From the beginning of August the regional politics of the Indo-Pak sub-continent is experiencing a tremendous turbulence over the newly arisen issues of Jammu and Kashmir-a state of our neighboring country India. Jammu and Kashmir had always been in news, especially Kashmir, due to regional conflicts over that area among India, Pakistan and even China. This conflict had been a deciding factor of the regional politics of this subcontinent and religion had played a great part in this conflict.
The history of Jammu and Kashmir lies in its regional setting, both before and after India and Pakistan’s independence in 1947 and was never really out of conflicts. The recent events are raising serious humanitarian concerns along with rise of non-secular drives once again in the region but with a fierce vigor. This should not be any concern for the neighbors like Bangladesh but this movement of the Indian government may highly damage harmony of the region and can even bring in unsought consequences.
Jammu and Kashmir is known as the ‘heaven on earth’ due to its extreme natural beauty and peaceful attire. This peace should have been the main characteristics of this state as it is marked in its history. Jammu district derives its name from the city of Jammu which besides being the winter capital of the state, is known as the city of temples. It is believed that the city was originally founded by Raja Jamboo Lochan who lived in fourteenth century BC The Raja had gone out one day for hunting when he happened to witness a tiger and a goat drinking water from one and the same pond.
This extraordinary phenomenon set him thinking and he decided to build a city at this site so that the strong and weak could live together in peace and mutual tolerance. Eventually, he founded the city which came to be known as “Jamboo” after his own name. With the passage of time and due to its frequent use the pronunciation of the name got slightly distorted and the city came to be known as ‘Jammu’ as it is called now.
Though Raja Jamboo Lochan dreamt of peace and humanity in the region and despite containing beautiful places like; Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, the state had lost its peaceful stature soon especially after 1947. The decision by Hari Singh due to Pakistan’s attack on Kashmir, maharaja of Kashmir, to sign the Instrument of Accession in October 1947, thus joining Kashmir to the Indian union, hastened warfare between India and Pakistan that concluded in the establishment of the line of control in the region in July 1949.
India and Pakistan fought two further wars in 1965 and 1971. Following the latter war, the countries reached the Simla Agreement, agreeing on a Line of Control between their respective regions and committing to a peaceful resolution of the dispute through bilateral negotiations.
The state Jammu and Kashmir thus became the territory that India administered on its side of the line. However, both India and Pakistan have continued to claim the entire Kashmir region and tensions generally have remained high along the line. Hostility has seldom broken out between the two sides, notably in 1965. China’s presence in portions of the area along the northern border of the state has also been contested by India. Meanwhile, the process of formalizing Jammu and Kashmir’s status as a state took several years and was completed only in 1957.
Jammu and Kashmir consisted of three regions- the Kashmir Valley with 96.4% Muslim population; the Jammu Division, with 62.5% Hindu and 33.5% Muslim population and Ladakh with 46.6% Muslim, 39.7% Buddhits and 12.1% Hindus. Overall, in the state, Muslims constitute 68.31% of the population, Hindus 28.43%, Sikhs 1.87% and Buddhists 0.89%. India has a total of 29 states and 7 union territories and among them two-Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep are Muslim majority. Overall 18.23% of Indian population is Muslims while 2.3% are Christians, 1.7% Sikhs, 0.7% Buddhists, 1.3% from other religions – a number which India cannot ignore. To express the diversity of the country, it is mentionable that more than 19,500 languages are spoken in India.
On 5 August 2019, the Government of India repealed the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian constitution. The Parliament of India also passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, which will reorganize and downgrade the state into two union territories–‘Jammu and Kashmir’ and ‘Ladakh’. The new union territories are planned to come into effect on 31 October 2019.
As the first-time security lockdown and communications blackout in Jammu and Kashmir is pared down, the government is closing on its long-term strategy to prevent any fallout from the massive changes made to the state earlier this month. Key political leaders from the state were taken into detention, phone and internet lines snapped and curfew-like restrictions were imposed as the central government on August 5 removed Jammu and Kashmir’s decades-old autonomy and decided to split the state into two union territories.
According to sources in the Jammu and Kashmir administration, the plan to prevent a breakout of violent protest involves tactics to handle four specific groups in the state – harmless mass people, violent protesters, terrorists and religious influencers. Jammu and Kashmir has been on the edge for over two weeks now, since the government began evacuating tourists and pilgrims and putting around 400 political leaders under house arrest. Though few restrictions are now relaxed, heavy security, however, continue to be in place.
The current BJP government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims that the recent changes in the status of Jammu and Kashmir is going to open new doors of opportunities as business will grow, employment will be created and now Indian citizens from other states will be able to purchase assets there. But the thing is Narendra Modi led BJP government from its first term is eyeing on promoting Hinduism at every corner of India and obviously Muslims, the second most religious majority have been targeted in different ways. It has become a trend now in India to promote superiority of Hinduism as even the scientists are trying to establish that many inventions of modern sciences were already present in the old Hindu era.
The Indians are actually trying to prove that the Hindus are the ancient most people of this region and all other religious groups are the results of entry of foreign rule caused religious transformation. If such logic is provided, the Muslims can rightfully counter that claim as Hazrat Adam (AS), the first human on earth, is believed to first land on this indo-Pak sub-continent (at Adam’s Peak in today’s Sri Lanka, which emerged as an independent country in 1948).
Adam (AS) lived for thousand years and had many children. During his lifetime, he moved to Mecca and Jeddah for 55 times and all ancient civilization of the world had actually emerged around his traveling routes. He is even claimed to have returned to the sub-continent and believed by many to be buried here in India. His children actually are the forefathers of all people of the world and hence the Indian Hindus can be no different. Thus claim of being more ancient cannot be clearly won here. The sub-continent was ruled by Muslim rulers and then British rulers for a long time and Hinduism was undermined during that period. Now it is a great opportunity for the Indian government to create a reputation for the greatness of Hindu religion which must not be written in violation of human rights.
India is the largest Muslim populated country outside Muslim-majority countries. In terms of number of Muslims, it is only behind Indonesia and Pakistan. They cannot forget or violate the rights of this huge number of people. Modi government has taken many good initiatives in its two terms like; Mann Ki Baat, Swachh Bharath Mission, Jan Dhan Yojana & Ujjwal Yojna, Ayushman Bharat, Triple Talaq Bill, Digital India etc. He was commendable with his leadership and addressing people issues. But spreading religious extremism is not one such movement as it will completely destroy humanity, peace and harmony and with such moves not only the people from other religions in India but also the neighboring Muslim majority countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan will feel threatened.
Upholding humanity is the most important thing which political leaders often forget in the sub-continent. Jammu and Kashmir is just being victim of that forgetfulness. Religion is for human and a place is the shelter for many humans. Hence, neither Jammu and Kashmir nor Hinduism is of great importance. Protecting humanity there is the most crucial thing.
We hope the Indian Government will turn around from their position and Narendra Modi led BJP leaders will stop proceeding with their acts to turn India into a religious extremist nation as India was not founded on those ideals. The ideals of India’s independence heroes like; Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Moulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and others should be reinstated for the win of humanity in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India as that country was established on the concept of equality and humanitarian freedom. By diverting from the ideals of independence, India will eventually contradict and threaten its own existence.
We as a part of this sub-continent are actually proud of India’s achievements as their progress on different aspects has made them a role model in front of the world in many areas. India is also predicted to be the next superpower of the world. Moreover, from its independence, India has also been a role model of a democratic country. But with non-secularist movements, that face of India will be lost forever. We believe in the intellect of Narendra Modi and hope India keep prospering with its entire people as that will be great for this whole region.
The writer is Chief Editor at
Mohammadi News Agency (MNA),
Editor at Kishore Bangla and
Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Center (DRC)