There is a fair degree of astonishment and surprise bordering on shock being expressed by media and some political entities with regard to the reorganisation of the state of Jammu & Kashmir and the changes carried out in the content and context of Article 370. Is this reaction warranted or justified?
It is common knowledge that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would do this the moment it had the required majority, and yet, the party has been elected to power with an overwhelming majority not once but twice. Not only at the Centre but in Jammu & Kashmir too BJP has made significant electoral gains. Under the circumstance what is so strange in the action that the BJP led government has taken?
A reality check would make it evident that other parties across the political spectrum have been in favour of such a move overtly and covertly. Now that BJP has done what they did not have the guts to do, should they not be expected to remain quiet and allow the party to deal with the fall out? Instead, they are expressing different shades of horror with all the verbosity that they can muster. It is negative and abrasive politics all the way.
It would be appropriate to also dwell on the role of the media. Whereas the decision of the Government has received wide-ranging approval from a large section of the fourth estate on the basis of the positive reaction of people at large, there are some who are simply indulging in a highly violent, jaundiced and propagandist campaign that has no basis whatsoever. A specific category of journalists, analysts, writers, authors, columnists and the self-important so-called opinion-makers are writing volumes of blatantly yellow journalism, expressing views and rendering advice where none is solicited and where they have no expertise to comment.
These elements had predicted large scale violence in Kashmir in the aftermath of the decision; nothing of that sort has happened. The situation in Jammu & Kashmir has remained more or less stable ever since the legislative process has been completed with an overwhelming majority in the Indian Parliament. The Eid celebrations went off in a peaceful manner and people are coming out slowly. The security forces, while keeping an Eagle’s eye, are facilitating this movement in a very courteous manner. Government offices and primary schools have been opened, but attendance is low. Landline facility is being extended. Kashmir has seen much worse earlier in terms of disruption, disturbance and disorder. It can, therefore, be said that the situation is tense but very much in control.
Now this set of disrupters is creating hysteria about the restrictions that have been imposed in the state by the Government. They are predicting a virtual ‘holocaust’ the moment the restrictions are removed. Nothing of this sort is likely to happen. The security forces, led by the Indian Army remain very confident of dealing with the situation as their senior-most officers have consistently reiterated to the media.
This media campaign is following a script laid down by Pakistan. It is now quite evident that the country can do little to change the situation. It tried to garner international support through the UNSC but failed miserably; it has no friends save China and surprisingly a bit of the United Kingdom to look for support. Its precarious economic situation does not allow any precipitate action on its part.
Pakistan wants the locals of Kashmir to react forcefully along the lines of Palestinian “Intifada”. While the Kashmiris’ will be egged on the path towards self-destruction, Pakistan will give only “moral support.” So, it has put in place a massive religion-based psychological campaign to incite the people of Kashmir into coming out in open revolt. It will be driven by the social media and supported by the many assets that Pakistan has nurtured in the valley and in its own backyard. Already the leaders of Pakistan-based militant groups are circulating audio, video and text messages through social media groups in which they are inciting the people. In this, it has the support of the segments of anti-national media within India that has been referred to above.
Whereas the decision of the Government has received wide-ranging approval from a large section of the fourth estate on the basis of the positive reaction of people at large, there are some who are simply indulging in a highly violent, jaundiced and propagandist campaign that has no basis whatsoever
The hapless Kashmiris are psychologically manipulated by forces from outside the country and from within. The many elements out to inflame the situation have vested political and financial interests. When the dust settles down, these elements will actively engineer protests and disruption. The government is, quite rightly, unwilling to allow such a situation to develop which could lead to chaos and unnecessary death of innocent civilians; hence, it is quite content to play the waiting game and hence the restriction which are for the better.
It has been firmly said by the Indian Government that this is an internal issue of the country and most nations have accepted this. They are maintaining a discreet distance. Is it not appropriate for all others to follow the example of the international community and allow the people of Jammu & Kashmir to decide for themselves as to how they should deal with the situation? In Jammu & Kashmir, there are so many regions and so many communities, each one of which will be affected in a different manner and will have to work out its own adjustments. It is very important to give to the people of Jammu & Kashmir adequate time and space to absorb the changes that have taken place and work out their response to the same.
It would be best if the so-called experts within the country lay off from taking ownership and deciding the fate of the people of Jammu &Kashmir. They have neither the right nor the expertise or the mandate to do so.
(The writer is a reputed geopolitical analyst, columnist and author)