5th Aug, 2019 will go down into history books, like no other date. It has been a stunning series of OMG – Oh My God moments ever since. The more one thinks about what the Modi/Shah duo has accomplished on the withdrawal of ‘special status’ to J&K it has unparalleled dimensions. It has entered the legal, historical, emotional, political lexicon as epochal and an iconic moment that India was only dreaming, but never, ever imagined in her wildest dreams that it would happen in our lifetime. That it happened even while those who saw it all happen between 1947- 1954 (India’s Independence, enactment of Art.306-A (now 470) to Art.35A as a Presidential Notification), many, are alive today, is simply a stunner.
Words fail us in depicting what the Modi/Shah combine has performed. A miracle but real. As information is tumbling out, it has been in the works for long, at least 4-5 years. How they had it all wrapped in secrecy from a leaky State apparatus, conveys a lot about the strength they have infused into the Modi administration. Call it their refusal to share freely with the Media, refusal of Modi to steadfast avoid any Press Conferences, offering free passage to Media men and women used to it in previous regimes, whatever, it has all been worth it by a mile and more J&K territory.
Just follow the Pakistani print and electronic Media for reaction. They are shell shocked. Modi 2.0 has made mincemeat of the United Nation reference, Chacha Nehru so foolishly made, Terms for a possible plebiscite, Shimla Agreement, the whole works. Even the bilateral issue is now confined to whether Pakistan would have to return the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir- POK territory under their hegemony? In one fell swoop, Narendra Damordas Modi along with his second in command (by all accounts) has rendered all Pakistani opposition and response otiose.
Even in the specially called Pakistani Senate joint session, “selected Prime Minister” Imran Khan, as the opposition there taunts him, for being propped up by the military brass, without a majority, the resolution made no reference to Art.370 surgical strike. It was feeble, timid and revealed the bankruptcy in thought and confusion towards a calibrated response. While the Pakistani public, always emotional in their construct vis a vis Kashmiris, is even urging the Government to unleash a Jang- War- shocked with the turn of events and upset with the response from their administration.
Even New York Times, not always sympathetic to Modi’s India, reports that Pakistan today stands even more isolated. The Islamic countries have offered indifferent responses that it was an ‘internal matter of India’, and only insignificant Malaysia and Turkey have expressed solidarity. Pakistan is left to make the usual noises, aware that Kashmir issue is now lost forever. They are left with nothing. For, after the Khulbushan verdict from the International Court, Hague, this could not been timed worse.
There are intelligent and sane voices among Pakistanis, which have identified that the present impasse is of Pakistan’s own making. They have chosen to encourage the spread of terrorism and been host to ‘forty thousand’ of them, as Imran Khan admitted on his recent visit to Donald Trump’s America. Prime Minister and the Army top brass who got ‘direct audience with Trump, a never before opportunity’ were celebrating the occasion when Trump ‘offered to mediate on Kashmir’. Now, locals are blaming Imran Khan and his military backers for ‘blowing the trumpet and waking up the ‘Indian Elephant’.
The reaction from Pakistan is clear proof that Modi is on the right path. It is not time to be jingoistic. It is time for care and action. Rest of India, except for Kashmir valley, has wholeheartedly welcomed the move. The cleavage on the ranks of our opposition vindicates it. Only now the rest of us, are slowly realising what all have been going on in Kashmir, what it means to us culturally, nationalistically and what a regime, Art.35A deviously ticked into the Constitution as an Annexure our Appendix, has perpetrated on us Indians. We have been rudely exposed to the principled opposition from Babasaheb Ambedkar, father of our Constitution, in refusing to agree for ‘special status’ and staging a walk out when Art.306A (370) was passed in the Constituent Assembly thanks to the regretful magnanimity of Sardar Patel to yield to Jawaharlal stupidity to yield to Sheikh Abdullah.
The non application of reservation law in educational and employment avenues, inability of other Indians to buy properties in Kashmir, loss right to property to Kashmiri girls marrying outsiders, those marrying Pakistani citizens having a better right than those marrying Indians, the writ of Union of India and Supreme Court not always running in J&K, and do much more. One by one, the revelations reveal what ignoramuses we have all been lulled into for 7 decades. Most importantly, it is now being exposed that Kashmir itself has gained nothing from the ‘special status’ except as ‘employment opportunities to a couple of families’ as the Ladakh Lok Sabha MP Tsering Namgyal felicitously put it.
It is all very well to celebrate the occasion. Yes, Modi/Shah have performed a constitutional coup of the benevolent kind. India has stood up to the Pakistani bullies and called their bluff. But, let us be clear. Pakistanis will not take it lying down. They are unlikely to pivot to propriety or proper ways. Their anger may propel them to indulge in their only known game. Of training more terrorists and export them and/or support the misguided or willing Kashmiri youth. Peace may be reigning now. But it is admittedly artificial, as Kashmir is under lockdown. When the curfew is lifted and normalcy is set to return would it be a return to the normality of stone pelting and taking on the security Forces.
India should not and cannot afford to lower its guard. Equally, it may be time to show our generosity to the Kashmiri brothers and sisters. We ought not to needle them in their present emotional state, and allow Pakistan to play with it. Our patience will be tested. We need to be stern but not overly so. A strict regime must be tempered with mercy and compassion, as the silent majority is tired and disgusted with the continuing violence and disturbed state. They may be angling to get into the daily routine of the mundane. The tense environment must be failing the common citizen in Kashmir.
It may just be the time for Indian State to tap into it. Yes, it would be tough. Emotions are running high and Pakistani media access and cable networks, may ride on the emotions of the Kashmiri youth. It is sensitive times. Our Security faces have seen it all in Kashmir. This is different. They now know they are dealing with a ‘law and order’ problem, like in any other State or Union Territory of India. They are not under a ‘special status’ regime which constrained them to fight with their hands tied to the back.
Modi 2.0 can rest assured that India is with it. India is ready to move. We are ready to flood Kashmir with our love. We are willing to visit Kashmir and to add to the tourist coffers. Our businessmen and industrialists and Bollywood and Kollywood, ought to make bold, to tap into Kashmir, to provide the local youth employment and necessary distraction they may be actually longing for. It is the frustratingly unemployed ways that was swaying the idle minds with poisonous propaganda wars from across the border. India is willing, ready and loving to move. Indian government must be willing to.
Let us pray god almighty or Allah the Supreme to give our Kashmiri brethren, the mindset and strength of character to see that what had happened is all for the good as Kashmir has seamlessly integrated with India as One Nation, One Flag . Let us tire Pakistan with our co operative ways and bonhomie and camaraderie. Time for us to realise our responsibilities and let the Kashmiris see that we are all with them, now under the same Constitution of India, as one, beginning with Eid, on 12th Aug, 2019- We The People.
(Author is practising Advocate in the Madras High Court)