Wednesday, February 19, 2020 | ePaper

Modi is not brave but callous and a threat to peace

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The instrument of accession with India was signed by the Maharaja of Kashmir on 26 October 1947, which was accepted by the British Governor General the next day.

While the Government of India accepted the accession, it added the proviso that it would be submitted to a "reference to the people" after the state is cleared of the invaders, since "only the people, not the Maharaja, could decide where Kashmiris wanted to live." It was a provisional accession.

India sought resolution of the issue at the UN Security Council, despite Sheikh Abdullah's opposition to it. Following the set-up of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), the UN Security Council passed Resolution 47 on 21 April 1948. The measure called for an immediate cease-fire and called on the Government of Pakistan 'to secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the state for the purpose of fighting.' It also asked Government of India to reduce its forces to minimum strength, after which the circumstances for holding a plebiscite should be put into effect 'on the question of Accession of the State to India or Pakistan.'

However, it was not until 1 January 1949 that the ceasefire could be put into effect. However, both India and Pakistan failed to arrive at a truce agreement due to differences over interpretation of the procedure for and the extent of demilitarisation. One sticking point was whether the Azad Kashmiri army was to be disbanded during the truce stage or at the plebiscite stage.

So what Narendra Modi has effectively done now by repealing Article 35A and Article 370 is remove the provisos which India put into place itself in the Instrument of Accession of Kashmir. It also violates the UN Resolution which explicitly called for demilitarisation by both India and Pakistan and clearly asked for a vote by the Kashmiri people to determine their own future.

Instead India has laid the groundwork for settlement of any other Indian citizen of any other state in Kashmir, thus allowing Kashmir to be populated by people from other states-- another clear violation of the instrument of accession and the UN Resolution, since a plebiscite should be taken only with the original Kashmiri inhabitants.

Meanwhile two competing narratives have emerged amidst the communication blackout. The Modi government and large sections of the Indian media claim that Kashmir is calm and Kashmiris are thrilled at the changes. Meanwhile, reports in other sections of the Indian media and the foreign press paint a disturbing picture of a people besieged by heavily armed troopers.

Telling is the fact that after days of refuting reports of a large protest in the Soura area of Srinagar, the Modi government has admitted there was one. From August 9-13, Krishnan, who is Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, and a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), travelled to Srinagar, Sopore, Bandipora, Anantnag, Shopian and Pampore.  Describing the situation as grim, Krishnan said that it looked like occupied Iraq or occupied Palestine. According to her Kashmir was under military siege. There were paramilitary forces on every street, outside homes, outside localities.

The facts speak clearly that Prime Minister Modi, in order to prove that he is a strong leader for India, has behaved callously by violating India's international commitment to allow Kashmiris through a plebiscite to decide the dispute between the conflicting claims of Pakistan and India. More importantly, Mr  Modi flouted the need of the opinion of the people of Kashmir, exposing himself as a worst dictator in democratic India.

Although Mr Modi is a failed prime minister, still he is popular for his demagoguery and his support for Hindu nationalism. He needs to appear as a strong leader for the expansionist policy of Indian Hindu nationalism. In other words, he wants to win support of the Hindu extremists by offering them the insane hope that under his leadership the Indian subcontinent will be one and a united state under India's rule.

That only shows how dangerous and callous he could be for India's own peace and well-being. He must be restrained and Kashmiri people be allowed to decide their own fate. It is wrong to make Kashmir a disputed issue between India and Pakistan. The real question to be addressed by the United Nations is the right   of self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

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