I have come across many articles which reek of narrative mongering and subversive tendencies but I have never seen an article which would read like a press release from the infamous “Hurriyat Conference”. During the past few days, I have tried to expose the blatant misinformation that is being presented as “independent journalism” by the leftist propaganda website “The Wire”. This article is written by Prem Shankar Jha, who according to the propaganda website, is a senior journalist and author of several books.
His musings about Kashmir has always been driven by his ivory tower upbringing and Oxfordian sense of superiority. He had earlier claimed in a Tehelka TV interview that by 1995 all terror activities had stopped and the Indian forces then started shooting these ‘unarmed boys’. Yes, these murderous mobs hell-bent on killing the forces are nothing but ‘unarmed boys’. That interview deserves its own article but that is a story for another day.
In his article – “The BJP’s dangerous endgame in Kashmir’’, he starts off his long list of assumptions by first bestowing praise upon Mehbooba Mufti, calling her a ‘lioness’ and an alien in Kashmiri politics because of her courage. The courage shown by Mufti resulted in the increased Ramzan violence even after a ceasefire, a presumption from my part of course, but if we look at the past four years Mufti and her party could neither restrict nor diminish the surge of militancy in the valley. The only characteristic, which has been overt in Mufti is one of indecisiveness and soft stance against terrorists.
Jha calls BJP’s decision to leave the government in J&K, a trap to bring in governor’s rule. He is not of the opinion that people of Jammu deserve a representation and the mandate that the BJP has promised in the state and to the nation matters. Keeping his lop-sided views aside, if we just look at the growing numbers of terrorist activities in Kashmir under Mufti’s rule it becomes apparent, or in Jha’s own words “but this explanation falls under critical scrutiny”. Neither he sees the centre’s multiple initiatives to reach out to the people of Kashmir be it arranging iftar parties, Ramzan ceasefire, the flood rescue operations and so on and so forth. He discreetly never brought these things up in the article.
Jha also has an explanation for the timing of BJP’s withdrawal. He is of this unsubstantiated opinion that the BJP wishes to use Kashmir for 2019. The assumption alone is not that disturbing but then he went on to add Amarnath Yatri’s will not be safe because PDP supporters from the adjoining villages of the two routes for the pilgrimage will no longer provide intelligence to the police. According to Jha, political expediency will always take precedence over the safety of other fellow Indians as far as PDP is concerned. If this is true then BJP has done a commendable job by disassociating themselves from such an organization.
No ‘The Wire’ article is ever complete without insinuating that people are eating grass and living in miserable condition under the current government. Sometimes this ad-hominem takes over the author of such articles and they produce absolutely ridiculous assertions just like Jha. He accuses the incumbent government of following a policy of high interest and demonetization has compounded the misery of the people by making the industrial and infrastructure investment come to a standstill. The construction industry and agricultural industry is in dire condition. He then adds that GST has forced the employment growth to a standstill. Jha believes that this has happened every year for the last four years.
“Every year for the last four years” – GST was implemented on 1st April 2017 and Demonetization on 8th November 2016. It seems Jha has forgotten the basics of cross-checking in his pursuit of a quick fix of anti-BJP fit. As far as the industrial and infrastructural investments are concerned India’s LPI performance has been exceptional in all sectors, this report by the World Bank, where Jha worked attests the same.
The above chart shows how India’s overall LPI rank has grown from being 46 in 2012 to be ranked 35 in 2016. This chart indicates that all in sectors India has significantly improved its ranking and consistently so. The LPI is an average of six different indicators which are stated in the chart.
The investment in infrastructure has been growing consistently with the recent budget allocating the US $61.92 Billion. This government also realized the need for a separate fund thus created ‘National Investment and Infrastructure Fund’ (NIIF) in 2016. The construction sector outlook is also positive as stated by the Builders Association of India, National president HN Vijaya Raghava Reddy. According to Reddy Construction industry is expected to employ about 80 million workers by 2020. These statements are in stark contrast to the narrative Jha peddles in this article.
Now, in the last paragraph of this article Jha’s idea and his agenda becomes much clearer as he declares his solution to the Kashmir problem. Here Jha calls Mufti a ‘kashmiri nationalist’ and asks for a full return to the commitments made in 1947, which according to him is the only way to achieve peace in Kashmir, India and interestingly enough, Pakistan.
Jha also says that increased counter-insurgency operations by Indian forces would ‘provoke’ Pakistan to redouble their efforts to infiltrate terrorists. Now the insinuation here is not only outrageous but also a prime example of how much distorted Jha’s view is. This willful denial of reality persists as he states that many more military and ‘civilian’ casualties and some convenient attempts to assassinate Modi will get BJP through the 2019 elections. He never mentions the word terrorists who would be neutralized because in his head there are no terrorists everyone is civilian or unarmed boys, who occasionally pick up Kalashnikovs to kill innocent people and our soldiers.
He also illustrates how PDP could have remained in power and carried on initiatives such as freeing of stone pelters and other ‘political dissidents’. Wait! Aren’t they just unarmed, poor and misguided youths who are just looking for employment? Maybe it’s just what Jha says while talking to Tehelka? Continuing with Jha’s prescribed policies, in addition to the freeing of stone pelters, he wants mufti to offer a general amnesty to all surrendered militants and extend the same to the other militants willing to surrender.
So basically, a terrorist can go on a rampage killing a number of civilians and security personnel and claim amnesty, according to him. A bit outrageous and irrational but what more can be expected from Wire and their bunch of coveted clowns. He also mentions giving the ‘Hurriyat’ an open contract and asking their help in ending the militancy and the end of terror in the valley.
Now, what does Jha mean by “a full return to the commitments made in 1947”? Well, here is what he means. Mind you Dr. B.R. Ambedkar refused to draft this article and Nehru was forced to ask Gopalaswamy Aayangar to draft the article. Aayangar was a minister without a portfolio in the first union cabinet and also a former Diwan to the Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu & Kashmir.
The initial autonomy that was given to the state of J&K did not include Defence, Communication, External Affairs and Ancillaries as these rights were surrendered by the princes de-facto at the time of signing the instrument of accession. The difference in the case of J&K was that Patel was kept out of this negotiation thus like others princely states, Patel could not persuade Hari Singh to accept the Indian constitution in its totality. This created a constitutional vacuum that is why the 370 was introduced and the idea was that in time J&K will accept the Indian constitution in its totality. This is precisely why the Article 370 had the term ‘temporary provision’ included in its name. National Conference did not take any advice from the larger section of populous living in Jammu and Ladakh while contemplating on the article.
The problem Jha has is the later years when most of its perceived autonomy was taken away by a change in the language in the provision. The original draft explained the state government as – “The person for the time being recognized by the President as the Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir acting on the advice of the council of ministers for the time being in office under the Maharaja’s proclamation date fifth day of March 1948”.
On November 15th, 1952 it was changed and later in 1954 ratified which only gave the state the special power to make special provision regarding the permanent residence of the state. It meant all Indian state apparatus will be fully present and applicable to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier the Kashmiris proposed that council of ministers should work under the proclamation of the Maharaja which would have meant the state will not have a constitutional head but an autonomous monarchical head. The change in language and its subsequent ratification meant that a governor and a Legislative Assembly of the state be recognized and the state de-facto comes under the Indian constitutional umbrella.
The text in 1952 read –“The government of the state means the person for the time being recognised by the president on the recommendation of the Legislative assembly of the State as the Sadr-i-Riyasat (Governor) of Jammu and Kashmir, acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers of the state for the time being in office”.
So, Jha’s problem is not with the bloodshed but rather with India’s constitutional jurisdiction over Kashmir and just as many others like him, he does not give a two hoot for the people of Jammu and Ladakh who are as much a stakeholder in the state’s future as the Kashmiri speaking people from Kashmir.