Kashmir: Marching to the beat of a different tune

Dr G Shreekumar Menon

Pakistan’s one-day cricket victory match over India in the T20 World Cup, in October 2021 at Dubai, saw wild celebration by students in Kashmir. FIR filed by the Police states that during the “intervening night of 24 and 25 October 2021 after Pakistan’s one-day cricket match victory, students pursuing MBBS and other degrees residing in the un-married hostel of SKIMS Soura raised slogans and burst firecrackers”. It says that in this connection, a case was registered under section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 105A and 505 IPC.

An FIR has also been filed under section 13 of the UAPA at the Karan Nagar police station, against the students of the Government Medical College for “crying and dancing last evening after Pakistan won the World Cup T20 match against India”. The FIRs are open and the accused are yet to be identified.

There has been an outrage across India against this unpatriotic demeanour of the students, especially when they are the recipients of State largesse. It is the taxpayers hard earned money that is being showered on undeserving recipients.

Pakistan’s designs on Kashmir started from day one of the obnoxious Partition cobbled up by gullible politicians and the inchoate Indian democracy plunged into mindless violence ever since. The Indo-Pak war of 1947-48, resulted in Pakistan occupying a large chunk of Kashmir, presently known as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), and the realigned border came to be known as the Line of Control. Literally, India’s head was chopped, and this disfigured visage continues to be embedded in the map of India till date.Indians keep dreaming of reclaiming POK, while Pakistan wants to annex the entire Kashmir, using the name of Islam, and support of Islamic countries.

If Kashmir is annexed it will be like beheading India.It is an indubitable fact that Kashmir has been mollycoddled and pampered no end by successive Governments at Delhi for the past over 70 years. The thinking process has been that the brute majority of the population professing Islam, could be cajoled by concessions, freebies and regular lollypops, into being aligned to India rather than Pakistan, which is a fundamentalist Islamic nation. Misplaced reliance on a few corrupt Kashmiri Muslim families caused grave administrative and governance miscalculations, over the past several decades.

A major national disaster got averted with the revolutionary ascension of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, assisted by an able complement of ministers and bureaucrats. Kashmir has been compelled to march to the beat of a different tune. Far reaching administrative changes is redefining the Kashmir landscape from A to Z.

The earlier order of religious supremacy of Islam, hounding, killing and expelling religious minorities, adamant rejection of the Indian Republic, blatantly expressing a deferential alignment with Pakistan, connivance with Pakistan’s open Jihad against India, all are under check as of now. These actions were facilitated, supported and encouraged by injurious and retrograde provisions like Article 35A and Article 370, which thwarted the progress of Jammu and Kashmir, prevented the state from integration with India and ensured the stagnation of the State by a potpourri of fundamentalism, militancy, female repression, illiteracy and unbridled corruption by a few ruling elite Muslim families.

The Modi Government, literally cut the Gordian knot by rendering Article 370 inoperative in Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The ill-conceived Article 370, combined with Article 35A, accorded Jammu and Kashmir special status under the Constitution of India, allowing it to have a separate constitution and a separate penal code among other legal distinctions.The Presidential Order of 2019 that superseded the one of 1954, startled the world, bringing an end to the inglorious separate constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and with it, the unwarranted special status that was misused continuously, for nearly seven decades, by a few corrupt families.

The winds of change are blowing across Kashmir, but fundamentalist elements from inside and from Pakistan are desperate to wreck the new initiatives. The advantage of a fundamentalist and military controlled government, like that in Pakistan, is their unfettered freedom to recruit, train and infiltrate heavily armed mercenaries into Kashmir. Their judiciary is impotent, media is supportive, and people acquiesce and connive, all in the name of aggrandizement of their religion. India, on the contrary is a chaotic democracy, government shackled by an unscrupulously greedy opposition, sold-out media, foreign funded NGO’s, assorted human rights organizations obsessed with defending rights of terrorists and terror organizations, slow-motion justice, and minority fearing politicians.

The problem to be tackled is the deeply entrenched religious fundamentalism in the Kashmir Valley. Islamic religious fundamentalism is a vexed problem across the world, it has defied any peaceful resolution. What can India do about it and save Kashmir?

The geo-political situation in the region continues to be volatile. Afghanistan is in utter chaos after America retreated ingloriously, and Pakistan is creaking with instability. The restless Taliban militants who have no engagement have already expressed their open willingness to meddle in Kashmir. These restless, illiterate and brutal fundamentalists, can be very complex to handle. Their victory in Afghanistan against the powerful Americans and their allies, has emboldened them to spread their geographical ambitions. The local Kashmiris will have no choice except to suffer the Afghans in the name of religious brotherhood. Just as America discovered that their awesome military might, weaponry and nukes was useless against an enemy of determined and crazy saboteurs, India also will not be able to flex much of its military muscle against terror groups.

There are an assortment of hardcore fundamentalists specialising in suicide attacks and targeted bombings. Not only the Minorities of Kashmir but Shia Muslims will also will be in the endangered list. The local Kashmiri Muslims will be just silent spectators, as their religious affinity will be an insurmountable hurdle for them.

How then do we solve this intractable problem? This writer is of the considered opinion that the issue to be addressed is how to crack the vexed problem of religious fundamentalism which critically affects some organized religions?

Presently, State governments continually keep appeasing the organized religions by liberally granting them freedom to convert Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, liberal pensions for religious priests, tax exemptions, subsidies, encouragement to study select foreign languages like Arabic and Persian, and absolute non-interference in their affairs. All this is a quid pro quo for garnering votes en masse of the followers of organized religions. This formula is going on undisturbed for the past over 70 years, and there is absolutely no sign of the largesse being discontinued. Rather, the scope is getting enlarged in the form of ingenious new additions and sops.

The root cause for this malaise is the hard-core religious indoctrination that the followers are compelled to undergo from childhood. By the time they enter their teens, they all develop varying degrees of fundamentalist streak in them. Unless this fundamentalism is neutralized, the country will continue to witness and suffer intolerance and violence.

A noteworthy aspect of the religious training imparted by organized religions is the total absence of spirituality and philosophical content. In fact, spirituality and philosophy are totally absent in organized religions. The government should modify the school and college syllabus to accommodate compulsory classes in spirituality, philosophy, ethics, and morality. Once there is exposure to a different stream of thought, the stern religious commandments and instructions of organized religions will be taken with a pinch of salt. This will be a major relief to governments not only in India but also in Europeand America, which are now experiencing fundamentalist violence, stubborn indiscipline, and dramatic demographic changes. Spiritual masters and their teachings in self-discovery will definitely result in ameliorating the stranglehold of organized religions which specialize in rigid beliefs, illogical interpretations, and frightening punishments.

Second reform needed is to make names of all educational institutions’ religion-neutral and ensure that statues, photographs, paintings, sayings, and all religious symbols are removed. This will ensure a religion-free atmosphere in places of learning and help in the development of the individual without any religious bias. There should be compulsory education in philosophy, morality and ethical behaviour for all students.

Third reform is to ensure that all educational institutions observe uniform holidays especially those related to religion. Presently, many organized private educational institutions give holidays only for their religious festivals. This creates a feeling of alienation and disrespect for other religions. The government can easily direct UGC, CBSE and other apex organizations to issue a uniform holiday list for compulsory observance by all educational institutions.

Fourth, most citizens are ignorant about the Kashmir issue. There needs to be a lesson in school/college about the Kashmir problem and the mistakes made by Indian politicians in handling the problem.The future generations should know what mistakes to avoid.

The students also need to be taught about the unique Shaiva-Shaktism concept which emerged in Kashmir known as Trika. They should know about scholar-siddhas, like Utpaladeva, Abhinavagupta, Lalleshwari and Lakshmanjoo.How many of our students know that Kashmir is also referred to as Sharada Desha, and that the original name of Kashmir was Kashyapamar? We cannot blame the students, if we have not taught them to be proud of their ancestry, culture and traditions. Even the present history of the Kashmir dispute is not taught to the students, therefore many have no inkling what is the real issue there. This needs to be changed otherwise there is grave danger of future generations being ignorant of the geography and history of our nation.

Fifth, unlike countries like Israel, Singapore and partly USA, we don’t have a policy of compulsory military training for our youngsters. If not for every youth at least for all fresh government recruits at all levels, and students undergoing professional courses like medicine and engineering, should be made to undergo compulsory military service of one year and made to serve in forward areas of Kashmir, Indo-Pak border and Indo-China border for a minimum period of one year. A few civil services like IAS/IPS/IRS have a namesake Army attachment schedule of about two weeks, this needs to be replaced by a full-fledged military training and service in border areas for one full year. This will instil discipline and national integration at critical levels of administration. Similar military attachment in forward areas need to be enforced for parliamentarians, legislators, and of paramount importance for judicial officers. There needs to be a formidable phalanx of patriotic officers at every layer of administration, whether in the legislature, executive or judiciary.

Lastly, India needs to put in place a stiff National Population Policy. There is great fear among the general population that deliberate demographic growth is being engineered by a certain community, as a way for territorial expansion and extracting more concessions in exchange for votes. Infiltration by Bangladeshis and Rohingyas is complicating the scenario.

Occupation of public places for prayers is being seen by many sections as muscle-flexing and a threatening display of numerical strength. Massive new places of worship are sprouting in every town and village in the country, to the great discomfiture of many sections of the population, which is viewing such expansion as pre-planned silent invasion. This is not a phenomenon confined to India alone, it is happening globally.

India needs to take corrective measures. If the Constitution is the roadblock, then it needs to be revised according to the changing circumstances. We cannot allow it to be a dead-weight anchor pulling the nation down. 70 years back when the Constitution was framed, little did the stalwarts anticipate diabolical conspiracies, and developments that would misuse the Constitution to defeat the nation itself.

This writer is refraining from dwelling on the military options in Kashmir, as the present government is committed to giving a befitting reply to any aggressor or militant or mercenary. Though our forces are better modernized and equipped and can give a befitting reply to any intruder, the internal security situation is very alarming. The investigations by central agencies are being sabotaged in many States, the Police is made to register false cases against the officers, and in many cases parallel investigations are being launched, to sabotage the case proceedings.

Even starlets, and small-time politicians’ cock-a-snook at Summons issued by Central agencies. Anticipatory bail provisions, feigning illness and hiding in hospitals, has become very popular modus-operandi to delay and sabotage investigations at the inception itself. It is imperative that central agencies and forces have over-riding powers and immunity from any kind of interference by any State agency and Police. Necessary changes should be introduced in the Central Acts. The power of the Courts to entertain Public Interest Litigation in cases of smuggling of drugs, arms, gold, fake currency and human trafficking should be curbed.

The government should identify a cluster of Terrorism and terror linked cases like narcotics trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking, arms trafficking, gold and currency smuggling, terror related violence like bombings, hijacking and kidnapping, and treat these cases as Aggravated National Security Concern, and empower only Central agencies to probe, investigate and prosecute these cases. The State governments should have no jurisdiction in these cases whatsoever. Courts also need to be divested of all powers to hear these cases, instead a high-powered, multi-disciplinary Special Tribunal needs to be set up, to oversee investigation and prosecution, and only one appeal to the Supreme Court. In all these cases there should be an automatic detention of 30 days, only thereafter a Bail can be considered. There should be no scope for any midnight bail hearing in residences of judges, no out of turn hearing for anybody, and all trial should be in-camera. All members of this Tribunal, government lawyers and lawyers of the defendant party should be made to undergo periodic Internal and External Security Awareness Training Programs, for broad appreciation of issues and concern for national security.

Safeguarding our geographical expanse should be made a fundamental duty of every Indian. The following verse from the Vishnu Purana, should be taught in every school/college, along with the student’s pledge, in order to uphold the integrity of this sacred country.

Describing the vast expanse ofthis country, the Holy Vishnu Purana says, ‘to the north of the ocean and to the south of the Himalayas, Bharat is the country and the people born there are the Bharatees’:

‘Uttaram yat samudrasya,
Himadreshchaiv dakshinam,

varsham tad bharatam nama,
Bharatee yatra santatihi’.

This verse should be taught in every school/college, along with the students pledge in order to uphold the integrity of this sacred country, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Dwarka to Kibithu (Arunachal Pradesh).

Jai Hind

The author Dr G Shreekumar Menon, IRS (Rtd) Ph. D (Narcotics), is

  • Former Director General National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics, and Multi-Disciplinary School of Economic Intelligence India
  • Fellow, James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies, USA.
  • Fellow, Centre for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, USA 
  • Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A.
  • AOTS Scholar, Japan

Dr G Shreekumar Menon can be contacted at shreemenon48@gmail.com

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