The final battle



M. Ziauddin

Having miserably failed to put down the 70 year-long freedom Intifada that was being waged by the occupied Kashmiris the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now stooping down to back-stab the oppressed people by trying to change the very demography of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
What his military might let loose on unarmed people by about 700,000 troops could not achieve the Indian PM wants to accomplish by getting aliens invade IOK to turn the State’s majority into minority.
Indeed, if he were to succeed in his nefarious objective by getting lifted the legal barrier that bars Indians from purchasing property and land in IOK he would more than likely win a clear majority in the IOK Assembly in the next elections and then would have no problem in getting a resolution passed by the House clearing the way for the Lok Sabah to do away with Article 370 of the Constitution which guarantees a special status to the IOK.
First he used anti-Pakistan rhetoric during his 2014 election campaign to prime his populace to join him in his political maneuvers to revoke the special status that the Indian Constitution has granted to the IOK.
Next, he went all out to manipulate the elections in the IOK later the same year in such a manner as to win a majority in the State Assembly. He almost made it but was stopped short by just a few seats.
Had he succeeded in grabbing the majority in the State Assembly by even a single vote he would have wasted no time in getting the House pass the dreaded resolution for doing away with Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that had all these years kept IOK out of the clutches of New Delhi.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDO) of the late Mufti Saeed (now being headed by his daughter Mehbooba Mufti who is also the Chief Minister of IOK) which had won a simple majority in the IOK assembly by only a couple of votes fearing that Modi would not desist from his machinations if left to his own devicestried to pre-empt him by inviting BJP to form a coalition government but on condition that it would never ever try to manipulate the IOK Assembly to get that unwanted resolution passed.
Consequently, an accord called Agenda for Alliance (AoA) was signed between the PDP and BJP laying down this condition in very clear terms as the two set up a coalition government.
But Modi bent upon integrating IOK into the Indian Union come what may has now turned to the Indian Supreme Court to achieve his reprehensible objective. He has had a front organization file a petition in the Indian Supreme Court to do away with Article 35-A that bars Indians from purchasing land in IOK.
The said Article was extended to J&K through the Constitutional (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order issued in 1954. It was specifically devised to grant protection to state subject laws that had already been defined under the Maharaja’s rule and notified in 1927 and 1932.
Under this law only state subjects are entitled to owning land in the State later divided into two parts by the Line of Control (LoC). The argument being used by those that oppose this Article is that this makes IOK exclusive and it should be thrown open to people from the rest of India.
The State government of Mehbooba Mufti is defending the case in the Indian Supreme Court but its outcome depends on how the SC approaches the merit of case. Many in the IOK fear that the SC succumbing to pressure from Hindutva goons could go along with the petitioner.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has already warned everyone concerned not to tinker with Article 35-A. She said if it is done away with then the reaction in the State would be unprecedented in its severity and India could finally lose the support of even those who want IOK to remain aligned to India and do not lend shoulder to the on-going struggle for ‘Azadi’ or joining Pakistan. The entire opposition comprising the National Conference, Congress, CPI (M) and other regional parties have also voiced against scraping the Article.
Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah has warned of graver consequences stating that the people of IOK would go to any extent to defeat the move. Mehbooba and Abdullah are putting up a joint front and the Indian opposition parties have also promised to join what appears to be the final battle as PM Modi dictated by what appears to be his vain personaseems to have committed the blunder of his life
The case is listed for hearing on August 26. The BJP has until then to make up its mind: either to withdraw the petition or to join the battle to the finish.
Interestingly those groups struggling for freedom from the Indian yolk but divided on the ideological lines too have joined hands and formed a unified resistance leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Farooq and Yasin Malik. This is the first time that those on either side of the ideological divide are on the same page. More likely the pro-India and anti-India forces within IOK would also join the protestsbecause the former group as well would be equally affected adversely if the Article in question is removed.
There is also talk of approaching Ladakh to get the region to join the fight as removal of the said Article would be equally harmful to their people. And Jammu too is being wooed with the same argument though knowing very well the widespread influence that BJP enjoys there.
In Kashmir demography tends to be at the centre of concern, but Jammu might think in economic terms and could revolt against forces hell bent on robbing the state of its special status.
In fact Maharaja Hari Singh who himself was from Jammu had enacted the law to keep his State safe from encroachment by people from adjacent Punjab province.
The following is a pertinent quote in this regard from a recent article by Shujaat Bukhari, Editor-in-Chief of Rising Kashmir, Srinagar: “As of now political circles are focused on the issue of special status and with the resistance camp joining the bandwagon. Has BJP achieved anything by changing the discourse or has it opened up the space for greater unity of political forces in Kashmir? The special status issue has the potential to snowball into a major political revolt. If Delhi can’t give the people Azadi, it cannot deprive them of autonomy either.”
What can Islamabad do to help the oppressed people of IOK at this crucial juncture in their blood soaked history? The first and the foremost task for our establishment should be to keep on a tighter leash those elements who draw their inspiration from militancy.
Next, it should try to mobilize the Kashmiri Diaspora scattered all over the world, especially in the UK where they have significant political clout because of their numbers.
The focus should be to help the Kashmiri Diaspora in major world capitals to bring international pressure on the Modi government to desist from changing the demography of the IOK.

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