The BJP’s act of practically repealing Article 370 by severing Ladakh away from Occupied Kashmir has been a dire self-delusional dismissal of historical evidence and an act of vengeful cruelty on the people of Kashmir. Some things are written in history, there is no way to introspect on them presently without coming from the tracks of the past, so it needs to be deliberated why Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had signed the Article 35A in 1954 in the first place.
As it happened, when Maharaja Hari Singh, betraying the spirit of Accession, had secretly passed the Letter of Accession to India, it was clear on all three sides that a wrong had been committed. On one hand, Jinnah immediately denounced the act on the account that the Instrument of Accession clearly calls for the accession to be based on the will of the majority population. And on the other hand Mountbatten, on receiving Hari Singh’s letter, wrote in his reply to him, “[…] in the case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State, it is my Government’s wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invader, the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people”.
Mountbatten at that time, being the Governor General of India, came to Lahore to meet Jinnah on November 1, 1947. Mountbatten offered a plebiscite, but only if Pakistan withdrew its military support for the Azad Kashmir forces and their allies, while Indian Army would remain in the Kashmir Valley. Jinnah, distrusting the under-laying intentions, refused the proposal remarking that the Kashmir, with an absolute Muslim majority, belonged to Pakistan as an essential element of the Instrument. India brought the case to the UN in a bid to delay the matter – the matter still lays pending in the UN after seven decades.
But Nehru, in the face of the constant dissent and agitation in Occupied Kashmir, and well aware of Kashmir’s status of being a pending dispute in the UN, agreed with Sheikh Abdullah in 1952, on the arrangement that Kashmir will be bound to the Indian Constitution only in matters agreed in the Instrument of Accession i.e. defence, foreign affairs and communications, while Kashmir would be autonomous in all internal matters, and Sheikh Abdullah’s position was changed from a Prince (as of princely states) to the Sadr-e-Riyasat – this was Article 370.
In 1954, under Nehru, Article 35A was added to the Constitution, empowering the state legislature to legislate on the privileges of permanent residents with regard to immovable property, settlement in the state and employment. This was certainly not any love for the Kashmiri people in Nehru’s heart; in fact, India had faced similar dissent in several other states – Manipur in the northeast, for instance, Manipur, on account of its persistent rebellion, was granted separate state status within the Indian Union in 1972. Same is the case in other north eastern states that are struggling for independence. Even the Sikhs in East Punjab were struggling for an independent state; so are the Naxalite Communists, who are struggling for ‘state power through people’s war’ since 1992, and who presently control large swathes of areas in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
India being mired with internal conflicts of all sorts, and the historic precedence of the Kashmir issue that has not been resolved in the past 70 years to any degree at all, did not cause BJP’s eyes to blink. In fact, BJP and its parent RSS have a very selective view of history.
For them as Modi said, ‘slave mentality of 1200 years’ is troubling, whereas the slave mentality brought by the Aryans, in 1500 BC, that degraded the common populace to a backward class system – a class the common Indian is still forced to live in to this day – is not a troubling slave mentality.
For this reason, the progenitor of BJP, SP Mukherjee, quarrelled with Nehru on Article 370 and the special status for J&K – and in this spat was created the BJS, which later became the BJP. Meaning that along with other Hindutva extremist policies, the annexation of Kashmir, and the obliteration of its right of self-determination – has been the core of BJP philosophy – a philosophy based on vengeance and violence.
The question lingering now after Modi has done this act, terming Kashmir as an internal problem, and having Home Minister Amit Shah announcing the resolution against Article 370, is there no repercussion for India if they commit a gross criminal offence in violation of international legal obligations against a whole nation of people?
Time has proven that the people of Kashmir have been resilient in the face of Indian oppression. The inhuman atrocities that over 600,000 Indian forces subject the Kashmiri people with everyday under the ASFPA special powers – has caused the Kashmiris to be cut, amputated, blinded, raped, disappeared and ruthlessly killed – yet they yearn for throwing off the shackles of captivity – perhaps India may now taste the bitter pill of a true insurgency that is based on true grievances of a real population – and time for BJP to stop living in its lie.
Aneela Shahzad is a geopolitical analyst who frequently writes for Express Tribune and Daily Pakistan Global. She serves as an editor at Maritime Study Forum.