The Twenty-Second Day of February of the year 1994 is a very important day in the timeline of India & its Kashmir Policy. It was on this day that Indian Parliament unanimously resolved that:
(a) The State of Jammu & Kashmir has been, is and shall be an integral part of India and any attempts to separate it from the rest of the country will be resisted by all necessary means.
(b) India has the will and capacity to firmly counter all designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
(c) Indian demands that Pakistan must vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression.
(d) All attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of India will be met resolutely.”
Parliament passing a resolution unanimously, without even a debate, reflected a unanimity (and not just consensus) and national solidarity on how the nation state shall respond to threats. This resolution came in the backdrop of increasing attempts by Pakistan to foment unrest and secessionism in J&K and by the US to project Kashmir issue as “dispute”.
What set the alarm bells ringing was the September 1993 reference of “Kashmir dispute” by the then US President in his UN General Assembly address. Faced with challenges on several fronts, the then PM Narasimha Rao took the matter into his own hands. He formed a team of carefully chosen delegates to represent India at Geneva, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee (then opposition party leader) heading the delegation.
It is to be noted that such a firm and unanimous Resolution came about 47 years after Independence, about 22 years after a war in which India brought Pakistan down to its knees (but ‘allowed’ it to ‘keep’ POJK), and more than four years after the Kashmiri Hindu Genocide. The Resolution stands as of date and has neither been rescinded nor amended so far.
Though the resolution was indeed a positive move, there was no real progress on the ground; not till August 2019. On 5 th of August 2019, in a welcome change of the virtual status quo, Narendra Modi led NDA Government defanged Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution and subsequently bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. The progressive Islamization of the State and the links between separatists and Pakistan and jihadi elements have been the product of the ‘special status’ of the state. Article 370 had prevented the Government of India from taking necessary steps to clean up the noxious situation in Jammu and Kashmir and establish peace and security in the State. The abrogation of Article 370 and reorganization of the State is sure to send a strong message to Pakistan as well as members of the international community about a robust and clear approach of India in resolving this long-pending issue.
The defanging of Articles 370 and 35A by the Narendra Modi government would also serve the purpose of undoing years of injustice and exploitation of the socially marginalized sections like the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. Above all, it signals Government of India’s intent to respect and take the 1994 Resolution to its logical conclusion.
If we are to share our borders with Afghanistan, Russia, Tajikistan et al, we need to take the Sankalp that we will, sooner than later, take further steps on the ground and in the ‘arena’ too, for reunifying Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and China Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit & Baltistan and Sakshgam Valley, into India.