‘BJP Won’t Restore Article 370, But May Provide Article 371’

Manoj Joshi

THE instant outcome of Delhi dialogue has vindicated the stand of many political observers — who had termed the talks as an ice-breaker bereft of any major breakthrough. 

But the three-hour-long deliberation revolving around delimitation exercise did recreate the old Delhi-Srinagar get-together in the capital where the Kashmiri unionists were once again swarmed by shutterbugs for their statement of purpose.

However, between the expectations and the end-results of the talks, many Delhi-based political pundits are junking the campaign of some Kashmiri unionists around the restoration of Article 370. 

“BJP will not restore Article 370,” says Manoj Joshi, a Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, an independent global think tank based in Delhi. “Perhaps they may provide Article 371 which gives special rights to several other states.”  

Joshi is a seasoned commentator who was most recently a member of the Task Force on National Security. As a scribe, he has written on Pakistan, China, Kashmir and Punjab. He’s the author of two books on the Kashmir issue.

An old hand at Kashmir, Joshi in a candid chat with Kashmir Observer talks about the latest dialogue driven by “a legal setback in the Indian apex court and American pressure”.  

The first meeting between J&K politicians with premier Narendra Modi after August 5 move.

How do you see the latest political developments in J&K?

They are a good first step to find a way back from the very difficult situation the state has been since August 5, 2019.

But what prompted New Delhi to reach out to mainstream political leaders in Kashmir now?

This is a bit of a mystery. I am not sure. There could be several factors—the possibility of a legal setback in the Supreme Court, US pressure on India and Pakistan.

How do you interpret the outcome of the Delhi dialogue?

It has helped check the political drift between New Delhi and Srinagar. A first round of talks has occurred, certain commitments on restoring statehood have been made.  

If the Kashmiri leaders had said no to talks, what could have been the repercussions? 

They would have been the losers, because as of now they are powerless and have few options to deal with the situation. This way they have had an opportunity to put their point of view before the people of the country and the world.

Delimitation exercise dominated the three-hour-long dialogue.

After jailing, humiliating and taunting Kashmiri leaders, how do you see BJP’s talking of removing “Dil ki Doori”?

This is a political statement. It doesn’t mean much.

But how can New Delhi remove “Dil ki Doori” for Kashmir in real essence?

By restoring status quo ante, and by constituting the J-K Assembly at the earliest and restoring political power to the duly elected state government.

BJP didn’t mention anything related to restoration of Article 370 in the meeting, rather spoke about the delimitation process, elections in J&K etc. Is it a win-win situation for New Delhi?

BJP will not restore Article 370. Perhaps they may provide Article 371 which gives special rights to several other states.

Do you see any role of separatists in the near future in Kashmir?

I don’t see any role for separatists, but they should be free to carry on their politics as long as they do not get involved in violence.

Does New Delhi feel uneasy with withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan?

Certainly, but it has no direct impact on India.

But Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lieutenant General D P Pandey recently said that the pullout of US forces from Afghanistan may push some militants into Kashmir.

Same thing was said in 1991 when some Afghans had come. But they were not successful. What worries India more is the use of Afghanistan for training Pakistani jihadis for operations in India.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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