Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo
Ever since the 1947 developments, political questions regarding Jammu and Kashmir kept the whole nation engrossed with the possible answers. Every answer had its loaded overtones in context of the ideological background from where the answers were shot. It was/is always silly to get compelled to listen to the so-called experts on Kashmir to write, speak and suggest ideas who in particular declare themselves as “astute observers” of the subject without having any tangible physical and spiritual relationship with the Jammu and Kashmir state.
It has been a common practice over the last one hundred years, and particularly the last fifty years, to visit Jammu and Kashmir, meet a few selected people in the state, make a round of the tourist hubs, spend time in hotels or houseboats and on return write book or booklet to get “registered” and “recognised” as someone having the value of an advisor on Kashmir.
A plethora of such advisory opinions through sponsored means, events and tours were marketed well by the vested interests all the time. Most of the times, the people in J&K would get annoyed, irritated or agitated with such a campaign of the people interested in making money, name and status in the name of Kashmir without actually contributing to the real solutions. Generally, these so-called experts would not even care to visit the state next time to have a review and reconsideration of or improve upon their earlier observations regarding the subject which carved out the unrequired niche for them.
Hardly any so-called expert over the last seven decades, including the hardcore politicians who were in the successive governments, pointed to the core issue which created a mess in Jammu and Kashmir. There was always a denial of the political marshy land that was given birth to in and after 1947 by the political vested interests in Jammu and Kashmir on a perpetual basis. It was said in context of Jammu and Kashmir that ‘the sky is the limit’. This idea had a genesis in the politically immature statements and projections supported by the constitutional mechanism which was drafted in the Constituent Assembly in 1949 by the stubborn-ness of Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah.
‘Sky is the limit’ narrative included everything under the sun, and separatism, fundamentalism, majoritarianism, theocratic dispensation, Azadi and terrorism were the logical outcome introduced at various intervals by the respective promoters. Nehru proposed to use the special status granted to the state as a bargaining chip that could eventually be used to reverse the wrongs. His whole political narrative was a double edged weapon and it did what such weapons do in most of such circumstances. It cut the core nationalist narrative in the erstwhile state of J&K, oftenly, to unimaginable size. Seven long decades failed to realise the desired national interests in Kashmir. Instead, core nationalist constituency in Kashmir was forced to make exodus ab initio in 1947 culminating in 1989-90 due to terrorism and ethnic cleansing.
The Nehruvian vision of politics and statecraft failed to win over anything tangible from Indian point of view in Kashmir. Terrorism, mass exodus of minorities in Kashmir, communal massacres in Jammu and Kashmir, political uncertainty in the state coupled with reactionary, seditious and highly provocative statements by the mainstream and separatist politicians in J&K set the stage ready for final think-over on the issue. Pakistan’s interference added accelerating the processes that were ignited in 2012-2014 period in this regard by the new would-be dispensation at the centre.
Consequent upon a persistent and continuous debate, discussion and campaign, August 5/6, 2019 wrote a new history with the introduction of new political realities and division of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state. The initial public reactions are justifiable so are the administrative measures to save human lives. Both the security forces and the public in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir deserve kudos for maintaining law and order, peace and tranquility. Restrictions are preventive and are a matter of short-term targets. So are the preventive custodial detentions. But the time to realise the realizable has come. It would be wise to do it sooner than later.
As long as, Pakistan considers Kashmir a boundary issue, it will always find itself wanting to get any sort of international support. History bears a testimony to the fact that no nation likes to interfare in an issue of boundaries between the two countries. Terrorism hasn’t and cannot fetch the political results to Pakistan nor would it have an unchallenged situation in this regard. Scores of terror outfits and terror kingpins in Pakistan are on the UN and US sanction-list. India is also determined to finish terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir in order to establish peace and gear up for the process of unprecedented development.
The changed scenario post abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A is irreversible, undoubtedly. There is an overwhelming opinion in favour of the move both in the Government and in the parliament of India. The determination of the political class has got reinforced due to the miserable failure of Congress & Co. in the last general elections to improve its strength. There is no likelihood to visualise a possible reversion of this Constitutional revolution in future course of time. A number of other political measures are in sight which will make and take the new political narrative on Kashmir to new heights. In such a situation, it would be prudent to scan the scenario keeping in view the past and future of Jammu and Kashmir.
There are enough opportunities to realise the realizable in context of Kashmir. The earlier political fault lines are a thing of past, their repetition are bound to add more confusion, mayhem and destruction. No one in Kashmir would love Kashmir to become one more Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq. A large number of opportunities, within the national ambit, in the fields of politics, trade, commerce, education, tourism and agriculture will create a new hope for the generations to come. A society that has lost thousands of its members in J&K over the last three decades of destruction is put to a historical challenge to take its next course.
Olden days are not always the golden days for all but there is always a possibility to carve out an opportunity to aspire for Golden days and realise them too in one’s life time. It is not possible without realising that enough is really enough.
Kashmir needs a new leadership that can visualise a future for the next centuries. The time is up and so are the aspirations that can catch the imagination of the new set of people in command in both the two provinces, Jammu and Kashmir. A positive promise in the Kashmir valley awaits a handshake that the new, energetic and visionary leadership is capable to have, as soon as possible….!
Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo