Thursday, January 25, 2007

Article 370?

Ever since its Jan Sangh days, the BJP has been ideologically consistent in asking for the repealing of Article 370 from the Indian Constitution. In fact, it is one of the rare issue where the party has been actually consistent.
At a principle level, I agree with BJP's demand. With India's fragmented federal entity, where a series of states (mainly erstwhile provinces and kingdoms) are held together by an extremely abstract concept of nationalism, there is absolutely no reason for one particular state to occupy a special place in the eyes of the Indian State.
So what if Kashmir has been coveted by a prickly neighbour created out of us, against the very basic tenets of a secular India. So what if Kashmir was the birthplace of our first PM, one who defined and still continues to define India. So what if Kashmir was Nehru's favourite, and he can be held singular responsible for converting it into an international mess, going against the very fundamentals of the way independent India was organised after the British left. And so what if in ideal circumstances, Kashmir is, and should have been, the symbolic showcase of secular India.
We need article 370 because for some reasons - both actual and perceived - we have never really managed to integrate Kashmir into Hindustan. And the international spotlight has not helped! We have had problems in the North-East, with one of the biggest and remotest state always shown in Chinese maps as their own. Yet, kudos to Pakistan and thumbs-down to India, for managing to keep the Kashmir dispute alive, and kicking.
For some reasons, the Indian State has always managed to rub Kashmir (not necessarily Jammu and Ladakh), and Kashmiris, the wrong way. And all those who believe that the Indian State is soft, I think it is anything but so out there in Srinagar and vicinities, behaving more like a colonial occupier.
I do not know the exact details of why Tariq Ahmed Dar was detained and put in jail. But it looks so much a case of victimisation. A successful exported Kashmiri celebrity figure is expelled by another hostile neighbour, Bangladesh (who India only created by undertaking one of the most successful invasions post-World War Second). He is accused of being a spy sent by our RAW. And when he lands back in New Delhi, we immeditely accuse him of being a militant and detain him for five months. I know a lot many poor, nameless victims suffer worse in India, but I am sure anyone else, from any other region, of the same social status as Dar, would not have suffered the same fate.
This perceived vicitmisation is the sole reason why I am against the hanging of Mohammad Afzal. He is guilty for sure, so sentence him. But the only reason we are hanging him because there is no one else left to hang. By their very nature, since Fidayeen-squads negate the possibility of capital punishment, we are now going after their abetters.
As ex-PM Vajpayee had out it, insaniyat can be a larger cause. And to extend the reasoning, why could we not have had the Kashmiri lad Abid Nabi in our list of ICC World Cup probables. After all, he is supposedly one of the fastest in the country. Munaf played his first-class game against a touring team simply on a similar recommendation by another Aussie giant, Dennis Lillee.


satya said...

First, J&k cannot be equated with the other states of India. Do remember that J&K joined the Indian 'union' when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession. And we should atleast respect legal agreements.

Secondly, I am not in favour of a stronger centre (Central Government). At the time of independence it made sense to have the Indian constitution be a Federal Union with a Unitary Bias, today it doesnt make sense. This is the first step to greater democratisation and freeing up of regional energies. Nagaland and Mizoram too have a special status apart from Kashmir and I dont see any problem with me asserting a Bihari identity along with my Indian one and this should be real first in political terms.

Have we as a nation matured beyond the ties of 'abstract nationalism'? I dont know. But its time we grew up and laughed at notions of an Indian Balkanisation, which is what prompted the Constituent Assembly to give the federal structure a unitary bias.

The Tariq Ahmed Dar case is amazing. This whole Muslim gung ho is the responsibility of over-vigilant and irresponsible media. The state has to respect human rights, TADA and POTA kind of laws have no place in a democratic society and if they exist, you will end up making a lot more terrorists in your endevaour to kill them. Remember Gulzar's Maachis, I bet it is much worse for the Muslims owing to their under representation in the Police and the general societal belief that a Muslim is basically a terrorist unlike what the Indian constitution dictates that, one is innocent till proved guilty. For the trigger happy, slothful, communalised police (Merrut 1987 and the Provincial Armed Constabulory) in our country, every Muslim is guilty till they prove themsleves innocent and the society sits and watches. We are as much guilty for this state of affairs.

Abhigyan said...

I definitely agree with you. And Kashmir has had a special status in our constitution because of historic reasons. But I guess we need to move onto the same status for most of other states now, with the threat of Balkanisation gone.
The Indian state will allow no more liquidation, either politically or militarily.