Friday, August 8, 2008

Leaders of Kashmir

Their arguments, their articulation

For the past one week Kashmiri leaders cutting across party lines are strongly opposing economic blockade of Kashmir and questioning the very purpose of Jammu agitation on various news channels. They include Times Now, NDTV and CNN IBN.
The leaders talk about the issues with some separatists terming protests in Jammu as “drama enacted with the help of state administration” and the pro-India leaders warning the Government of India that if “it allows BJP to repeat Gujarat in Jammu, it would lose Kashmir forever.”
Switch to any of these TV channels in the evening, you will find Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Sajjad Gani Lone, Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah responding to questions and giving arguments in support of their respective stands.
The leaders are all fire over, what they say, communalization in Jammu and Kathua districts.
Dr Farooq Abdullah, the National Conference patron in the all-party meeting convened by the prime minister said he would have to visit his father Sheikh Abdullah’s grave and ask whether staying with India after partition was the right decision. “A time has come when I would require a visa to visit Jammu,” he said.
He too was not calm before the camera. On Tuesday during discussion on a news channel, Dr Abdullah was all fire when Ajay Charangoo of Panun Kashmir accused the Valley leadership of communalism and adhering to exclusivist ideology. Dr Abdullah shouted back and said he did not need certificate of being secular from the likes of Charangoo. He defended the agitation in Kashmir and said Kashmiris never objected to Yatra.
On the same channel, Sajjad Gani Lone raised the issue of the economic blockade and asked the show Anchor to visit Kashmir and see how the economic blockade was affecting life in Kashmir. “Believe me those who are agitating in Jammu district are hooligans who have active support of state administration,” he said.
On Wednesday a news channel had two guests- the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and BJP leader Ravi Shanker Prasad. When asked why BJP is keen to have the land back, Prasad said the Government of India and the Government of Jammu and Kashmir buckled before the ‘separatist elements’ by revoking the land transfer order. He said the Government of India should immediately restore land back to the Amarnath Shrine Board as demanded by the “nationalist people of Jammu.”
He said the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Government of India have hurt Hindu pride. When asked why the BJP state president Ashok Khujuria asked Muslims to leave Jammu, Prasad said he has been quoted out of context. But when the statement was read to him, he ducked the question.
In response to a question, Mehbooba Mufti defended the agitation of Kashmiris saying Kashmiris have all along supported Amarnath Yatra and they are doing it for the past 150 years. She said there is no harm if the Government of Jammu and Kashmir takes responsibility of Yatra, providing all facilities to pilgrims. She accused the BJP of trying to repeat Gujrat in Jammu and said if this happens, India would lose Kashmir forever.
Mehbooba condemned economic blockade and described it as ‘making a Palestine out of Kashmir.’ “How come the Industries minister of Punjab visits Jammu and supports the economic blockade? Have Punjabis forgot that when they were massacred in 1984, Kashmiris were the only people who agitated against it and six Kashmiris were killed?” Mehbooba asked. The Anchor asked Mehbooba and Prasad to condemn Geelani for “asking non-Muslims to leave Kashmir” and Ashok Kajuria for asking Muslims to leave Jammu. In response, Mehbooba said Kashmiris didn’t communalize their agitation and Geelani has not said anything like this. And then she added if at all some one has stated that non-Muslims should leave Kashmir, I will condemn him. She insisted that India should not lose Kashmir for 800 kanals.
On Wednesday the debate continued on various channels with Kashmiri leadership strongly opposing the economic blockade and ridiculing the argument of preferential treatment to Kashmiris. “If killing of one lakh Kashmiris is preferential treatment to Kashmiris, I don’t want the same treatment should be given to the people of Jammu,” Sajjad Lone told a news channel. Arguing with Panun Kashmir leader Dr Ajay Charangoo, Sajad said Jammu people had nothing to do with Yatra as it has been going on in the Valley with local support without any fuss even before ’47.
He said Panun Kashmir wants to be seen as anti-Kashmir and that they should come to Kashmir then talk about these issue, not from Delhi, as they don’t know the ground realities.
Mirwaiz told a news channel that Jammu district had no reason for agitation. He said Kashmiris were conducting the Yatra for past 150 years and when in Kashmir agitation was at its peak, Yatra was going on smoothly. He said the economic blockade has forced the people of Kashmir to seriously think about the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road. He said the land belongs to Kashmir, Yatra is going on smoothly and one wonders why people of Jammu and Kathua districts are protesting and attacking Gujjar Muslims.
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