India’s moves in Kashmir will not help country’s integrity, cautions Nyla Khan

indica News Bureau-


“The conscious policy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cohorts to revoke autonomy and downgrade the state and democratic institutions in Jammu & Kashmir has further alienated the people,” Dr Nyla Ali Khan, Kashmiri-American academic and author, told The National Herald newspaper of India in an extensive interview.

Dr Khan, granddaughter of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah, founder of the National Conference and first Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, is a visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma and a faculty member at Rose State College.

Described by The City Sentinel newspaper of Oklahoma City as the state’s best known South Asian Muslim woman, Nyla Khan said the revocation of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution of India in a sudden move Aug 5 by the Modi administration would neither strengthen democracy and secularism in Jammu & Kashmir nor reduce the distrust between Kashmiris and Indians.

Describing the unilateral decision of the central government to end the state’s autonomous status and partition it into two centrally administered territories as “flagrant violations of the Constitution of India”, she said the moves endanger India’s federal structure and set an unhealthy precedent.

This does not augur well for India’s integrity, she warned.

“In a federal setup, the best way for emotional integration and national unity is not over-centralization of power but its decentralization, leading to restoration of power in the hands of the federating units, which have acceded to be part of the federation of their own volition,” Nyla Khan said. “But India is gradually tending to be a unitary rather than a federal state and I do not consider this trend a good omen for the integrity of the nation.”

Khan, niece of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who remains incarcerated along with two other former chief ministers, his son Omar and People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti, noted that the Modi administration and the Prime Minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party is “in too much of a rush to erase diversity and homogenize India”.

She said she had never imagined such a situation in Kashmir where the legislature would be suspended and legislators jailed while the space for young people to reflect on strategies, dialogue and accommodation would be seriously restricted.

“The Constitution of India seeks to guarantee respect for rule of law, independence of the judiciary and integrity of the electoral process,” she pointed out. “But time and again, provisions of the Constitution of India have been breached in Kashmir, and the ideals that it enshrines have been forgotten.”

She said the revocation of the state’s special status, without consulting the representatives of the state, proves that parliamentary democracy in India has failed to protect a genuine democratic setup.

She said the moves exposed some democratic institutions are mere facades and would instigate further disgruntlement and apathy toward democratic procedures and institutions.

Nyla Khan’s mother Suraiya Abdullah Ali, a retired professor of literature, her cousin Safia and several of her mother’s former colleagues were arrested and jailed Oct 15 for participating in a silent protest against the continued lack of civil and democratic rights in Jammu & Kashmir.

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