To invoke China, especially at such times, when the dragon has gone out on a psychological offensive against the entire world, especially its neighbours, is not only callous but also brings to question the credentials of Farooq Abdullah.
Dr. Arnab Chakrabarty
Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah stirred a hornet’s nest when in an interview he complained that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was unhappy with the Indian government’s decision to scrap Article 370 on 5 August 2019. Expressing his displeasure, Abdullah made it clear that the scrapping of the article was not only unsound, but politically uncalled for. He even lamented that India’s northern neighbour was certainly not appreciative of the move and that it never ‘accepted’ it wholeheartedly. The patriarch wished that with the help of the Chinese might the restoration of the nullified articles may be possible.
The nullification of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state in separate Union Territories also led to resentment among the privileged political class in the region. Farooq Abdullah’s statement should therefore bear no surprise. Earlier in September too, the National Conference President made similar remarks vowing to fight for the restoration of the region’s former special status and against all the amendments that the Parliament of India had passed. Already under scanner for misappropriation of funds, Farooq Abdullah stated that the Gupkar Declaration which is an alliance of six political parties to unitedly fight for the restoration of the special status is a welcome step in the fight for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
What’s unfortunate, though not surprising, is that a veteran - and seemingly responsible - politician who has been at the helm of affairs should make such ludicrous statements, especially when the two countries do not have the best of relations. With the PRC being cornered all over the world due to its obfuscation of the Covid-19 pandemic and its ever increasing belligerence that saw a face-off in May this year, such irresponsible statements certainly do not bode well.
The abrogation of the Article 370, and the subsequent bifurcation of the territory of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir, was conducted under parliamentary procedures while adhering to the long standing demands of people of the region. Certainly, it is only the erstwhile politically privileged class that is most upset with these changes. While India’s disorderly neighbour Pakistan and its new found economic sponsor the PRC are disgruntled with the BJP led government to stick to its election promise which otherwise has been perceived well across the country, it is rather outrageous that a seasoned politician like Farooq Abdullah will make such invasive statements.
The loss of privilege in addition to the political metamorphosis that the region has undergone has resulted in reduced political influence of these leaders.
During the successive UPA governments, such leaders would hold the entire nation to ransom over smallest issues. The territories of Jammu, Leh, and Ladakh were subjected to heavy handed and discriminatory treatment by the Srinagar-based political class. The frustration of this political class also mounted after India successfully out manoeuvred its belligerent neighbours at all international forums while earning accolades. The fact that such politicians are rendered toothless and incapacitated and are in no position to call the shots is what has added insult to their injuries. Given that the former governments have been hoodwinked and held hostage to the whims and fancies of such self-centred leaders, it is no surprise that a leader like Farooq Abdullah engage in such demagogues.
To invoke China, especially at such times, when the dragon has gone out on a psychological offensive against the entire world, especially its neighbours, is not only callous but also brings to question the credentials of Farooq Abdullah. To call out for Chinese help in restoring the abrogated articles could be taken as a gesture of support for the PRC’s aggressive behaviour, needless to mention to sympathise with a possible military aggression by Beijing. Not only does it expose the shallow mentality of the now dethroned privileged leader but also his betrayal to the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. It would not be hard to trace evidences of the PRC’s ill-treatment of locals in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, so does the former chief minister wish the same fate on the people he supposedly represents? What is even more astonishing is Farooq Abdullah dare not question the PRC’s testimonies on Ladakh which is an integral part of India.
To conclude, for years successive governments have been unable to procure a long lasting solution to the Kashmir imbroglio. Varying methods and peace processes had only enabled self-styled selfish leaders to live a life of vanity, completely deluded and devoid of any interest in solutions. With the long due abrogation of the Article 370, and the subsequent territorial readjustment, not only has the power filtered down to the masses while neutralising an aggressive Pakistan, but the coveted privileges of such irresponsible leaders have also been rightfully snatched. In this context, Farooq Abdullah’s statements resonate with the frustration of the once powerful and vain section that now finds its wings clipped.
(Dr. Arnab Chakrabarty is Guest Lecturer, Department of International Relations, Sikkim University, Gangtok)