Jack Of All Trades
Do the J&K people really want China?
A startling interview of Dr Farooq Abdullah, former pro-India Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) aired on The Wire on September 23 last. The Wire is an Indian news and opinion website. The 44-minute interview was taken by India's veteran TV anchor Karan Thapar and appeared on their website between 5 and 6pm on the day.
In the interview Abdullah said all the Kashmiris, including those who once had faith in India, would prefer today to be ruled by China. "Today Kashmiris do not feel Indian and do not want to be Indian. They are slaves. They would rather have the Chinese rule them," Dr Abdullah told Karan Thapar.
Farooq Abdullah, the President of the National Conference and a former three time Chief Minister of J&K, said it was complete rubbish for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to claim that the people of Kashmir have accepted the 2019 changes to their state just because there have been no protests. Dr Abdullah said hundreds and thousands of people would take to the Kashmir streets if the soldiers and ban on gathering (Section 144) were withdrawn.
Article 370 of the Indian constitution which accorded special status to J&K, was repealed by the Narendra Modi - led BJP government in August 2019, when Indian parliament passed the J&K Reorganization Act.
"Every Kashmiri believes the new domicile laws are intended to create a Hindu majority. The gap between Kashmiris and the rest of the country is wider than ever before and growing," Abdullah said.
The act dissolved the state and reorganised it into two union territories--J&K in the west and Ladakh in the east, with effect from October 31, 2019. At the time of its dissolution, J&K was the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population.
In the interview Abdullah said every Kashmiri, including those that had opposed joining Pakistan were looking at the recent India-China border standoff with interest. China has been incensed by India's annexation of J&K, particularly with the changes made in the status of Ladakh.
His statement exposed that due to the India's policy on J&K, all the 13 million Kashmiris, even the pro India people were wishing that China occupy the region including the whole of India-ruled Kashmir during the standoff between the forces of the two countries.
Abdullah's comments also disseminated that Kashmiris are not happy at all with recent developments in India under the BJP government. However, people in Muslim majority J&K have always been alleging step motherly attitude of the India's Union Government. But, their allegations were not heeded by the communities outside J&K and India, taking those as politically biased. But this time when Farooq Abdullah, a staunch supporter of India has expressed Kashmiris' intention that they no more want to be ruled by New Delhi, people in India and outside have started to closely watch the ongoing political development in the Indian administered Kashmir region.
Some experts believe with this comment Farooq Abdullah blamed the then princely ruler Maharajah of Kashmir for opting to join India instead of staying independent. Initially Maharajah wanted to stay independent without joining Pakistan or India in the process of the 1947 partition of the Sub Continent. However, pro Indian people led by Farooq Abdullah's father Sheikh Abdullah compelled Maharajah to join India. The rivalry led India and Pakistan to swoop on Kashmir occupying as much as the two belligerent countries could.
But another section of political observers believe though Maharajah ultimately failed, it was the right decision of the then Kashmir ruler to stay independent. Because he rightly understood that it won't be politically viable to join Pakistan or India as one of their states.
After the two wars in 1947 and 1948 between India and Pakistan, Kashmir was divided into Azad Kashmir ruled by Pakistan and the other as J&K governed by India. As both the rival countries consolidate their rule in their respective territories, Kashmiris lost their independence and rights to self determination.
Muslim majority Bangalees in the East Bengal realised soon after the creation of Pakistan and India in 1947 that they had done a blunder by joining exploitative Pakistan. They understood that it would have been better if they could stay independent, which however, they attained after a long struggle and finally through the war of liberation 24 years later in late 1971.
The Hindu majority West Bengal and many other states in the whole of India particularly in its northeast now feel that they could have done much better had they been independent.
Within 49 years, independent Bangladesh has achieved spectacular socioeconomic development compared to any state of India or Pakistan. Bangladesh has shown that the independence is essential for self determination of a nation and its development. One may not be treated as sycophant of the incumbent government if one says that most of the development of the country started from 2010.
In a federal country all federating states should have autonomy and stay free from the interference of the central government. In fact in India states have power to legislate and implement laws and adopt state security with the approval of the central government. But things and matters in J&K show that it can adopt no laws and execute nothing as the union or the central government gives no approval citing security concerns. As a result protest, clashes, militancy and mayhem have been continuing in the state for decades and peace prevails seldom.
222,236 sq km J&K was a region administered by India as a state from 1954 to 2019, constituting the southern and south-eastern portion of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of a dispute between India, Pakistan and China since late 1940s.
With the separation of Ladakh, Kashmiri Muslims are tending to be minority with the ongoing huge settlement of non Muslim Indians in J&K.
Dr Abdullah told The Wire that the new domicile law was intended to flood the Valley with Hindus and create a Hindu majority. He said this has further embittered the Kashmiri people.
The writer is Business Editor,The Daily Observer