Actions of India’s PM are a concern


Security personnel patrol along a street in Srinagar, Indian-occupied Kashmir PHOTO/AFP/Dawn

The recent unilateral decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to revoke Article 370, which guaranteed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, is a flagrant violation of India’s sovereign constitution. The curbing of political and civil liberties in Jammu and Kashmir is questionable.

A little history: In October 1947, the monarch of Jammu and Kashmir signed the “Instrument of Accession” to India, officially ceding to the government of India jurisdiction over defense, foreign affairs and communications.

In January 1948, India referred the Kashmir dispute to the United Nations. Prime Minister Nehru took the dispute beyond local and national boundaries by bringing it before the U.N. Security Council, and seeking a ratification of India’s “legal” claims over Kashmir. The U.N. reinforced Nehru’s pledge of holding a plebiscite in Kashmir, and in 1948 the Security Council established the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan to play the role of mediator in the Kashmir issue.

The UNCIP adopted a resolution urging the government of Pakistan to cease the infiltration of tribal mercenaries and raiders into Jammu and Kashmir. It also urged the government of India to demilitarize the state. The resolution proclaimed that once these conditions were fulfilled, the government of India would be obligated to hold a plebiscite in the state to either ratify or veto the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India.

In the meantime, the government of Jammu and Kashmir negotiated with the central government to ensure that it would be allowed to function as a fully autonomous unit within the federation. Article 370 ensured that apart from defense, foreign affairs and communications, decisions with regard to other matters would be determined with the consent of the government of Jammu and Kashmir.

India’s constitution seeks to guarantee respect for the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the integrity of the electoral process. But time and again, provisions of the constitution have been breached in Kashmir, and the ideals that it enshrines have been forgotten. In Kashmir, rights relating to life, liberty, dignity of the people and freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution have been flouted. The revocation of Article 370, without consultation and following legislative processes, makes it clear that the much-lauded parliamentary democracy in India has been unable to protect a genuine democratic setup in Kashmir.

Kashmir has been under a lockdown, communication blackout and information blackout since Aug. 5. Modi cannot avoid his ethical and moral responsibilities toward the peoples of states in a federal country. The lives of people cannot be torn asunder by paramilitary forces and other “upholders” of the law.

(Nyla Ali Khan, a visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma,
teaches at Rose State College and is a member of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team. She is also a member of the Scholars Strategy Network. Khan earned her PhD in Post-colonial literature from OU. She has written several books including The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism (Routledge, 2005), Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), and The Life of a Kashmiri Woman: Dialectic of Resistance and Accommodation.)

(The above article first appeared in The Oklahoman of August 21, 2019.)

Comments are closed.