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Kashmir: Beyond Article 370

Bashir Assad (Author)

Provocative, insightful and passionately argued, Kashmir: Beyond Article 370 brings a  unique perspective to an increasingly polarized debate on the dilution of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution and subsequent bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. On one hand, the book raises some interesting but out of sight issues that moulded public opinion in favour of the scrapping of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. On the other hand, it accurately highlights the anti-India provocations leading to the unprecedented August 5 decision by the Indian Parliament. The book reveals how the government of India was prompted to do away with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and how the people in Kashmir responded to the situation that emerged in the wake of the Indian Parliament`s August 5 decision. The book provides a fascinating account of the events that actually added to the ideological commitment of the BJP government in revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. It gives a detailed account of the challenges the Indian state faces in Kashmir post-Article 370 abrogation and explores what could be a possible way out. The book suggests that revulsion against religious extremism is pivotal in dealing with terrorism in all its manifestations. The author argues that Kashmir has lost its special identity to the extremist ideologies long ago as  society let the fanatics get away with their every attack on the unique identity of Kashmir without  protesting. The fanatics were allowed to impose their narrow worldview on the people in Kashmir and they readily fell for it. The book argues that mutual respect and affection amongst the people of all faiths in Kashmir for centuries made it possible to create a common culture “Kashmiryat”. Unfortunately, that culture has been butchered and vandalized by the extremists. So, the argument that Article 370 protected Kashmir`s unique identity is vague. The book highlights how the politics around article 370 pitched the people of the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh against each other and how this the article was used to create a communal divide by the political elites in Jammu and Kashmir. It offers a much-needed corrective to the self-serving narratives on both sides of the divisive debate and seeks to help us understand Kashmir post-370 abrogation in a better way. It elaborates on how the juggernaut of extremism emerged from the mosque and the madrasa and crushed whosoever stood against it.

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About the author

Bashir Assad

A brilliant student, the favourite of his teachers in the village high school, Bashir Assad fell to the extremist Jamaat-e-Islami ideology soon after passing Class X with distinction. The boy who had charmed his entire hamlet with his keen intellect was seen giving sermons in mosques, preaching Maududi Islam. His clan, the village folk – all had great expectations from him. Some hoped he would join the administrative services. Others wanted him to take up medicine and be a doctor. Many others saw a future political leader in the making, on account of his impressive oratory skills. Some would even tease him to go to Bollywood, given his Kashmiri good looks and charm. Influenced by the Jamaat leaders of Anantnag district, at the age of 17 Bashir was a completely changed young man. Deeply indoctrinated, his sole objective was living a pious Islamic life, and continue giving sermons in mosques. In 1989, Kashmir valley slipped into the hands of armed militia. This jolted Bashir out of the religious stupor. He saw indoctrinated young men of south Kashmir march into militancy with bravado, taking up a life of ghastly violence. As they were killed, more followed them. Bashir was shaken. He realised how dangerous the Jamaat ideology was for the blossoming youth of Kashmir. He disassociated with the Jamaat and raised his voice against the newly-imported culture of Kalashnikovs. Bashir had lived the ideology of Maududi Islam for about three years. When he came out of the daze of indoctrination, he realised that he had lost several very valuable years of his young life. He was aware that while he was able to escape the grip of extreme religious thought, thousands of youth of his generation had not been so fortunate. They had thrown away their youth and shattered the happy dreams of their parents by choosing the gun. This searing pain never left Bashir. Drawn to journalism, Bashir studied Mass Communication in New Delhi. Back home, he joined a local vernacular newspaper and also started making documentaries for Doordarshan. Bashir started writing and speaking out against the killings perpetrated by both security forces and militants. He became a journalist, activist and motivational orator. He had experienced the consequences of indoctrination at an early age. Through his writings, workshops, conferences and seminars, Bashir constantly reached out to the youth. Presenting himself as a test case, he would caution the youth not to fall prey to this deadly ideology. For his writings against the excesses of militants and also the security forces, Bashir was targeted by both. He was falsely implicated by the Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir Police and was given third degree torture for 35 days in an investigation cell. Targeted by militants, Bashir survived five attempts on his life. He was kidnapped four times by militants at the behest of local Jamaatis. Twice, he escaped from the custody of militants. On one occasion, Bashir escaped with the help of a woman from a village who covered him with her hijab and provided him an escape route. These attempts on his life did not deter Bashir from his chosen path. He continued to work to strengthen the ideology of reconciliation and not confrontation for addressing the problems Kashmir faced socially and politically. Bashir worked closely with late J&K chief minister Mufti Sayeed for a couple of years. He left active politics disillusioned, realising that political leaders in Kashmir were doing politics on human blood. In 2011, Bashir launched a platform for the youth under the banner of Lehar (an NGO). Since then, he has been involved in interactions between members of the Indian civil society and students in Kashmir. His objective has been to rationalise the political ambitions of Kashmiri youth, and give them platforms to channelise their energy in a constructive manner.

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Bibliographic information

Title Kashmir: Beyond Article 370
Author Bashir Assad
Format Hardcover
Date published: 12.03.2020
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher Pentagon Press
Language: English
isbn 9788194283799
length 194p.
Subjects History