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Kashmir pins hope on Modi like never before post abrogation of Article 370

20/07/2021 at 4:48 PM

By Arun Joshi

 It’s throwback to the 2014 days when Narendra Modi became Prime  Minister for the first time with a thumping majority – Kashmir is renewing its hopes on Prime Minister for everything from a greater sense of justice to the overall solution  of Kashmir issue.

This hope has renewed both in the political theatre and the common discourse in the Valley that is tired of the atmosphere in which it finds that only other alternative is nowhere to go . The path out of it is  to trust Modi and entrust him for good of the territory and the people .

Individuals and political groups  in Kashmir have veered around to the central theme that Modi alone can solve the Kashmir issue and address  all its problems  whether internal or external .  This is a paradigm shift in the Kashmiri thinking  because the interruption of August 5, 2019  when the specials tatus of Jammu and Kashmir state was scrapped and its geography divided into two different political maps of  two separate union territories of Ladakh and J&K had sullied the mood in the Valley and a feeling of distrust had creeped in as Kashmiris were kept indoors with their windows opening to the sight of troops patrolling streets and the neighbourhood chained by the barbed wire rolls.

That interruption followed by overwhelming presence of the security forces and the lockdown imposed on the movement of people, arrest of  political leaders, including those who had ruled the state – three former chief ministers – Farooq  Abdullah , Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti – and complete communication clampdown that did not spare even the landlines , had changed the mood in the Valley. It was not happy the way  the special status and exclusive rights of the state and its people were dumped in one go without consulting the political leadership of the state.

Now all this is changing  at a speed that was unthinkable in the last calendar year.  The  change was reflected clearly when  all the top Kashmiri leaders attended the June 24 all -party Meeting  hosted by Prime Minister at his residence in Delhi where the views were exchanged in an unusually candida and cordial atmosphere. That was mainstreaming of the narrative that Modi alone can set the things right in Kashmir .

In all essence , the discourse  revolves around two  issues- Modi is the only leader in the subcontinent who can draw a roadmap for Kashmir and pull it out of the mess in which it has landed because of the crosscurrents of the clashing political ideologies and violence of the decades . All the pathways  that could have taken Kashmir on right development and positive thinking were littered with doubts , guns and grenades . It has been  fully recognised  in the beginning of the second-half of 2021 that Modi is having an unmatched mandate and the  respect that he commands across the nation  places him in a position to address the Kashmir issue comprehensively .

Kashmir  is  in need of a  firm  look forward moment in which elections to the Assembly , statehood  and certain guarantees  to the land and jobs and encouragement to the local entrepreneurs form the core. . That, Kashmiris  know is not possible unless Modi- Amit Shah take steps in this direction ..

Second , there is an external dimension , and that is Pakistan . Pakistan is in illegal occupation of  one third of the original territory of J&K . Pakistan fondly calls  the occupied territory  as “ Azad Jammu and Kashmir. India is  insistent on getting this territory back from Pakistan . At the same time India wants Pakistan to cease  all its terror export ventures into Jammu and Kashmir . Modi is seen as a strong  leader even in Pakistan , and that’s why it is flip-flopping on dialogue with India. In one breath , Islamabad  calls for the necessity of dialogue  with India , and in the very next it retracts from the same . It is clear that only Modi can define the course of Indo-Pak history on the right trajectory. Pakistan is making excuses for not sitting across the table, for  it fears that  its fragmented approach will  not be able to stand  up to the formidable image and policy of Prime Minister Modi.

In Kashmir, things are changing, Pakistan is conscious of this . All its moves to breach Kashmir are bouncing back.

“ We fully trust Prime Minister  and we know  that he, and Home Minister Amit Shah , can change the whole landscape in Kashmir ,” Apni Party chief  Altaf Bukhari  told this columnist . “ I am saying  this out of experience of  our party  with the Centre,” he said, and elaborated : “ We were the first to meet Prime Minister and Home Minister in March 2020 , and we got the domicile certificate introduced in J&K so that our people are not overwhelmed by others , , similarly we got modifications made to the land laws and got all jobs reserved for our people.”  These achievements were possible because Prime Minister had a soft corner for the people of Kashmir , and this has proven all those wrong who had tried to present a distorted image of the Prime Minister.

Altaf Bukhari exudes optimism that other issues concerning J&K , particularly the elections and the restoration of the statehood, too would be taken care of  in  the near future. The Delimitation Process has started and soon things would be clear .” I am convinced that once we prepare an  atmosphere in which peace and progress walk lockstep, the Centre would accede to our demands and  as far the debate on Article 370  is concerned, we believe that Supreme Court will  take a decision that will be as per aspirations of the people of J&K.”

For more than one year, Altaf   Bukhari remained a lone voice , other regional political parties  in Kashmir  who had made the restoration of the Article 370 as the prime  goal  and were not expecting anything from the Centre that had  “ snatched” everything that was given to J&K by the Constitution of India , were pinning hopes on China and Pakistan .

 Farooq Abdullah while speaking this columnist last  year had asked : “ how could  we hope to get back things from the government that took away all our constitutional guarantees and  rights.”  Now, he , too, has changed his tone . “ It is the government of India  that can redress our grievances and we have only one door to knock and that is Delhi,” he had said before and after the all-party-meet .

Farooq was the first one to welcome the All-Party -meet and  his party-National Conference  enthusiastically  presented memorandum to the Delimitation Commission , which it had refused  to recognize  few months ago..

Most bitter critic of the August 5, 2019, decisions of  GoI , the scrapping of special status of J&K , , PDP president and  former Chief Minister  Mehbooba Mufti , too, is getting round to the idea that her party will take part in the elections as and when held, though she herself has decided not to take part in the polls unless the Article 370 is restored in letter and spirit. But the change is too obvious to be ignored.

About the Author:

Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.


DISCLAIMER

This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with

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