Buying up Kashmir
Another layer of violence
One of the many promises by the Bharatiya Janata Party in its Election 2019 manifesto is one to allow the purchase of property in Indian-Held Kashmir by non-Kashmiris. This provision has constitutional protection ever since the inclusion of Indian-Held Kashmir in the Indian Union. The Sangh Parivar, of which the BJP is the electoral arm, has long called for the abolition of this restriction, not so much because of its avowed aim of obtaining control of varied Hindu sacred places on the headwaters of the Indus, as because it wants to change the demography of the occupied territory: at present Indian-Held Kashmir is Muslim-owned, and with an overwhelmingly Muslim population. If the restriction is abolished, one can expect a campaign akin to the one which led to the violent demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992, not just by the BJP, but by the entire Parivar.
The BJP is thus adding another layer of violence to the region. Already, the refusal of the BJP government even to talk to Pakistan about Kashmir has meant that yet another generation of Kashmiris is growing up deprived of exercising its right to self-determination. On top of this has come India’s warmongering ever since the Pulwama incident, the latest episode being an expected Indian attack between April 16 and 20 as per intelligence reports. Other parties, including Congress, are much more wary. It is not because Congress introduced the special status legislation that it is defending it, but because it does not see the end of the conditions which led to its introduction.
One of the most glaring implications of this manifesto is that the Held Kashmir branch of the BJP may find it impossible to carry on its alliance with the Progressive Democratic Party, created when Congress leader Mufti Saeed broke away to make his own regional party. The PDP came for much flak at the time it formed its coalition. It is also very difficult to see the BJP winning the required two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha, let alone building one in the Rajya Sabha, where it presently does not have even a simple majority, with its next election not due until this May and June. However, this can only further enrage already inflamed feelings, drive more youth towards militancy and make India seek to avenge its failures on Pakistan, bringing the world closer to nuclear conflict.