Securing Kashmir From Turning Into Palestine Like Situation
| Shankar Kumar - Sr. Journalist, Politics & Diplomacy, Delhi - 09 Aug 2019

Securing Kashmir From Turning Into Palestine Like Situation

 

By Shankar Kumar

New Delhi, Aug 09, 2019: The historical fault line that existed between mainstream India and Jammu and Kashmir in the form of Article 370 and Article 35A has been finally removed after 70 years.

Those who have for years maintained that these constitutional provisions helped New Delhi engage and manage its policy on Kashmir may not agree to argument that such laws were, in fact, the root cause of Kashmiris’ problems like militancy, underdevelopment, and isolation from the rest of India.

Like Abdullahs and Muftis, India’s so-called liberal forces now fear that the withdrawal of special status granted to the state may turn Kashmir into another Palestine.

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Their fear is that restive youth and their political masters who are cooling their heels in their homes due to imposition of curfew in Kashmir may become uncontrollable and turn riotous once curfew is withdrawn.

Even if one may agree to emergence of such scenario in Kashmir with violence and bloodbath taking a toll on innocent lives after curfew is lifted from the Valley, he should know that it would not lead to Palestine like situation.

There are several reasons why Kashmir will not become Palestine. First, Kashmir is not an occupied area rather it is an integral part of India, a status which is in force ever since Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, signed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947.

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Second, Kashmiris have not been dispossessed of their land and forced into exile. Thirdly, there are democratic institutions in the Valley with active participation of people in Panchayat to Assembly to Parliamentary level elections.

Fourthly, Kashmiris have not been ever barred from having properties in any part of India, nor have they faced state sponsored discrimination in education or jobs in any part of the country.

Therefore, there is much less chance of civilian unrest taking place in Kashmir in protest against revocation of special status the region enjoyed for the past seven decades.

Even if there is a protest or violence, it would be localized and would not be widespread because majority of people in Kashmir were unhappy with the life they were leading under umbrella provided by Articles 370 or 35A.

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These constitutional provisions virtually robbed Kashmiris off reaping the fruits of development. It has been only part of India which has been, hitherto far away from private or institutional investment. In the last five years, India attracted $269 billion worth of Foreign Direct Investment.

But, unfortunately, due to the provisions of Article 35A which entitled only permanent residents of Kashmir right to own or buy a property in Jammu and Kashmir or enjoy special benefits related to employment, scholarships or other privileges in the state, no investor ventured there.

While majority parts of the country have witnessed setting up of new factories, IT hubs, airports,  quality hospitals and educational institutions, Jammu and Kashmir have been the only state which has been enjoying Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Since 1989, more than 47,000 people have been killed in the cross-border terrorism in the state.

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Yet opportunistic local politicians, separatists of the state only blamed New Delhi for Kashmir problem. Recent National Investigation Agency’s probes have shown that Kashmir’s separatist leaders were hand-in-gloves with Pakistani establishment which used to fund the former for creating unrest in Kashmir.

Masarat Alam, General Secretary of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, recently confessed during his custodial interrogation by NIA that Pakistan-based agents route the funds through hawala operators and they are then transferred to separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Chairman of the Hurriyat Conference.

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There is no denying the fact that the cycle of violence in Kashmir has been perpetrated with direct assistance and support from Islamabad. In fact, instances have shown that Pakistan doesn’t want a peaceful resolution of Kashmir rather it wants to dismember India to grind its own axe.

Pakistan is the only country in the world where terrorism is a part of its strategic policy. From Lashkar-e-Taiba to Jaish-e-Mohammad to Taliban and Haqqani group—Pakistan is full of terrorist organizations which are banned whenever it suits Islamabad’s bill and it is lifted when their services are utilized against India, Afghanistan, Iran or any other country which Islamabad doesn’t like.

Virtually speaking, no other country is as much frustrated with the scrapping of Articles 370 and 35A as Pakistan is today; it sees its game plan over with the annulment of these constitutional provisions as New Delhi with its plan to push in development in the two newly carved out Union Territories, is expected to stop Islamabad from creating a false sense of alienation and discrimination among Kashmiri youth.

Nor is India expected to give Pakistan a chance to portray a false narrative on human rights situation in the region. In that backdrop, however, what New Delhi has to still guard is that normalization of the situation in Kashmir should not be delayed beyond some limits.

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In phases, curfew needs to be lifted so that people should come out to buy medicines, groceries and other essential materials and also, political leaders should be released from their house arrests. Besides, efforts should be made to tell Kashmiris that India wants their wellbeing and prosperity.   

Private or government-held companies need to be encouraged for immediate absorption of educated youth in jobs. Such moves will not only nullify separatists, local Kashmiri political leaders or Pakistan’s plan to foment unrest in the Valley but also secure the region from turning into another Palestine. Image credit - ANI

(Shankar Kumar is a Delhi-based journalist with an expertise in diplomacy and foreign affairs. The views expressed in this article are his personal.)

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