Kashmir The Real Issue
The famous Kashmiri poet and historian Kalhana, had completed his classic on the history of Kashmir titled Rajtarangini (The River of Kings) in AD 1150, i.e. more than two hundred years before the emergence of Muslim rule in the Valley. According to Mr SP Pandit: “Rajtarangini was the only work hitherto discovered in India having any pretensions to be considered as a history.” History it is but it is a unique work on history in many respects.
First it uses the medium of poetry to narrate the history and then it focuses more on the rulers than the ruled. It is for this reason that Rajtarangini has been described as a powerful narration of palace intrigues, murder, conspiracy tyranny and senseless treachery. Kalhana himself describes Kashmir as “a country which delights in insurrection”. He gives detailed accounts of how common people of Kashmir are exploited by military leaders and adventurers to their own advantage.
If we compare the recent history of Kashmir with Kalhana’s accounts, there emerges an uncanny resemblance. Since 1989, Kashmir is faced with a new turmoil and unrest unleashed by terrorists; the modern day adventurers who wield sophisticated weapons of violence and indulge in murder and mayhem. These terrorists come from across the border is an acknowledged fact. Generally, it is believed that Pakistan has been using terror as an instrument of state policy against India since last more than three decades. But the story is much older.
Right from its inception, Pakistan has always relied on saboteurs and plunderers to grab Kashmir. In 1947, it was under operation Gulmarg that raiders and tribesmen were sent to invade the state. This attempt was initially resisted by the unarmed Kashmiris and finally repulsed by the Indian Army, but Pakistan succeeded in retaining control over a part of the state that is now known as Pakistan occupied Kashmir. In 1965, Pakistan again raised and trained more than seven thousand saboteurs to launch operation Gibraltar. The Kargil episode was carried out by the Pakistan army itself. The gory drama of death and violence that we see on a regular basis in the Valley is result of a well-thought-out plan of General Zia ul Haq made in 1989 to cause ‘death by thousand cuts’ that continues to be the official policy of at least ISI and Pakistan army.
One need not be surprised at the machinations of Pakistan, for them Kashmir is part of the unfinished agenda of Partition. They have been pursuing their Kashmir policy with consistency right from the beginning. In 1947, it were the ordinary Kashmiris who hastily formed ‘Red Cap Militia’ which in concert with the Indian Army played significant role in repulsing the Pakistani invaders. The enthusiasm was such that Maqbool Sherwani went on a motorbike to Baramula to engage the invaders, when he realised that the raiders were within the striking distance of the capital. The invaders nailed him to a tree and shot him dead. But his outstanding valour earned time for the Indian side to protect Srinagar successfully.
We must admit that after 1989, the ground realities are changing. The local population is not taking initiative any longer, to repulse the invaders as they had done in 1947 and 1965. Instead a pro-Pakistan group has emerged that gives support to the intruders, instigates and provokes the youth to indulge in violence. The latest technique they have employed is to use the youngsters to pelt stones at the security forces. Since last few months the incidents of stone-pelting are on rise creating a very difficult situation for the police and paramilitary personnel.
JAMMU & KASHMIR QUESTION
As always happens with many issues relating to Jammu & Kashmir, the media and the intellectuals project them only with respect to a small section of the people living in the Kashmir Valley. For them the rest, particularly those in Jammu and Ladhak, just do not exist. Nor are the views of the people in the rest of India are of any concern to them.
Thus, the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits, who were ethnically cleansed from the Valley in 1989, receives comment only as an aside. A secular fundamentalist, Teesta Setalvad, probably expresses the attitude of her group, when she said: “For, while there are the hapless and forgotten Kashmiri Pandits also displaced and bitterly abandoned in Jammu and Delhi camps, they have been innocent victims of foreign-bred mercenaries not home grown terror bands; terror bands who moreover speak of a narrow sense of Indian patriotism and nationhood.” (Teesta Setalvad in the Rajiv Gandhi Sadhbhavana Award, 2002, acceptance speech, August 20, 2002.)
Recently, there was an agitation in the Kashmir Valley against providing land for the Amarnath pilgrims. This provision was done with the full concurrence of the political and government machinery in Jammu & Kashmir. At the last moment, some of those with strong sympathies towards the secessionists, objected to it, for purely political reason.
The 200 acres that was selected to be made available for the comfort of the pilgrims during the two months of the pilgrimage, was projected as one that would change the demographic character of the Kashmir Valley. Clearly, it was implied that the Valley was to be an exclusive preserve of the Muslims.
This perverse argument was lapped up by the media and the intellectuals, without giving it any thought. The area is not exactly
habitable, except duing the summer months. Hence, a large permanent presence would not be feasible. Furthermore, even if habitable, the number of Hindus who could be accommodated would be a fraction of the population of the Valley. But then, any argument by the secessionists is to be accepted as true—such is the way the media and the intellectuals function.
Probably the only secularist who was able to sift the wheat from the chaff was MJ Akbar. In a moment of sanity, he put the Hindu case concisely when he wrote: “But there is always a flashpoint lurking in the subconscious, waiting to explode. The trigger is hurt, a grievance that emerges from a perceived sense of injustice. The Hindu who has quietly watched mosque and dargah expand around him, explodes when a few acres are denied to pilgrims on the arduous trek to Amarnath.
He has seen Haj Houses sprout around him for Muslims on their way to Mecca. These rest houses are not temporary structures created for the two months involved in the two-way journey for Haj; they have become permanent community centres. He asks a question: why should he be denied a place for tired feet on the way to Amarnath?” (M.J. Akbar, Why Mumbai is the heart of Muslim terrorism, Covert, August 16-31, 2008.) He then wondered as follows: “Is it a punishment to be a Hindu in India?”
The media and the intellectuals pretended that the Hindus have no case. And when the Hindus in Jammu came out in the streets, it was the Hindus who were condemned.
In the context of the terrorism by the Naxalites, there was another moment of sanity in the secular discourse—this time by the Home Minister, P Chidambaram. The english daily, Pioneer, reported as follows: “Chidambaram also came down heavily on the sympathisers of Maoists for providing intellectual and material support. In a strongly-worded statement, he blamed the organisations and intellectuals who advocate for Maoists and urged them to condemn the heinous killings.
“I would like to hear the voices of condemnation of those who have, erroneously, extended intellectual and material support to the CPI(Maoist). It is only if the whole country rejects the preposterous thesis of the Maoists and condemns the so-called ‘armed liberation struggle’, then only we can put an end to the menace of Naxalism and bring development and progress to the people in the conflict zones,” said Chidambaram. “Every attack of this kind exposes the true nature and character of the CPI(Maoist). Their goal is to seize power. Their weapon is violence. No organisation or group in a democratic republic has the right to take to violence to overpower the established legal authority. Unfortunately, this simple truth has escaped a number of well-meaning organisations that find ‘legitimacy’ in the armed liberation struggle carried on by the CPI(Maoist),” added the Home Minister (“Under-preparedness did cops in: Centre”, The Pioneer, February 17, 2010).
Replace the words ‘Naxalites’ and ‘Maoists’ with the appropriate terms for the secessionists in the Kashmir Valley, and you would have a statement that would explain the situation in Jammu & Kashmir with equal force!
The media and the intellectuals have appointed the secessionists as the leaders of the Muslims in Kashmir Valley. Not once have they questioned their right to speak as such leaders. Not once have they asked for the opinions of the non-Muslims in Jammu & Kashmir.
When they talk about Article 370, they do not state that the heading clearly states that it was a temporary provision, and was expected to be deleted in due course. They do not state that the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru of the Congress party, had said in the Parliament that the article has been erorded, and would soon vanish from the Constitution.
When there is a mention about the plebiscite, there is no reference that there was a prior condition that had to be fulfilled—namely that the Pakistani army had to withdraw from the Pakistani occupied Kashmir. Furthermore, there is no talk about the fact that the demographic character of the PoK has been changed, which would make the plebiscite in that part a fruitless exercise.
The media and the intellectuals pretend that the resolution in Parliament, passed unanimously during the time of the Congress government under the prime ministership of Narsimha Rao, is imaginary one. This resolution was first proposed by Atal Behari Vajpayee of the BJP, as the leader of the opposition. But the prime minister suggested that it should be put forward by the then speaker, Shivraj Patil of the Congress party, so that it would give a better emphasis of the mood of the people. And it was supported by the political parties of all hues.
Issues get resolved on an enduring basis only when the analysis is an informed one, and facts are not fudged to suit an agenda. The intellectuals and the media in India have ensured that this will not happen.
By Ashok Chowgule
I hold that we cannot blame anyone but ourselves for this impasse. The manner in which we have dealt with the issue of terrorism has left much to be desired. We are possibly the only country in the world, which has suffered most at the hands of terror, yet failed to take any action against the organisers of the terrorism. Our wavering and less than firm stance has encouraged on one hand the mischief mongers to inflict serious damages and on the other hand has created doubts in the minds of the silent majority about our capability to deal with the threat.
When Pakistan refers to the unfinished agenda of the Partition, they need to be reminded that the Two Nation Theory which had secured Partition of India on the basis of religion fell flat on its face in 1971, when East Pakistan revolted and declared its independence. The emergence of Bangladesh, an overwhelmingly Muslim country conclusively proved that nationalities are determined by shared civilisational, cultural and geographical bonds and not by common religious belief.
Both Pakistan and pro-Pakistan elements in the Valley constantly refer to the UN resolution on self-determination or plebiscite. They point out that India itself had made the reference to the United Nations and therefore it must honour the plighted word by acting on the resolution to find a solution for the problem.
“Article 370 is hampering development of J&K”—Jagmohan
Sir, there are rumors that India and Pakistan will soon have a ‘deal’ on Kashmir. As someone who has been twice governor, in 1982 and in 1989 and this in the most difficult conditions, could you tell us how do you see the situation today? Is there any chance of a breakthrough in the peace process?
The basic point is: whatever arrangements will be made, these arrangements will not work if the fundamentalist forces remain in power and if they dictate the law by the virtue of the gun. Take for example the suggestion [from the former President Musharraf] that they should be a joint-rule, joint management [of parts of the J&K State]. All this sounds very big, but it does not mean anything. If you and I are controlling the same place and if we differ, who is going to decide, who will have the final word? Even elementary things like that are not clear in Musharraf’s proposal.
And what does it mean ‘self-rule’? If it means a ‘democratic rule’, it is already existing in our part of Kashmir; elections are regularly held and elected leaders form the government. What other ‘self-rule’ do you want? ‘Self-rule’ does not mean that Kashmir can become independent.
And if Kashmir becomes independent, who is going to provide the money which is needed to run the government. Take the example of the Plan Expenditure [money allocated for development in the Five-Year Plan], today it is 100 per cent financed by the Central Government. Between 40 and 45 per cent of the Non Plan Expenditure [allocations outside the Plan to run the day-to-day expenses] are met by the Central Government. In case of ‘self-rule’, nobody has made clear who will pay the bill.
Kashmir is today the most subsidized State in India!
The poorest State in India is Bihar, but today Kashmir gets 11 times more Central assistance than Bihar. If ‘self-rule’ means self sufficiency, all this support from the Central government will stop. But the problem is that nobody, none of the Kashmiris leaders will tell you this. If you ask them, they will say, “the finances will come”, but they will remain vague. That is for development.
Then Non Plan Expenditure, the day-to-day expenses like the salaries [of the government employees]. If tomorrow Kashmir is ‘de-linked’ from India except for External Affairs, Communications and Defence, the finances will not be provided anymore.
The next question is “who will pay?”
Will the Americans do it? Nobody is able to answer these questions. Some say, India should continue to finance ‘self-ruled’ Kashmir, but if tomorrow the ‘self-ruled’ government declare themselves independent or an Islamic State, will India, a secular State continue to finance a theocratic State?
There are so many contradictions in these proposals; it is what people do not understand. There are so many loopholes. So far as Pakistan is concerned, it is not even a democracy [and they are speaking of ‘self-rule’].
Does ‘self-rule’ applies also to Baltistan, Gilgit and other parts of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan?
Today, [these areas] are virtually a colony of Pakistan. In PoK, the President of Pakistan is the Chairman of the Security Council, of the Development Council and of the Kashmir Council. The Minister for Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad is the Vice-Chairman of these Councils. It means that all decisions are taken by Islamabad. It is not like here in India where the elected Chief Minister can take its own decision, there is not such thing in PoK. [The problem is that] nobody has gone into the nitty-gritty of these proposals.
Would this mean ‘self-rule’ for Ladakh and Jammu?
On the Indian side, we have given an autonomous Council to Ladakh because of its special character. It means that for certain subjects, whatever Ladakh decides, it is final. You can not [constitutionally] go beyond this, but because of these arrangements, Ladakh is prosperous.
Their only grievance is that they want to get rid of the Kashmir State. They want the status of Union Territory whereby they will directly be linked with the Central Government. It is also a problem, because Ladakh has two districts, Leh which is Buddhist-dominated and Kargil which is Shia-dominated.
The only solution for all these areas of the Valley, Jammu, Ladakh is that we have to learn to live together and to learn to work for the social and economic development of the State. We should not waste our energies in ethnic issues. If you look at ethnicity in the Jammu & Kashmir State, you will find so many ethnic groups. For example the shepherds in hilly areas can ask for a separate State, the people living in the mountains close to Himachal Pradesh speak Pahari, a different language and they are racially different, they can ask for a separate State, same thing with the Jammu people, or Poonch or Rajauri area. Even on the Pakistan side, you have the Mirpuri or people from Gigilt. It is just like Yugoslavia, the separation has only created havoc and bloodshed.
[In Jammu & Kashmir], many small dictators will claim to the leadership of their own area and the economical development will suffer, the State will suffer, everybody will suffer. I am against this; people should learn to live together with their own differences. So far as the State is concerned, one should provide good governance, give justice to people, offer economic development.
When I was in Kashmir the first time, I did a lot of developmental work and people forgot about Article 370 and other [political] issues. There was justice, the roads were built, everything was done and people were happy; their attention was diverted from the narrow issues.
I noticed recently in Jammu that Indian firms can not invest in Jammu & Kashmir because of the Article 370. How to develop in these conditions?
Article 370 is a very misconceived Article. First, it generates the feeling among Kashmiris that they are different [from the rest of India]. They believed: “We are different.” This has created a separate psyche in Kashmir.
Then it benefits people who want the power like the Abdullah family; they have exploited this Article, not allowing outside people to come to the State. They have thus created their own sheikhdom. I will tell you a story. When I was for the first time Governor in Kashmir, one day a fire erupted in an area of Srinagar. I went to inspect the place, it was stinking, there was no sewage at all. After some time, I sold in the same area a plot for a cinema which brought 60 million rupees to the State. I had opened the tender to outside parties from Delhi and Mumbai. Normally under Article 370, it should have been restricted to local people, but we would have not got more than 4 millions. A friend of a politician would have bought it and eventually this ‘friend’ would have entered into a lease agreement with the Mumbai businessman and will have pocketed the difference. The middle man would have got the benefit, not the State. The local leaders started an agitation against me, because I was not respecting Article 370. They came in a delegation, it included the people from the area where the fire had erupted (and where there was no sewage). They told me that it is an infringement of Article 370. I told them: “Do you understand what it means for you Article 370?” They spoke of their self-identity. I told them: “I went to your colony and it was stinking, yourself told me that you were living in hell, now with this 60 million I will provide you with proper sanitation. Do you want sanitation or Article 370?” They immediately understood. It is vested interest who keeps this Article 370 and do not allow outside investment to come. This Article does not help anyone, it hampers economic development. It only helps politicians and narrow-minded people who work only for their selfish interest.
This interview was taken three years ago. But it is equally relevant even today.
By Claude Arpi
Now look the circumstances under which the reference was made. After the end of British paramountcy, the states were given the option to join either India or Pakistan. Initially the Maharaja of Kashmir took no decision and entered into a standstill agreement with Pakistan. The Maharaja was keen to have the same arrangement with India, but the Government of India needed more time to consider the proposal. Despite this standstill agreement, Pakistan not only imposed an economic siege on the Valley but when it failed to yield desired results, they dispatched raiders and tribesmen led by army regulars to take over the Valley by force.
It was at this stage that the Maharaja sought Indian help to repulse the Pakistani aggression. The request of Maharaja was fully backed by National Conference and its leader Sheikh Abdullah, who personally came to Delhi pleading Indian assistance. During this period, the Pakistan government made several attempts to contact Sheikh Abdullah, but he firmly declined to take their call. The Government of India sent its troops to Kashmir only after receiving the instrument of accession.
Stone-Pelting in Kashmir
The Truth Behind It
Stone-pelting in Kashmir Valley is turning to be as well-paid business for the unemployed youth who are doing this for a particular price.
It is said that lakhs of rupees are generated through stone-pelting, which are said to be funded by separatist organisations to put the situation in Valley back to 1990’s.
It was only examined when during the last few weeks hundreds of stone-pelters were arrested by J&K police and after severe interrogation of these youth the secret behind stone-pelting was unveiled.
Sources from J&K police claimed that during the interrogation it was observed that the backbone of the stone-pelting is Pakistan and which through various terrorist agencies and separatist organisations have hired such youth for a particular price.
Police official on the conditions of anonymity said that these groups which include dozens of unemployed youth are paid heavily between Rs 6-7 lakhs. “Some part of this money is given to those youth who are the main players of the game. Who pelt stones and start pelting on police and paramilitary forces,” police official said.
One more truth which was unrevealed during the interrogation was that these stone-pelters were not only paid by the separatist organisations but also received funds from political parties as well, which is the main reason for stone-pelting incidents occurring in a synchronised manner throughout the Valley in all the districts during the protests.
Police officials also averred that the exact money being pumped into stone-pelting is not estimated yet; however it can turn to be in lakhs.
Spokesman of CRPF Prabhakar Tripathi said that the main aim of the stone-pelting is to regenerate terrorist activities in Valley. “This is a new shape of the terrorism which is coming out in Kashmir. Terrorists are also trying to take re-birth in this kind of atmosphere and that is why several terrorism-related incidents have taken place during the protests,” he said.
“Terrorists want to reposition themselves among the people. In the last few years, the terrorists had lost the support from public and by the stone-pelting which are the job of the terrorist sympathisers, they are bit succeeding in getting the support. Stone-pelting is directly connected to terrorism and terrorists are trying to emerge once again on this soil which we will never allow,” Tripathi said.
He said that during the recent protests and demonstrations at several places grenades were lobbed on CRPF and police. “Similarly unidentified gunmen also opened fire at Sopore, Bomai, Pulwama, Saraf Kadal, Batamaloo and many more places. This clearly proves that the main aim of the stone-pelting is repositioning of terrorism in Valley,” he said.
Tripathi said, “Terrorism is based on public support. And this is the best way for terrorists to get public support. Otherwise, Syed Ali Shah Geelani had asked youth not to go for stone-pelting, even though people came on roads and pelted stones on CRPF and police in which three people were killed. This directly shows the mastermind of stone-pelting is someone else and whose aim is different and that too out of minds of Kashmiri people. “It is being funded by Pakistan and its agencies through over-ground-workers and hawala channels,” he said.
“There are a large number of instances of unprovoked stone-pelting by hostile mobs on CRPF that has left 1100 jawans injured and close to 300 vehicles damaged in the last one-and-a-half year,” Tripathi said.
While talking to an Army official about the real truth behind the stone-pelting he said, “There is a link with people across LoC, There is a link with separatists, and there is a link with terrorists. The main aim of the stone-pelting is revival of terrorism in Valley and nothing else.”
He said, “There is a direct involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba and other terrorist outfits which on record have asked their over-ground workers to escalate this in Valley. The common man is far away from the fact. The masked youth who are leading the protests are travelling from one place to another to encourage the protest. The latter killings of civilians for which police and CRPF have been blamed are actually credited to someone else. Unidentified people have been witnessed in protests that fire on civilians and blame cops or CRPF for the killings.”
Meanwhile, a divide within separatists in Kashmir over the issue is also worth discussion, which came to the front after president of Jamiat-i-Ahli Hadees Moulana Showkat Ahmad created a stir by coming out with a fatwa that Islam did not sanction pelting stones on armed security personnel.
He said that the stone-pelting cannot be justified. “Islam is about discipline and if the leaders are asking people to refrain from stone-pelting then they should adhere to these directions. Prophet Muhammad too has asked us to refrain from it,” he said. But no one listened to this leader also because the persons behind all this took a new drama out of it and burnt his effigy and posters on roads.
However, chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani claimed that incidents of stone-pelting took place in retaliation to the ‘tyranny of gun wielding troops’. If troops allow us to hold innocuous and peaceful protests, why would we take to stone-pelting?
During his several media addresses he has urged the youth not to go for stone-pelting. He has always been asking for peaceful protests, he had said. Just after his release for several weeks when he addressed media he again urged youth not to go violent and ransack building and attack police stations but no one listened to him and which caused deaths of three more within 24 hours.
The situation with stone-pelting in Valley is taking a bad shape. The consequences of stone-pelting are seen on ground level. Dozens of youth are being killed, government property is under attack, government is not able to think about the developments and above all which point of concern for one and all is, hundreds of families are starving.
The instrument of accession as in the case of other states provided for final and complete merger of the state with India. If India still made a reference to the UN, it certainly was an ill-advised move. But we must not forget that the plebiscite was contingent on certain conditions, the primary one being that Pakistan shall vacate all the areas under its occupation. Pakistan never honoured its commitment and on the other hand regular and periodic elections were held in the state of Jammu and Kashmir where people freely exercised their right to elect a government of their choice.
Even if we choose to ignore these arguments, the question is that the present-day Pakistan is not the only successor state of the original Pakistan as it was created in 1947. In fact it is less than half of its original self. The Pakistan that was recognised as a party to the Kashmir dispute has ceased to exist. If Pakistan has any claim on Kashmir then by that logic Bangladesh would have a larger claim as it was the larger part of the old Pakistan. Now is the time when we must tell Pakistan firmly that we refuse to acknowledge them as party to the Kashmir problem and if we talk to them at all then we must do so to persuade them to leave the parts of the state which are in their illegal occupation.
As far as the pro-Pakistan elements in the Valley are concerned, they must bear in mind that both the people and leadership of Kashmir were extremely fearful of the prospect of merger with Pakistan in 1947. We have on record a document which shows that few months after Kashmir’s accession to India, the Maharaja entertained the idea to intimate the Indian government that the accession was provisional and he wished to terminate it. He was advised that after declaring Independence he can sue for military alliance with India and repel the invaders from areas under their occupation. This was soon after the matter was referred to UN, a decision that had caused considerable consternation in the Valley.
THE OTHER VIEW
PATH TO PEACE IN KASHMIR
The reaction to Prime Minister’s statement on the question of autonomy is on expected lines—cynics say it is not enough but do not conveniently spell out the details. Concerned with human right violations in J&K, a team of PUCL including me has been visiting J&K since 1990 and have given our reports critical of the government. I again went in 1993. It was a sad experience, and on my return I said publically: “I do not know how and in what manner Kashmir question will be solved with its nuances of azadi, plebiscite and greater autonomy. But one thing is certain and that is India will remain the loser unless the face that it presents to the people of Kashmir Valley is humane, compassionate and understanding. At present that face is ugly and insensitive.” I never thought it could ever become worse. But unfortunately it has—the school children throwing stones are the targets of lethal guns fired by security forces. Even the common idiom is: “If you hit me with stones, I them will return with bricks”. But the security forces have turned this on head by returning with bullets. There are limits which no civilised government can cross. Unfortunately Kashmir and central governments let the security forces do that. The killing of three security guards at Sopore shows the dangerous situation.
It is a sad reflection on the working of political parties in J&K that they refuse to sit together to find and acceptable solution, notwith-standing that all of them have sometime been part of government of J&K.
But equally the strategy of central government is fudgy. Home Minister Chidambaram comes out with what he thought was a brilliant coup by agreeing to hold talks, and especially mentions Geelani as the pivotal point. Those who advised him seem to be totally impervious to the openly reiterated position of Geelani (that he is asking for plebiscite in the hope that J&K will opt for Pakistan).
It has to be recognised that youths throwing stones are expressing their sickness with all parties in Valley and demand a permanent answer to the future of Valley. Prime Minister’s statement on the autonomy has given an opening. But it must be appreciated that this step would necessarily involve all political parties of India, including those of J&K. This requires immediate release of Yasin Malik, Shabir Shah and no restrictions on Maulvi Omar and even Geelani (of house arrests). All these leaders must be asked to come out clean with their concrete solutions instead of taking cover of asking India to sort out Kashmir question with Pakistan. No doubt, Indian and Pakistan governments will have to continue talks to arrive at a mutual agreement but prior to that if the government and parties in India arrive at an agreed solution, it is only then that a permanent solution can be worked out.
The puerile argument of Mirwaiz and Geelani that solution must be found for whole of J&K, which existed in pre-1947 as one unit with option to join Pakistan is a non-starter. In that context it is well to repeat the opinion of Jurist Alstair Lamb (obtained by Pakistan): “It can fairly be said that in deciding to accede to India, the Maharaja of Kashmir was well with in his rights according to 1947 Act, which had nothing to say about communal issues in this respect.” Will these gentlemen now ask Pakistan to vacate the portion of J&K under its occupation?
And when they talk of whole of Kashmir, will they also spell out what their plans are to retrieve thousands of square miles in Aksai Chin (J&K) having been permanently ceded to China by Pakistan. And while at this they may also explain to their constituents as to how to undo the Baltistan-Gilgit package (area of J&K in Pakistan), which has now by legislation been incorporated in its territory and Pakistan’s direct control of Northern areas. So who is befooling whom with the so-called nostalgic mention of J&K being continued as a practical solution?
I do not believe that Pakistan or leaders like Geelani are so ill-advised as not to recognise that the part of J&K on Indian side is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. Nor do I believe that all the parties in India can be so dense as not to accept the ground reality that considering the price that J&K has paid in terms of human misery during these two decades of militancy and alienation that has been built up, now it would be illogical for Indian leadership to hope that talks can take place within the parameters of the normal centre-state relationships.
In order to give such reassurance, central government should concede that apart from the subjects acceded in 1947, namely defence, foreign affairs, communication, currency to the central government, the rest of subjects will vest in J&K state government. In order to further reassure the people of J&K central government should agree unilaterally to withdraw all central legislations which have been extended up to date to J&K. It will then be up to the J&K legislature to pass new laws or apply those laws with suitable modifications as they feel necessary. Some well-meaning people react adversely to this suggestion on the ground that this would be creating special category unlike the other parts of the states. But why should it surprise anyone because J&K is a special case and is so recognised in our Constitution by Article 370, which is non-derogable. This suggestion of mine is only putting life to the original content of Article 370.
But that does not mean water-tight separation of two parts of J&K. In fact, all efforts have to be made to continue the underlying oneness of the state. Thus so far as the borders between the two parts of J&K are concerned, they can be made as porous and as free as between USA and Canada or even like as at present in the European Union. People belonging to each side should have no problem not only in travelling but in even having trade with each other freely.
Of course, ordering judicial inquiry into all these killings is immediate. As an immediate gesture Armed Forces Act must be withdrawn straightway. Even an individual can use appropriate force, if necessary of course, subject to judicial scrutiny. So why keep this legislation alive when it is admittedly an impediment in peace returning to the Valley?
I feel a high-powered all-party delegation of Members of Parliament should immediately go to Srinagar and express their regret to the members of the family of those who had died or been injured. They should also meet members of youth community. This will give assurance to the public that rest of India cares for its compatriots in Jammu & Kashmir.
The Holy Ramzan has started. May it usher in peace and understanding to all of us.
By Rajindar Sachar
After knowing this decision of Maharaja, Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad, the acting President of National Conference contacted Prime Minister’s office and told categorically that if the UN decision goes against Kashmir’s accession to India, then National Conference under no circumstances would accept such a decision as it would place them in the same quagmire as faced by NWFP Congress when plebiscite was held there. He said: “We would rather side with the Maharaja to maintain our independence than be assimilated like Red Shirts (the volunteer force of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan).
There can be no doubt that Kashmiris were overwhelmingly against their state joining Pakistan, but unfortunately the Kashmiri leadership right from beginning has been speaking a language that gives rise to suspicions and doubts. Now is the time when we must firmly put an end to all these insurrections and conspiracies engineered by the powerful and influential. Once the people know that when we offer to negotiate this does not mean negotiating India’s unity, integrity and constitutionalism, the things will start improving not dramatically but slowly and steadily.
By Arif Mohammed Khan