It has been 22 days since the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. What has happened in these three weeks is the consolidation of political opinions across all sections against the Central government.
In the backdrop of the detention of almost all Jammu and Kashmir leaders, now the situation on the ground has turned against most mainstream leaders, their parties and their brand of politics.
“There were always a few people who would support the Central government especially the Shia Muslims and Gujjars. Whatever the situation, they would go to vote whether there was a call or not. But, now there are anti-government sentiments even amongst them,” highlighted a Kashmir resident, who did not want to be identified.
Being a relative minority in J&K, Shias have always preferred to follow government orders as have the nomadic Gujjars. The people have started to come together; there is a simmering anger against the BJP government.
Earlier, even if there were shutdown calls by mainstream parties or separatists, in areas such as Sonawari area in Bandipora, some parts of Poonch and Rajouri which would always remain open. “Shops would be functional, people would be milling about. Now, even in these regions, there has been a shutdown and the anti-government sentiment has been spreading. There is anger in them,” underscored a north Kashmir resident.
Uri, being on the border is one of the most militarized zones in Jammu and Kashmir and even there no shops or establishments are open. “People living at the border are also not happy. They have also criticised the government’s move to scrap Article 370. They are extremely angry. The government’s decision has only helped the Separatists,” said the Kashmir resident.
“The number of people who supported the government has reduced. The government has also shot itself in the foot by targeting the few people who actually did support them on the ground. Now, the mainstream politicians are stuck with almost no future. If they support the government’s move, they will have the people’s ire and if they support the local sentiment, the government will give them a hard time and the people will not believe them anyway,” explained the resident.
Being against the Central government does not mean that they support Pakistan. “It only means that they are against the government and will do everything in their power to resist the abrogation. Those outside may think there is relative calm in the state and that it has not erupted like after the death of Burhan Wani in 2016, but the situation is not that easy to read. People will bide their time and then there will be an outbreak that will be difficult to contain especially because there is no politician or leader that they trust,” said the Kashmir-based activist.
What the government has done with this move is bring several people across the political spectrum against them.