The hypocrisy of Kashmir: a difference of being a spectator and participant

Peek into past

When Britain finally ended its colonization of the subcontinent in 1947, the violence was extreme. Soon war over the region broke out between India and Pakistan, and the U.N. Security Council called for a ceasefire and a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir to determine its final status.

But an unseen legacy is present between Australia and Kashmir, which is further clear if the name Sir Owen Dixon rings a bell. Until 1985, Australian military observers were part of the United Nations Military Observer Group in Kashmir. In 1950 Sir Owen Dixon, the sixth Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia was appointed by the United Nations Security Council as the UN representative to organize a plebiscite on self-determination in Jammu and Kashmir.

To start with, when British rule was over in India princely states where given the right to decide where their loyalty was either with India or the newly formed Pakistan. Many rulers had their own agendas to play with while making this selection and those who made the wrong choice had a price to pay for it, like the Nizam of Hyderabad.

But for Hari Singh, Maharaja of Kashmir things were a bit more complicated. He had a majority of the Muslim population in his state and the ruler was a Hindu. So taking sides with either India or Pakistan was not an easy step. Further down the line heightened pressure from Pakistan forced him to take sides with India. But the Indian government-supported him with one condition, control over Kashmir Valley, Jammu, and Ladakh.

The harm caused by the pellet-firing shotgun, currently the favoured weapon of the Indian military in India Administered Kashmir, is singled out

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Hari Singh, Maharaja of Kashmir.CREDIT: WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

Colonial past of Kashmir

Signing Instrument of accession was a method or pathway for the Maharaja to evict his revenge on the Muslim dominated Pakistan and also for the citizens whom he saw as an unruly crowd opposing his rule. Little did he knew that this was the start of every lasting confrontation with two major powers in the south Asian continent.

To take a leaf from his action even the politicians of Kashmir believed in the promises provided by the India union about autonomy within the Indian Union and India would preserve the demographic character of the state. But things just went from bad to worse in the days to follow.

India’s viewpoint in this matter is very clear, from the start being a highly diverse nation of multiple communities across the land. It seems itself as a protector of people and considers that it is best for Kashmir as a whole to remain with in the country as one among us. But for Pakistan, it is a straight violation of the basic grounds on which the entire nation was formed on the majority religious practice ground.

Change is initiated

So what are the main changes initiated by this revoke of article 370? A quick glance into the changes shows that it is really a mixed bag.

Removing separate constitution for Kashmiris. While previously the Indian government had control over the defense, foreign policy, and communications of the region. Now for once and all the entire policies of the region will be looked after by the government.

A major part of the prior constitution was article 35A which allowed Jammu and Kashmir’s legislature to define who were considered permanent residents of the region. Also called the Permanent Residents Law, it forbade Indians from outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs or winning education scholarships in the region.

Article 35A also barred female residents of Jammu and Kashmir and their children from having property rights if they married a person from outside the state. In other words, a commitment had been made to protect the demographic mix of Kashmir from an influx of outsiders.

It completely up to the people to decide are these laws supportive for the region or where they further chains on the aspiration of the place and people to share what they perceived as precious. What would have happened if any other region in India created and decided such laws, would you have accepted it or said it was not the way for a state or region that wants itself to be considered as part of India.

Unilateral Revision

BJP ruled and the government in India was always a ticking process for this change to be initiated. Just the question was how and when. However when the event occured it just went outside the control and imagination of the entire political and judicial stalwarts of opposition and Pakistan government. House arrest for the politicians in Kashmir. Getting international support from similar ideological rulers from across the world.

As Modi said India and Pakistan would discuss it within themselves and reach a final decision.

“Despite its bluster, Islamabad has limited true retaliatory options,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the Washington-based Wilson Centre, told Bloomberg. “There’s no way it can get India’s decision to be reversed, and it’s not about to send troops into Kashmir, and so naturally it will take the few risk-free punitive steps at its disposal.”

The matter is a bit more acceptable for the Buddhist majority Ladakh glad to be distanced from Jammu and Kashmir and all the tourist-repelling trouble that comes with it. Placing the central Indian government more in control may also help counter growing Chinese influence in Ladakh.

Way Forward

Actions speak more than words, that is the approach BJP and the affiliated government has been taking in this particular matter. Things have a tendency of getting done in the current rule of India. Many say it is the efficiency of government in using the untethered loopholes in the constitution to make its own agenda seems like a constitutional movement.

In short, this constitutional occupation of a region is going to provoke a lot of changes in the way people both outside and with in the country feel and see the government. For some, it is a great job done by the government in unifying India after 70 years, for some, it is still a matter of contention as to why should this be done in the fashion it was implemented.

However, a change has started and its impact and effect will be clear but if government could literally shutdown a massive resistance from the people in a very short time by using zero input from the people whose life is going to be affected by this then we should be afraid of what the democracy has come into and where it is going in the future.

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