Kashmir issue as BJP sees it


At a special exhibition in New Delhi to commemorate Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee, BJP president Amit Shah plied a familiar BJP line on Kashmir. He attacked India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru for messing up Kashmir by his “historic blunder”. And this blunder, according to Shah, is the declaration of the truce when Pakistan-backed tribal raiders were being repulsed in Kashmir in 1948.  He said if such a decision was not made, the J&K would not be a problem today.  

“If Jawaharlalji had not declared a ceasefire at that time, the Kashmir issue would not have existed,” Shah said. The other standard saffron charge against Nehru is that he took Kashmir to United Nations and pledged plebiscite for the state. Incidentally, the exhibition on Mookerjee was held at Nehru Memorial Museum & Library which was once Nehru’s home underlining thus symbolically the takeover of India by a rightwing Hindu ideology antithetical to the inclusive Nehruvian idea of India. 

Mookerjee had died in a Kashmir jail while protesting the special status accorded to the state under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. In fact, the Jana Sangh’s slogan of Ek Vidhan, Ek Nishan, Ek Pradhan (One Law, One Symbol, One Leader) emerged from Mookerjee’s opposition to J&K’s autonomous status. In 1951, he was on his way to J&K to violate the permit system that then forbade free entry of Indian citizens into J&K. He was arrested by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, then J&K Prime Minister and put in jail, where he died on June 23 the same year.

From Sangh perspective, and which finds some resonance among India’s liberal class too,  Nehru should have occupied the entire Jammu and Kashmir and not declared truce after driving out tribal raiders from a large part of the Kashmir Valley. This is a strategy that was used in Hyderabad where Nizam who had decided to accede to Pakistan was forced to surrender after India Army invaded the state, ironically referred to as Police Action.      

According to Sangh thinking, if similar course had been followed in Kashmir and Nehru had not gone to UN, Kashmir dispute would not have arisen in the first place. One, because India would have militarily overrun the state. Second, there would be no issue at the United Nations. And third, Kashmir would have had no special status in Indian Union, no constitutional guarantee to safeguard its demographic character.  New Delhi could have thus easily settled people from the mainland India in the state and similarly industrial houses could have set up the base in the state. 

While on its face, this idea of merging J&K into India sounds easy and practical, it is nakedly aggressive in nature. It has no place, neither for the aspirations of the people nor for their right to decide the destiny of their own land. It is about forcing them to submit to the will of the invader. It is about enslavement  and the colonization of a people and their land which sounds ironical for a country which itself had fought hard to win its freedom from foreign rule. If anything, BJP’s idea of a Kashmir solution, only gives the people of J&K  a further cause for worry about a BJP government at the centre. 

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