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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 51 New Delhi December 7, 2019

Dividing the Nation on Communal Lines

Sunday 8 December 2019, by SC



Today is December 5, 2019. Four months ago, on August 5, 2019 the Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution were revoked and severe restrictions were imposed on Kashmir and Kashmiris residing in the Valley which was subjugated with the massive deployment of security forces while the J&K State was turned into two Union Territories—those of J&K and Ladakh which were both brought under Centre Rule. For the last several weeks the Centre has been claiming that normalcy has returned to the whole region. However, observers who have visited the Valley of late have come back with the distinct impression that Kashmir has yet to experience normalcy. Apart from the fact that all the leading representatives of the Kashmiri people are under detention (the foremost among them being the former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah who is also a respected Member of Parliament and is unable to attend the winter session of the Lok Sabha as he is detained and debarred from travelling to New Delhi) a large segment of the public is suffering from repression and is under arrest. Hence abnormalcy continues in Kashmir.

While the condition of Kashmir has not improved since August 5 and public opinion in the country is emphatically blaming the Centre for whatever is happening there despite the widespread official propaganda presenting a different picture of the ground reality in the Valley, the Union Government is now taking every measure to ensure that the situation in other parts of the country, and the North-East in particular, deteriorates. That is why all possible steps are being taken to create disturbed conditions among the people in general. For that purpose after the National Register of Citizens (NRC) the Centre is seeking to tabled the Citizens Amendment Bill (CAB) in Parliament by next Monday (December 9) so that it is expeditiously passed in both the Houses. As Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has asserted, the main Opposition party will totally oppose the move and vote against the CAB since it discriminates against one section of the people thereby violating the basic tenent of the Constitution; while some Muslim members of the Opposition have strongly denounced the CAB as it betrays a communal bias—separating the Muslims from members of other religious communities by describing the latter as persecuted individuals belonging to the minorities in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh. This approach is patently divisive and cannot be accepted by any secular democrat. Significantly, the voters in West Bengal have already pronounced their verdict against the NRC by defeating the BJP candidates in the recently held by-elections there.

Besides the developments in Kashmir that have doubtless sought to undermine secular democratic unity in that region, what is being planned through the CAB alongside the NRC reflects the divisive attitude of the ruling party at the Centre. Its full-throated call for national unity sounds totally hollow as its real objective is to divide the nation on communal lines through its majoritarian agenda.

December 5 S.C.

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