Rhetoric apart, political history has something else to say on the permanence of borders
The recent belligerent mutterings of Arun Jaitley regarding Kashmir were emotional or a case of no-proper-homework. Claims of BJP senior leader that his country’s borders can’t be “redrawn” is itself contestable. Arguably, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent pledge to take forward the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with Bandgladesh belies the claims of Jaitley. When implemented the agreement would allow borders of the Indian Territory to be “redrawn”.
The LBA was brokered between former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in 2011. Under this boundary agreement, India will be giving 17, 160.63 acres of land to Bangladesh. In lieu of ceding Indian Territory to Bandgladesh, it would also receive some land in transfer.
Despite BJP opposing the LBA during the Congress led UPA regime, the Indian Prime Minister while addressing the party workers in Guwhati Assam on November 30, 2014 finally gave a go-ahead to LBA deal. He claimed the handing over of the land to Bangladesh was being done to check the illegal immigration of Bangladeshis to India.
Interestingly in its entire history in post-1947, it would be the first time that India as a nation state would be “redrawing” its borders and would be ceding its territory to any other country. No matter, it would be giving more land to Bangladesh than it would receive in lieu of it. When the LBA would be properly implemented, it would be the reason for us to rejoice that it would be the first time that India would be peacefully ‘yielding and rewriting’ borders of its territory without spilling the blood in a war or intimidating neigbourers and natives that it posses “powerful army” against those who want territorial changes. It would also show that “times have changed” and India could shift from its long held stated position that borders can’t be redrawn.
The country would be realigning its territory according to the security and geo-strategic needs. In Kashmir’s case, where India has always maintained a hawkish stand would also be nullified. As it has been the persistent stand of Government of India that times have changed since the dispute erupted and boundaries have been drawn, we can plead our case taking cue from the LBA. So Indian claims, territory can’t be reshaped is the thing of past.
Now let us come to the staged elections. BJP and entire spectrum of Indian electronic media have been projecting the present polls as “rejections of separatism.” Is it so? My answer would be straight forward No. The Hurriyat has always treated local elections as a mere local administrative exercise. I don’t want to discuss the details that how the state structure is being managed and watered by the Indian union here.
The polls, even the last one this year for India’s parliament have been almost boycotted. However, the Indian media never projected it as referendum. Sadly, Indian media has been in the frontline to drum-up the propaganda on behalf of Indian union. If they are so over-awed by the poll results, they should also call for the referendum which means granting rights to Kashmir to determine their political future. They should remember polls under the gun means militarized democracy. It is an act of management, rather than a democracy in its true spirit.
I remember, soon after 2008 elections for local assembly were over, the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also claimed that Pro-freedom leader had been rejected by the people. But, the major pro-freedom political uprisings, of 2008, 2009, and 2010 contested that argument.
Since, I don’t want to debate here the statist narrative and the media, the people are aware about how the “realities” in Kashmir are manufactured by the state to suit its own interests. Their realities are diametrically opposite to the realities of Kashmiris. The Indian state and its arm, media, hardly acknowledge ours since they want to continue to keep a hold of Kashmiri territory, by always misinforming their own innocent people back in the plains. India media has worked as an organ of state. Instead of critiquing their country’s inhuman polices on Kashmir, they sided with the state organs.
People have not rejected “separatism”. They know it is the most sacred constituency of Kashmiris- which represents and upholds their political aspirations. Whenever, something bad or significant happens, they always look towards saner and sacred voices of pro-freedom leadership. We are a ray of hope and the real representatives of people rather than pro-Indian leadership who are often seen as the local administrative managers. They are always seen pawns whose strings are pulled by invisible forces.
The BJP led government should realize that war talks would not help. Neither, reiterating that India has 1.2 billion people, nor boasting powerful army and economic powerhouse to keep the status quo still. The modern wars are being fought on very different levels. Technology has changed the war doctrines when wars were fight on only conventional levels. Nuclear weapons have neutralized the size of army and the country.
Hence, if India wants to be seen as an economic power, it has to solve its problems including Kashmir- a thorny issue which is plaguing the security of entire South Asia. As it is known, secure environment is key to economic development. It can be achieved by ensuring the mitigation of problems and issues faced by the countries. Hawkish stances would not help. They only aggravate problems.
Tail Peace: Just a week after Jaitley made his harsh statement; Kashmiris had one again sent a clear political message to Indian leadership and world by observing complete strike on the visit of Indian Prime minister. It also gives us an idea of the significance of ballot in socio-political sphere of Kashmiris.
While speaking in Guwhati, Indian Prime Minister Modi said LBA would provide security to people of Assam and would prevent "any harm to Assam in future." Similarly, to save the South Asia from continuous political and security instability right from 1947, the government of India instead of war mongering and intransigence should initiate a meaningful dialogue to solve Kashmir dispute for once and all. By doing so, India would not only provide secure environment to its own people and business fraternity, it would also emerge as more powerful country, a responsible democracy in true sense, with respect to human rights and dignity.
The author is APHC’s media advisor.