New Kashmir Policy

A whole year will have passed, probably a little more, by the time the new dispensation in Delhi will reveal its hand in Kashmir. Not that one doesn’t know what it will be about. Only the contours are unclear. That the prolonged Governor’s, President’s rule has virtually come to an end is known. Only, one is in the dark when exactly the rulers in Delhi will bestir themselves into putting an end to the more portentous President’s rule that has been around for quite a while. A li’l  bird tells me that efforts have been initiated by Home Minister Amit Shah’s braintrusters to use the opportunity to give a new dimension to the imbroglio in fulfillment of its search to finding a fine balance between the two major regions, Kashmir and Jammu and leaving Ladakh  alone for  special  treatment it may probably never have received in the past. For starters the Home Ministry is understood to have convinced itself that Jammu somehow has always got the wrong end of the spoon in any arrangement involving the State’s two major constituents; Jammu, the story goes has rarely been treated as an equal in the former Dogra State. Yes, even when the Dogra dynasty ruled the roost. Jammu, so the story goes, has rarely seen fair-play. Yes, not even in the matter of delimitation of constituencies. Jammu, less populated than the valley no doubt, had a smaller, some say disproportionately, so, share of constituencies in the current State Assembly.

Jammu it is now argued lost some of its numerical clout when the rest of the State, now under Pakistani control, continued to stay there, thus losing some of its known constituent units. Another grouse remains that the delimitation of constituencies, even after the partition of the sub-continent has always favored the valley thus enhancing its Muslim character. No thought is spared for the fact  that Jammu became a part of Kashmir only after Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Dogra Commander Gulab Singh conquered Kashmir and Ladakh, for the three together to become  the State of Jammu Kashmir, with the last named Kashmir, the most populous,  and later, all three units sold to the Dogra commander. It is largely to undo the Muslim preponderance in the Valley that the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and its successor Bhratiya Janata Party have remained committed. The BJP as the ruling party these past five years hasn’t wasted a day in not trying to restore the balance in the numerical imbalance of having a Muslim Majority State within the Indian Union. The presence of a Muslim majority State these past seven decades and more of the partitioning of the subcontinent has remained an anachronism for the saffron brigade as a whole with the RSS in particular. Modi and Shah constituted the van in Ahmadabad providing raison de etre of the RSS as a Hindu nationalist movement. With few challengers left within their saffron fold the BJP under the joint leadership on Modi and Shah would seem to be determined to correct the “historic” injustice inflicted on the Hindu Rashtra ever since Islam invaded and struck roots in India. You may recall the tone and tenor of the 2014 campaigns launched by Modi and Shah and you couldn’t have missed the message central to their theme:  restoration of Hindu pride.

So as messrs Shah and his team of experts of the concerned ministries meet over the next few weeks of President’s  rule in Jammu and Kashmir you can be sure that many historic and not so historic ghosts will be brought into the open, simultaneously as partisans bestir themselves, cry themselves hoarse raising the feverish cry to carve out new voting zones and, the others, not so subtle, will fall for enlarging the membership of the dissolved Kashmir Assembly to create seven or eight more constituencies representing the unrepresented voters from the Jammu region of the State. Yes these men would come in handy to balance out the Muslim majority in the existing State. You obviously  have forgotten that the Kashmir Constituents Assembly had consciously left a number of seats in the contemplated House open in order to give them the right to vote once the Pakistanis chose to vacate the areas under their occupation for the past 70 years and more. To sum up the BJP and its top leadership are somehow convinced that the Kashmiri worm’s back is broken and he just may lack the ‘himmat’ to turn the tide. Another story that such assumptions usually tend to end up not so much as a dream as a nightmare.