Jammu & Kashmir: Delhi won the first round hands down

While cutting down the egos of Kashmiri politicians, the Modi government should also listen to Jammu and other affected minorities

While cutting down the egos of Kashmiri politicians, the Modi government should also listen to Jammu and other affected minorities
While cutting down the egos of Kashmiri politicians, the Modi government should also listen to Jammu and other affected minorities

New Delhi should also listen to Jammu and other affected minorities

That the outcome of the much-talked-about meeting between PM Narendra Modi and Gupkaris and Gupkaris’ supporter Congress on June 24 at New Delhi will cause political explosions, particularly in the jihad-gripped Kashmir, was a foregone conclusion[1]. The reason: PM Modi and HM Amit Shah didn’t concede even one of the seven demands they had put forth on June 22 after their meeting at the Gupkar residence of Farooq Abdullah, chairman of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD). Their seven specific demands were: Article 35A, Article 370, special status, full state status, the reunion of Ladakh with J&K, talks with Pakistan and release of hardcore separatists, including Shabbir Shah. But much to the chagrin of the Gupkaris and others, PM Modi and HM Shah only talked about delimitation, elections, development, vaccination drive and democracy. This was not the agenda the Gupkaris and the Congress had set on June 22.

It was expected that the two Gupkaris – Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah – will express themselves against what transpired in the 201-long-minute meeting and it did happen. PDP president and vice-president of the PAGD Mehbooba Mufti a day after the meeting declared that she will not contest any election in J&K and won’t become the CM even if her party won till Articles 35A and 370 were restored. “I don’t want to use the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A as mere political slogans. I’m not going to contest any election and if my party wins, I will not become CM till the two Articles are restored in J&K,” she said.

it needs to be noted that Haseeb Drabu was one of the chief ideologues of the PDP and also the chief architect of the 2015 divisive PDP-BJP Agenda of Alliance.

What she said must have muddied the waters and created a difficult situation for the Abdullah dynasty. Remember, Kashmir is known for the competitive politics of communalism and separatism. The more radical you are, the more acceptable you are in the Valley[2]. This is what a peep into the history of Kashmir post-1947 suggests.

As for Omar Abdullah, he has also sung in the strain of the swan. Disillusioned as he was, he said the Narendra Modi Government will not return us our Article 370. “It will be foolish to demand the restoration of Article 370 from the current government…It took the BJP 70 years to fulfil its political agenda for (Article) 370. Our struggle has just started. We don’t want to fool people by telling them we will get 370 back in these talks. It will be foolish to expect 370 will be back — there has been no indication it will be restored by the current government”. That Omar Abdullah said all this after the meeting cleared many cobwebs of confusion”.[3]

The Congress, like the Gupkaris, too denounced the outcome of the meeting. Sonia Gandhi’s right-hand man P Chidambaram said: “It is bizarre that the Modi Government wants to hold elections in J&K first and grant statehood later. The horse pulls the cart. A state must conduct elections. Only such elections will be free and fair. Why does the government want the cart in front and the horse behind? It is bizarre”.

However, it was former Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu who put the outcome of the June 24 meeting in a perspective and also exposed the Gupkaris. What did he say: He, inter-alia, said: “Even though convening the J&K All-Party Meet (APM) was a climb-down for the BJP and a compulsion of the Union government, it was conducted and concluded exactly the way they wanted it. It is a lesson in the realpolitik of how a tactical move — meeting leaders including former chief ministers and deputy chief ministers and prospective chief ministers — has been converted into a strategic initiative that will resonate much beyond the boundaries of the Union Territory and indeed in the country. Round one: PM Modi and HM Shah…The end results being that has come down from the pre-1953 position to the pre-2019 position, they found themselves pleading for administrative and police cadre restoration”. What Haseeb Drabu said must have stung the Gupkaris. The reasons are obvious.

It needs to be noted that Haseeb Drabu was one of the chief ideologues of the PDP and also the chief architect of the 2015 divisive PDP-BJP Agenda of Alliance. Earlier, Drabu had urged the Prime Minister to finish the unfinished agenda of August 5, 2019. He had vouched for separation of Jammu province from Kashmir like it happened in the case of Ladakh and suggested that Srinagar should be converted into commercial capital[4].

It is hardly necessary to write a concluding paragraph. Haseeb Drabu, a Kashmiri himself, has succinctly concluded the outcome of the meeting as far as Kashmir is concerned. However, a line on Jammu vis-à-vis the June 24 meeting would be in order: Jammu was happy because Gupkaris return empty-handed but, at the same time, expressed dissatisfaction with young Jammu accusing the Modi Government of once again ignoring the suffering people of Jammu province. Remember, not one speaker in the meeting spoke on the 73-old-heart wrenching woes of the people of Jammu province, including over 1.5 million Hindu refugees from Pakistan, PoJK and Kashmir itself.

Note:
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

References:

[1] PM Modi meets Jammu and Kashmir leaders. Nothing conclusive, just talks in general, say many leaders – everything after delimitation process, says HM Amit ShahJun 24, 2021, PGurus.com

[2] Religion Matters: Religion and Politics in Kashmir – Research Gate

[3] Foolish to Expect This Govt Will Restore Article 370: AbdullahJun 26, 2021, The Quint

[4] Political explosion: Haseeb Drabu urges PM Modi to bifurcate J&KNov 25, 2020, PGurus.com

Hari Om is former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Jammu.
Hari Om

3 COMMENTS

  1. Face saving accomplished.
    Offered the hand in restoring normality.

    Now the offer has just been droned. Pulwama anyone!

    Back to pre 24 June days.

    Congratulations

  2. I don’t think the separatists will ever settle for integrating J&K with the rest of india even if they want to. Today, the Mufti & abdullas are so much under the influence&command of Pakistan and its terror groups that they cannot afford to shake hands with Indian government without risking their lives. So, next to impossible for the government to get them on board.

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