Mapping the Kashmir Trajectories, Deep State and Drabu’s Pandit Question
India ‘governs’ J&K, as is evident from its policies vis-à-vis the region, through militaristic means. A study of the policies of the pre-1947 de-facto Hindu Dogra state shows that the current state of affairs is nothing but an extension of the Dogra regime.
Dr. Javid Ahmad Ahanger & Muzamil Yaqoob
For more than seventy years since the Indian state has administered the ‘contested’ territory of Jammu and Kashmir, its future is yet to be settled within the ambit of peoples’ aspirations. Over these years, the incessant cycles of violence, hostility, and somewhat egoistic attitude of the stakeholders’ viz., India and Pakistan, have never let the two nuclear powers bury the hatchet and settle the Kashmir conflict in any possible manner.
The political history of J&K has been shaped and reshaped by several historical trajectories. The state’s history of misery is a long one and its experience with the outside rule dates back to the Mughals succeeded by Afghans, Sikhs and Dogras. However, the modern crises, as held by some scholars and academicians, are rooted in the Treaty of Amritsar (referred to as Sale Deed of Kashmir) that shaped the territory into the erstwhile J&K state. The treaty, apart from the territorial integration of the three regions viz., Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, into one unit, laid the foundation of the otherwise notorious, communal and atrocious Dogra rule in Kashmir with the blessings of the British Raj.
The modern crises, as held by some scholars and academicians, are rooted in the Treaty of Amritsar (referred to as Sale Deed of Kashmir) that shaped the territory into the erstwhile J&K state. The treaty, apart from the territorial integration of the three regions viz., Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, into one unit, laid the foundation of the otherwise notorious, communal and atrocious Dogra rule in Kashmir with the blessings of the British Raj.
Even though the intervention of the British in the Dogra administrative policies, not long after the treaty, acted as a check on the people’s response to the ‘Hindu rulers, Muslim subjects’, the British efforts did not materialize fully. The crisis started brewing up shortly and culminated finally into a full-fledged resistance movement against the regime in the 1930s. The resistance of Kashmiris (read majority Muslims) against the then dispensation ended in 1947-48, however not without the birth of another tragedy; first the division of J&K into two parts and later the ‘K-dispute’ between Pakistan and India.
Militaristic Governance and Secular Deception
India ‘governs’ J&K, as is evident from its policies vis-à-vis the region, through militaristic means. A study of the policies of the pre-1947 de-facto Hindu Dogra state shows that the current state of affairs is nothing but an extension of the Dogra regime. Once New Delhi consolidated its position with the help of its regional ‘clients’ initially lead by Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference (NC), all those voicing against it, say Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas and Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah et al, had to go into exile for their views and policies that went against Sheikh Abdullah and the Indian National Congress. And Kashmiris continued to be the victims of pseudo-secularists, xenophobic nationalists and the ‘Naya Kashmir’ project of Abdullah. Through this project, Sheikh was planning to preserve his position within the Indian Union, shortly realizing that he had become the victim of ‘Nehruvian Secular Boots’. He was arrested in 1953; rest is history.
Of Farcical Democracy and Client Regimes
India, apart from its military might, has ever since the birth of the tragedy, maintained its sway over Kashmir with the help of ‘client regimes’ who rule by their dictums in the region. However, it could never extricate herself from the predicament of Kashmir even after the seven long decades of its rule. As observers believe, the Indian state, particularly in the last three decades of intense armed struggle, has ‘lost its shirt’ in Kashmir and barely holds its rest of garments by virtue of gun and force.
The pro-Indian regional parties, like the NC and the PDP, always planned to make ‘Autonomy’ (under the now-annulled Article 370) ‘within the ambit’ of The Constitution of India a reserve currency – a position allowed by the almighty ‘national interest’. These regional parties, after serving New Delhi for decades, became irrelevant to the ruling BJP that extended its agenda in Kashmir. The BJP rejected them for being ‘dynastic parties’ and for exacerbating the otherwise fragile political atmosphere of Kashmir and encouraging ‘secessionist politics’. Irony!
As observers believe, the Indian state, particularly in the last three decades of intense armed struggle, has ‘lost its shirt’ in Kashmir and barely holds its rest of garments by virtue of gun and force.
These parties whose role stands dumped now saw 2019-20 turning into a ‘Kashmir winter’ for them. It was in this context that Ram Madhav, the National General Secretary of ruling BJP, in his interview to RSS’s weekly Organizer, stated that, “now the situation for these parties is either to change the course or become history.”After all, turning impossible into possible is the art of politics. As pro-resistance camp would argue that this was perhaps the most shameful moment for the leaders who had put their feet into the ‘Nehruvian Secular Gumboots’ and it is equally disgraceful to their successors who continue to hold power on the mercy of New Delhi and thereby ‘legitimise’ the Indian rule in Kashmir.
Political observers and many Kashmiris believe that the political chaos in the region is not without a nefarious design. The Indian state does not need to a win big war in Kashmir. It only needs to disrupt things so that the other side (Kashmiris) cannot build up sufficient strength to continue challenging its sovereignty. After nullifying 370 and downgrading the Muslim majority region into two Union Territories, the fear of a demographic change looms large. And it would not be wrong to say that the act of downgrading the state into UTs is the biggest act of disempowerment since the 1846 Treaty of Amritsar through which the British sold the region along with its inhabitants as merchandise to their ally, Gulab Singh.
Realizing the Long-Drawn Dream
The ruling BJP, after bifurcating the erstwhile state, has in its recent attempt changed the domicile law. This attempt was not only carried out in violation of several international rulings and resolutions but brazenly when the COVID-19 pandemic had already distressed the people. This was apparently done to avoid any uproar and denunciation because of social isolation provisions in place. The party’s removal of the domicile law sets a perfect precedent for furthering and strengthening its Hindutva project.
Muslims, in general, and Kashmiris, in particular, have been stereotyped. The state is driven by a muscular policy shaped and directed by top echelons, policymakers and intelligence. Concepts like nationhood, religion, dress and skin colour are shaping attitudes of the policymakers and the political establishment. Social schism and political fragmentation are currently so rampant that it would not be surprising to see more social chaos and political instability in the near future.
Most Kashmiris see Indian state as a resilient idea of a ‘deep state’ that works against their wishes and aspirations and governs them by military men, intelligence agencies and powerful bureaucrats.
Most Kashmiris see Indian state as a resilient idea of a ‘deep state’ that works against their wishes and aspirations and governs them by military men, intelligence agencies and powerful bureaucrats. For political scientists, Kashmir is a classic example of this ‘deep state’ from the last seven decades where the ‘government’ has always ensured to get rid of those leaders/people/parties who talk of political solutions and of those who dare to voice against it. This has, therefore, hardly any space for deliberation and any possible resolution.
The state has pursued multi-pronged strategies since decades to legitimise its rule over Kashmir. However, what Delhi perhaps fails to grasp is that none of this could beleaguer Kashmiris. Efforts to carve out a space to legitimise its control have only resulted in the delegitimisation of its loyalists in Kashmir (post-August 5, 2019 politics is an example). The ‘resistance’ politics has achieved the ‘mainstream’ tract and represents the “public consciousness and sentiments”.
Dialogue, the Way Forward:
India must learn from the rise and fall of its erstwhile colonial master. George Friedman once observed that “the modern geopolitical world changes after every 20 years.” This appears to be true and can be contextualized in the light of the European nations’ colonisation project that witnessed the completion of the European ascendency over the major parts of the world towards the end of the 19th century. The change, however, became discernable by 1960, when the phrase adopted by George Macartney that “the sun never sets on the British Empire” lost its claim and decolonisation only became a reality.
Similarly, it needs to be repeatedly emphasized that a proper dialogue that takes all the stakeholders on board must begin. A resolution that could and will lay stress on the sanctity and validity of the various International resolutions or any other bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India vis-à-vis Kashmir would be the only way to settle the issue. The sooner, the better!
Drabu and Question of Domicile vis-à-vis Kashmiri Pandits
Apropos Haseeb Drabu’s article ‘Pandits as pariah, legally’ (Greater Kashmir April 30, 2020), in the backdrop of recently passed domicile law and Kashmiri Pandit question, it seems a flight of fanciful idea from Mr Drabu to think that the pandits will be excluded in new political realities. There may be some issues in the domicile draft but that does not mean Delhi will not amend them. If BJP had the power to abrogate Article 370, downgrade J&K into two UTs and, later, to modify the first draft within hours after it was notified, the same BJP has the power to include pandits as well. As Mir Hilal, noted Kashmir journalist, wrote in his Facebook post: “…The Indian state, I am sure, has plans for them. Even if it has not, Pandits appear content to have sacrificed for a bigger cause, which is the conquest of Muslim Kashmir…”
The Indian state, I am sure, has plans for them. Even if it has not, Pandits appear content to have sacrificed for a bigger cause, which is the conquest of Muslim Kashmir
As far as the legalities Mr Drabu talks about are concerned, were not we told by academicians, scholars, political parties, and even judges, that nothing is going to happen to article 370 & 35A?What happened later does not need any rocket science scholarship to comprehend. Seemingly, the Union government felt no need to mention Kashmir valley Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians or any other religious denomination in the new domicile law; knowing that they are state domiciles by birth. We suggest Mr. Drabu to not manufacture narratives or, in William Dean Howells’words, ‘over-intellectualize’ in a fanciful imagination but painstakingly read the BJP’s policy vis-à-vis Kashmir in its true historic accounts.
Javid Ahmad Ahanger has a doctorate in Political Science from the Aligarh Muslim University. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
Muzamil Yaqoob has Masters in Political Science from JNU and presently a researcher with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi.He can be reached at email@example.com
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not reflect the stand or policy of Oracle Opinions.