Bhagwat’s Kashmir utterances are troubling

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In his Dussehra address, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has asked PDP-BJP Government to grant citizenship rights to West Pakistan Refugees as allegedly promised to them by the National Conference founder Sheikh Muhammed Abdullah.  Bhagwat also batted for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits. He reiterated the simplistic Sangh Parivar view that the unrest in Kashmir is fuelled by Pakistan and advocated firmness in dealing with it. This reiteration of the RSS agenda on Kashmir has a deeply troubling dimension.  For it shows that the ongoing uprising has made a little difference to the RSS thinking on the state.  And far from being persuaded to take concrete steps to resolve Kashmir, RSS won't be distracted from its single-point agenda to forcibly integrate Kashmir into India by completely divesting it of its already eroded constitutional safeguards.  And ever since PDP-BJP coalition  took power, BJP has appeared in tearing hurry to alter the facts on the ground in the state.

 

It began, as usual with the talk of the separate settlements for Kashmiri Pandits, followed by a proposal to establish a Sainik Colony for ex-servicemen and their kin in Srinagar. And while the political controversy over the colony was roiling the Valley, came the revelation that the New Industrial Policy drawn up by the Governor N N Vohra during his three months at the helm, allows non-state subjects to get on lease the land for setting up industries outside the industrial estates in the state. The policy is silent on the upper ceiling of the land to be leased.  And while the public outcry forced the government to review the policy, the state government’s decision to initiate work on building the structures for ‘floating population’ in Jammu and Kupwara districts became a fresh source of concern.  It was this ruthlessly unilateral attempt to force far-reaching constitutional and institutional changes in Kashmir that created a deep sense of insecurity in Kashmir. The ongoing uprising is, in fact, a rebellion against these efforts.

 

The paranoia about a perceived hostile centre allegedly conspiring to dilute Valley’s Muslim majority character has redrawn the discourse in Valley like never before. It has brought into full play the issues of land and identity, hitherto more or less dormant elements of the ongoing conflict which operated so far largely along political and militant dimensions. And this has pit Kashmiri Muslims against New Delhi. There is a now a deep seated paranoia that New Delhi wants to alter the demography of Kashmir, heightened by the statements to the effect made by some senior BJP leaders like Tarun Vijay and Subramanium Swamy who in the past has called for undoing the “cleansing” of the state of Kashmiri Pandits by  “sending one million ex-servicemen and families into the Kashmir Valley for re-settlement”.

 Now Bhagwat’s repetition of the same agenda will only further deepen the suspicions and create more paranoia. For it once again reminds the people that no amount of resistance and bloodshed in Kashmir will force Sangh Parivar to rethink its approach to Kashmir. This, in turn, threatens to further alienate the Kashmiris from the  centre and force them to place more faith in a detrimental armed struggle to resist New Delhi’s onslaught. If centre is serious about pre-empting such a troubling scenario, it needs a make a fundamental change in its approach and thinking on Kashmir.

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