Thursday, August 21, 2008

Time To Act

The anger is boiling and this is the time to resolve the dispute once for good, comments Naseer A Ganai.

Kashmiris again had to brave bullets. This time for raising voice against economic blockade ensured by people of Jammu and Kathua districts with support of Sang Parivar and the state administration. People of these two districts of Jammu and half district of Udhampore participated in the anti-Kashmir and anti-Muslim agitation on perceived notions of discrimination. Despite ruling the state for 60 years through their bureaucracy, they are not satisfied. They want every Kashmiri-and there are only a few out of administration and they want all ministries should be manned by their men. That is, people of these two and a half districts. They don’t even own Ghulam Nabi Azad. Because Azad is from Baderwah and speaks Kashmiri. That is their only demand and only grievance.
Over the years politicians and bureaucrats of Jammu and Kathua districts have fed people on theories that Kashmiris have discriminated them. But one look at the state administration proves all these theories wrong. Since 1947, only eight Kashmiris have been chief secretaries of the State. The Kashmir Administrative Service has 80 percent recruitment from the two and half district of Jammu. But it seems they are not satiated. Their politicians and bureaucrats are not satiated. It seems they don’t want to see Kashmiri in State of Jammu and Kashmir. At least not at any decision making level. And they have been successful in this design. After ten years, it would be hard to see any Kashmiri as commissioner secretary. In terms of infrastructure and development Srinagar city is no match to the Jammu city. It would take another 30 years to Srinagar city to reach what Jammu city is today. But still they want more for themselves and nothing for Kashmir, nothing for Poonch, Rajouri, and nothing for Doda, Kisthiwar.
Some sections projected that protests in Jammu are against revocation of land order. Are they really? If you go by utterances of leaders of Sangarsh Samiti, it is clear the protests are not for land. People of Jammu are not sending two persons to Amarnath pilgrimage. In fact the VHP a year ago had censured people of Jammu and Kathua district for not participating in Shri Amarnath pilgrimage. So why should they protest for revocation of land order.
Jammu city was calm when people in Kashmir valley and other districts of Jammu including Doda protested against the transfer or diversion of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. The protests in Kashmir were protests against the pro-active governor who wanted to thrust his definition of Kashmiriyat on Kashmiris. And against the government of Jammu and Kashmir which supported him in his plans. The resentment was brewing against him and the government. And land transfer was the last thing, which was expected. The government should have objected to it knowing well how Kashmir reacted when land in Gulmarg was given on lease in 2006. It didn’t and bowed before the governor meekly evoking strong reaction from people here.
The decision though taken in the cabinet on May 20, 2008 was kept under carpet by the government. Even the government didn’t talk about the decision of diversion or transfer land when the forest department issued the order on May 26, 2006 in pursuance of cabinet decision. But the governor played the role of “whistle blower.” Leaked the decision taken in May to the press on June 6, 2008 through UNI. And the rest is history.
Finally Azad government did revoke the order. This time seven Kashmiris had to give their lives for forcing government to revoke the controversial order. Kashmiris construed the revocation of order as success. Former High Court Bar Association president Mian Abdul Qayoom described it as the first win of Kashmiris since 1947. The Sangh Parivar didn’t like it. They took it as, Kashmiri nationalism versus Indian nationalism. And when Omer Abdullah gave speech in the parliament saying that yatris are welcome but land would not be given, it hit Sangh Parivar hard. And after it, trouble started in Jammu.
Why Sangh Parivar is keen for land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board? Because, it believes that land transfer as only way to defeat Kashmiri nationalism. The assertion of Kashmiris and their leaders across the board against land transfer has hurt ego of BJP. They want revenge. And when protests started in Jammu apparently against the revocation order, some sections in the State government encouraged it. And BJP openly supported it. BJP and some sections in state administration presumed that they could defeat Kashmiris by equating Jammu protested with Kashmir protests. But then it went out of their control.
But how they rallied around people of these districts who have nothing to do with Amarnath Yatra and who don’t send people for Yatra at all? If one looks at the speeches of leaders of Sangarsh Samiti, they talk more about discrimination than the revocation order. Their speech starts with 60 years of so-called Kashmiri rule. There is reason for it. They can only assemble people on discrimination issue because politicians there have worked hard in making people believe that they are being discriminated.
And when government of India stepped in to have talks with Sangrash Samithi, they Samithi refused to talk. It wanted Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Saif-Din Soz out of All Parties Conference. Not only out of conference but out of Jammu soil. Ghulam Nabi Azad, though from Baderwah area of Jammu too had to leave that meeting. The Samithi leaders said Kashmiris were responsible for subjecting “Jammu people” to discrimination. Again it is discrimination. They didn’t talk about the land. And the funniest part of it is that those whom no one knows even in Jammu city drove these well-known figures out of Jammu. Thus through Samithi BJP conveyed it to the government of India and people of Kashmir it won’t tolerate assertion of Kashmiri nationalism at any cost. Even if it is Mehbooba Mufti or Farooq Abdullah, the three time chief minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, as Kashmiris they are unacceptable to them. They are only welcome as long as they behave like second-class citizens.
In Kashmiri people protested against the government and in Jammu they protested against Kashmiris, and burnt the Kolas of Muslim Gujjars. This is vast difference. The two can’t be equated. And the economic blockade of Kashmir and Muslim majority districts of Jammu proved all those people right, who had advocated the cause of Muslim Kashmir including Sajjad Gani Lone who in his achievable nationhood gave the concept of, opt out option.
Though it is an admitted fact that when the dispute is between two nation states it would continue to remain the dispute as long as two states exist, even if one state succeeds in changing demography of the disputed area. But in present scenario, it seems, opt out option would help in resolving the present fa├žade of crises in two and half districts of Jammu. The opt out option would satisfy the “discriminated lot” of these two and half districts.
But this is an administrative solution and it could not be described as solution to larger Kashmir dispute. There is rage and anger among people. People want solution of Kashmir dispute. From Kashmir to Kargil, Kishtiwar to Rajouri, from Doda to Poonch there is yearning for solution of the dispute and opening of road links. New Delhi must listen to it. In these years people have seen everything. Now, nothing frightens them. Not even bullets. Not even target killings. Those who are ready to cross tread on LoC for opening of road to Muzafferabad knowing well what will be its consequences can’t be frightened with the might of the State.
So what is wrong if natural routes are opened? In present era of globalization, nation state is losing its meaning. So it is ridiculous to think that opening roads for trade and movement of people would bring catastrophe. But resolution of Kashmir dispute should be the ultimate goal. Today it is in the hands of New Delhi. But tomorrow it won’t. The world is keenly watching and observing what is happening in Kashmir today. Tomorrow the world will not be watching from the sidelines. It won’t allow Kashmir’s decent into chaos. It would be an active player. Kashmir is different. Here people have faith in the West and the United Nations.
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