'We were advocating Indian democracy and Indian Constitution. The other side (separatists) questioned Indian Constitution, democracy and accession. This action of scrapping Article 370 has vindicated their point.'
Tariq Hameed Karra had resigned his Lok Sabha seat and from the People’s Democratic Party in protest against the PDP-Bharatiya Janata Party government’s alleged failure to curb the oppression of Kashmiris and the failure to find a solution to the Kashmir problem.
This was in 2016, after which he joined the Congress party.
At present Karra is a member of the Congress party's policy planning group along with other Kashmiri leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Dr Karan Singh.
Soon after the Narendra Modi government scrapped Article 370 conferring special status on the border state on Monday, Karra spoke to Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.
"What we were advocating was that the Indian Constitution has space enough where the genuine grievances of the people were addressed and redressed. Now, what do we say," Karra says.
Your first reaction to the historic scrapping of Article 370?
It is a black day for Indian democracy. In fact, there is no democracy but autocracy.
And the way the whole thing is being subjugated and bulldozed is unheard of and unseen. Earlier it was projected as a battle of civilisation or ideologies but now it has been converted into an idea of mythology.
I don’t think there is anything else to speak but a black day for Indian democracy. Many Pandora's boxes will be opened, and this move is not in national interest which will of course face backlash in one way or the other way.
We tried out every kind of solution for Jammu and Kashmir in the last 70 years but failed. Don’t you think this is the only solution left and therefore the government went in for this?
What has been done in those meetings except cosmetic measures? Nothing concrete was done. You cannot squeeze the space for everybody. India is a pluralistic society and it is always a battle of ideas even in Indian Union. This move has external dimensions also.
What will the ordinary Kashmiri feel about this move?
We were called as mainstream politics in Kashmir and other ideology is that of separatist ideology. The present government has squeezed the space for Indian mainstream politicians as well.
The Kashmiri separatists are being vindicated today. Kashmiri separatists were followers of two-nation theory and today they have vindicated them that yes, two-nation theory was correct.
I cannot tell you in advance what would be the repercussions but one thing is there, even people who belong to mainstream politics are forced by the present dispensation to think maybe the other side was correct.
So will it be difficult for mainstream Indian politicians to work in Kashmir as you always supported India in Kashmir?
Of course, they have squeezed our space and pushed us to the wall. This was not a battle of ideas but a battle of egos.
But Indians always felt why can’t they buy homes in J&K, and that feeling was always there in the minds of most Indians.
It has a historic background. You cannot decide things on the spur of the moment. You have to go into history on how J&K acceded to India.
When India got independence the entire country was part of British India except for J&K which was independent. The rest of the country's resolution was passed under British India. It did not accede to India on August 15, 1947.
J&K is the only state in India which joined India by choice, the rest did not join by choice. They joined because of resolution.
It is under special circumstances that J&K joined the Indian union after the raids from that (Pakistani) side. J&K acceded to India in certain circumstances and conditions.
And legally, constitutionally speaking, there was no merger till now. Article 370 was the only constitutional guarantee given to J&K.
All these things happen by Presidential order and not through Constitution.
That is Article 35A and it is not only this presidential order. There are 14 other presidential orders with regard to J&K and one of that was to scrap the terminology of Sadar-e-Riyasat (head of state, governor) and prime minister.
That does not mean that too holds good. Article 370 was negotiated and it became a clause in the Constitution of India. 35A followed it. And it is not 35A which came out of the blue. We had state subject law which was passed in 1927, and it was a replica of that order.
Now Ladakh has also been given separate Union territory status.
This is part of the design which a particular section in Indian polity was cherishing for the last 100 years. That is where we say brute majority always brings disaster, and that is what has happened.
Can you elaborate in what way?
Scrapping Article 370 is constitutional assault and murder. It is a disaster. It is subjugation of your egos. You are subjugating your theology for the sake of your own contentment. It is not that something is happening democratically. It is an assault on Indian Constitution as Article 370 was a bridge between J&K and the rest of the country.
People of India re-elected Prime Minister Modi and gave him a mandate. How can you then call this autocratic and undemocratic?
That is true but everything has to be done democratically and under the Constitution. You cannot bulldoze things just because you got a mandate. That does not mean the people of India allowed you to murder democracy or murder the Constitution. Therefore, I say it is a black day for Indian democracy.
What will change on the ground now post scrapping of Article 370?
There is no ground. Jammu and Kashmir state is now like a big jail. Lakhs and lakhs of Indian armed forces have been moved in the last 10 days. Every nook and corner is under siege this time. Political leaders are under house arrest. That is the situation today and it is so shocking for everybody.
I am telling you that people who were holding the Indian flag in J&K have been pushed to the wall. There is no space left.
What we were advocating was that the Indian Constitution has space enough where the genuine grievances of the people were addressed and redressed. Now, what do we say?
We were advocating Indian democracy and Indian Constitution. The other side (separatists) questioned Indian Constitution, democracy and accession. This action of scrapping Article 370 has vindicated their point.
They would always address us as gaddars and agents of India. By doing this they have squeezed our space and pushed us to the wall. What do we say about Indian democracy and Indian Constitution to the people of J&K now?