Nobel laureate Dr Amartya Sen has vehemently criticised the Indian government’s decision to revoke occupied Kashmir’s special status, saying it not only emphasised majority rule “as opposed to it sustaining the rights of all human beings”.
“I don’t think ultimately you will have any resolution in Kashmir without democracy,” he told NDTV in an interview aired late Monday night.
Pointing out the loopholes in the government’s decision on multiple levels, the 85-year-old said: “As an Indian, I am not proud of the fact that India, after having done so much to achieve a democratic norm in the world – where India was the first non-Western country to go for democracy – that we lose that reputation on the grounds of action that have been taken”.
On August 5, the Indian government repealed Article 370 of the constitution that granted occupied Kashmir special status and prevented non-Kashmiris to buy property or start a business in the region.
A strict curfew and communications blackout is still in place in the region while international news agencies have been reporting protests held by residents.
Amid anticipation about the possibility buying land in Jammu and Kashmir by people from other states, Dr Sen said it should have been “something for the people of the state (occupied Jammu and Kashmir) to decide”.
“This is something in which Kashmiris have a legitimate point of view because it is their land,” he said.
He was also critical of the government’s decision to keep the mainstream political leaders of the occupied valley under arrest.
“I don’t think you will ever have fairness and justice without hearing the voices of the leaders of the people and if you keep thousands of leaders under restraint and many of them in jail, including big leaders who have led the country and formed governments in the past […] you are stifling the channel of democracy that makes democracy a success,” he said.
The Indian government has described its decision to place held Jammu and Kashmir under a massive security blanket as “preventive measures” to prevent a civilian backlash that it is, nevertheless, facing.
“That’s the classic colonial excuse. That’s how the British ran the country for 200 years,” Dr Sen said. “The last thing that I expected when we got our independence… is that we would go back to our colonial heritage of preventive detentions,” he added.