Lt Col Krishan Chand (retd)
Ever since accession to India on 26 Oct 1947 the State has been under constitutional, legal, moral and administrative constraints of many kinds, keeping the State insecure, violence ridden and under-developed due to Pakistan invasions, infiltration of terrorists, support and funding of separatists, terror net work support system and, for nearly three decades now, active support of all kinds to militancy and Islamism. Internally legal, moral and religious support for all the afore stated ills and mal-administration derives from Art. 370 that was rather surreptitiously inserted in Constitution of India by presidential power without cabinet/ parliamentary approval, as a temporary and transient provision- understandably on the specious plea of the State being a Muslim majority State. This Temporary and transient Art has unfortunately been allowed to stay to bedevil India’s security and governance now for far too long and needs to go for better integration, governance and, fair and equal treatment of all people and regions of the State and as a bonus to put an end, once for all, to Pakistan backed militancy, separatism and fanatic Islamism in the Kashmir Valley. Art 370 has outlived whatever temporary use its progenitors ( Sheikh Mohammad Abdulla and Jawahar Lal Nehru-then PMs of J&K State and Republic of India) had, and, has now become a mill-stone around the neck of both the State and the Indian Union. Sooner we muster the courage to remove it the better. Many difficulties are advanced by vile minded legal experts on various grounds for their personal benefit and have passed muster because of corruption, separatism and vote-bank politics suiting the erstwhile ruling polity. Now, with NDA in power, the country expects them to mend matters and steadfastly work to make India strong and secure in every way. Deletion of offending Art 370 would be, the most, important step in that direction.
There is mistaken perception in both Jammu and Ladakh regions that Kashmiri Muslims only have benefitted from this Art and that Jammu and Ladakh have been and are being oppressed and deprived of their fair share in political power, development funds and jobs in the state govt. In actual fact, Kashmiris of all faiths have suffered the most (excepting about 300 families, Muslim clergy and the corrupt officials) with chronic disturbances, curfews, encounters, searches, Bandhs, strikes, shortages and above all exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, affecting tourism, daily life, education, health, development, liberties and security of life and limb of innocent citizens on daily basis. I’ve a gut feeling arising from some acquaintance with Valley social conditions during three tours of duty, that the common people even today yearn for Governor Jagmohan type honest, sincere and performing governance and after this is assured for some time, the bogey of separatism and rump of its support, where-ever and how-ever it may still be, will lose its bite and support among the masses. That there is chronic corruption, nepotism, oppression, poor service delivery and pervasive fear of insecurity and terror is all too evident for all to see. The oligarchy of about 300 Valley based Muslim families that has been ruling the State in various combinations has no mass following and has been surviving and thriving by alternating between cosying up to Govt at the Centre and separatists, as convenient, from time to time. Pakistan, separatism, autonomy and independence bogey is peddled often to grab power and swindle central funds as a matter of course. It will therefore, take some serious planning and doing to expose and disabuse this oligarchy of the tenability of this approach any more and, convince the general population that matters are going to change for the better. Ideally a serious endeavour ought to be made to let in fresh blood into Kashmir politics from all three regions with focus on the Valley as existing oligarchy might find it difficult to rid itself of old baggage.
How-ever, before we get there we’ll have to steadfastly convince, by words, supported by policies and actions that we’re truly a secular, socialist and democratic state, both competent and committed to fair and just, corruption free governance in administration. Policing and justice delivery. In my over 50 years of being sensitive to our political and administrative set-up, this is the best period ever for us to do what we wanted to, but, couldn’t do earlier. Modi led NDA can, and must constitutionally remove the incongruous and offending Art 370 at the earliest, legally by an act of President/ Parliament at the earliest, for which no time can be better than now to start by sustained public awareness drive.
External situation in favour of enlightened moderation in Islam and shedding of medieval practices was never better before. With spread of mass communication and scientific temperament supported by it, the medieval version of Islam is socially untenable, even in autocracies/ theocracies. People,all across the globe, are focussed and pre-occupied with getting on with their lives and, religious chores are often an irritant and a drag-more rigid and demanding they are, more anger and opposition they create. That even the Saudi Monarchy is compelled to moderate and give its women more freedom, is proof of the trend. I often see and feel surging demand among enlightened section of Pakistan civil society and media for inclusive and co-operative co-existence with all faiths and forms of Govt-shining example of this is thriving friendship with godless communist China!
We need to socially and as a governmental policy emphasise that since God cares for every being and non-being equally-there being no apparent reason for him not to, as all is his creation for believers- he just can’t appreciate and condone hatred, on account of faiths. Should he have desired, all human beings could have had one faith, language, colour and even appearance, so what is all this disputing about? Our Govt, political parties, media, educational institutions all need to rise to the occasion and propagate that any pandering to caste and community is obnoxious and inconsistent with equality and secularism-the founding core values of our constitution, and, it is bounden duty of every institution to both avow and promote these among all. Religious freedom therefore must not be allowed to mess with governance and individual liberty and rightsany moreany where.
In conclusion I make bold effort to suggest that a short spell of a competent secular minded Governor’s rule is a must to create conducive atmosphere among a budding crop of young fresh faces in politics in the State and also, for seeding hope among people with efficient, honest and performing administrative machinery in the State. To my mind this should be attempted in concert with other measures before the next general election 2019 ideally. The work and orientation of policies to this end must begin in earnest now. Nuts and bolts of the final plan must emerge from credible ground inputs and reasoned cool consideration of national and international effects and repercussions with focus on welfare, development and communal harmony in the State. Pakistan and its terror net-work has to be factored in and disabled/ contained.
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