Professor Sugata Bose, historian and former Trinamool MP, has criticised the Narendra Modi government for removing the special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, calling it a reckless assault on federalism and democracy. "Kashmir's 12th century chronicler, Kalhana, said in his book Rajtarangini that Kashmir can be conquered by the power of spiritual merit but never by force of soldiers. PM Modi and Amit Shah have no time for such sage advice," he said.
Condemning the centre's move on Article 370 without consulting the stakeholders, Professor Bose said, "It is a calculated insult, heaping humiliation on the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Just imagine, the people of Ladakh will not even have a legislature. That's an assault on democracy."
Asked about the fact that there was nothing unconstitutional about the repeal of Article 370, Professor Bose said, "Even the imposition of Emergency in 1975 was constitutional. It was not extra constitutional. Four out of five Supreme Court judges upheld the emergency as lawful. But just because there are certain exceptions, we can't say certain moves don't violate the spirit of a constitution or political ethics on which any democracy must be based. That's what I am questioning."
Professor Bose was in parliament from 2014 to 2019 and did not contest this year. But he recalled his speech on Kashmir in 2016. "I had told the first Modi government in parliament, don't confuse democracy with majoritarianism and uniformity with unity but that's what they are doing. What we are seeing is rampant majoritarianism. We are seeing uniformity sought to be imposed from above."
Professor Bose is also concerned that Kashmir may not be the last stop, as it were, of the Modi government's march. "Kashmir is being used as an example of what can be done elsewhere."
"If the government of the day can suddenly bifurcate a state without any debate or consultation and downgrade a state to the level of a union territory, there is nothing to prevent them from doing the same thing in another state. Those regional parties that have been cowed into submission may live to rue the day."
Article 370 gave Jammu and Kashmir its own constitution and decision-making rights for all matters barring defence, communications and foreign affairs. Special status under it was key to Kashmir's accession to India in 1947. Article 370 made it necessary for the centre to get the state legislature's approval for introducing any policies or constitutional powers to the state.
Professor Bose holds the Gardiner Chair for History at Harvard University. He is also the grand-nephew of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
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