Saturday, December 1, 2018

Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz on Article 370


"Was the special status and autonomy conferred on the State under Article 370 to pave way for integration of Kashmir with the rest of India by assuring State people of their political, social and cultural freedom or was it meant to allow the State politicians, especially Kashmir Muslim leaders, untrammelled opportunity for exploitation of the ignorant, gullible and backward massed? It was a moot point which probably never occurred to stalwarts of the Congress party in early days of independence when they evinced fullest confidence in the honesty, sincerity and love for teeming millions of National Conference leadership. Capture and enjoyment of power brought an awareness to the favorite leaders that the integration of the State with India, however desirable, was antagonistic to their private interest; no sooner than the objective was achieved, their own importance would cease and opinion of State people would grow in importance and weight.

Therefore, to keep people in darkness and not to make them politically conscious and socially awakened became a vested interest of Kashmir politicians. A policy was evolved to make Kashmir Muslims feel perpetually in terror of the hostile Hindu majority and depend upon the local coreligionist leaders for protection against it. Article 370 was frequently maligned and abused, and conditions were created not to allow it to outgrow its utility as originally intended but to make it a permanent feature of the Indian Constitution. In this atmosphere while the leaders thrived, the position of average Kashmiri worsened. The Central leadership of the Congress was caught in a web woven by the National Conference leaders before they could realize what was happening.


When this ugly aspect of the State politics came dimly to their notice or was forced on their attention by realities of the situation, National leaders could, in the beginning, hardly believe it; a little later they pooh-poohed it; and finally felt helpless to effectively deal with it. Consequently, in disregard of the growing resentment of the people, the State was handed over to the leaders as their fief with the result that it kept the problem of integration of Kashmir people with the rest of India alive for the past thirty years and till today."


~ Democracy through Intimidation and Terror. The Untold Story of Kashmir Politics, Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz, 1978

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