After Home Minister Amit Shah declared in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, 5 August, the government’s intention to do away with the special autonomous status of Jammu & Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution, making the much-feared anticipation of the Kashmiri people true, he opened the doors to a new India, a “new India” that will eventually become a nightmare for all non-Hindi people who love their identity, culture and language. It’s the “new India” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started reiterating since his Hindutva fascist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a landslide victory in the 2019 general election.
Article 370 guaranteed limited autonomy to Jammu & Kashmir and became a part of the Indian Constitution as per the Instrument of Accession signed by the former Hindu monarch of the princely Dogra kingdom in October 1947. Under this treaty, Jammu & Kashmir will become an autonomous part of India and manage everything on its own except external affairs, communication and defence, which were prerogatives of India. The BJP-led government abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A as well as bifurcating Jammu & Kashmir into two union territories — Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh — clearly means India’s formal military occupation of the territory considered as disputed by the United Nations.
These are mentioned multiple times in the media and had little impact on the government, which is running a bush telegraph campaign over Jammu & Kashmir using the dubious networks of the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — the ideological mentor and paternal body of the BJP — to paint a rosy picture over the fate of Jammu & Kashmir, often including innuendos and titillating its hardcore hyper-masculine, majoritarian supremacist, Hindutva-incensed followers by promising them pretty and fair Kashmiri women as trophies. However, the point of deliberation of this article is not the nitty-gritty of these two scrapped articles or the decision itself, as that has been done several times on this portal.
The question is about the planned moves by BJP’s outgoing president Shah and his boss Modi, and it’s about the methods, the narrative, the insidious propaganda and the military prowess used by them to have their will implemented. The question is about the long-term strategy of the BJP and can any of those states that today stand in the way of Modi and Shah’s caravan, remain immune to such an arbitrary act?
Much before this clandestine move of imposing an unprecedented blockade on Kashmir, through imposition of a virtual martial law, locking people in their houses, snapping telephone, mobile and internet connection to enforce an information blackout, started in Jammu & Kashmir, the BJP and the RSS took several steps to prepare the grounds for the drastic change and formal occupation of the territory. It started when the BJP forged an alliance with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a party that was ideologically at the opposite pole, with the sole aim of usurping the power after the 2014 assembly election.
Firstly, they initiated a brutal crackdown on protesters following the killing of a young militant commander Burhan Wani after Eid ul-Fitr of 2016. The government forces fired bullets, pellets and teargas shells at protesters, killing hundreds, maiming thousands and torturing many more since July 2016. The protests, the stone-pelting and the military persecution against the protesters continued even in 2017 and 2018, though Modi claimed during his infamous demonetisation speech on 8th November 2016 evening that stone-pelting in Kashmir will stop immediately. These protests, the vehement call for Azadi (freedom) echoing across the Kashmir valley, despite all the bloodbath and agony it caused to the Kashmiri people — who are dehumanised at each checkpoint by Indian Islamophobic soldiers — bolstered the BJP’s campaign for a hardline solution and allowed it to tempt its hardcore Hindutva-incensed fanatic followers with jingoistic fervour. It gave a fillip to the demand for annexing Jammu & Kashmir, with brute force, by abrogating the constitutional provisions that promised limited autonomy and special status — albeit on paper — to the region.
Secondly, the gruesome gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim tribal girl in Jammu’s Kathua by a gang of Hindutva thugs, in whose support the BJP members and ministers organised large-scale rallies with the Indian flag, exhibited to the Kashmiri Muslims how inhuman Hindutva fascism is and how deeply its toxic Islamophobia runs in the blood of its supporters. Though the culprits were convicted by a court of law later, however, it wasn’t possible in Jammu where the Hindutva-incensed lawyers created a ruckus, prevented the CID from filing chargesheets, harassed and did character assassination of the woman lawyer who took up the victim’s case, and participated in the rallies organised by different RSS outlets to polarise and mobilise the Hindu community against the Muslims and the Kashmiris. Using the Kathua outrage fanned by the Hindutva fascist thugs, which aimed at showcasing the culprits as victims of PDP’s Hinduphobia, the BJP exerted undue pressure on the PDP but the latter, despite its sheer opportunistic politics, didn’t budge to save its already dilapidated image in the Kashmir valley. This gave a golden opportunity to the BJP to lay blames of the coalition government’s failures on Mehbooba Mufti, the former chief minister and PDP supremo, and use the opportunity to seek a divorce from the alliance itself.
Thirdly, before the planned withdrawal from the coalition, the BJP had placed its former leader and an RSS card-bearer, Satya Pal Malik, as the governor of the state. The end of the opportunistic alliance between the BJP-PDP opened the gates to a possible coalition between PDP and its bete noire National Conference, which the BJP was hell-bent to prevent. Using Malik, the Modi regime imposed President’s Rule in Jammu & Kashmir and continued it for more than a year to enjoy the opportune moment when it will unveil its long-pending gameplan over Kashmir. Keeping the President’s Rule, through which New Delhi directly rules Jammu & Kashmir without the state legislative assembly — turned into a rubber stamp institution since the 1960s — or the chief minister, helped the BJP immensely in overriding the constitutional provision of seeking the state’s legislative assembly’s endorsement of a proposal to abolish Article 370 of Indian Constitution. Rather than using the legislative assembly, the BJP used the Governor’s endorsement to do away with the crucial articles.
Lastly, the Modi regime created a fear psychosis over Jammu & Kashmir throughout India following the footsteps of previous governments, starting from the Vishwanath Pratap Singh-led National Front government of 1989 to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government that preceded the BJP’s rule since 2014. It used the same template of stereotyping the Kashmiri people as terrorism sympathisers, funded by Pakistan and carrying an Islamist expansionist agenda against India. This vilification triggered extremist violence against Kashmiris living in Indian states for business or education after a militant attack killed 42 paramilitary soldiers in Pulwama, Kashmir, on 14 February 2019, giving an impetus to the Modi regime in its communal polarisation drive using xenophobia. This systematic vilification and smear campaigns against the Kashmiri people created a mass opinion among India’s political decision-making upper-caste Hindu elites and urban middle class, who considered Kashmiri Muslims their sworn enemies like they consider every other Muslim walking on the street and demanded their mass-deportation to Pakistan while seizing their land and resources for profiteering.
From the landslide victory they have got in the last general election, Modi and Shah knew that they can now implement the RSS’s long-pending plans using their brute majority. They knew that with the amount of vitriol the RSS-led Sangh Parivar has spread regarding Kashmiris and their struggle for freedom from India, abolishing the articles of the Constitution will be a cakewalk. Modi was also certain, thanks to the unwavering support he and the Sangh Parivar receive from the US government of Donald Trump, himself an Islamophobic white-supremacist fascist, and the Zionist Israeli terrorists with Benjamin Netanyahu at their helm, that diplomatically India will have an edge against both Pakistan and China, who would oppose it for officially annexing the disputed territory.
It’s evident from the above steps, which can be mostly credited to Ram Madhav, the RSS leader who remained the BJP’s stalwart in Jammu & Kashmir and the architect of this agenda, that the action was not just a quickly-thought or unplanned one, rather a deeply thought out and executed conspiracy to undermine the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and subjugate them under New Delhi’s military boots. It’s also unlikely that none of the opposition parties had a hunch about this unfolding. The pro and anti-India Kashmiri leadership, who smelled the conspiracy when there was a troop surge in the valley, did make a noise, but they were literally gagged through the brutal crackdown on speech and communication in the valley. Even though some of them escaped the valley, most remain incarcerated even now and aren’t allowed to speak up.
This conspiracy to take away the leftover rights of the Kashmiri people, even though most of them were on papers after a three-decade-old martial law in the valley, is absolutely undemocratic and it signals towards a greater threat to all other provinces of India, which are different from the Hindi heartland — the cow belt — in terms of language, culture and identity, that they may too see major cultural sacrileges committed against them in the days to come. Particularly states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and the seven sister states of northeastern India will face similar assaults on their culture, identity and language due to the aggression of the Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan juggernaut. The preparations have started a long time back with the penetration of the RSS in these regions and the fuelling of communal tensions and violence. It’s only a matter of time to find out which one of these states will be the next to fall to the Hindutva fascist cavalcade after Jammu & Kashmir, and whether there will be any organised resistance by the common people, united on the basis of their language, identity and class interests, against their oppressors and exploiters?