Abolish Article 370 for Kashmir solution

Abolish Article 370 for Kashmir solution

By Anand Kumar Verma | 27 August, 2016
The sensation seeking media makes it seem as if the entire valley is on fire.

Nobody seems to have a solution to the Kashmir problem. It seems that policymakers believe that a solution will emerge by itself by the dynamics of time. In other words, status quo is preferred till the alternative surfaces on its own. But we have a history in the past of not accepting status quo. If one had waited for a non driven solution to Nizam’s Hyderabad, or to Junagarh and Goa—and the status quo to dissolve in a self created solution—these regions would not be a haven of peace and stability as they are today.

Indeed in Kashmir, a matrix of dynamism is at work, but there should be a clear eyed vision of its direction. Ever since its accession to India, a demand for greater autonomy has been voiced in Kashmir. What does this demand entail? J&K has more autonomy than any other region of India, including the district councils of the tribal districts of Northeast. The state has its own flag and Constitution and a special Article in the Indian Constitution, defining its relationship with India, Article 370. The state elects its own Legislative Assembly. This Article cannot be deleted without a Constitutional amendment. So what is the content of the greater autonomy which some people in the state are seeking?

To understand the real implications one should take an unjaundiced view of Wahhabism. To understand the reality of Kashmir one has to comprehend the reality of the spread of Wahhabism.

In our own neighbourhood, no exceptions to the Wahhabi principle of exclusivity have been allowed. A millennium ago, persecuted Zoroastrians had to run away from their country to survive. More recently, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have witnessed an exodus of minorities. In our own country, in the one region where Wahhabism is on the rise, the Kashmir valley, the Kashmiri Pandits have been driven out and their return is most likely near impossible. This is the naked truth about autonomy. It hides aspirations for separation, secessionism and eventually caliphate.

Such aspirations are not shared by the people of Jammu and Ladakh. When the valley sometimes erupts with slogans of azaadi due to provocations created by separatists, Muslim majority pockets in Jammu like Poonch and Doda and in Ladakh like Kargil city, do not display any signs of disquiet. In the valley also, Shias, Hindus, Sikhs, Gujjars and Bakarwals keep away. The disturbances take place mostly in five districts out of ten in the valley. Even most of those who join the agitators during the day, often approach the commanders of the Indian Army in J&K for a job in the evening. A majority of the population in J&K is thus outside the pale of such agitation, but the sensation seeking media makes out as if the entire valley is on fire.

There is no doubt that radicalism is gradually tightening its grip on the valley. There are four main channels of such transmission: madrasas, mosques, social media networks and internet. The Friday sermons at the mosques influence a great many, young and old alike. The mosques are increasingly coming under the control of the Ahle Hadis religious fraternity which propagates Salafi ideology and thereby deepens conservatism and creates inclination towards extremism.

The secular government of Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh, facing similar problems, is now compelling the madrasas to include in their syllabus a heavy dose of science and mathematics. The clergy of the mosques are being advised to orient their sermons to modern social trends and development and abjure Salafi and Wahhabi scripturally intolerant indoctrination. Some similar steps could be considered in the valley to arrest the growth of radicals there. But the most dangerous faultline today remains the absence of and opposition to 100% integration of J&K with the rest of the country. As long as Article 370 subsists, such integration cannot be brought about and the status quo will continue. Removing the hurdle is entirely an internal issue of the country and needs to be taken up as a top priority and a political necessity for long term survival, tranquility and stability in the whole country.

What could be the repercussions of this step? No political leader anywhere is going to commit suicide over it. Indians at large will welcome it with the exception of the lunatic fringe among the so called promoters of human rights and some left liberal segments whose voice will be completely drowned out by the national acclaim of acceptance. Communal harmony will remain undisturbed.

In J&K’s Jammu and Ladakh regions, there will be a welcoming chorus. Dissenting voices will emanate only in the valley from the well known separatists and their minuscule supporters, who remain confined to some districts. The most voluminous opposition is likely to be in the sermons at the mosques in the valley where the Wahhabi-inclined clergy are likely to view the development as a body blow to their dreams of establishing a caliphate.

Just a dialogue, while welcome and desirable, alone cannot take J&K to its ordained destiny. Abolition of Article 370 is the first step from where a solution begins.

Anand Kumar Verma is a former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of Government of India.

There are 4 Comments

lutyens delhi is full of cowards who revel in status quo and afraid of taking bold decisions

Anand Kumar may be right, though he does not go into the essential aspects of the Kashmir Problem, which is in reality a fundamental Believer-Kaffir problem, the meaning and consequence of which still elude effective political treatment. To begin with it must be recognized that Kashmir illustrates one of the several contradictions inherent to the 1950 Constitution. While the clauses consecrating the civic equality by birth of the citizens of the Republic, concurrent with the freedoms of expression, religious practice, movement, all over the territory, are expressions of political maturity and wisdom, they do, on the ground, breed dissensions, if not exacerbate the traditional fault lines of communal enmities. It is universally recognized that conversion is organically related to hatred, when the convert somehow is led, or taught, or tempted, to hate the culture and society which he has discarded with the illusion of having acceded to a superior level of a humane religiosity. At the beginning of the previous century, reflecting on the scandalous trial of Dreyfus, the Jewish military officer who was accused of treason, then degraded and condemned to spend time in a penal colony, Solomon Reinach, in his book APOLLO, wrote that three fourths of the wealthy French Jews and half of the Middle Class Jews were against Dreyfus, while only one fourth of the lower, poorer class of Jews were against the falsely accused officer. Reinach further emphasized that the worst antisemites in France were converted Jews, or the sons and daughters of converted Jews. Torquemada, known as the fiercest, most relentless member of the Spanish Inquisition, belonged to a family of "Reformados", that is, of converted Jews. In the Island of Mauritius, during the first half of the last century, the worst enemies of the Hindu community were the members of the Creole elite composed of converted Hindus. In India, there is no evidence of the Hindu community - not even among the members of the RSS - having internalized the simple fact of Hindu Kaffirs being hated by Muslims, first by reason of their being converts, and secondly, by virtue of the revealed commandments sealed in the Holy Book supposedly written by Allah himself. The history of India, and the ruins which still litter the soil of the country as witness to that history, bespeak of the iconoclastic hatred of the Kaffir which Muslims have never ceased to manifest as their sacred duty. Despite such a history, despite the horrors of Partition, that the Constitution would allow Muslims and Christians the right and the freedom to convert Hindus, while traditionally and historically Hinduism has never been a proselytizing Dharma - it never was a religion - and this without a definition of what an authentic conversion should be, has been a monumental failure. There are no Hindu equivalents to the madrasssa and the seminary, maintained with the taxpayer's funding. The failure is compounded with the total absence of sociological studies of the follow-ups of conversion from Hinduism to Islam, and the enlargement of the social area of hatred. That this dispensation and permission of the promotion of hatred, as a constitutional right, is an ultimate aberration. No country in the rest of the world has a constitution brought forth by a majority which would have deemed proper and necessary to enshrine as Law such an aberration which scuttles the very spirit of social harmony which it claims to establish with the assurance of national welfare based on the freedoms of Man and of the Citizen. Despite the long history of Muslims ravaging the Indian civilisation, despite the extreme violences of the Muslims against the Hindus and the Sikhs of the mid 1940s, that India would so freely scuttle the hard won freedom from the debilitating rule of the British with conversion rights to the two intolerant, exclusivist communities of Christians and Muslims, is mind boggling. In addition, it is a cause for wonder that till now no voice has been raised against this aberration, which is without a precedent in world history. Vivekananda's criticism of conversion to Churchianity, not to the authentic Christian faith, as defined and described in Thomas a Kempis's IMITATION OF CHRIST, is still valid. And in what sense, does the conversion of the Hindu to Islam make him accede to a higher order of spirituality? What is higher in the Quran or in the Hadiths than the universal brother hood and the mystical self-perfectibility taught by the Upanishads and the Dharmas of Gautam Buddha and Mahavira? On what historical ground would the Constitution grant the glaring disparities between the indigenous Dharmas which inhabit the Idea of India and the religions with their alien inspirations and sources far beyond the frontiers of India? Without an in-depth understanding and debating of this disconcerting contradiction lying at the heart of the Constitution, there will not be any solution of Kashmir problem, in fact of any problem related to the communal divides. Anand Kumar may be right to recommend the elimination of the (in)famous article 370. But even with the article 370 in place, there ought not to be any impediment to the free discussion of the magnanimity of the constitutional provisions guaranteeing the basic freedoms in conjunction with a dispassionate critique of the aberrations which they, in practice, generate.


Try it and you will be forced to fight a nuclear war with Pakistan.

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