New Delhi: In what may rekindle a debate among academics and thinkers on the relevance (or irrelevance) of inconvenient histories in social sciences, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has now revised a chapter in the intermediate political science textbook to remove all content on the birth of separatist politics in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
An Indian Express report said that the governing body of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), a widely-followed school curriculum in India, “replaced content on separatist politics in J&K with electoral politics and scrapping of its special status.”
The changes have been introduced in the chapter ‘Regional Aspirations’ in the Class XII political science textbook titled Politics in India since Independence.
The changes were necessitated by significant political developments that took place over the last few years. Parliament approved dilution of Article 370 that gave constitutional autonomy to the state of J&K in August 2019 and bifurcated it into two Union Territories, which is now part of the text book. That the additions were introduced by removing the portions on separatist politics (an inconvenient reality in the history of India) indicates that the NCERT may as well be catering to the BJP-led Centre’s predilection for rigid hyper-nationalist ethos.
The deleted section ‘Separatism and Beyond’ helped give a political and historical understanding of the circumstances in which separatist politics emerged in the Kashmir valley.
“Separatist politics which surfaced in Kashmir from 1989 has taken different forms and is made up of various strands. There is one strand of separatists who want a separate Kashmiri nation, independent of India and Pakistan. Then there are groups that want Kashmir to merge with Pakistan. Besides these, there is a third strand which wants greater autonomy for the people of the State within the Indian union. The idea of autonomy attracts the people of Jammu and Ladakh regions in a different way. They often complain of neglect and backwardness. Therefore, the demand for intra-State autonomy is as strong as the demand for the State autonomy,” the portion which was removed read.
The old version of the textbook also stated that the “popular support to militancy has now given way to the urge for peace” and explained that the Centre has been negotiating with various separatist groups to restore peace in the valley.
The new version of the textbook has now included a separate subsection named “2002 and Beyond” that talks about elected governments of J&K since 2002.
It also seeks to contextualise the reading down of Article 370, but prefers to term the development an abolition of the Act. “During the tenure of Mahbooba Mufti, major acts of terrorism, mounting external and internal tensions were witnessed. The President’s rule was imposed in June 2018 after BJP withdrew its support to the Mufti government. On August 5 2019, Article 370 was abolished by the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019 and the state was constituted into two Union Territories, viz., Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh,” the textbook says.
It further says that despite the special status, J&K “experienced violence, cross border terrorism and political instability with internal and external ramifications” which “resulted in the loss of many lives, including that of innocent civilians, security personnel and militants”.
“Besides, there was also a large scale displacement of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir valley,” it states.
While saying so, the new chapter also talks about the United Nation’s 1948 resolution that recommended a plebiscite in J&K.
The NCERT has also removed a political cartoon that showed a dove (signifier of peace) injured with bullets. Similarly, a comment by former J&K governor B.K. Nehru on the dismissal of Farooq Abdullah’s government has also been removed. “The Kashmiris were convinced now at the second dethronement of their elected leader (in 1984) that India would never permit them to rule themselves,” the deleted comment read.