By Syed Ali Mujtaba
Since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A and creation of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019 there is total blackout of the news from that forsaken place of India that once used to be a hotspot of news flow in the country.
Nowadays we are only told through the news media as to how many persons have been killed in terrorism related activities. We are asked to count the dead either those who are called as terrorists or those called security forces. Apart from them there is no news flow from J&K. This has led man to conclude that no news is good news.
However, there are many news buffs that have remained hungry and inquisitive to know about the developments in Jammu and Kashmir especially since August 5, 2019.
The author has received a forwarded message on WhatsApp that tells about the developments in that beleaguered place. Since the source of the message is absent, no attribution can be done to such news nor could its authenticity be verified.
Nonetheless, since the message is forwarded, it is obvious that the intention behind doing so is to widely circulate such information so that the readers can form their opinion about the developments in Jammu and Kashmir.
The WhatsApp post says that the Home Ministry has taken some drastic steps to further tighten its noose in the Kashmir valley to quell all separatist trends and complete the merger process of the contested state. The Home Ministry in the shadow of Covid 19 has taken some major steps regarding Jammu and Kashmir that remains behind the veil of secrecy. However, the WhatsApp message blows the lid over the developments in J&K and here is a sneak preview of the same:
- As part of abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, some 1.5 lakh Hindu and Sikh families have been given domicile status in Jammu and Kashmir.
- Kashmiris have lost control over all universities including Jammu & Kashmir National Law University. All universities are now directly controlled by New Delhi. The curriculum in these universities has been modified with national focus and its Kashmiri centric portions are reduced to bare minimum.
- Religious shrines that were always controlled by the Dharmath Trust or respective shrine’s boards now have to directly report to the Home Ministry in New Delhi. Even Jammu and Kashmir Wakaf board (Auqaf) has been taken over by New Delhi. All its assets which till now were created by contributors and Niyaz from Kashmiri Muslims have been taken over by New Delhi. In other words Kashmiris have lost control over the religious Shrines and henceforth it is New Delhi that will be governing them.
- The ‘Delhi Durbar’ has appointed some competent authority to take suo moto cognizance of the properties that Hindu Pandits had left behind in the valley in 1990s. New Delhi has empowered the local administration to evict locals from properties that they might have purchased from the Pandits leaving Kashmir and nullify any sale deed that may have been executed at that time.
- Legal protection that was granted to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to protest against New Delhi rule, some 42 years ago has been revoked. Now such people will be facing the public safety Act of 1978 and can be put in any jail outside Jammu and Kashmir.
- No movement of Secretariat from Jammu to Kashmir or vice versa in winter and summer as has been the practice so far will take place. As such, the Secretariat will only function from Jammu and not from Srinagar.
- The perks to former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir like vehicle, accommodation etc are withdrawn. All nominations of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers for University boards and Wakf board have been scrapped. The former Chief Ministers are now reduced to number 15 on the warrant of precedence from earlier number 7.
- All golf courses, all forest lands and tourist development authorities are now directly controlled by New Delhi. The Home Ministry can issue allotment, lease or provide prime land and facilities to any one from India.
- New Delhi has created a land bank of thousands of acres in different districts of Kashmir. This is for allotment to non-state subjects in the name of investment and industry.
- All Kashmiri IAS officers are posted in less important positions, while non-local officials are running the administration from Jammu.
- The Union territory is notified as ‘strategic areas’ that have to be developed by the army. This is for further expansion of the military presence in the hinterland and border areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The limiting of networks to 2G has a cascading impact on different areas including business and education. In absence of 4G networks many industries have been forced out of business.
All these moves have set a new relationship between New Delhi and Kashmir valley. The ‘London Durbar’ is now replaced by ‘Delhi Durbar.’ There is no democracy, no rule of law, no people’s voice that matters in Jammu and Kashmir. In the new relationship the equation between New Delhi and Kashmir is that of rulers and the subjects.
The priority of the Delhi government is to completely crush any voices from Kashmir. The ‘Delhi Durbar’ wants to trample over the people treating them as colonial subjects with utter contempt and disdain. India’s policy of defacing the identity of Kashmir valley is definitely a scar on Indian democracy. At the moment the Delhi Durbar is riding the high horse of arrogance akin to “the sun never sets on the British Empire.”
However, the moot question is how long such anti people policy will be forced on the people of Jammu and Kashmir? Will the Delhi Durbar with these policies be successful to subsume the distinct identity of the Kashmiri people? Will such policies help emotionally help to integrate the people of Jammu and Kashmir into the Indian union? These are and many more such questions crop up in some sane minds after knowing the new details of the developments going on in Jammu and Kashmir.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org