India’s ruling party BJP said in its 2019 manifesto that it will scrap special status of occupied Kashmir which grants them some autonomy if elected.
India’s far-right ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its manifesto on Monday ahead of the election on April 11 for which parties across forums will contest to choose the Prime Minister for the next five years.
In the manifesto, along with other promises, the BJP said it will scrap the special status of Indian-occupied Kashmir.
The King of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu ruler in the Muslim majority valley, dreamt of ruling an independent Kashmir while more than 500 princely states were banded together by the British to form the present-day geopolitical territory known as India.
Nonetheless, the entrance of Pakistani troops in Kashmir in October of 1947 would the king's dreams.
Realizing his impending doom, the fleeing king requested military assistance from India and in return, acceded the valley into Indian territory on Oct. 26, 1947, despite the opposition of the people.
The Instrument of Accession signed by Hari Singh and the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru gave Kashmir a special status according to which Indians cannot buy properties in Kashmir.
This has prevented Indians from turning Kashmir into a Palestine-like situation with illegal Israeli settlements.
But Qazi Zaid, editor of local media Free Press Kashmir told teleSUR, “We already have Palestine-like situation. The way Indian armed forces have been occupying lands, Indians leasing out lands, we already have settlements in Kashmir.”
The BJP has consistently advocated to put an end to Kashmir’s special constitutional status and the February attack on the Indian central reserve police forces, killing 40 Indian personnel, has given way to this demand.
The party also reiterated its long-held desire to abolish Kashmir’s autonomous status.
According to the Indian Constitution, Article 35A excludes non-residents from settling or working under the state government in Kashmir. This was added to the Indian Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954; it also maintains the autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Firstly, I personally don't feel 35A will be scrapped, because it's a goldmine for the right to keep fanning passions. Secondly, after the elections, whoever wins this facade election in Kashmir will proclaim that they have… stopped article 35 scrapping etc. and become heroes and gain legitimacy out of it. Point being that it's not just the right wing who benefits from this discourse,” Baasit Abubakr, a Ph.D. scholar told teleSUR.
“Let them do it and it will pave the way for our azadi,” Farooq Abdullah, President of Kashmir’s National Conference party, told an election rally, referring to the freedom for the region. “They are wrong. We will fight against it.”
But for Baasit, it is very much possible to remove article 35A and “then, of course, the settlers who will be settled in settlements, be it Kashmiri pandits or anyone else, will be following the Israeli model. And from a Marxist point of view, if we see that the Kashmiri economy, which is predominantly agriculture and service intensive, will be brought to its knees by the foreign capital from India. Even our war-ravaged economy is not that bad when it comes to poverty indicators; however, scrapping Article 35A will just be like giving a walkover to the Indian big bourgeoisie.”
“Nationalism is our inspiration, economic development of the poor and backward sections our philosophy, and good governance our mantra,” India’s far-right Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after releasing the election manifesto at BJP headquarters in New Delhi.
Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, the leader of a leftist party in Kashmir, warned of “disastrous and unimaginable repercussions” if indeed they scrap Article 35A.