Protest In Ladakh For Statehood And Recognition – OpEd


India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru while in power failed to implement many of his ideas which he so passionately advocated when fighting against British during our freedom struggle. Seven decades after Nehru’s death, India is at crossroad, waiting for secularism to vanish from the society. Thanks to the ultranationalist policies of Prime Minister Modi led Indian government, which is amalgamation of Hindu fanatics. Modi and the BJP is pushing India away from its original ethos. The Nehrivian concept of secular India is vanishing from Indian society. Minorities are feeling insecure while being in the country. They cannot demand their fundamental rights. The policies of incumbent government are similar to those of Hitler’s. 

In India, minorities are being alienated from the society. They cannot enjoy their freedom in the country. There is no more concept of secular in India under the incumbent government of PM Modi. Muslim community is being denied right to live and freedom of expression. After the abrogation of Article 370 and 35, Muslims are being asked to vacate their houses forcefully in Jammu and Kashmir. The valley of Kashmir is still under burning where brutal occupied Indian forces are carrying out attacks against defenseless and innocent civilians. 

The political process in the valley is at standstill since 2018. The Indian establishment is running away from holding elections in the valley despite repeated calls from political stakeholders. Likewise, the people of Ladakh district participated in the protest and demanded statehood and constitutional guarantees under the sixth schedule for Union Territory. The protests were organized under the banner of Leh-based apex body of People’s Movement for 6th Schedule and Kargil-based Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA). The two bodies have brought Budhists and Muslims together to fight for their political rights. The leaders in Ladakh says it is beginning of their campaign to get their constitutional rights and soon they will announce their program for 2023 and it will continue till 2024

The protestors raised slogans like, “Home Minister Hoosh Main Aao,”, ‘Hum Apna Huq Mangte, Nahi Kisi Se Bheekh Mangte.’ Chering Dorjay, vice president Ladakh Buddhist Association and member of the Apex Body asserted that our powers have been eroded since August 2019 and the people of Ladakh never asked for this kind of Union Territory. “The decision of August 5 2019 has turned into a big negative step for us. Indian government under Modi thinks that people of Ladakh will forget, but that is an impossibility.

It is evident from the current agitation and protest in entire region of Laddakh that Indian illegal move of abrogating articles 370 and 35A have backfired. It is pertinent to mention that people of Kashmir have unanimously rejected Indian narrative of normalcy, prosperity and improved law and order being propagated through Godi Media after August 2019.

PM Modi plays a double game by affirming that his government believes in and also enforces unfettered Hindu nationalism, and at the same time runs it on the principles of secular liberal democracy, which are in effect discordant and counter-productive to the rules of secular government. Both policies are incompatible with each other and are doomed to fail in the long run. It may be remembered that India’s status as a secular state can be greatly valued rather than the narrow Indian nationalism.

Most of the intellectuals of India have abhorred the idea of “Hindutva” which is likely to put an end to the secular ideal of India which is presently the basis of its honour and respect in the world community. This image can only subsist if Modi stopped floundering with this Hindutva ideology whose continuous assertion would certainly kill its age-old ideology of Secularism, converting it into a theocratic state.

Since Modi came to power in India, his primary object seems to proceed with a vengeance against Muslims and to make their lives terribly hard so that not only they be treated with discrimination, but also their further entry into India should be banned. Hence Modi got passed “The Citizenship (Amendment) Act in 2019 which provided a path to all religions of the world to become Indian citizens except Muslims. It allowed entry in India to only those who had entered India by 31 December 2014. It was a bad law because it failed to treat all minorities equally and fairly. It was a clear attempt to declare Muslims as second class citizens. I wonder why this law was not thrown out by the Supreme Court of India for being discriminatory and violating the constitution?

So it is no surprise that a politician of Shashi Tharoor’s stature, in his book Why I am a Hindu , has come out with a personal Hindu manifesto that would also largely explain the liberal Indian’s stand towards religion and humanism. Why I Am A Hindu does not have the provocative power of an earlier book by Dalit scholar Kancha Ilaiah, Why I Am Not A Hindu. Tharoor’s account is a lucid and persuasive account of his own journey within Hinduism and he sharply reminds us about the urgent need to reclaim Hinduism from the Hindutvadis.

The writer is Islamabad based expert of strategic affairs

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