Reading Ram Madhav’s reckless piece this morning must have pushed Kashmiris down the memory lane, hundreds of years back. ‘Akbar the Great’, unable to win over Kashmir by any rightful means, resorted to deceit and called its then ruler for ‘a talk’. He was arrested and New Delhi proclaimed Kashmir as part of its Kingdom. The Saga of Deceit continued. On August 03 2019, the Prime Minister of India met Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah, and a day later, his government revoked Articles 370/35 A, put them along with other mainstream leaders under detention. A PSA followed, the first time in India for a serving MP.
The piece has recounted at length certain instances in the recent history of Kashmir’s political landscape. It has attempted denigrating National Conference for ‘invoking Islam’. But how conveniently has Ram Madhav forgotten to mention that J&K is the only Muslim majority state in India, bifurcated and downgraded to a UT. It is a deliberate omission, meant to suit a discourse. Hinduism is the only religion in India, BJP has been trying really hard to sell that. Invoking this ‘national religion’ in politics, development, medicine, culture and history is welcome in today’s India but speaking the tarnishing of Islam and subjugation of Muslims is being equated to separatism and terrorism.
National Conference has always stood for secularism in politics and state affairs including administration. That is its core. But being secular does not require one to muzzle voices of dissent, words of protest and the cries of pain, all directed at a community. National Conference has spoken for equitable representation of all religious and social communities. It has voiced concerns, demands of Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists in a Hindu Majority India. It has protected and ensured representation of Hindus and other minorities in J&K. It has talked about Islam and Muslims in past, as Ram Madhav acknowledges, and National Conference will continue to do it in future too whenever a community tries to bully another.
For Ram Madhav to say that “exploiting religion by mainstream leaders is most obnoxious” is ironic and hilarious. BJP has won a second consecutive election riding on the wave of Hindutva nationalism. That is the larger picture. At the micro level, in 2014, across the country, BJP was the only winning political party with not a single Muslim MP. BJP has never fielded a Muslim candidate in Gujarat elections over the last two decades, a state where Muslims are nearly 10 percent of pupation and the largest religious minority.
Unlike the BJP, which has a history of setting the nation on fire for communal issues like Ram Mandir, Muslim Conference changed its name to National Conference for inclusiveness of all communities.
The BJP thrives on criminalizing anyone and everyone who is a Muslim or speaks for them. In an indoctrinated society, logic and reason becomes the primary casualty. India to a large extent has been indoctrinated to a level where even constitutional safeguards for the only Muslim majority state in India have been painted as aberrations.
Coming back to Ram Madhav’s article in Greater Kashmir – Gupkar declaration is not about religion. It is about the political rights and identity of J&K. It is about the guarantee that the Constitution of India provided to the Muslim majority State that acceded to it, under certain conditions. It is about the illegitimate and illegal actions committed on August 05 2019. It is about the Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, all the humans who live here. It is about justice, and its murder that BJP committed, and the solemn pledge to fight on. Gupkar Declaration and Gupkar leaders stand committed to people of J&K and their lives, rights, dignity, cultures, traditions, languages, jobs, livelihoods.
It seems Ram Madhav has not read it. He can be sent a copy if he did not get time to get one, busy with designing media campaigns for their PR on Ram Temple, trying to intoxicate it with hate, making it fall in love with homogeneity. His friends in Kashmir, those who helped him write this propaganda piece, could help him understand people of J&K, and their aspirations, better.
BJP is a master in changing discourse. Earlier for the ultra nationalists it was Pakistan that was responsible for terrorism in Kashmir. Now BJP and its top leadership is parroting the line that Art 370 bred separatism. It brushes the facts under the carpet that Art 370 is a solemn agreement reached between the Union of India and the representatives of then J&K government after five long months.
After Pakistan, Afghanistan, BJP brings in Turkey as well to suit their narrative. Needless to say, BJP has a jaundiced view on Kashmir and its past. Kashmir has had historical connections with many other countries including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Iran, China too. The strategic position of the J&K and its history, political and cultural, is not exclusively religious but doubtlessly does have an imprint on its culture and traditions and on the political outlook of its people. Call it Islamisation, call it separatism. It stays despite the overt efforts to homogenize it with BJP’s Hindu India.
The views expressed are personal. Author is provincial Spokesperson JKNC