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THE ABROGATION OF ARTICLE 370

  In August 2019, Narendra Modi and his new Home Minister, Amit Shah, abrogated Article 370, which had given since 1948 a special status to Kashmir. In effect, Article 370 allowed Kashmiri Muslims to settle anywhere in India, buy land, start businesses, open shop – but the rest of India could not do the same in Kashmir. As a result today,  Kashmiri Muslims are all over India, having cornered the carpet, shawls and souvenir business, but still do not want anybody else, specially of they were not Muslim, settling in the Valley of Kashmir, where they dominate. It is as if New Yorkers could go and buy land anywhere in the United States, but the rest of the Americans, could not come to New York…

 

A lot of adverse western media coverage followed the abrogation of Article 370, which was quite unfair . On top of that, westerners are quite ignorant the state of Jammu and Kashmir which is divided into three parts: Ladakh, mostly Buddhist; the Kashmir Valley, which is predominantly Muslim, but which had 1 million Hindus in the early 20th century; and the Jammu region, where Muslims and Hindus are roughly tied. Since the late 1990’s, under the influence of Sunni Pakistan, which has never forgiven India for the Independence of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), Muslims in the Kashmir Valley started claiming independence with guns and violence., chasing out in the early nineties 400.000 Hindus, who fled without firing a single shot and became refugees in their own country.

 

The separatists move to Pakistani Kashmir, where they are financed, trained and armed, and then return to India through the porous Himalayan borders to carry out attacks or suicide bombings. The war, which has claimed more than 26,000 lives since 1989, remains a virtually insoluble problem for Narendra Modi, who after the abrogation promised both greater freedom of education and more rights to the Kashmiri State. Before the removal of Artcle 370,, he even tried a coalition government, with the BJP joining the People Democratic Party of Mehbooba Mufti, who became the Chief Minister of the State. This did not go smoothly, as Mehbooba Mufti wanted the army to withdraw from the Kashmir valley, where the order would be entrusted to the local police, assisted by a Border Security Force (BSF).

 

  Many in India however supported the removal of Article 370, as they cheered on the abolition by the BJP Govt of the triple ‘talak’ (Muslim men can divorce their wives upon pronouncing 3 times the word talak) and said that Mr Modi set a wrong right. 

  Yet, Pakistan was able to raise the issue in the UN, with the support of China, which always tries to corner India. It is true though, that the problem of Kashmir will keep hanging around Mr. Modi’s neck and his successors, as long as Pakistan and India do not reunite and end their enmity, the way both Germanies reunited and eventually both Koreas.

 

  Pakistan is also blackmailing the Western world, especially after the removal of Article 370: “If you do not pressure India to negotiate Kashmir, there is the danger of an atomic war”. The Americans – and also the French – succumb to this blackmail, while Pakistan, a small autocratic country still on the verge of bankruptcy and torn apart by religious dissensions (Shiites and Sunnis joyously killing each other), would not be the first to press the nuclear button, because India has much more nuclear warheads than Islamabad – Pakistan would be wiped off the map of the world. Apart from religion, Pakistanis and Indians are alike in every way: clothing, customs and food – the only solution, in the long run, is an “entente cordiale”. Yet, Statistics predict that by 2050 India will have the largest Muslim population in the world, surpassing that of Indonesia. This poses a problem for any Indian government, Kashmir or not.

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