SRINAGAR On his visit to Kargil War Memorial in Drass sector on Saturday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh once again said that resolution of Kashmir issue is on the cards and that no power on the earth can stop it. The resolution, he added, is bound to take place and that he is saying it with “full responsibility”.
Singh slammed Hurriyat for not talking to New Delhi and recalled that how Hurriyat leaders did not open their doors for visiting members of the all-party delegation once led by him to the Valley.
The Defence Minister’s statement follows a series of similar noises made by senior BJP leaders including the home minister Amit Shah. They have been talking about resolving Kashmir by executing the BJP’s long-standing ideological agenda on J&K.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has often made a case for the removal of the Article 370 and 35A which give special cinstitutional status to Kashmir. According to him the articles have done “maximum damage” to Kashmir as no investors wanted to go to the state as they couldn’t buy land. Ironically, the PM at the same time has also defended the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee slogan of ‘Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat’.
Vajpayee’s call for resolution of Kashmir “within the ambit of Insaniyat” was about working for a consensus-based resolution of Kashmir with Pakistan on board. It was also about willingness to talk to separatists in Kashmir outside the framework of the Constitution. But in its five years in power, the BJP-led government at the centre has desisted from engaging with Kashmiri separatists or Pakistan except on its terms. In fact, the BJP’s accent is now more on removal of the Article 35A and Article 370.
Article 35A defines permanent residents of the state, restricts employment to permanent residents and grants state legislature power with regard to settlements in the state. Now if the Article goes, it means the protection available to permanent residents will go and this protection will also go in case of employment and acquisition of property and scholarships.
This has created some anxiety in Kashmir about the BJP’s policy on the state. The home minister Amit Shah has only further made it clear that Article 370 will be withdrawn from Jammu and Kashmir.
If anything, the BJP’s Kashmir policy is thus destined to add to the deep sense of grievance in the state. In recent years Kashmir has already witnessed much turmoil over the attempts to withdraw the state’s special position under the Constitution.
But as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan too has mentioned in his statements, it is the PM Modi too who is seen as the best hope for a Kashmir resolution. And Khan is not alone in this opinion, a significant section of public opinion in Kashmir also shares it. And there is a reason for it. The previous BJP government under Vajpayee is credited with initiating one of the most promising dialogue processes with Pakistan. And such talks happened despite Kargil war and despite nuclear explosions by the two countries.
But would PM Modi adopt Vajpayee’s Kashmir mantra both in letter and spirit now that he has returned to power with a stronger mandate? There’s no telling this would happen. But if it does, it would certainly make a redeeming difference to the situation in the troubled state.
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