Of Pen and Ink
PDP’s flag is attractive and demands attention. There is “pen” and “ink” on the official flag of party. The significance is enormous. Pen and Ink has been representative of world’s progress and development. This is a powerful representation especially when people of Kashmir are concerned. The flag was prepared in line with the “promises’ that were made to the people of Kashmir which has suffered hugely under the on-going conflict. The first and the foremost was the ‘solution” of the disputed state “Jammu and Kashmir’.
PDP had made it clear that resolution of Jammu Kashmir is their first priority. And the resolution of the dispute depended on the talks with all stakeholders including Hurriyat. PDP was seen by many people as the saviour of Kashmiri people especially what happened during 1990’s. They opened the bus service between India and Pakistan and did some infrastructural development. They must be complemented for this. However, there was so much hype created around these few developments that people felt that the party is in serious mode to change the destiny of people of Kashmir for ever. This was a mirage.
This mirage went off when PDP cooperated with BJP in 2014 to form coalition. PDP went to people demanding votes to keep BJP out and people voted to keep them out. Instead, they brought BJP into Jammu and Kashmir. BJP is the front arm of RSS, a communal organisation that believes in Hindu Nationalism. They consider the Muslims and other religious minorities as “foreigners” who deserve nothing but subordinate position. It is not a coincidence that after sweeping through India, the security of minority is in tatters everywhere. Muslims are lynched even on suspicious grounds and are rounded up. And these developments have serious impact on the Jammu Kashmir.
Furthermore, BJP is here viewed as party dent on destroying constitutional set-up of India and promote “Hindu India” concept. It also aims at destroying the constitutional set-up between Jammu Kashmir and India. The party manifesto aims at elimination of article 370, the separate flag Kashmir and changing demographics of Jammu Kashmir. The concept of “one-nation and one-flag” still lingers in their minds. And PDP, as a party is seen by people, in hand in glove with BJP. BJP, as a party, is now gearing for the 2019 elections. Since the construction of Ram-Mandir is a controversial issue and is sub-judicious, they need something to boost of before 2019 elections. And the opportunity is in Jammu Kashmir state. It is the erosion of constitutional status of the state that will be placed before the people of India, including surgical strikes. The developments signal to these future outcomes.
After PDP-BJP government came to power in J&K, the government of India has extended three central laws to the state in less than two years amid a continuous push, both at political and legal level, by different right wing groups to get Article 370 scrapped. The centre enacted National Food Security Act in 2015, Goods and Service Act (GST) and now collection of Statistics Act 2010 is applied to Jammu and Kashmir. There is also a petition in the Supreme Court against article 35(A) of the constitution of India. The said article empowers the legislature of Jammu and Kashmir to define the “permanent residents” of the state and provide special, and privileges to those permanent residents. The dilution of the article will be a last nail in the coffin of article 370.
In coalition it is the only PDP that is at losses. Kashmir is the region where PDP had a large voting base and most of the problems are concentrated in this region. The killing of Burhan Wani is also a factor which has caused much loses to PDP, coupled with the force that was used to quell protests. Thousands injured, hundreds were blinded and many more killed. PDP instead using innovative ways to control the protests was seen justifying the using of force backed by BJP at the centre.
As of today, there is so much uncertainty around the constitutional set up of Jammu and Kashmir visa viz India. There is a perception that BJP, with the help of the PDP will ultimately merge Jammu and Kashmir with India. And PDP as a party is not able to resist the pressure from BJP at the centre. It seems PDP has allowed its “Pen” and “ink” to be used by BJP to change constitutional provisions of Kashmir. This prospect will have grave consequences in the Jammu and Kashmir.
Syed Suhail Yaqoob teaches Economics at Kashmir University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Oracle Opinions.