The Abrogation of Article 370 has been an article of faith for BJP and it’s predecessor Jan Sangh since 1950’s. So, Modi government abrogating the article shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Each of BJP’s election year manifesto clearly articulated party’s stance regarding this abominable article that essentially singled out non-Muslims from Muslims and made non-Muslims from Jammu and Ladakh to pay for terrorism espoused in Kashmir valley.
However, Modi government’s methodical, surgical and efficient approach of ridding country of Article 370 caught not just opposition but also the supporters (and Bhakts!) of Modi government by surprise. Obviously, the supporters rejoiced and marveled at the execution while opposition chafed. The work and planning that went behind the scene is still largely unknown and hopefully we will find out more as the years go by but apart from fulfilling the manifesto promise, one very critical change Modi govt. managed to do to is calling bluff of borderline anti-India and self-serving establishment in Kashmir and New Delhi. This establishment that included Congress party, their stooges across multiple of NGOs and in Media, the JKLF and Hurriyats and of course, the ruling elites of Kashmir – the Abdullha’s and Muftis’. One of the most potent tools they used towards safeguarding their interests and goal was Article 370.
The election manifesto and the promises made in that document are generally taken by pinch of salt. Even for the party that attempts hardest to deliver the promise and the party for which Article 370 was an article of faith, the conversation among its staunch supporters regarding Article 370 was largely a resigned acceptance that this cannot be done. The reason being Indian psyche has been brainwashed for last 70 years that Muslims need special treatment forever (They don’t!), that Muslims across India are same entity (they are not!) and any change to the status quo in Kashmir will unleash the violence not only in Kashmir but across India as Muslims across India will come on the streets with vengeance and anger.
Suffice to say, they didn’t, and I am positive, they won’t. The successive Congress governments fed general public the idea that Kashmir is indeed a separate entity that needs special attention. That, Kashmiris have done us a favor by joining India in 1947. It is the responsibility of whole of India to work tirelessly to gain trust of 7 million people of the Kashmir valley. Things started taking ugly turn post start of Pakistan backed Islamic militancy in Kashmir. Now, instead of identifying militancy as potent mix of religious fundamentalism backed by foreign money and power, the establishment started feeding the narrative that it is India that is at fault.
The local militancy erupted because India did not fulfil its promise and that India failed to garner enough trust of Kashmiris. The propaganda was executed at all levels. From universities like JNU to the media rooms of NDTV. The so-called elite newspapers like The Hindu parroted the same line and the so-called Kashmiri experts in foreign universities published their ‘scholarly’ papers along the same lines. Goebbles would be impressed at this well oiled Pro-Islamic Kashmir and anti-India propaganda machinery. The narrative was so encompassing that I am sure majority of people believed this utter non-sense.
No one dared to ask that why is it rest of India’s responsibility to babysit Kashmiris? Why Jammu and Ladakh is clubbed with Kashmir when it is clear that Jammu and Ladakh do not support Islamic fundamentalism of the Kashmir valley? Why is government giving importance and audience to JKLF and to Hurriyat? Why is Indian government appointing ‘interlocuters’ to deal with what should essentially be considered as an internal matter of India? Even if someone asked, the person is either ignored or worse, branded as a right-wing Hindu nationalist, hell bent on destroying the fabric of Kashmir.
Then 2014 happened. The Modi government, the first full majority government since 1984 took reins of the country. And the establishment saw a potent enemy rising in their Durbar. But Modi isn’t just a master politician. He is a great tactician, a visionary who doesn’t worry about small defeats. BJPs alliance with PDP was strangest in modern Indian politics. But it had a purpose. The subsequent hard line approach against militancy where zero tolerance towards militants trying to be the leaders also had a purpose. The communication with JKLFs and Hurriyat’s of the world was complete shutdown.
All these steps were taken over the years to ensure government has firm grip over Kashmir in every possible sense. After assuming power again post 2019 mandate, the home ministry under Amit Shah went into overdrive. First cutting terror funding channels and then arresting (and putting them in Tihar) the Hurriyat and JKLF leaders. The legal maneuver to self-destruct Article 370 from within was a genius masterstroke but it was only an icing on the cake. The work to reach this point has been put together for at least last few years. That the work is successful is clear from the way opposition parties including Pakistan are in complete disarray.
The establishment played their hand for rather too long and they finally met someone who called their bluff!
The successive Modi government will go down in the history as one of the most active government in the history of modern India. The zeal to do as much as possible, as fast as possible is palpable in every facet of government working. But one particular trait that Modi government will be known in the future is Modi ji’s penchant to challenge the establishment by calling their bluff.
I cannot wait to see what’s next!