Everyone has a right to buy property and settle in J&K but Muslims have no right to work in Uttarakhand or even Gurgaon. This is Modi’s New India.
It has taken all of five years for the Supreme Court to take cognisance of the plight of Kashmiris crushed under the boot of an authoritarian and unaccountable regime. By now, it seems unlikely that even this highest constitutional institution will restore special status to this region, which was granted under Article 370. Never mind that this lone Muslim majority territory in India voluntarily chose secular democracy, rejecting Pakistan, which was formed to fulfil Muslim communal aspirations.
Jammu and Kashmir is suspect in the eyes of the Indian establishment, perhaps because it is also the only state with a Muslim majority. Never mind that the BJP was in the last elected government of the state.
Following Mehbooba Mufti’s resignation, President’s Rule was imposed in J&K under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution. The Union government took the plea ― and still maintains it ― that it was forced to act because of a breakdown of the constitutional machinery. Who was administering the state? The Union government through the Governor, which it is still doing.
And how is this very rationale being applied to other border states of India? Ever since the first week of May, when the border state of Manipur was racked by communal, sectarian, state-sponsored violence against the Kuki-Zumi tribal inhabitants of the Manipur hills, there have been repeated demands from all sane elements, the entire Opposition and even the national media, to dismiss BJP Chief Minister N Biren Singh and impose President’s Rule for the security and integrity of this state bordering Myanmar, and bring about reconciliation between the Kukis and the Meitei occupants of the Imphal valley. But Modi and Shah have turned a blind eye to the violence, rapes and incessant murders in Manipur, which still continue.
Muslims of Uttarakhand, living there for generations, are being forcibly expelled from what they call ‘Dev Bhoomi’ by Hindutva bodies like the VHP, Bajrang Dal and saffron-clad sadhus, who openly threaten annihilation if they do not leave. Never mind that all the menial work is done by migrant Muslim labour. The constitutional guarantees to all Indians, whatever their caste, religion or region, to live and work in any part of the country, be damned. The Centre finds fault with J&K laws preventing outsiders from buying property and settling in the state of J&K, which also includes Ladakh. But in Uttarakhand, where there is no such law, this exclusion of Muslims has been going on for months. No court and no government has woken up to it.
Near Delhi, poor Muslim workers of Gurgaon and nearby areas have similarly been forced to flee their workplaces. This is the ugly face of the posh, upmarket world class township. The bulldozer action was all directed at the villagers of Nuh. Justices GS Sandhawalia and Harpreet Kaur of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who stayed the state’s communal bulldozing of Muslim homes and described it as “ethnic cleansing”, were replaced overnight and the case was assigned to a different bench. After much dilly-dallying, Bittu Bajrangi, the agent provocateur of the Nuh violence, was briefly arrested by Haryana police but bailed out soon after by a lower court. Meanwhile, the cow vigilante Monu Manesar, who is accused in the murder of Nasir and Junaid, is still in hiding in Haryana, and sharing his photos with senior BJP politicians and police officers. Finally, everyone has a right to buy property and settle in J&K but Muslims have no right to work in Uttarakhand or even Gurgaon. This is Modi’s New India.
Faraz Ahmad is a senior journalist.
This piece was first published on The India Cable – a premium newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas – and has been republished here. To subscribe to The India Cable, click here.