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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

'J&K is an indicator of India's political future'

IMAGE: Chief Justice of India Dr D Y Chandrachud, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sanjiv Khanna during the judgment on petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, December 11, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

"People are quiet because they are terrified of being picked up and put in jail. In a rule of fear, people do not speak."

"My greatest fear is what will happen when that fear goes away and people are not fearful anymore," says Historian Radha Kumar, one of the three interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir appointed by the then Union government in 2010.

Dr Kumar's expertise is in peace building, peacemaking and ethnic conflict, especially from a feminist perspective. She is the author of five books, the latest being Paradise at War, A Political History Of Kashmir.

She holds a PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, an MA and BA from Cambridge University, and was co-author of a report on human rights in Kashmir in 2020.


Were you surprised by the Supreme Court verdict on Article 370 that upheld the government's removal of the special status to J&K?

I can't pretend to be surprised. I am still shocked. This suggests the Union government can do as it pleases to any state without consulting the people or their elected representatives.


It is a blow to democracy.

What is the way forward from here now that the final verdict on Article 370 has been pronounced and it is no longer binding?

5,500 people had to be jailed or in detention to pass the presidential orders [on August 5, 2019] and there is not one word about that in the judgment?

The justices said that the Centre's decision lacked 'mala fide intent'; if that was so, why were 5,500 jailed?

People have petitioned the same Supreme Court about the arrests that happened the evening before the orders were issued. Is there no connection between them?

Kashmiris have been totally alienated. They have been silenced and told that their voices don't matter in their own lives. They have no right to speak or to be consulted.

People are quiet because they are terrified of being picked up and put in jail. In a rule of fear, people do not speak. Do we want to be like China?

My greatest fear is what will happen when that fear goes away and people are not fearful anymore. The moment Kashmir is democratised, we may see a rise in militancy again.

This judgment has set us back almost to the 1980s which marked the beginning of insurgency in J&K. This is the ugliest situation in the state that I have seen in 70 years.

The presidential order of August 5, 2019 was the big reason for the alienation of Kashmir, less so for Jammu, but now both Jammu and Kargil are alienated.

The decision was left to the courts and after four long years, the Supreme Court says what the government did was right.

Therefore, there is no way forward. The way forward would have been to restore the confidence of the Kashmiris.

How is the government planning to do that? Are they going to undo this? Are they going to start a peace process asking them what they want?




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