Article 370 had to go long ago. Most of the special statuses given to various states at the time of India’s Independence became redundant as time passed. They should have, at least. If they persisted for decades, it means they were not effective and not serving their purpose. So better alternatives were required.
Kashmir was a mistake right from the beginning. Just because the king there happened to be a Hindu, the state became a part of India. Of course, Nehru had a role in that too. It was not, however, “rank hypocrisy” that prompted Nehru to accede Kashmir to India, as suggested by eminent columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar in today’s [11 Aug 2019] Times of India [in his column pertinently titled Next Step: A West Bank in Kashmir?]. Nehru was essentially romantic, and the roots of his romanticism lay in the miscegenated culture of Kashmir. Who but a romantic would describe a place as “supremely beautiful woman whose beauty is almost impersonal and above desire”? Nehru loved Kashmir’s “feminine beauty of river and valley and lake and graceful trees.” Who can blame such a romantic for longing to keep Kashmir with his country?
Aiyar’s argument is that Kashmir didn’t really belong to a communally divided India. It was better to let it go to Pakistan where the Muslims really belonged at that time. When thousands of Hindus and Muslims had killed each other already, when India had witnessed “the greatest migration in history” [the title of a chapter in the classical Freedom at Midnight], there was no logic in assuming that the Nehruvian version of secularism would eventually embrace the Muslims of Kashmir. India never, never possessed even a fraction of Nehru’s romanticism. India was, if anything, downright pragmatic; it was cutthroat pragmatism too.
The Congress should have abolished article 370 long ago and done a lot of things to solve the problems in Kashmir. But the Congress lacked the imagination to do anything more than appease sections of people with sops of various kinds. The majority community of the country hit back with its quintessential pragmatism by electing as their leader a man who has the butcher’s heart and a surgeon’s pretences. So article 370 went. Many other things will follow. Kashmir won’t ever be Nehru’s “supremely beautiful woman”.
As Aiyar fears it may become India’s West Bank. The typical BJP leaders are already gloating about the possibility of “marrying” [raping?] the fair-skinned women of Kashmir. The slightly less typical ones are looking forward to owning the soil of Kashmir. No one talks about the people of Kashmir.
Has Mr Modi done a great service to the people of Kashmir as he claimed in a rhetorical speech that followed the abrogation of the article 370? Given that man’s credentials, it is impossible to believe that. He is more likely to create India’s own West Bank in Kashmir. India can look forward to a lot of violence and massacre in the near future.
Mohandas Gandhi’s mystic inclusiveness and Nehru’s poetic romanticism were very minor errors in politics in comparison with mass murders.