Mehbooba Mufti is baying for blood. That is if contentious Article 35A is abrogated in Jammu and Kashmir. This is her preemptive warning to both the legislature (Parliament) and the judiciary (Supreme Court) which has a series of petitions due for a final call soon. Similar murderous intents are of Abdullahs (Farooq and Omar) which warm up the hearts of terrorists and ISI in Pakistan. The two could also count on the support of Congress who sowed the seeds of this tumour and have been steadfast in support over the last seven decades.
Mehbooba warns in a language not dissimilar to Hafiz Saeed (LeT) and Masood Azhar (JeM). She says if Article 370A is abrogated, the whole India would burn; a typical “tukde-tukde gang” delusion. This is not the first time either. She once tweeted that if Article 370 is scrapped, “Hindustan-waalon, tumhari-dastaan bhi na hogi dastaano mein” (O Indians, history wouldn’t even remember you once existed). Omar Abdullah has been similarly bellicose: “If Article 370 is scrapped, Jammu and Kashmir won’t be a part of India.”
Such words dripping with violence and blood either bank on Jihadis in the Valley or complicity from across the border. This is the language of the secessionists. And they could openly give a call to arms, defy the Indian state and still whistle a tune under the umbrella of Indian Constitution which has this anomaly of Article 370 and 35A.
Their latest is because the Indian state has deployed 10,000 extra forces in the Valley. They view it as the Indian state’s preparedness in the aftermath of impending scrapping of Article 35A. Overwhelming numbers in India wish if it was true. The telltale sign is that J & K is in its second year under President’s Rule which could only extend up to three years. Now or never is a logical premise.
In the name of protecting the “special and distinct culture” of Jammu and Kashmir, Article 35A blocks refugees from West Pakistan from becoming citizens of the state; takes away the rights of a Kashmiri women once she marries anyone outside the state; and impedes other citizens of the country from setting permanently or buying property in J & K. Government jobs for them are out of bounds under Jammu and Kashmir constitution.
The irony is if “special and distinct culture” is the basis, Article 370 and 35A must be scrapped without delay. Till 1941, Hindus in Jammu outnumbers Muslims in Kashmir Valley. Since Kashmiri Pandits were driven out, its’ this culture which is facing a historical genocide. No less than 532 out of 583 temples in the Valley have been vandalized; 52 have disappeared without a trace. Most Muslims in the Valley have ancestors who once were Hindus, incrementally converted since the rule of Sultan Sikandar Butshikan (Slayer of Idols) in the 14thcentury.
One of the dishes of Wazwan, a 36-course meal prepared for special occasions, is butt-haak, a spinach preparation, primarily contributed by Pandits. So has been Kahwa, a Kashmiri beverage, prepared by saffron and almond. Kashmiri dress, both Hindus and Muslims, speak of a composite culture. Many a customs of Muslims in Valley had its origination in Kashmiri Pandits but is now under their exclusive ownership since the latter were driven out by violence.
It’s part of BJP’s manifesto to scrap Article 370 and 35A. Yet it’s also given that they won’t leapfrog the judiciary. Constitutional morality is the hallmark of the Modi government. So far the court has deferred hearings at least six times since December 2018. The petitions haven’t been heard since Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi took office in October last year. Since 2014, the case has been heard over 20 times. A judgment has been delayed on various excuses such as pending talks by the interlocutor, panchayat or national elections and now the Amarnath Yatra.
But if push comes to shove, Modi government is within its Constitutional right to scrap Article 370 and 35A. It can bypass judiciary. It’s still easier now that Jammu and Kashmir is under President’s Rule. A historic injustice is on the cusp of being corrected. Mehbooba and Omar are fire-emitting dragons who are conscious of the scimitar hanging over their nefarious designs. All you need is to call off the bluff of the bullies.
Author of “How United States Shot Humanity”, Senior Journalist, TV Presenter