Fallacious Arguments Employed to Justify the Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Autonomy and Its Bifurcation

The throes of pain, palpable on the face of the 3-year old child whose grandfather was killed in an exchange of fire between militants and Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Sopore, can lacerate the most hardened person.

The palpable contrast between the enchanting beauty of Kashmir and the glazed eyes of its people is cruel to say the least. Kashmir, which once had the power to heal every trauma, now causes searing wounds. The loss of innocent lives mangles the landscape. Kashmir is tarnished with sordid passions and murky politics; blemished with military camps and militant hideouts.

The once paradisiacal region coveted by kings and mystics alike, where snow-covered peaks majestically tower over flowing rivers and streams bordered by lilies gently swaying to the cadences of the gentle breeze, by a quirk of fate, has become a valley of guns and unmarked graves.

Subsequent to the terrible incident in Sopore and the painful picture of the befuddled child sitting astride his grandfather’s corpse, people living in various parts of India have expressed regret at the callous and highly crass response of the BJP spokesperson, Sambit Patra.

Patra is a devotee of ideologues who never upheld the cause of human fellowship. The pluralism of Jammu and Kashmir was anathema to such ideologues.

India doesn’t need icons like Balraj Madhok, who launched the RSS and later the Jammu Praja Parishad (the Praja Parishad, which was founded in 1947, later merged with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which was the precursor of the present-day BJP), nor does India need icons like M. S. Golwalkar, who was one of the early leaders of the RSS.

In 1947, when Kashmiris were beset by tragedies, Balraj Madhok’s role was detrimental to the people and the pluralistic ethos of Jammu and Kashmir. It was regrettable that on his return to mainland India, he commended his own actions.

No patriotic and conscientious Indian would justify the cold blooded murder of men, women, and children—both young and old—only because they happen to profess a different religion, and leave the field quietly open for destructive elements.  Every well-thinking and rational person recognizes the human aspect of Kashmir.

The Shiv Sena, former ally of the BJP, has issued a statement in their party newspaper, Saamana, that the revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir have not led to restoration of peace or greater accountability in the region.

Referencing the picture of the child astride his grandfather’s corpse in Sopore, they observed, “A child who doesn’t know his grandfather is dead is trying to wake him. Such pictures have come to the fore only in countries like Syria, Egypt, Somalia, and Afghanistan.”

I would like to point out that the maneuvers deployed in Jammu and Kashmir by the central government have jeopardized the federal structure of India.

In its hurry to change the structure of J & K overnight, the central government, clearly, did not pay sufficient attention to the emergence of peace, good governance, and political liberty.

The BJP government at the center lacked the foresight to pay attention to whether the legislation and execution of their new political policies in contemporary Kashmir would successfully address the concerns of the people. Their integrative and centralist measures have met with opposition not just in Kashmir, but in Jammu and Ladakh as well.

For some strange reason, the National General Secretary of the BJP is oblivious to that opposition.

National General Secretary of the BJP, Ram Madhav, claims that there wasn’t much opposition from the people of Jammu and Kashmir to the revocation of the autonomous status of the State. He asserts that the reason there was no opposition was because the people realized that Article 370, which guaranteed the autonomous status of the State, hadn’t benefited them. I understand that the use of fallacious arguments and statements is commonplace in politics, but this is ridiculous.

Ram Madhav conveniently forgets that political and civil liberties were ruthlessly curbed in Jammu and Kashmir with the revocation of Article 370. Every elected representative and several civilians were detained. Kashmir did not have internet connectivity for several months.

Ram Madhav is, clearly, ignorant of the fact that the metamorphosis of the agrarian economy, which greatly improved the human development index in the State, would not have been possible without Article 370. The political logic of autonomy and Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was necessitated by the need to bring about socioeconomic transformations.

The legislative bill, which had orchestrated this transformation, won the unstinting support of thousands of erstwhile disenfranchised peasants in Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh.  Many policy makers in the subcontinent, political scientists, and economists have acknowledged the effectiveness and rigor of land reforms in Jammu and Kashmir, which benefited underprivileged farmers in all three parts of the State—Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. These reforms were made possible by Article 370.

The redress of wider political, socioeconomic, and democratic issues in Kashmir requires rethinking the heedless scrapping of Article 370 and the impetuous bifurcation of the State.

Nyla Ali Khan is the author of Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir, The Life of a Kashmiri Woman, and the editor of The Parchment of Kashmir. Nyla Ali Khan has also served as an guest editor working on articles from the Jammu and Kashmir region for Oxford University Press (New York), helping to identify, commission, and review articles. She can be reached at nylakhan@aol.com.