Rushing of ten thousand more troops to Valley a day after the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s three day visit to Kashmir has created panic in the state. People suspect the worst. The general opinion is that the further militarization of the Valley is being done as part of a preparation to remove the Article 35A of the Indian constitution which forbids people from the rest of the country to buy land in J&K. In Kashmir, the people see it as a prelude to change of the demographic character of the state, something that some sections of the ruling party in New Delhi see as essential to resolve Kashmir. The BJP also sees the Articles 370 – which grants special constitutional status to J&K within Indian Union – and 35A as hurdles to the state’s integration and assimilation with the rest of the country.
There is thus no support to these measures among the predominant majority of the state. They see these as inherently geared to not only to snatch the special rights of the state guaranteed by the constitution of the country. There is thus understandable paranoia at the prospect of the BJP going ahead with its ideologically rooted commitment of doing away with the the state’s constitutional safeguards. What has further lent credence to the fears in Kashmir is the decision of the central leadership of the BJP to hold an “urgent meeting” of the members of the party’s core group in J&K in Delhi on Tuesday.
The major political parties and the civil society actors in the state have voiced their opposition to what are still the anticipated moves by the centre against the Articles 370 and 35A. The PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti has strongly opposed any move by against the constitutional provisions. “We want to tell the Central government that tinkering with Article 35A will be akin to setting a powder keg on fire,” the PDP president said at a function to celebrate her party’s twentieth raising. Similarly NC leader Omar Abdullah has cautioned New Delhi against pre-empting the cases against constitutional protections in Supreme Court in its rush to do away with them. So have Sajad Gani Lone, Engineer Rashid and Shah Faesal. What, however, hasn’t happened so far is a joint strategy by these parties to stop the presumed assault on the state’s special status. More than issuing statements, the parties should close ranks and their top leaders should in right earnest visit New Delhi to meet the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprise him about the long term detrimental fallout of any tinkering with the state’s special constitutional provisions. J&K needs leadership in these anxious and they should step up and provide it.