The rise of Hindu right wing forces in India, which began much earlier than Narendra Modi’s ascendance to premiership in 2014, has rankled Kashmir like at no other time in the past. It manifested in a very tangible manner following the last state elections that brought the BJP to share power in J&K for the first time. Thanks to the PDP that saw merit only in aligning with the Hindu nationalists whose political objectives in the land of disputed sovereignty go diametrically opposite to those ostensibly professed by the ‘Kashmiri’ party earlier. This has meant the PDP appears to have been reduced to responding in meek denials to the constant aggressive buzz the BJP keeps churning all the time.
The current round of aggression started as soon as the PDP aligned with BJP to form the government led by the late Mufti Sayeed last year. First it was about a campaign for removing Article 370 from the Indian constitution. Sayeed spent the best part of the ten months of his chief ministership to fend its immediate effects away. But the buzz has had its own life as a part of the ongoing aggression by the BJP. Then, as soon as Mehbooba Mufti took over, the idea of building sainik colonies for Indian soldiers started moving in government files. The government has since denied that any land was being identified, or the idea was being entertained, but again the effort has entered governmental records. The same with ‘exclusive settlements’ for the return of Kashmiri Pandits. The state’s new industrial policy, drafted during the short span of time when the PDP was playing tricksters before repeating its alliance with the BJP, may have already laid foundations for granting land use rights to Indian industrialists in Kashmir. NEET was another blow that was actually served had it not been for an ordinance to allow private colleges or states time to match up.
More than anything else the last two years in general, and post 2014 state elections in particular, have meant a certain intensifying aggression on Kashmir’s political identity – a constant hammering to drive home the point that military consolidation was not New Delhi’s final objective in Kashmir. It is rather to use the gains of military control to institutionalise hegemony over the people of disputed sovereignty. The battle lines were perhaps never clearer. The ruling classes across political parties and the resistance forces, separately as well as together, have no middle ground anymore to dabble in. It can be an opportunity to change the condition for good, or it is the beginning of the end for any such possibility.