The other issue, the demand for autonomy, is purely a political issue and has no overtones of religion or syncretism. There is considerable confusion over what essentially are the constituents of autonomy or greater autonomy, which are at stake. The problem becomes more subtle to grasp when most proponents of this demand make it clear that they do not question J&K state’s accession to India.
The reality is that all states of India are autonomous as provided by the Constitution of India and that in the area of such autonomy the federal power cannot interfere. Except for fringe elements scattered mostly on the borders of India, the people of India are happy with the constitutional arrangements. Nowhere except at the fringes, there is a demand for greater autonomy. If a debate arises over exercise of certain powers or respective jurisdictions, issues get settled through discussions in the Centre State Council. But, the J&K state indeed already enjoys a much more advantageous position when compared to the other Indian states. These privileges are many more than what the Indian Constitution gives to some territories in the border regions under the Fifth and Sixth schedules.
“¦the Government of India stand on autonomy seems always to encourage the autonomy/independence seekers/separatists to demand more and more. Moreover they seem to have granted the monopoly of speaking for J&K to the Sunnis of the Valley.
The special features of the J&K state which other states do not have, are its own constitution and flag, and the guarantee that no law passed by the Central Parliament gets applied to the state without its agreement. The jurisdictions of statutory authorities, the Supreme Court, Auditor and Controller General of India and Central Election Commission required concurrence of the state before being extended over it. Very few in J&K question the extension of these jurisdictions now as the concomitant benefits are obvious. Besides, the article 371 of the Indian constitution gives the state a unique position, sanctifying that extension of all Indian laws to the state must have its prior approval.
The substantial issues on which a realistic demand of greater autonomy can be raised thus are all well settled, leaving very little which cannot be sorted out by administrative measures. No government in India can permit the basic fundamentals to be reopened. What then remains as of substance in the demand for greater autonomy? It should not be forgotten that a greater autonomy in the Valley will ignite demands for autonomy in Ladhakh. Kargil, Jammu and Poonch/Rajauri also. Yet, the Government of India stand on autonomy seems always to encourage the autonomy/independence seekers/separatists to demand more and more. Moreover they seem to have granted the monopoly of speaking for J&K to the Sunnis of the Valley.
Do such demands arise because some Kashmiris feel that they are not 100 percent Indians and wish to keep allegiance towards a stream of some sub-nationalism? This is a possibility the origins of which need to be investigated boldly and transparently. Is there a Kosovo like phenomenon latent or in the making in J&K? The three interlocutors appointed by Delhi to delve deep to identify the basic aspirations of the people of the J&K state and to suggest a framework for a solution of the various troubling problems of the state and who are visiting its each district to make a first hand assessment can possibly bring light on this very vexatious paradigm.
There is no denying that such sub national streams exist in some other parts of the country like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu but the people there will reject any suggestion that they are not 100 percent Indian. The political parties of J&K, particularly the mainstream parties, have to come out clean on whether their agenda for greater autonomy is a cover for hiding whether or not they are for 100 percent Indians. It is in this context they need to revisit their demands for greater autonomy. If such unrealistic demands are given up, the other major issue, alienation, will be automatically deeply impacted. There then will be fewer forebodings over spring in J&K.