By Arun Srivastava
Kashmiri leaders who till recently were identified as the Gupkar gang need not be euphoric at their June 24 meeting with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. An insight into the deliberations the Kashmiri leaders had with Modi makes it explicit that his design wrapped in the cliché of Naya Kashmir was primarily aimed to serving the interest of the international players and also to entrap the Kashmiri leaders.
The deliberations at the meet make it abundantly clear that Modi has taken utmost pains to conceal his real intentions and he has nothing new to offer to the people of the state. As usual he resorted to obsolete jumlas to win over the confidence of the leaders. He did not do significant service to the people of Kashmir by saying that he was always available for the Kashmiris. A prime minister is always under obligation to be available to his people. Since he reiterated it obviously implied that he was trying to bestow obligation on the people of the state. He was undermining the desires and aspirations of the people.
Even the BJP leaders are astonished at the mellowed approach of Modi; everyone is busy trying to find out the reason why he resorted to this strategy. At the time of abrogating the section 370 he had promised the people to transform the state into a Naya Kashmir. During these last two years he did not do any thing substantial to keep his promise made to the people. It was at the meeting he suddenly sprung the old thesis of creating Naya Kashmir.
What was most significant aspect of the meeting was the presence of Amit Shah, the person who indulged in brutal vilification of the state and humiliation of its people. True enough the soothing and polite words that Modi and Shah used at the meeting should have alerted and turned sceptical the Kashmiri leaders. It was irony that some of them looked at their stance as change of heart and humanitarian approach replacing the inhuman machination.
The most significant trap that was laid by Modi was his assurance to the Kashmiri leaders “Hum Dilli ki doori bhi mitana chahte hain aur dil ki doori bhi (We want to reduce the distance with Delhi and also the distance between hearts)”. The fact of the matter is he was indulging in proxy assurance. Through his rhetoric he wanted the send the message across to his international friends that he really meant business, which is certainly not.
The nature of the meeting made it clear that Modi has not come with any specific agenda. He was simply concerned with getting the approval of the Kashmiri leaders to its plan to have elections in the state. Modi has been desperately trying to convince the international bodies and groups that no violation of human rights was taking place in the state and the state has a vibrant democratic functioning. In this regards the submission of Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad is quite significant. Amit Shah was more candid in asserting that elections be held. The state has no government for last three years. Modi has to face severe flak at international level for absence of a functional government.
Ironically both Modi and Shah have been conspicuously silent about restoration of the special status to the state. Shah said the issue would be discussed at a later stage. What does it imply? The state would continue to be in the stage in which it is at present. It would be a blunder to construe that Modi was working for resorting to old status of Jammu and Kashmir and introduce article 370. By doing so Modi would be reversing the political agenda and programme of the RSS. In fact also made it clear that he was also more interested in holding elections and to achieve that it was imperative to complete the process of redrawing Assembly constituencies.
It would also be wrong to construe the move of Modi as his failure. He was not making any material change in his stand on 2019. He was simply adopting the façade of being democrat. Otherwise too the autocrat rulers use holding of the elections as sign of a thriving and vibrant democracy. In fact the Modi government and its bureaucrats have been citing holding of elections as the sign of a vibrant democracy to counter the international allegation that democracy has ceased to exist in India. Even BJP leaders confess that the primary priority now was to secure the support and participation of all political parties to hold elections to show to the world its commitment for democratic process.
The meeting has one more important aspect. The Modi government has already started the process of talks with the Taliban. Once American military withdraws from Afghanistan, the Taliban will come to rule the roost. For buying peace it is imperative that India should have better relation with the Taliban. It is a known fact that Taliban has not been happy at the manner in which Modi government has abrogated 370 and put thousands of Kashmiri youths in jail for years. Holding of meeting is a move to buy peace with the Taliban.
Convening the meeting with the five-party alliance fighting for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, including Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party and Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference, is expected to diffuse the tension at the border between India and Pakistan. The meeting of the leaders has in fact served one important goal of the RSS and BJP. The meeting being held for the first time after abrogation of 370 would be projected as endorsing the action of Modi government. Modi government now can claim since they accepted abrogation they participated at the meeting. If they had any observation they would have kept away from the meet. The meeting was to give an opportunity to the Valley leaders to vent their frustration and move on.
Like Modi’s slogan of creating Naya India, his thrust on building a Naya Kashmir is shrouded in mystery. Neither he nor his lieutenant Amit Shah have clarified what actually Naya Kashmir meant. In fact it would be naive to believe that Modi and Shah would provide any kind of space to the Kashmiri leaders. How anyone could forget the vilification campaign launched against the leaders of five parties that make up the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. Shah had vilified them and termed them as dynasts, corrupt and anti-national.
An overview of the deliberation at the meet makes it crystal clear that RSS and BJP would in future push its “nationalist agenda”. The Sangh Parivar invited the old leaders only for the reason that they efforts to build an alternative leadership ready to work with BJP could not acquire a concrete shape during last couple of years. Of course the representative of one such group was present but he was virtually a non entity in presence of Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mufti Mehbooba.
No doubt political compulsions made Modi to reconcile and invite the leaders for talks, the most important nevertheless remains to be answered; whether Modi government would respect the views and sentiments of the leaders who were derided and insulted by the Modi government and the Sangh Parivar. These leaders would be presented before the international fraternity as the caged parrots. Modi’s move is primarily aimed at pleasing Joe Biden and his administration.
After India and Pakistan entered into a sort of cease fire, the Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and prime minister Imran Khan have been regularly telling India to take some human relation building exercise in Kashmir. Their main thrust has been India should restore the statehood to J&K . If the sources are to be relied that India and Pakistan in near future would increase their diplomatic activities and bilateral trade. However it is said that Pakistan would not go beyond a line to press its demand for restoration of the human rights in Kashmir. It would create problems for it. Pakistan is more interested in India taking to economic issues and programmes. (IPA Service)