The advent of Narendra Modi in 2014 changed the Indian stance and policies towards Kashmir. The BJP-led government focused on how to make Kashmir an integral part of India by any possible means without considering the will and consent of the people of Kashmir. In pursuit of their policies, Modi’s government adopted tyrannical and harsh tactics. Several people embraced martyrdom and thousands went missing and countless got injured in brutal incidents initiated by BJP. The article explores the paradoxical Policies of the Modi regime which led to the bloodbath of innocent people and how the festering wound of Kashmir can be cured in order to avoid any possible major incident which may have beyond-the-border consequences.
Modi’s government changed the mainstream New Delhi’s approach toward Kashmir. The new approach only focuses on the developmental issues of Indian-held Kashmir instead of granting them freedom.
The main stance of the Indian government remained that Kashmir is an internal matter of India rather than a bilateral issue with Pakistan. Narendra Modi’s government formed a coalition government in Indian-held Kashmir with the help of the People’s Democratic Party under the leadership of Mehbooba Mufti. This coalition ended in 2018 because the BJP government was not taking Kashmir as a bilateral problem but rather referring to Kashmir as an internal problem.
The BJP’s coalition with the local political leaders did not endorse the freedom of Kashmir on their agenda or priority list. In his every visit to the valley, Modi focused on developmental issues, not on the political solution to the Kashmir dispute. The abrogation of articles 35-A and 370 was a practical demonstration of his vicious policies which he mentioned in his political campaigns. After the revocation of these articles, waves of brutality were lashed out at innocent and unarmed people of Kashmir.
The problem can only be solved by the will of the people of Kashmir. Therefore BJP government must have to consider it as an international issue, not an internal security issue. The stakeholders like Pakistan and the people of Kashmir must be involved in the resolution of this conflict.
Modi’s Paradoxical Policies:
Narendra Modi’s led BJP won the majority seats in the 2014 general elections and formed a government in the center, but the case was not similar in Indian-occupied Kashmir where BJP had to seek a coalition for making government. The coalition was formed with the People’s Democratic Party which was successful to secure 28 seats. After coming into power with the help of a coalition, BJP announced the schemes for India illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) which were aimed at the development of the valley and other major parts of IIOJK and at winning the hearts of the people of Kashmir. The initial policy of the Modi regime was based on two components; first, through the provision of massive financial support for infrastructure, BJP has to win the confidence of the people. During his visits to IIOJK Modi always focused on the development of the region and claimed that development is the only possible way to get out of all problems. Later his speeches won the title of “development guru” for him. In his first tenure, he allocated a massive amount of INR 80,000 crore for all projects in order to facilitate the residents. Secondly, to suppress pro-separatism voices through the use of force. For the pursuit of the second policy, Modi passed the bill to give more and unquestioned powers to military forces deployed in Kashmir.
By adopting these policies Modi’s aim was to keep the local politician and pressure groups away from winning the support of local residents. When indigenous people will get facilities and on the other hand will have to face consequences for raising their voices, their support for Hurriyat (Freedom) leaders will diminish.
When it comes to the resolution Kashmir issue according to the will of the people of Kashmir, Modi’s policies become more paradoxical with his predecessors P.V Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was attempting to resolution on the bases of the narrative “sky is limit”. Apart from this, his predecessors hinted at the inclusion of humanity, democracy, and Kashmiri’s will in the process of conflict resolution. But contrary to those leaders Modi-led BJP has removed the political resolution agenda from his priority list.
During his speeches and visits to IIOJK, Modi motivated the youth of Kashmir to invest their energies and time in the development of Kashmir. The third main component of Modi’s policies is to involve the young leaders so they support the developmental work of the BJP government instead of supporting local pro-separatism political parties led by Hurriyat leaders such as Yassen Malik etc. But the martyrdoms of young people for instance Burhan Wanni sparked a new inspirational wave in the youth of IIOJK.
The abrogation of articles aimed to bring investments and people from all over India to settle in Kashmir was meant to change the demographics of the region to win Kashmir if there is any possible plebiscite or referendum as envisaged in UN resolutions.
These steps were taken in August 2019 and supported by extremist leaders and institutions who think their main strength lies in the Hardcore Hindutva policies.
Finally, its hard-line stance of Modi on not involving Pakistan in the resolution process is another challenge for bringing peace to the valley. Modi strictly adheres to his stance that Kashmir is part of India so the Kashmir issue is an internal matter not a bilateral matter. The pressure and highlighting of disputes on international platforms are pressurizing the Modi-led regime to take matters to a bilateral level.
Atrocities and Tyrannies of BJP:
From the very first day, Kashmiris are facing inhumane behavior from the Indian military and governments. But In the post-2014 era, the atrocities reached an unprecedented level. On one hand, BJP is focusing on the development of Kashmir but on the other hand, putting pro-separatism leaders in jails forcefully.
The advent of the BJP is based mainly on Hindutva thinking which provides no room for other minorities to flourish. Secondly, BJP considers it necessary to treat Hurriyat leaders in a strict manner to curb voices of freedom.
On 5 August 2019, the special status of Kashmir was abrogated and IIOJK was put under siege. Nearly a million militarily personals were deployed in the valley to restrict the movement of people. Religious freedom is restricted; Muslims are not allowed to offer even Friday prayers or to attend the Muharram processions. Political leaders are declared as militant supporters. Women are being raped and girls are being deprived of education. Youth is being slaughtered on the streets. Many people lost their eye sights due to Pellet guns. Communication facilities are cut off completely. Not a single day passed in the last two years when there was no martyrdom in any house.
The Question of resolution is still a challenge for both sides. Many analysts argue that Kashmir is an industry, that benefits many groups. But the festering wound of Kashmir may prove disastrous for both nuclear power states. Both neighbors must learn from the wars of the past they fought over Kashmir. The non-seriousness of Indian leadership is a big challenge in the process of resolution.
First, India has to accept the international status of the Kashmir dispute under the resolutions of the United Nations. Secondly, the will of Kashmir’s people should be given importance by including the local Hurriyat leaders in settling of dispute. Thirdly, the infrastructure for the peace process must be improved through bilateral efforts. Fourthly, back-channel diplomatic efforts should remain intact in all circumstances. Finally, the top-down approach to settling conflict must be included in the priory list for creating a healthy atmosphere of dialogues and negotiations. Finally, both India and Pakistan need to abide by UN resolutions on de-militarisation.
Modi’s regime in the post-2014 era changed the existing policies of the Indian government. These BJP-led paradoxical Policies aimed to submerge Kashmir in mainland India resulted in many humanitarian crises. Modi’s policies of development and use of force are not enough to settle the intermittent uprisings in the valley. More solid steps are needed in the hour for permanent peace in Kashmir in order to stop the bloodbath. The challenge of Kashmir can only be solved through bilateral talks by giving priority to the will of local residents of Kashmir. India needs to adopt seriousness in its policies over Kashmir. Kashmir is a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, any major incident like that of Pulwama or Uri may prove disastrous for both nuclear powers. Both sides need to sit at the table along with Hurriyat leaders for a feasible solution before it’s too late.
The author is a graduate of social sciences from Bahria University Islamabad and an International Affairs Analyst with a particular focus on security and strategic studies. he tweets @allahnawazak47