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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 38 New Delhi September 7, 2019

Kashmir, NRC, Teachers’ Day

Saturday 7 September 2019, by SC


A month has passed since the complete shut- down in Kashmir accompanying the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution delivering a body blow to the special status of the State that was painstakingly worked out with the purpose of preserving the Kashmiriyat of the people therein (even if it was regrettably substantially eroded over the years, a charge levelled by the active proponents of the Kashmiri public opinion). Despite the Modi-Shah dispensation’s concerted efforts to highlight the return of “normalcy” in the Valley, that is belied by those visiting the State (as has been brought out in the report of a four-member team of civil society activists who visited the region soon after the momentous developments of August 5, 2019—see pages 5-9 in this issue). The public are resentful and indignant even if the huge presence of security forces prevent them from freely expressing their views in public. The restrictions on Opposition MPs from visiting the State are also a glaring testimony to the actual ground situation in Kashmir to this day.

It is in this background that Congress spokesperson and former Union Minister Manish Tiwari has conveyed his grave concern over the prevailing conditions in J&K terming those as “worse” than what one had witnessed during the Emergency. He also claimed that since August 5, when those Articles were revoked, civil rights have “ceased” to exist in the Valley.

Meanwhile, the publication of the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on August 3 has not brought the issue of illegal immigration in Assam to its expected conclusion. The fact that over 1.9 million persons were excluded from the NRC proves that numerous citizens in the State are facing the spectre of statelessness, which is a matter of deep anxiety. Reviewing the scenario on this subject The Hindu aptly notes: “While the Assam Chief Minister struck a temperate tone, the studied silence of the Prime Minister and Home Minister on the (final NRC list) publication day is unnerving. Of greater concern is the stance of the de facto No 2 in the State Government, who said that the NRC was no quarter-final, semi-final and final for driving out Bangladeshis and promised ‘more finals’.” Does it indicate that only non-Muslims outside the NRC would eventually get citizenship? That will not be acceptable to the country as a whole if we are to safeguard the principle of secular democracy.

Today (September 5) is Teachers’ Day. One’s thoughts go back to 1958 when as a class VIII student one was expressing, with one’s classmates, gratitude to one’s teachers on a Teachers’ Day that year. One of the classmates delivered a brilliant speech compli-menting the teachers for having inculcated in the students the spirit that we should all “become citizens of the world” crossing the national boundaries. This is so striking in today’s context that it needs to be repeated on every Teachers’ Day for the benefit of all of us and especially those of our leaders whose myopic eyesight never lets them understand anything beyond the narrow confines of nationhood.

September 5 S.C.

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