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Dhaka Tribune

Will India’s image take a hit?

BD government mum

Update : 06 Aug 2019, 12:30 AM

The move of the BJP-led Indian government to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status has been described by many in India as the most significant development since independence on August 14, 1947.

The step will undoubtedly please the BJP support base, but is likely to further alienate Muslims, who constitute 14 per cent of India’s population of over 1.3 billion.

If the lower house of India’s parliament votes to uphold Monday’s presidential order, which seems a foregone conclusion, India will become a different country. India will be one state poorer than before. 

But more crucially, not only has Jammu and Kashmir lost its special status granted by the Indian constitution, and which was granted in order to induce it to accede to India in the first place, but the state has been divided into two union territories which means its status has been downgraded.

Also Read- Five things to know about Indian Kashmir's changed status

Furthermore, since the state is under presidential rule, the final decision rests in the hands of the national parliament not the state assembly, which means that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will not have any say on the matter.

It remains to be seen whether the action will withstand the inevitable legal challenges, but most analysts already see the revocation of the state’s special status and separation into two as a done deal.

Given the backlash that this will likely provoke in the Muslim-majority state and the undemocratic way that it was done, one can anticipate that the image of India as the world’s largest democratic and secular country might take a hit globally.

Indeed, what might the impact be here in Bangladesh, is a question worth asking. Many Bangladeshis already had considerable concerns with respect to the BJP government next door. These concerns will now have been exacerbated.

No comment

Having contacted half a dozen senior Bangladesh officials, not a single comment was available with regard to the decision of the government of India.

Indeed, the officials contacted declined to even clarify the official position of Bangladesh regarding Kashmir.

“I will not talk about this,” Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told this correspondent when his comments were sought.

“No comments,” said another concerned senior Foreign Ministry official.

Also Read- Protests across Pakistan over India's 'illegal' move in contested Kashmir

About Bangladesh’s position on the issue, he referred to another senior official, who bluntly said: “It’s not within my jurisdiction.”

One envoy to an Asian country said: “Since it is India, no one will say anything. Regarding Kashmir, we always maintain low key because we do not want to antagonize our first neighbour. I don’t remember if we, like in cases of Korea, Palestine or Yemen, have taken any position regarding [Kashmir].”

About the Indian government’s move, he termed it unnecessary and expressed fear that things in Kashmir are all but certain to get worse.

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