Ever since I have taken interest in Indian politics, the approach of the Indian government to the Kashmir problem has been similar to the guy who keeps on pressing the elevator button again and again, expecting that the elevator will pick up on his urgency and hurtle down to take him up. The Indian governments have engaged in “talks”, often using “PR representatives of secessionists” also known as interlocutors, and our wise men keep on telling us that we need to keep talking, about what I do not understand. This has led to the growth of a Kashmiri political class, who have, to use an old Wren and Martism, hunted with the hounds and run with the hare. They have benefited personally from such “talks” by playing both sides. However they have, over the decades, proven useless in addressing any of the core problems. As a matter of fact, they have made it worse.
Now as Article 370 stands dismantled effectively, despite still being on the books, two things are certain. One is that the business model of the political interlocutors has been disrupted. And two is that there will be immense outrage on social media. In order to prevent myself from having to say the same thing multiple times, I have compiled here a frequently yet unanswered but definitely will be answered questions, as the waves of outrage dash against my social media feeds.
1. Why not plebiscite?
Answer: Plebiscite is not for Article 370 but for annexation to Pakistan. The plebiscite, promised by once by Chacha Nehru (Greatness be unto him), could only be done, as per T&C, if Pakistan withdrew their troops totally and then India did, just keeping that part necessary to maintain order. Since the preconditions of Pakistan withdrawing from PoK will never happen, neither will the plebiscite. There is also that little moral problem I have that you do not get to do a plebiscite after demographic change, after communally picking out Hindu pandits and ejecting them from their homeland. Any plebiscite is rigged by default.
2. Why not discuss the “abrogation” of Article 370 with the people of Kashmir?
Answer: In other words, talks. Now, legislation is not done through SMS polls (unless you are the AAP government in Delhi). There is, unfortunately, no formal avenue for discussion with the people of Kashmir, other than elections. The way I look at it, the democratically elected government of India, which has an overwhelming mandate, twice in two elections, has implemented one of their fundamental election planks. They did not spring a surprise like demonetization for which truly they had no mandate. The power of abrogation of 370 comes to the current government from the people of India, Kashmir included, through our democratic institutions. You may say “this fascist Hitler is not my leader”, but unfortunately this is the way democracy works. Sorry.
3. Oh screw this all, you know as well as I know the people of Kashmir dont want to be with India. Why not just let them decide their own fate?
Answer: If you believe that an Islamic fundamentalist movement should be allowed to establish an Islamic theocracy after the genocide of minority Hindus just because they want to (as a point just listen to Geelani’s latest video to understand what the basis of their “Freedom struggle is” is in case you think I am a Hindu lying fascist), I hope you will be consistent when in some Pradesh, under the leadership of some Yogi, they want to throw out their minority of Muslims and establish their own Hindu theocracy, Harshavardhan-sthaan or Prayaag-super-raaj or whatever with the cow as their national animal. Something tells me you won’t be. But if you do, I understand and accept your opinion, while disagreeing with it.
As for me, I find all religious theocracies, Muslim and Hindu, fundamentally abhorrent, and the idea of India, if such a thing exists, is to make sure that religion does not define politics. Any religion. Yes including mine.
The door to forming countries on the basis of religion closed on August 15, 1947. If you open the portal again, then there is no telling what will come through.
4. Will this help the people of Kashmir?
Answer: The good people of Kashmir have been held hostage by a leadership class that consists of fundamentally honest religious fundamentalists and opportunists who are out for power and money. Talks with them or through them will not lead to any new outcomes. If there will be any solution to Kashmir, it has to be economic prosperity, people will be so busy making money that they wont have time for religious madness. As a friend pointed out, we want to become like the US when no one wants to split, and states like Puerto Rico desperately want to join. With the broker families and their enablers being short-circuited and ultimately made redundant, the benefits of India’s progress will go direct to the people, as they do to all other states. And with the bifurcation, it allows for development of Ladakh, a 70% Buddhist by population, environmentally sensitive part of the country, which has long claimed step-motherly treatment from the state government at Jammu and Kashmir.
Will the abrogation of Article 370 solve the problem? Will this bring jobs and prosperity to this desperately poor part of the country?
I do not know, but it is worth a try. Because we have been “talking” for decades, and there has been very little to show for it. The only realistic other solution is independence of Kashmir or accession to Pakistan, or more precisely the independence of Kashmir and then accession to Pakistan, and if you do not think that is the way out, well, this is the only other way.