Seven decades after independence, India has finally found the right template to curb secessionist instincts and rollback unconditional carrots offered to conflict entrepreneurs over the lost decades. India has found the self confidence to go against the self proclaimed patrons and champions of liberalism and freedom, to do what is necessary to secure its sovereignty and traditional values. India liberated Jammu and Kashmir from the hold of entrenched semi jihadist elites who speak in nationalist voices in Jammu and Delhi, and in jihadist voices to their audiences in the Kashmir Valley.
India’s decision to amend (not abrogate) Article 370 of its Constitution is both democratic and liberal by any yardstick. The decision to hollow out the Article 370 was passed with overwhelming majorities in both houses of Parliament and approved by the President. Article 370 was inserted in the Constitution as a temporary provision. The Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution, Dr. BR Ambedkar was pained to see the seeds of separatism and jihad in Kashmir Valley through the insertion of Article 370.
This is what he had to say on the subject: “Mr Abdullah, you want that India should defend Kashmir. You wish India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains, and Kashmir should get equal status as India, but you don’t want India and any citizen of India to have any rights in Kashmir and Government of India should have only limited powers. To give consent to this proposal would be a treacherous thing against the interests of India, and I, as the Law Minister of India, will never do so. I cannot betray the interests of my country.”
In seven decades, it did not serve its intended purpose of confidence building among Kashmir Valley’s muslims. Instead it promoted separatism and a false narrative that it was a disputed territory and that its final status was pending. These narratives, political positions have been thrown out of the window.
India’s decision is also liberal by any global metrics. It has led to the application of hundreds of Indian laws critical to ensuring social justice, gender equality, refugee rehabilitation and human rights. Reservation for SC/ST, issuance of domicile certificates to West Pakistan refugees, Valmikis of Punjab and women who married outsiders have been important changes that were resisted for decades under the untenable status quo of Article 370. It is important to note that domicile certificate is a prerequisite for buying land, applying for jobs, contesting elections and voting in the state. Minor inconveniences like temporary restrictions on movement and communication were necessary evils to secure a better future for the people.
The Line of Control and the Radcliffe Line represent the sharpest civilizational difference any two places at any point of recorded history. Dharma, justice, virtue and morality are the cherished values of India. The other side suffers from an identity crisis, who’s only reason for existence is as anti to India and it’s core principles. Starting with the amendment of Article 370, it is the duty of the Indian State to bring back the people of Kashmir Valley teetering on the edge of falling into the madness consumed by Pakistan.
It is not difficult to understand the unreasonable opposition to the progressive steps taken by the Indian State from within and across the borders. It is the first significant step pushback by the Indian State against Islamists who had been gaining ground ever since independence.
Although this is a good starting point at which to freeze and rollback the unwise concessions made by the Indian State in the name of minority rights, good relations with Pakistan and ‘responsible’ status on global stage, it is simply not good enough. It is important to note that the same Indian State buckled under pressure to the same lobbies in the case of CAA. The fight promises to be a tough one.