From Mission Kashmir to Fusion Kashmir!

No one else could have put across what “Status Quo” actually meant, better than Ronald Reagan! He said, “Status quo, you know, is Latin for the mess we’re in”! In the context of Kashmir, this Reagan’s definition fits very aptly! In India, the strategy of successive governments has been to maintain status quo as far as Kashmir is concerned, the cost of which has been quite high.  This, while knowing it very well and doing nothing concrete about the mess we were in.

By now, we all know that this Government under Narendra Modi has an allergy for Status Quoism.  So, we shouldn’t be surprised at all that it went about systematically this week, to nullify Articles 370 and 35A. But, that they put this issue on such a high priority and got it done early into this term, came as a big surprise to me. With this move, the liberal circuit had another melt down – its 2nd, since May 2019 as can be seen from the many pieces one gets to read, since the 5th of August. The commentary on this issue post 5th August are at three levels – wisdom behind the decision, execution of it and hypothesis over cause and effect.

Coming to the wisdom behind the decision of nullifying articles 370 and 35A, liberals see it as India’s betrayal of Kashmiris and going back on the terms of Kashmir’s accession with India.  The original article was indeed a temporary provision and was to be repealed when the preferences of the Kashmiris were to be understood and acted upon. As a country, all along we approached the Kashmir issue with a defensive mind set, as due to various circumstances we failed to find out what the Kashmiri on the street wanted, back then. And this was complicated by the definition of who is a Kashmiri – the one in Jammu or the one in the Valley or the one in the hilly Ladakh!

70 years is a long, long time and much water has flown under the Jhelum Bridge. And much blood too! Now the only objective for any Government should be to stop the flow of blood and let just water flow.  Since successive Governments have been stressing that Kashmir is an integral part of India, it was high time that it was made so. So, doing away with the articles 370 and 35A were the logical steps in embracing Kashmir as part of India. The much tom-tommed about provisions like any Indian from other states being able to purchase land in Kashmir … are in my opinion not the major issues today! Doing away with any constitution within constitution of India and stuff like Special powers, dual citizenship….are. In my blog just in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, I had written that shedding the historical baggage and moving forward on scrapping all special status to Jammu and Kashmir as an important step (not the only step) towards lasting normalcy in Kashmir.

For those who are asking that, anyway 370 of today is a much watered down provision compared to the original and hence what was the need to nullify now, the answer is simple. Why then have it, if its existence today anyway doesn’t make any material difference to the Kashmiri on the ground?

There has been much criticism and take downs on the Government’s execution part. Why didn’t the Government discuss with “stake holders” and take them into confidence? Why was this done when there was no elected Government in J&K? Scrapping 370 & 35A is O.K. but why division of the state into two Union territories? Why has been curfew and press muzzled in Kashmir? So on and so forth. These questions, coming not so much from the common public but from the liberal intelligentsia have their own pitfalls. When we read such criticisms at times we wonder if liberals live dividing their time between Utopia and some fantasy land!

For decades, we have been wasting time in talking to the so called stake holders without any outcome! “Keep talking” in diplomacy most likely means “Do nothing”! I have lost count of the number of times successive Governments appointed interlocutors to talk to stakeholders. Has anything concrete in terms of a road map emerged out of these engagements? And who are these stake holders? The separatists? The book “Kashmir – The Vajpayee Years” written by Ex-RAW Chief A.S.Dulat gives details of talks L.K.Advani had with separatists, during Vajpayee’s NDA rule.

In the 2nd meeting Advani asked, “What is it that you want?” Not one single Hurriyat leader said anything. Finally, Prof. Ghani said, ‘Next time we will come prepared with our ideas.”

So much for talking and taking these leaders into confidence. Having said that, we must not forget that during Modi’s 1st term, the then Home Minister invited all stake holders for talks and even appointed another interlocutor to engage with sections of Kashmiris with no result!

If Kashmiri politicians of the like of Abdullahs and Sayeeds are part of stake holders, the less said the better. There can be no other clan of politicians which has been more ambiguous on their stand viz a viz Kashmir than the Abdullahs. For long, the Abdullahs carried the tag of being on the India side. But when they had the opportunity, Farooq earlier and more recently Omar did not use their political heft to take Kashmiris into confidence once for all and get them to gravitate towards India. They, for their own political reasons kept their ambivalence of keeping one leg here and one leg there going! Do you see any other state political leader calling and addressing the Central Government as “New Delhi” or “Delhi”??? And we know very well what Mehbooba Mufti and her party were up to in helping to bring normalcy in Kashmir when they were in power! So, I don’t think the Government could have engaged with such stake holders and made any progress!

The brains of liberals are wired to react to ideal situations and that explains why they are up in arms against the way the Government went about this. But the situation in Kashmir was never ideal or normal in the 1st place. Ergo, it required out of box solutions executed in an out of box manner. If everything was normal and was a question of another state bifurcation, I am sure that the Government would have followed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) as prescribed in the text book.  So, using the Governor’s rule to revoke the powers of Article 370 and dividing the state into two Union Territories are all par for the course.  In short, an issue which is festering without a solution for decades cannot be handled with standard approaches. The only pitfall I see is the “tyranny of precedence”! Future Governments may opt to follow this as SOP even when the situation is normal showing this as precedence!

In today’s viral age, social media would be easily misused to just create a panic by circulating fake news and pictures. So, clamping down on internet services till situation settles down makes sense. But, was there a need for a control on the press from covering?

For those coming down heavily on the Government for the clamping down and heavy deployment of forces… if these were not done and trouble erupted on the streets, the same commentariat will rip apart the Government for not learning from past episodes in Kashmir like during Burhan Wani’s death!

And finally coming to the cause and effect. It is certain that all will not be happy in Kashmir over the changes that has been foisted on them. Vested interests who have been taken off guard by the move may not keep quiet. Pakistan may crank up their covert channels to fester trouble in India.  But then, all these are not new. Even while we were trying hard to maintain status quo in Kashmir, all these were in play.  I am sure that the Government is more than aware of all the risks before they moved deftly on these moves. Let us hope better sense prevails among the Kashmiri youth for whom the best chance is to be aligned with a prosperous India than an Azad Kashmir!

I have been reading that this is Modi’s Mission Kashmir! But I think Mission Kashmir has been the one earlier governments have been trying all along which failed. This is Modi’sFusion Kashmir” and let’s hope this succeeds in its attempt to break the status quo!  After all status quos are made to be broken!  The time is now and the ball is in the court of Kashmiris!

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0 thoughts on “From Mission Kashmir to Fusion Kashmir!”

  1. Hi Anand,

    Kudos to you for this wonderful n informative piece. Such a complex topic, but your articulation made it a lively reading.
    As it happened in so many earlier occasions, the Govt caught everyone off guard with this move as well. More than common man, I think the so called *opinionists/columnists//intelligentsia* are the ones who are struggling to come to terms with this decision n hence their views don’t matter as usual 😊😊

  2. RSA, as expected your blog is here on this weekend which was an eventful week.. What to say about your analysis of any issue leave alone this issue.. As usual impressive 👏👏👏..

    We have new voters increasing election after election who do not know much about Kashmir and the history of these articles etc., But they certainly know the routine violence that is taking place in Kashmir and they also realize it is a “thorn in the flesh” as far as India is concerned.. So no wonder it is seen as a great move by everyone including many in the opposition.. And honestly no one could “bell this Kashmir cat” other than Modi.. Modi certainly won this battle big time.. As you rightly said in the last line now the ball is in Kashmiris’ court to see the right things in this move..

    Well-done Buddy 👏👏👏

  3. Anand,
    A very well articulated blog which deals with all the objections of the nay-sayers at all three levels. Let us hope that the situation in Kashmir a couple of years down the line, gives us reason to rejoice.

  4. Nice post. I agree talking to stakeholders have not worked so far. Mehbooba is openly pro Pakistan. Abdullah may want to stay with India, but recently Omar had eulogused Burhan Wani.Basically,unless India gives Kashmir state there will be no solution. Pak army wants to extract revenge for severing of East Pakistan. It is army that is controlling Kashmir policy. They send in terrorist, fund separatists and in general has tried everything, albeit unsuccessfully, to take Kashmir.

  5. The so called stakeholders have been fishing in troubled waters.
    Major issue in J&K is that no effort were undertaken by all to ensure integration of J&K with Indian union. Corruption was rampant and it ensured that the common man did not receive even a part of what the Central Govt pumped in to J&K. Had the real Kashmiris received what the Central Govt had pumped in, every one of them would be residing in palatial bungalows.
    Who held position in J&K Govt prior to 1987? Who made the rules from 1927 – the rule which was the forerunner to Article 370? Who exploited the poor and uneducated Kashmiri? Who formed the majority of the corrupt in J&K?
    There is only one answer to all the above questions and those responsible were driven out of the valley!!!
    If the present govt is serious about Kashmir, then they got to address the issue of corruption at all levels in Kashmir and then “EDUCATE, EMPLOY & EMPOWER” the Kashmiris – with or without Article 370.

  6. Well written, to the point and succinct. I somehow feel that people who are not accepting this are not in favor of the prosperity of that region. Local Kashmiri leaders and Pakistani establishment have been fooling the people of J&K for decades in the name of self-rule and independence. It became an industry to promote trouble and pressurize the central government to yield. This move may not be very straightforward but has inherent advantages for the J&K populace. They have equal rights and opportunities. I know the road ahead for the government would not be easy, but I am sure they were prepared for it when they took this action.

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