As the Lok Sabha passed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021, Kashmiris on Twitter started mocking Delhi Chief Ministers and AAP protest.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Passage of GNCTD Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha today is an insult to the people of Delhi. The Bill effectively takes away powers from those who were voted by people and gives powers to run Delhi to those who were defeated. BJP has cheated the people.”
Soon after his tweet, Kashmiris reacted in large numbers reminding him what he said when Article 370 was abrogated by the BJP government on August 5, 2019, amid military siege, communication blackout and arrest of nearly 8,000 people including three former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
Instead of expressing any empathy over the dismembering and downgrading of Jammu and Kashmir, Kejriwal had tweeted, “We support the govt on its decisions on J&K. We hope this will bring peace and development in the state.” He was the first non-BJP chief minister to tweet in favour of the government’s decision to abrogate Article 370.
So, soon after the Lok Sabha passed the bill, Kashmiris reminded the Delhi Chief Minister of his August 5, 2019 position. A Kashmiri writer tweeted to Delhi Chief Minister quoting James Baldwin, “People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned".
Another Kashmiri girl tweeted, “Why should Kashmir have all the development.! Ab Hoga Asli Vikas.”
Despite the widespread anger against Kejriwal for his support to abrogation of Article 370, Kashmiri politicians are supporting Kejriwal at this juncture. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah wrote, “Despite AAP’s support for the dismemberment & downgrading of J&K in 2019, we still condemn this assault on the powers of the elected government of Delhi. Delhi deserves to be a full state with all powers exercised by the elected government & not a nominated LG.” While Mehbooba Mufti described the passage of the NCT Act in Lok Sabha as “This isn’t just disempowering a political rival or the federal structure but disempowerment of popular vote. Worse happened in J&K where people were not only stripped of their powers but also their identity. The collective humiliation continues.”
However, it would be a great injustice towards Kejriwal if he is singled out for his tweet of August 5, 2019. The reason is simple. Over the years, there has been no difference between the liberal position and the government position regarding Kashmir. In fact, after the abrogation of Article 370, liberals have been more critical of the USA and the UNO for what they call raking up human rights issues and lack of democracy in Kashmir than the BJP.
Whether it is the dismissal of elected governments in J&K, imposing presidential rule or continuation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act or deployment of the large scale troops, or revocation of Article 370, liberals have been not only supportive to the governments but have welcomed such moves and have argued how they were masterstrokes. Every regressive law imposed on Jammu and Kashmir is being seen from a security prism and justified. Even firing pellets on protesters that have blinded hundreds seems so normal to them. That is why for Kejriwal it was but normal to support the BJP over Article 370. His tweet supporting the abrogation of Article 370 reflected a long-held liberal view about Kashmir which must be supportive of the government of the day. Omar Abdullah’s long detention under section 107 and Mehbooba Mufti’s detention under PSA on charges of being “daddy’s girl” and for being akin to Kota Rani, a medieval queen in Kashmir, who rose to power through dubious means such as poisoning her opponents, also seemed normal them. No one protested against it. That is why reading Baldwin to Kejriwal is an injustice to him. He was holding long-held Indian liberal tradition on Kashmir.
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