SRINAGAR October 5: The admission of Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik that “India has made mistakes, and its mistakes have, in the process, alienated itself” from the people of the Valley, is appreciable.
However, contrary to this, the present dispensation in New Delhi led by BJP continue to refuse to draw lessons from the previous mistakes, but has compounded the problem in the last more than four years and thereby deepened the alienation and mistrust among the people further. There was not only need to take lessons from the previous mistakes and ensure those are not repeated, but to take corrective measures. The fact is no lessons have been learnt and instead the arrogance and reluctance from those at the helm of affairs has made the situation more complex? Of course there is need for deep introspection and bold initiatives. But the record of the present regime in Delhi is not only disappointing, it has also added fuel to the fire because of its erroneous policies vis-à-vis Kashmir.
The first step for making its intent clear, New Delhi must approach the Kashmir crisis as a political issue instead of treating it as security problem. But when the present regime’s policies towards Kashmir are examined, the BJP which is heading the government in New Delhi doesn’t even recognize the need for retaining Article 370 and Article 35A in the Constitution. Isn’t it a reality that extensive autonomy guaranteed by the constituent assembly of India to J&K under Article 370, has been sufficiently eroded and made hollow? The extent of the misuse of Article 370 itself to encroach on the State’s powers can be seen from one of the measures taken in July 1986. The President of India made an order under Article 370 extending to the state Article 249 of the Constitution in order to empower Parliament to legislate on a matter in the state list on the strength of a Rajya Sabha resolution. This sort of overriding the state’s list can’t be done with regard to other states.
For the BJP, Kashmir is expendable, for its larger design of mobilizing sentiments around the country for vote bank politics. The BJP must realize that the complex nature of Jammu and Kashmir issue can’t be solved through the narrow sectarian agenda. People in Kashmir don’t have much faith in the prospects of a political dialogue starting towards finding a political settlement. This is because the situation in Kashmir has steadily deteriorated since the Modi Government assumed office in 2014. The adoption of a hardline security stance and the use of coercive instruments of the state to suppress protests have only given a spurt to militancy which has now been energized by the influx of a number of local youth.
The history of Kashmir is a history of the denial of democracy. It is a history of broken promises and commitments and the inability of ruling parties in Delhi to recognize that J&K has a special status in the Indian Union given its history at the time of Independence and partition.
Despite opposition from major political parties, the Government imposed Urban Local Bodies (ULB) and Panchayat polls at a time when situation was not conducive. The political parties of the state had raised some concerns, including the linking of the polls to the plea in the Supreme Court on Article 35A by both the Central and State governments.
The ongoing ULB electoral process in the state, particularly in the Valley can be an eye opener. There can be no two opinions regarding devolution of powers to the grass-root level and building of institutions for better governance. But participation of the people is the pre-requisite for this process to be meaningful, which is not being witnessed as of now. Ignoring -non-participation of people and political parties in this process will have serious implications for the future of democratic process in the state.
If to address the anger of younger generation is any priority for the present administration, it must give a clear cut direction to the law enforcing agencies to desist from using excessive force. Indiscriminate arrests, registering cases and slapping PSAs is contrary to what is being said by the Governor.