Occupation from above and segregation from within     

In the race of madness, India is not far behind. The script of this new ‘Hindu India’ was the cherished dream of the cultural xenophobic industry

Photo courtesy:
Photo courtesy:

Prem Anand Mishra

In the race of madness, India is not far behind. As John Lennon had said, we are actually being ruled by insane people. The script of this new ‘Hindu India’ was the cherished dream of the cultural xenophobic industry. Finally, with the rise of the godly figures of Modi-Shah, this has been accomplished after an emphatic victory and is being cherished by a militarised India. This India will soon become a colonial-settler state after the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir. The only political arrangement that had scripted Kashmir’s connection with India is abrogated under the garb of uprooting ‘the root of all terrorism’. Kashmir for the majority of Indians has been the motherboard of religious nationalism. As the majority believes, Kashmir is an integral part and the abrogation of the Article will finally establish the ‘One Nation, One Rule’ system. Perhaps anyone who has a sense of history will echo that the Westphalian order of nation-state is just a few centuries-old stories. This fiasco over an integral part has been a source of populism in India, sold by the political class and received by the multitudes. But India, under its great warriors from Gujarat, has decided that land is important than people.

Like in August 1858, when India came under the direct rule of British Raj, on August 5, 2019, the fate of Kashmir is now sealed under a political fatwa - direct rule from New Delhi through coercion against the consensus - the two methods of the rule as Gramsci reminds us. The only link that connects India with Kashmir was Article 370 and revoking it is a testimony that Kashmir is now under the occupation of India.

Article 370 and Kashmir has a long history and has been discussed by many who understand the significance of it, the time when this accession happened and its charter. Also, those who drink power forget the rules. For them, such an arrangement was just a piece of paper and should have been torn off long ago. History has always been written by the victor as they say. From the period of Pak’s aggression in 1948 to 1990’s, Kashmir was still waiting to become the shadow of a death Valley. The peace never belonged to Kashmiris but after 1990’s, they had to wear this fate as an everyday reality. Earlier, peace was a costly affair. The rise of the Modi-Doval doctrine pushed the Kashmiris to the margins and finally, when Shah, dressed as the new Iron man of India, has emerged, it seems Kashmir will be a story of an endless bloodbath. This terrain that we have chosen for a new India is an image of Ashis Nandy’s prognosis of our times: “Regimes of narcissism, Regimes of Despair”.

Beyond the verses of political noises, this is also a personal story. In the writings of Kalhan’s Rajatarangini to Rushdie’s Shalimar The Clown, from Basharat Peer’s Curfew Nights to Rahul Pandita’s Our Moon Has Blood Clouts, the tales of Kashmir is filled with melancholic stories. The Kashmir of post 1990’s, as one Muslim woman from an aristocratic family at Budgam told me, is also a reminder of what happened to the Pandits. In her own words, “We are carrying the curse of Pandits; the demand of an Azadi is a lost hope.” Many have different conspiracy theories also. Many Muslims blamed Jagmohan for the crime against Pandits.

This is not just a story of chronicles of Kashmir but a living history of the present; everyday life in the Kashmir Valley and its wretchedness. The Valley of post-1990’s is the new chapter that reminds us where we have arrived: the peak of militancy after the Soviets left Afghanistan and Pakistan becoming directly engaged in exporting terrorism, the rigged Indian election and the birth of Kashmiri fighters and the extermination of Pandits who were culturally the same but lost out to religious fanaticism.

Budgam near Srinagar will remind you of a place in Iran. The hoardings all over Budgam carries the pictures of the man who popularised the faith of Islam as a revolutionary idea, the father of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini. I met a Pandit family whose seven members were exterminated during the rise of militancy which had recently came back and was living inside a temple. For them, Kashmir had been their promised land even in exile but their children did not feel the same. The local Shias had protected their land which was still untouched. In Kashmir, Ahmadi Muslims hide their identity but Shias don’t. But they are a worried community. The segregation in Muslim society runs so deep that a Shia woman told me that Kashmir was a sick society for women. Recently, when a Shia girl child was raped, it didn’t find many voices of support unlike what happened in Kathua in Jammu. The civil society in Kashmir doesn’t find the case of a Shia girl worthy of protest.

The Sunnis are also divided. I met a Sunni man from Tral who was a mirror image of Shalimar, Rushdie’s fictional character who joined militancy to find his love. I asked what had changed in recent times. He said the killing of Burhan Wani had changed the hearts and minds of many youths and to them, death was better than living under occupation. For him, Pandits were the guiding light for Kashmiris and source of their education. He thought their exodus was a shameful chapter.

The truth is that Kashmiris want a separate identity. But now that Article 370 is gone, so is Kashmiri identity. The majority of Indians are happy about it and feel more powerful under the current regime. Pandits have nothing to lose, so they are sharing the happiness. But this act of New Delhi will only encourage militancy and the language of violence. This act was a historical blunder and generations will pay the price. Kashmiris have lost less. The Indian government under Narendra Modi has donned a new identity as a coloniser for which land matters but people don’t. History will judge what a crime the RSS-BJP has committed in the name of India.

May be we can learn from John Milton who wrote in Paradise Lost, “Never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.”

(The writer is a doctoral candidate at School of International Studies in JNU, New Delhi. Views are his own)

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