This refers to the write up “Is Article 370’s ….. By B.L. Saraf (DE Oct 31). Ruling political parties are within the bounds of logic to talk about their positive achievements in public domain. Achievements like BDC/Panchayat elections etc. are to be gauged not by the criterion of which party wins how many votes but by the imperative of fundamental democratic principle of empowering the people and facilitating their right to self governance. Congress still sells its Bangladesh achievement while meticulously hiding 1984 carnage of Sikh community. The writer, like many other Kashmir watchers, has taken only a myopic view of assessing and analysing revocation of two sub-clauses of Article 370 and doing away with 35-A. Article 370, in its original form, was theoretically as well as practically a recognition not only of the politically inspired supremacy of non-secular identity but also, and more dangerously, an endorsement of sub-nationalism in the erstwhile state. Both meant infraction of secularist dispensation and national integration. In such a scenario, the religious, linguistic and cultural minorities in all the three regions of the erstwhile State were reduced to the level of secondary citizenship and forcibly deprived of the privileges accruing to the artificially carved out domineering segment of society. Ever since the induction of populist rule in 1947, decades-old resentment of the people of Jammu and Ladakh regions against blatant discrimination– tenaciously conserved by the “old guard”—, remained a cry in wilderness to the ruling Sultans in Srinagar and New Delhi. In recent three decades, the policy of the valley-based leadership was mockingly simplified as “gun from Pakistan and money from India”. The rhetoric of “talks with Pakistan” was meant to legitimize the communal agenda, and no appeal was ever made for eschewing the gun and gun culture because Kashmir leadership chose to play ducks and drakes with its people. Obviously, blackmailing cannot survive the onslaught of the march of history.
The learned writer is well informed on the phenomenon of resurgence of radical Islam world over especially in the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. Many Arab countries have begun to understand the onerous task undertaken by democratic India in straightening out the angularities that obstructed modernization of Indian Muslim society for too long a period. “Emasculation” of Article 370, in the words of the author, is to be understood in terms of pulling Kashmir out of seriously debilitating isolation and inward-looking phenomenon in an age in which societies are obliged to find avenues for greater and mutually more beneficial relationship in social and economic terms. Yes, the old political guard in Kashmir does still hold some sway particularly among its beneficiaries who, evidently, find themselves now in an ideological vacuum and hence the psyche of vengeance.