India’s losing battle

25 Sep 2020

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IN a major interview after his release from house arrest, former chief minister of India-held Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah, has bitterly criticised the Indian government’s scrapping of the special status of the occupied territory and said that Kashmiris would rather accept Chinese rule than Indian.

The pro-India Kashmiri leader who is seen by most Kashmiris as a betrayer to their cause, acknowledged that Kashmiris felt like “slaves” and would rise up in protest once the draconian curfew was lifted. He was very clear that the abrogation of Kashmir’s special status as a semi-autonomous region was unacceptable to every Kashmiri and he would struggle to have the status restored.

Farooq Abdullah also said that the differences between his family and that of Mehbooba Mufti — another pro-India former chief minister of occupied Kashmir currently under house arrest — had been settled and that they would work together.

It is clear that India’s move last August to scrap Articles 370 and 35A of its constitution and deprive IHK of its special status has had disastrous results. The step by the BJP government has confirmed beyond a shadow of doubt what the people of Kashmir had feared all along, ie New Delhi wants to forcefully take control of their land by changing its demography and diluting its Muslim and Kashmiri identity. In the year since then, the BJP government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has legislated a new domicile law that enables Hindus to settle and buy property in IHK.

The intent is unambiguous: convert IHK into a Hindu-majority area and deprive Kashmiris of the political and administrative strength that comes with being a majority in their own land. In the process, however, India has alienated every Kashmiri including its puppets like Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. By converting IHK into an open-air jail, India has forced Kashmiris — even those previously aligned with it — to resist this occupation by whatever means possible. The price of this occupation is getting higher for India with each passing day.

This situation cannot be sustained. A growing number of voices within India are also calling out the BJP government for depriving IHK of its special status. Internationally also India is finding it hard to justify its actions. The resistance from the people is certain to increase with time. Now that compromised politicians such as Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti also stand alienated and ready to offer political resistance, India will face a tough time in the coming days.

Countries that can influence India should persuade Mr Modi to return to the path of sanity. In this context, sanity and rationality demand that India restore the special status of occupied Kashmir. The UN resolutions recognise the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir as disputed territory and the dispute’s final resolution lies in the implementation of these resolutions.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2020