If the ruling party of any country represents the will of the majority then the majority of India is interested in doing away with article 35A. And the current ruling party has made no bones about the fact that 35A is an eyesore for them. The sooner it is dispatched to the gallows the better for the nation.
Various reasons have been given for its removal from the constitution of India. The main reason is the desire for a kind of integration unmatched in its attempt by previous regimes in Delhi. An integration that was forestalled by Nehru & Co way back when, according to them, it was easier to do so. The idea that its removal is for the benefit of the natives of Kashmir is a smokescreen. There can be no greater benefit for the natives than demilitarising the whole region. However, demilitarisation has not anything to do with integration, as it is antipodal to the latter, hence it is better not to moot anything related to the brave uniform.
J&K and 35A
To most of the majority Muslims of the state it is a surprise that Jammu is showing an inclination towards winding up the article. This is surprising because if any population can get influenced by its removal it is the one living across the Pir Panchal. Since 1947 the migration trend has been from out of Kashmir towards other regions of the state and not vice versa.
A big chunk of the population i.e. the Kashmiri Hindus migrated outside the valley as well as from the state after the onset of the armed insurgency. The situation of uncertainty with the threat of violence looming large is unlikely to change in the near future unless some dramatic solution is put forward for Kashmir; which is improbable given the upsurge of right wing in India. But the Jammu inclination is understandable due to the fantasy of Moditva which is blurring the reality. The right wing wave of Moditva is holding out millennial expectation of some kind of an everlasting deliverance. And the gullible have fallen for it.
J&K has been proposed by willing Indian nationalists as a mini India. Where the diversity may not match the national level yet it is of the same kind if not the same degree. What does it mean then if this mini-India is sought to be gobbled up under the garb of empowering the women of J and K and integrating India? The intention is clear. It is to convert the so-called and conveniently described mini-India into the current major-India. To refashion J&K as Modi-fied India. One in which the majority will ride large over the minority by first, and gradually, convert the native majority into minority. It is not far-fetched but a calculated long term objective. That is the private running conversation inside the RSS-dom. The ongoing grudge is that Nehru failed to do what they plan to do, cutting to size a secessionist majority by opening the gates of the fellow co-religious compatriots into the state. By giving them a special status, the allegation goes, a separatist tendency was nurtured. Had this and the other article not been there, Hindus will not have migrated, and the tricolor would have been fluttering from each house top in Kashmir. So in this entire backdrop why does it appear that the spirit of Jinnah is smiling?
Because he seems to feel vindicated. His Pakistan desire came in the background of his understanding that majoritarian’s are on the rise, and will soon muffle the voice of the minority. Today we are witnessing a re-run of the polarised politics. This majoritarian wave, encouraged from the highest circles of power, has captured the imagination of a good chunk of population in the state, and threatens to do away with an article which provided a sense of empowerment, even if tokenisticly for the meat has already been stripped off the special provisions, to the state. It seems that the afterlife of Jinnah carries a recurring “I told you so” echo which is ringing in the minds of the people who feel an everyday outrage at the sight of things but are helpless to do anything.
When people here demand autonomy the concern in Delhi is that it would open a Pandora’s box. Now when 35 A is sought to be removed no one is saying that it will open a Pandora’s box because there are other states of India which have a similar provision regarding purchase of land and property. That is again obvious. Because the target is a certain population group which has never ceased to forget the special conditions in which accession took place and the conditions which were tied to the accession. That is the thorn in the side of the RSS-dom. And the pointed edge of that thorn is 35A.
Granted 35 A is removed, what will happen next? Earlier to help integrate the people better, economic packages were thrown over the mountains into J&K; money was used to buy loyalty. That has failed. The proof is the attempt to do away with 35A.
Now the reverse of the earlier process is tried to win Kashmir for India. To buy the population over with coercion. The latter attempt is sure to reap some benefits. It ignores the fact that compulsive legalistic and economic integrations are fleeting, misguided and counterproductive. It might satiate the right wing, win them some more votes but the ground reality is bound to remain as it is. The reason is simple, integrations of the heart survive and weather the storms of time better and longer than unions born of arm-twisting and coercive mechanisms.
The writer is a columnist, author, and lecturer at the University of Kashmir, Srinagar. He can be reached at email@example.com
Published in Daily Times, September 13th 2017.