infused new life in the staggering freedom movement in Jammu and Kashmir. A poster boy, what the Government referred him, was a symbol of political resistance movement of the State.  His persona, attitude and an innocent look was a less of militant and more of a messiah for Valley people in whom a ray of hope was seen to bring out people from the clutches of atrocities and oppression of the Indian State. The high-tech militant was a household name and his updates on social media notably that of his photos had admirers across the globe. Losing him, Kashmir lost its spiritual leader who represented the very sentiments of the people across the spectrum. It was his charismatic personality which invoked the sleepy resentment bounce in action. The present day movements hold the long string of death and destruction right from 1947 in which hundreds and thousands of people were killed and millions of them are maimed and blinded. Kashmir is probably the only place in the world where the peaceful demonstrations are responded with bullets and pellets. People cannot mourn over the death of their countrymen. Even religious practices are banned. Eid prayers are not allowed and festivities are banned. Human rights violations have crossed all the limits of humanity.
Indian Government is totally misreading the situation. At some time in the past people of Kashmir were looked upon as passive, lacking acumen to take initiatives and prepared to put up with endless privation. But the storm broke, it swept everything aside.  Numerous political fire tenders were pressed on from New Delhi to douse the fire of freedom struggle. Rajnath, the Home Minister of India visited Kashmir to take stock of the situation. No Civil Society member, Traders organization or separatist leader met him during his visit to the valley. He went back empty handed. He brought 28 members of the Parliament as crises managers. They too failed.
Mehbooba Mufti, after the mantle of Chief Ministership passed on to her in legacy, after the death of her father, Mufti Mohammad Syed, seemingly holds the arm chair of the post firmly than to reach out the people. The autonomy of the post of Chief Minister has torn apart into pieces again when the matters related to internal security are looked after directly by the Home Affairs Department. Once considered covet post has reduced to mere symbolism. Apart from this ,till yesterday donning in green gown, attending funeral prayers of all those who were killed by Indian Security forces particularly in 2008 and 2010, Mehbooba Mufti lost the ground and spade work she did for nearly about two decades to obtain the confidence of common people, before reaching to this level .  After taking over the job ( post of Chief Minister) from her father the thorny crown began stings and uneasiness turtle down with speed just to throw her on the hot spot in catch 22 situation.
The brutal forces have killed about 80 civilians in Kashmir injuring over ten thousand among them and blinding dozens. The Prime Minister Modi remained mute spectator to this holocaust. No one reached out to poor victims of state oppression. Infact, this has not diminished the vigor of common people.
Gh. Nabi Azad, Former CM of Jammu and Kashmir and the leader of opposition, Congress in Rajya Sabha broke the silence and spoke on the mayhem going on in the valley. The exclusive debate on Kashmir uprising in the parliament unnerved the party in power. Many a leaders from different national parties took part in the debate voicing their concern over the growing political unrest and unending cycle of killings in Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore, the onus lies on Indian State.
However, the impressive speech of Dr. Karan Singh, was a censure of all the eyes. The words of the former regent, the first “Sadri-Riyasat” of the State was apt and in time. Dr. Karan Singh who is privy to almost every political development in the state, right from the beginning,  particularly that of instrument of accession , was brief but accurate at the historical facts with regard to Kashmir’s integration with Union of India. He truthfully admitted that the State never merged with India but it was an accession on some specific conditions viz foreign affairs, defense and communication.
His compact speech like roaring gun piercing through the wall of lies created over Kashmir narrative.  It was a slap on all those who ride upon the rhetoric that “Kashmir is an integral part of India”. His sagely advised the Indian nation that “India must bite the bullet”. The top leadership of the BJP which usually hinders speak etching their manifesto found it quite advisable to remain silent and even murmuring slipped away from the House intriguingly. The Machiavellian promises made in necessity and broken under necessity must have relooked through the prism of historical facts by shunning the communal ideology. The all party meeting convened by PM Modi did not bear any fruits and failed in breaking the ice. P.Chidambram, former Home Minister confessed that wrong policies have driven the valley to the edge. Not considering the report of interlocutors appointed in 2010 was a big mistake. To turn the blind eye towards the ground realities could not fetch anything except adding more leaves to the tragic episodes in the valley. Saner voices are taking the main stage in the present political set up of the country and the sooner the wisdom prevails upon the saffron brigade influenced by the communal forces like RSS shall be better. Otherwise the ache in head shall keep the whole body on tenterhooks without reaching anywhere.
Notwithstanding, the escalating hype created on Pakistan’s involvement in stoking the problem is perceived deliberate attempt to miscarriage the indigenous movement. The jingoistic and prejudice media is at the forefront, running the propaganda mill to malign the current uprising to suit their malicious plan. The tumultuous situation has caused ripple effect. This time, the diametrically peaceful areas have suddenly erupted into the flames after the killing of Commander Burhan Wani. The situation across the state has turned volatile and out of control. The mass upsurge with such a force has put the political pundits and policy makers on tenterhooks. The whole valley is burning. Now, the ferocious developments cutting the boundary lines of Srinagar capital has reached to the upper areas and countryside, mostly remained peaceful even in worst times of nineties, are smeared with hot blood of youth fertilizing the land of revolution extensively. All the algebraic policy rules swept away from rule books with a shocking push.  There are many tangible factors which failed the state machinery to maintain its writ, despite indulging into the gruesome incidents of oppression and suppression, in the past, to curb the rebellion voice. The continuance of unabated killing spree has brazenly exposed the Indian communal forces. This is the dark era of tyranny where the jackboots of power trampled over the basic rights of the people mercilessly with impunity.
On various occasions, in the past, Prime Ministers of Indian Union has promised for restoration of autonomy in its originality but their words were proved election planks only. Narsimha Rao, the then Prime Minister in 1995 had said that Union Government would be prepared to consider Autonomy” short of Azadi” for J&K.  Devi Gowda, another Prime Minster offered J&K “Maximum autonomy” in the CMP of the National front. Vajpayee in his unique style said that talks would be hold under “Insanyat, Jamooryat and Kashmiryat”.
The Kashmir dispute has internal and external dimensions. The Government of India under the spirit of Simla agreement should initiate comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan for resolution of long pending Kashmir dispute, as mutually greed, under the principals of charter of United Nations. Besides, the Kashmir Leadership should be involved in the constructive talks at the appropriate stage. Quelling the ongoing struggle under the jackboot of muscle power is a failed idea. The brazen irony is that New Delhi enjoys the pitiable situation in the  valley . Old fire fighting policy is not obviously working. It is always right time to do right things. The time is ripe now that the Indian Government return the degree of autonomy to the State it enjoyed when it first joined India, handing over only the subject of external affairs, defense and communication to Centre. This shall be the biggest confidence building measure and prove a building block for ushering in the lasting peace and tranquility in the trouble torn State of Jammu and Kashmir.

One Response to "Autonomy—A way forward"

  1. Rao   September 18, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    The problem in Kashmir is terrorism. This terrorism started from the very beginning of the creation of two nations India and Pakistan. Terrorism works on the principle of hatred. That is the reason why Maharaja chose to access Kashmir to India. Same terrorism exists with different nomenclatures in different regions in our neighborhood since last 70 years aided and abetted. Today it has become global. The solution in modern times is democracy and strong constitution. This is what all countries in the world want including communist countries and Dictatorial regimes.So strengthen the Democracy by bringing issues like unemployment education infrastructure and industrialization in constituent assembly so that the inequalities can be reduced and a balanced regional development can be achieved.. By doing malicious propaganda state is taken for ransom giving scope for terrorism to penetrate deep into society and thrive which is very dangerous.This will destroy civil society and break the community into pieces. This will alienate community from main stream. In the ensuing mindless violence all educated and progressive will be eliminated destroying the wisdom. Women and children suffer most. The society will be lawless and will be in perennial war. This leads to chaos and continuous unrest like in Afghanistan Iraq and Syria. A strong democratic nation like India, which faced all these challenges in last 500 years and emerged as a unified peaceful and progressive country, is what every one is looking at for developing their countries.

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