There are two things that come out clearly from the JNU episode with regard to India's Kashmir. In New Delhi there are two lines of thought that are at work in tandem when it comes to dealing with the Kashmir.
The nomenclature whether it is an issue, a problem, or a conflict is still not settled between the parties concerned.
Anyway Indian holds two policies on Kashmir, one for the national audience another for the international consumption. The domestic policy is to whip up nationalism over Kashmir and international policy is to pander to the demands of globalization.
The domestic policy based on ‘Hindi Hindu Hindustan’ variety of nationalism and represents a Delhi centric mindset. The international policy is to meet the norms of living in the community of nations that is governed by United Nations.
This jingoist nationalism is belted out to whip up emotions of the Hindu constituency with drumming up the idea that India is the legal claimant of every inch of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Any dissent from such Delhi centric perception is seen as an act of anti nationalism and liable to be booked under sedition charges. This is exactly what has happened in the JNU case.
However, when it comes to deal with international community, India’s hard-line approach on Kashmir takes a somersault and at international forums India has reiterated its commitment to the age old position that’s being held since 1948. And that is India accepts the questionable nature of Jammu and Kashmir and is willing to resolve the differences through protracted negotiations.
The first BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had gone to Pakistan to tell to the world that the way forward to deal with Kashmir differences of opinion is through negotiations. And that should be held in the spirit of accommodation, reconciliation etc.
Prime Minister Narender Modi after playing the hard ball of nationalism on Kashmir almost for a year, gave it up to toe the Vajpayee line and gave green signal to talks with Pakistan. He even made a surprise visit to the neighboring country to tell to the world that India is ready to talk with Pakistan everything including Kashmir.
Now after going through the JNU episode what India wants to convey to the world could be interpreted as follows; that J&K is an integral part of India, the separatist in Kashmir are terrorists, they have to accept Indian sovereignty or get liquidated.
Extending the logic, it means that Pakistan has no claim over Jammu and Kashmir. The talks with Pakistan if held should talk about taking back occupied Kashmir, and a portion of which is in Chinese possession. If that is what our beloved Prime Minister had to mind to gate-crash into Pakistan, some really appreciate bravery to return safe.
The new position on Kashmir now being held by the current government after sending police to arrest the dissenting students at JNU slapping sedition charges throw out the positions so far held by India on Kashmir since 1948.
However, it raises the question where does the Indian hard-line nationalist policy on Kashmir will fall in line in the scheme of things of the League of Nations? Will the United Nations concur to India’s new position on Kashmir? The answer is very simple. India has to choose between International commitment and the nationalist position on Kashmir.
If India continues to foist its domestic hard-line Kashmir policy, then India has to leave its ambition of getting the Security Council seat. The fear is if the domestic nationalist policy on Kashmir is pressed hard India could be treated on par with ISIS by the international community. That’s the last thing any Indian can think about.
In such case pursing hard-line policy on Kashmir can tantamount to being an anti national activity. In such case sedition charges can be slapped on those who are the authors such new policy.
This raise the question what is the roadmaps to address this problem? Obviously the first map should be to hold negotiations with those having the sub nationalist aspiration and who hail Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru as their heroes. Some efforts have been made in this direction by the previous government and the committee’s report is gathering dust in the government’s office.
The second map could be to negotiate with Pakistan and resolve the boundary question and make adjustments. The Modi government has made efforts in this direction as well by starting a comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan.
If that’s the road-map to tackle Kashmir problem, then where is the space for hard line Hindi Hindu Hindustan policy to look at Kashmir problem. This dichotomy has come out very clearly from the Modi government’s decision to arrest some JNU students and slap sedition charges on them.
The modern day Chanakya’s hypocrisy of speaking from two mouths stands exposed on the Kashmir question. The dichotomy between nationalist policy and international policy of on Kashmir clearly tells that a cheating business is going on this issue.
Who is cheating who is the question? On the one hand the government says to the international community that it is committed for negotiated settlement over Kashmir. In such case it is cheating the entire nation to whom it tells that Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian dominion. On the other hand the government is cheating the international community by not telling it its domestic policy on Kashmir. This act of hoodwinking is now becoming clearer with the JNJU episode.
India wants to keep reiterating its international commitments and at the same time wants the jingoist nationalism to go on. How long such thought process may continue to dominate the Kashmir agenda is something beyond comprehension. Even a lay observer can tell that how much this government is serious about talking Kashmir issue.
Anyone doing cost analysis of such dual policy can tell that such policy does not make any business sense. The ‘make in India’ mindset of government of India does not work when it comes to dealing with Kashmir. The summery is country is booking loss in much access to the gains being supposedly made.
After getting a tight slap from the Bihar mandate, BJP led Modi government is engaged in committing a comedy of errors. In an attempt to placate its hard line Hindu constituency, he has made himself a fool sending police to arrest those supporting the Kashmiri separatist.
Actually while shooting from the hip the Prime Minister has put his foot in his mouth. He is caught up in his Hindi Hindu Hindustan identity and the challenges posed by multiculturalism and multi nationalism and how to live in international world order.
It would have been best of things to ignore those crackpots and considered it as a juvenile act but by going after them, the Prime Minister has demonstrated India’s domestic policy towards Kashmir.
Can Modi government deal in the same way as he did with the JNU students to those who revere Bhinderanwala and hail him as martyr? Can Modi government deal in the same way to those who revere the killers of Indira Gandhi and hail them as martyrs? Can the Modi government deal the same way to those who revere LTTE supremo Prabhakran as their hero and hail him as martyr?
According to the home ministry open source, there are 36 sub nationalist groups that are openly resisting the Indian claim over them. Can the Modi government deal with them the same way as it dealt with the JNU students.
If the answer is no then why target those in JNU alone who have a difference of opinion? Maybe because, they are just students and they carry no political weight? By terrorizing the students of JNU, Modi government is setting an example on state terrorism. With the JNU episode he has made India loose the moral ground that its hold as being a victim of terrorism. It has given Pakistan another handle to internationalize the Kashmir issue.
This comedy of error may prove to be dearer Modi government than his holy cow variety of nationalism. The hard line approach on Kashmir is another setback to the six decade old problem.
Modi government by going after the dissenting JNU students is showing similar attitude that Indira Gandhi did declaring emergency. Indira Gandhi thought that by slapping emergency she can change India, Modi too thinks that by terrorizing the JNU students he may be able to stop them from thinking differently.
The din and clatter of the protest is now telling upon the Modi government. The protests against him on intolerance debate are making the writing on the wall to be read more clearly. A change of government at New Delhi is now getting over due. This could be a reality much before 2020.
[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He has earned his PhD from JNU. In the campus he belonged to the freethinkers group. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org]