- He criticised the "arbitrary" manner in which Article 370 was scrapped
- He warned that opting to remain silent at this juncture could backfire
- He claimed that President should not have passed the order in "haste"
Noted historian Ramachandra Guha on Monday criticised the "arbitrary" manner in which the BJP-ruled central government scrapped the special status provided to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, and warned that opting to remain silent at this juncture could backfire in the days to come.
"This is not an issue about Kashmir alone. This is not an issue about alienation alone. I would like every Indian to reflect on the arbitrary misuse of state power. An entire population of 12 million is shut out from a decision that's supposed to be in their interests. What happened in Kashmir today could happen in your state tomorrow unless you are vigilant enough to protect the constitution," he told NDTV in an interview.
Mr Guha also claimed that President Ram Nath Kovind should not have passed the order nullifying Jammu and Kashmir's special status in such "haste". "When a very complex order or a proposal by the government comes to you, it's obligatory for the President to consider it, to reflect upon it, to return it, especially when it is juxtaposed by the news that the Valley is shut down, former chief ministers are placed under house arrest, and landlines and mobiles have been completely obliterated. I think the President acted in haste and unwisely," he said.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti were among the three mainstream political leaders who were placed under house arrest as a precautionary measure before the presidential order was passed on Monday morning.
The argument at hand was not just about Article 370, the historian asserted, but the manner in which changes in the constitution should be made. "Laws outlive themselves, sometimes they need to be modified, but they need to be debated and brought to parliament before that," he said.
Mr Guha, who has been a historian for many years now, told NDTV that the incidents of the day were reminiscent of how late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had arbitrarily removed Sheikh Abdullah - an elected chief minister - and imprisoned him back in 1953. "Does Narendra Modi want to emulate Jawaharlal Nehru... or does he want to emulate Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Morarji Desai, who held the first free-and-fair elections in the Valley. I think it is about the moral proprietary of what has been done," he said.
So, what were the likely repercussions of the centre's action in Jammu and Kashmir? The historian said that while he is not an astrologer who can predict the future, such developments do not bode well for a nation. "This is the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. What Gandhi taught us was that even allegedly worthy ends cannot justify immoral, amoral, unethical and unconstitutional means," he added.