Dr Farooq Abdullah and his other colleagues are busy spreading certain myths and lies to regain the lost sympathies of the people who have displayed open hatred for them for the miseries thrust upon them while in power. It is being done in the hope that repeated lies may convince the people of their innocence who may forgive them and help revive their sagging political relevance in the changing environment in Kashmir. Perception is being created of them being victimised. The seven Valley-based political parties have stitched an alliance called Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (referred to as the Alliance hereinafter). If these myths and lies are not busted in time, they may turn into beliefs. Therefore, an effort is being made in subsequent paras to present the truth to the people.
Myth 1: Farooq & Co. claim that the people of Muslim majority J&K decided to join secular India instead of Muslim Pakistan. The reality is that as per India Independence Act 1947, the authority to decide the future of his princely state was vested in the ruler/head of the state and the people of the friendly state had no choice in the matter. Accordingly, Maharaja Hari Singh Ji, the then ruler of the state exercised his option in favour of India by signing the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947, being celebrated as the Accession Day across the UTs of JK and Ladakh.
Myth 2: The abrogation of Article 370 is unconstitutional and arbitrary. The reality is that the said article was abrogated by a 2/3rd majority in both houses of the Parliament which represents 135 crore Indians. 100% members who supported the Bill were not exclusively members of the ruling party BJP but belonged to other parties as well since BJP had only 300 members but 370 votes were needed for the Bill to be passed. A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has already rejected an application to intervene in the implementation of the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019.
Myth 3: Articles 370 and 35A will be restored if Congress returns to power. The reality is that Congress has maintained an ambivalent stand on the issue through conflicting statements by its leader at the national and Pradesh level. Despite the open challenge to Congress to announce that they would reverse the decision, Congress has failed to do so and not made any commitment. Can Congress go against the wishes of more than 100 crore Indians?
Myth 4: BJP is a communal party and promotes divisive politics. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Hands of the leaders of these parties are soaked with the blood of innocent minorities and they are responsible for ethnic cleansing of the Valley as is well known. They have always fought elections on the plea of safeguarding the interests of Muslims by terming BJP as a Hindu party. They are responsible for radicalisation and castigating the Hindu minority as “belonging to just 2.5 districts.” The recent attempts of Omar Abdullah and Iltija Mufti, daughter of Mehbooba Mufti who acted as her mouthpiece when she was under confinement, to stoke communal flames at the time peace is returning to the Valley through their baseless accusations of communal bias in appointments at the UT level speak volumes about their secular credentials. Their statements were not only misguiding but provocative based on half-baked data.
Myth 5: There will be no one to carry the Tiranga if 370 is repealed. The national tricolour flies proudly atop all buildings and offices in Jammu & Kashmir. There was overwhelming participation of the people during Independence Day celebrations this year despite the fear of Covid. Flag hoisting, cultural programmes, games and sports activities were organised with gusto across the Valley, including remote villages. Very recently, a day before the seditious statement of Mehbooba Mufti, hundreds of Kashmiri youth marched across the Gupkar Road, where most of these leaders reside, carrying Tiranga and shouting anti-Pakistan slogans on their way to the nearby office of UN to mark the Black Day, the day Pakistan Army backed by raiders attacked the princely state for its forcible annexation. The inhuman atrocities committed by the Pakis form a gory chapter in the state’s history for which Pakistan can never be forgiven. However, the sight of youth carrying the Tiranga was unbearable for these leaders and Mehbooba tried to discourage them through her statement the very next day.
One Nation, One Constitution and One Flag is an accepted norm in J&K. Hence there is no space left for sub-nationalism now. They have to either amalgamate with the rest of the nation or join the separatist fold
Lie 1: “The alliance is not anti-national.” Without digging into their past but going just by their recent utterances, let the people decide for themselves if they are anti-national or not. The President of the alliance is on record to have said in an interview with an on-line portal that “Kashmiris don’t feel that they are Indians” and invited the Chinese. A few days later he gave another pro-China seditious statement. He not only gave legitimacy to the Chinese incursions in Ladakh but went further to say that Article 370 will be restored with Chinese help. Thereafter, the Vice President of the Alliance shocked the entire nation by insulting the National Flag and made recognition of the National Flag conditional to the restoration of the state flag, which became a non-entity with bidding goodbye to the Constitution of the erstwhile state consequent to abrogation of 370. With this mind-set, how can Dr Abdullah claim the alliance not to be anti-national?
Lie 2: “The alliance is not religion specific.” A mere glance at the list of office bearers of the alliance from top to bottom will puncture this lie by itself. Not once but for the third time, the alliance has not included any non-Muslim. There is no signatory from Jammu region and neither any office bearer has been chosen from the region. Undoubtedly, the alliance is not only religion but region-specific as well.
Lie 3: “The alliance is fighting for the restoration of special status to Jammu & Kashmir.” Jammu & Kashmir never had a special status. Neither the Constitution of India nor any official legal document of the Government of India uses the term “Special Status” with reference to J&K. Then where is the question of its restoration? Article 370 was a temporary provision which gave special powers but no status. These special powers were co-terminus with Article 370. Farooq has himself admitted that we are fighting for “our rights.” Yes, they are fighting for the restoration of their VVIP status, which they feel is ‘their right’ since they are the custodian of Kashmiri identity.
Lie 4: “Our aim is to ensure the rights of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are restored.” The alliance, as brought out earlier, does not represent Jammu or Ladakh. Ladakh is overjoyed by becoming a UT, their long-pending demand. They have just voted for the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. They are least interested in status quo. The local units of NC and PDP have been disbanded moment Ladakh was declared as a UT. As regards Jammu is concerned, the public sentiments are overwhelmingly against Kashmiri hegemony. They have not forgotten the discrimination they suffered at the hands of these leaders. They are in no mood to give up their newly acquired freedom. There are no takers for status quo. However, there is a growing demand in Jammu for separate statehood. The public sentiments are against any truck with these leaders and they do not want at any cost to be ruled by them again.
A few stark realities stare at the alliance which it is refusing to recognise. Firstly, One Nation, One Constitution and One Flag is an accepted norm in J&K. Hence there is no space left for sub-nationalism now. They have to either amalgamate with the rest of the nation or join the separatist fold. Secondly, these parties for long exploited the innocent Kashmiris and survived on two “S” (Sympathy and Sentiments) but due to their doings, these have yielded space to two “A” (Anger and Antipathy). These days the Kashmiris, particularly the youth which forms the majority, are led by a single “A” (ASPIRATIONS). They are least interested in their power politics. The alliance needs to accept these realities and lead the Kashmiris in realising their aspirations rather than plunging them back into the dark past.
(The writer is a Jammu-based veteran, political commentator, columnist, security and strategic analyst. The views expressed by the author are entirely personal)