Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Kashmir’s unsettled business - Don't tinker with the constitution

This post is in response to editorial "Kashmir’s unsettled business" that appeared in The Hindu of March 14, 2013. I do not agree with the conclusion of the editorial that solution to violence in Kashmir lies with what the editor has called implementing "sensible measures" in the interlocutors' report. The measures from interlocutors' report mentioned in the editorial are in my view not sensible at all. The interlocutors were sent to build bridges with population of J&K and what they are suggesting is raising even higher walls between the J&K and rest of India. One gentleman amongst them was recently quoted in Kashmiri media saying that "Kashmiris hate India like rats hate cats". The inherent contradictions in that statement not withstanding, it reflects a keenness for dramatics rather than responsibility. Such irresponsible people have come up with the most irresponsible suggestion of making article 370 permanent rather than leave it as temporary as it exists currently.

How can economic growth in J&K happen without more economic interaction with other parts of India? Would any of our larger metro cities be the engine of economic growth for us had they disallowed migration from other parts of India? The constitution of India sustains the "Idea of India". There is no peace and prosperity possible in India without this idea of India which thrives on tolerance for the other and interaction through mingling of diverse population of India is essential for experiencing the Idea of India. The root cause of alienation among the youth of J&K is that they have not experienced the meaning of what it is to be an Indian. Unfortunately the constitutional provisions given to J&K and the retrograde state subject laws are responsible for the degeneration of the politics of J&K to a communal and identity based politics. Let there be no doubt in the mind of anybody that the movement for separation in J&K among the separatist is not a movement for freedom it is a communal movement for separation and the minority population of Kashmir were the first victims of this movement. The nation within a nation concept is responsible for this movement to have gathered momentum as it did in '89 and allowed Pakistan to exploit the weakness exposed to them. 

There is good reason why article 370 was agreed to after great disagreement only as a temporary provision by the founders of our Nation. It was expected to only lead to greater integration in course of time unfortunately the integration process was not pursued vigorously and the State degenerated towards greater communal politics and regionalism. The root cause of the violence in J&K is the existence of machinery in Pakistan to wage a proxy war against India and that is the cause of disturbance in J&K ever since JKLF came into existence. We have been shying away from this root cause and have no strategic vision on how to coerce Pakistan to stop this activity. If insurgency in J&K and the destabilization that has occurred there has to be cured then the source of the arms supply and the source of training and motivation for insurgents should be neutralized first. Separatists can only be marginalized when violence and the international support including that from western countries which they get comes to an end. They cannot be marginalized with any kind of appeasement in the form of greater autonomy to the state. They have never asked for it for settlement and that will only lead to legitimizing their cause. It would be seen as step closer to eventual separation. There is no reason why Indians should start doubting our founding principle of tolerance and unity in diversity which are the basis of the Idea of India. There is everything in the constitution which guarantees equality before law and government to every citizens and nothing in the constitution that tramples on the instinct of self preservation of any individual, family or community. Political autonomy of the kind that was given in article 370 is a slow poison that has caused great stress to our integrity and political unity. There is no "sensible measure" in consuming arsenic in a panic reaction out of an unfounded fear that the only alternative is consumption of cyanide.

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