Supreme Court verdict on Article 370 does justice to ordinary Kashmiris

Abrogation of Article 370 has been upheld, Kashmir is fully integrated into India, the ambiguous, confused identity of Kashmiri Muslims has been solved and they now have the chance to reverse the damage that these thirty years of jihad inflicted on the social fabric of the region.

| Updated: 12 December, 2023 3:14 pm IST

The Supreme Court of India upheld the abrogation of Article 370 and the J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019 on 11th December which made the former state into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. It was on 13th December 2016 that my late husband, Arshid Malik, passed away in the aftermath of the Burhan Wani riots and clampdown when Kashmir Valley burned. The abroad-based conflict entrepreneurs (ABCEs) managed a toolkit to foment unrest and common people were forced indoors for months while security forces and agencies tried to control the manufactured rioting in various places amidst the Internet blockade.

A diabetic, with additional health problems, supposed to exercise and walk to keep his sugar levels down, his decades-old habit of smoking, coupled with OTC (over-the-counter) self-medication for cold and cough in the minus temperatures of December, contributed to Arshid’s cardiac arrest. He was another statistic of the Kashmir insurgency, one of scores of us not felled by bullets but victims of the radical Islamist ideology that had a parallel govt in place. The totalitarian Caliphate, an Islamic Republic of Kashmir that the Hurriyat thugs envisioned for us, repeated the Muslims on Muslim violence which has been going on since 632 AD.

The jihad that the terror organisations funded by ISI-Pakistan and their political wings such as the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Hurriyat factions inflicted fascism on us when he and I were 15 years old. Their manufactured consent for Azadi, with the help of AK-47s, the rule of the gun and a guerilla warfare against the Indian Army resulted in two generations lying buried in the graveyards scattered across the Valley floor, scores physically and mentally traumatised and the third generation radicalised.

The censorship that the Intifada factory in the Kashmiri media subjected voices like ours to; those who reasonably believed that the accession of Kashmir to India was a good geopolitical move, and those of us who condemned the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits – that censure, erasure of personalities and silencing of voices took a toll on his mind and body.

That time the Intifada factory’s narrative, sponsored by the Pakistan-ISI was at its peak. The Intifada factory is a motley crew of bureaucrats, reporters, photojournalists, politicians, civil society members, police personnel, government employees, academicians, social media influencers, bloggers, and the whole lot of them are generally known as overground workers (OGWs). They towed the Pakistan line on Kashmir and created an ecosystem allowing no Indian nationalist voice in the Valley to be heard. The ones who were brave enough to declare Kashmir’s integration with India were silenced brutally and others who weren’t brave enough, elected mutism, keeping their heads down and going about their lives. The Intifada factory, boosted by the regressive left-liberals of Hindu heritage and mainland India, funded by anti-India forces from abroad, targeted secular, rational Muslims, ostracising them, having them fired from their jobs, forcing them to go into self-imposed exile. With prominent journalists from the Press Enclave, Srinagar keeping terrorists on speed dial and amassing wealth through ‘the conflict entrepreneurship’ of Kashmir’s tragedy, voices like Arshid’s found themselves in dangerous territory.

Having had a hole torn into my being when he passed away, I wrote an article about how I would not let the Intifada factory appropriate my husband’s legacy of humanism, rationality and secularism. It was published in Dunya News, Pakistan, where I was a contributor for many years under the editorial guidance of Kunwar Khuldune Shahid, Pakistan reporter at the Diplomat, Foreign Policy and Haaretz. Islamists and the Intifada factory have this habit of appropriating India’s freedom struggle, the Civil Rights movement of the US South, Nelson Mandela’s struggle against apartheid in South Africa and even Gandhi’s pacifism for the Islamic Jihad that they waged with Pakistan’s help. The Intifada factory would engage the ‘useful idiots’ of India, especially the regressive left-leaning individuals to justify the terror that Jamaat-based organisations and terror groups had unleashed. These ‘useful idiots’ would give cover fire to Pulwama like suicide bombers and intellectualise terror.

Some families believed Kashmir’s future lay with India throughout the three decades and that co-existence with the minority community of Pandits and Sikhs in the Valley was possible. These families whether they were ordinary people from all walks of life or the J&K Police families countering the terrorism, were ostracised and made to feel like criminals for believing that Kashmir was part of the Indic Civilisation. Today, the sufferings of those families have been rewarded and their stance against Islamists has been vindicated.

The effects of the abrogation of Article 370 are visible in the streets of the Valley, in institutions where work ethics are slowly dwindling back and in the professional approach of administrators towards the grievances of the people. The security situation of the Valley will always be precarious because Islamism never really goes away and there will always be anti-India forces waiting in the wings to enlist disgruntled and unemployed youth to balkanise India. But recruitment to terror groups is low and any new terrorist who declares his allegiance to jihadi groups has a life expectancy of less than six months.

As I watched the news coming in that the Supreme Court of India was upholding the abrogation of Article 370, I couldn’t help thinking how much at peace Arshid would be today. Two generations lying buried in the various graves scattered across the Valley floor had been cannon fodder for the Hurriyat thugs and their manufactured consent for ‘Azadi’ while they amassed wealth, established their progeny abroad and led comfortable lives, the same way Hamas and the Palestinian Authority does.

Abrogation of Article 370 has been upheld, Kashmir is fully integrated into India, the ambiguous, confused identity of Kashmiri Muslims has been solved and they now have the chance to reverse the damage that these thirty years of jihad inflicted on the social fabric of the region. The Kashmiri Pandits need to be rehabilitated or compensated for their losses and the multicultural aspects of old Kashmir brought back. The imported Wahhabism by petrodollars since 1979 in the Indian subcontinent has to be pushed back and relegated to the dustbins of history. The ideology that believes in Islamist supremacy and that Muslims cannot live with non-Muslims – the basis of the two-nation theory is a relic of the past and has no place in the 21st century.

There will be a reckoning though, if the core message of Islam is to be believed and whether here in this life or the afterlife, those who minted money out of the misery and gore of ordinary Kashmiris, the powerlessness of the border villagers of the Line of Control, the helplessness of the Ladakhis as they resisted the imperialism of the Valley radical organisations and politicians will be held accountable by karma. Karma never forgets an address.

Arshia Malik is a Delhi-based columnist and writer who specialises in Indian Muslim issues.

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