Mishandling of Kashmir

Shehjar Newsmagazine

*Yajin Bhatt
n the recent times the stony bullets that are rocking the valley have brought back the situation of 90’s to the forefront. The tribe of Yaseen Malik, A.S Geelani, Mufti et al, who see nothing beyond hate, separation, Jihaad and intolerance, are back in the picture. Undoubtedly these pro Pakistan elements are looking for ways and means to sabotage the peace process and pollute innocent minds. These elements feel suffocated and uncomfortable in the secular and tolerant Indian political system. In fact the lull that was created by the recent elections was the time utilized by them for further strengthening their strategies and future planning, to keep the fire smoldering in the entire valley.

There has been a phoenix like rise of A. S. Geelani, the chairman of the Tehrik-e- Huryat, the brain behind the recent anti-national separatist agitations in the valley. In 2008 horrified by the tremendous resilience of Hindu faith to incursions of Islam, he reportedly mobilized mobs against the Amarnath Yatra. Right now, he is provided liberal funds by Pakistan and some Arab countries for waging the fundamentalist war against India in Kashmir. Geelani is the mastermind behind the stone throwing Jihaadi mob which has been creating havoc in Kashmir, with full backing from the Hurriyat, other separatist segments as well as components of the mainstream political parties of the state.

Clueless about how to handle the Palestine type Intifada moment started by unruly and violent stone pelting youth driven by Islamist zeal and fed on compulsive hatred for India, the Govt. of J&K state seems to have lost the sense of direction and the will to fight terror. Almost everyone is of the view that the state administration headed by immature and inefficient Mr. Omar Abdullah has lost the grip over the state of affairs. His response to tackle the situation is so confusing that on one hand he asks for the Army support to deter the trouble mongers and on the other hand he asks for the dilution if not total withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA).

As far as army and its role in the J&K is concerned, it is quite indispensable and its withdrawal or any kind of dilution will simply amount to demoralize them. If the role of Army by any means is limited it will mean offering the state of J&K to Pakistan on a platter, which of course is only the dream of Geelani and his supporters. AFSPA became law on September 11, 1958. Practically speaking AFSPA is not a draconian law but a functional act. In the words of Air chief Marshall P V Naik, soldiers need legal protection to be potent and effective in the battle against militancy and AFSPA is meant for the same. Initially it was applicable to the seven northeastern states and later the same law was extended to the state of J&K in 1990 to check the insurgent and separatist movements in the valley. The present circumstances in the valley are purely the result of the weaknesses and negligence on part of centre and the state Govt. Mr. Omar Abdullah may blame army for his face saving, but as a matter of fact not even a single death in the present crisis has resulted from an Army bullet. 90 deaths in 90 days as propagated have been caused by the firing from the guns of J&K police and a few by CRPF. It is quite ironical that even though the Army has not been deployed to curtail the demonstrations and are concentrating on counter insurgency operations, not only secessionist forces but the whole political paraphernalia are unnecessarily raising dust over them. in fact AFSPA that was invoked in J&K in 1990 was hardly put to use for 20 years. In the recent times, the army came into picture for the first time only on the evening of September 15, 2010 when the situation became absolutely out of control for Mr. Abdullah.

The voice that has been raised against the army should not be considered a spontaneous one-time act but it has some meticulous and serious strategic planning behind it. The police and the CRPF are meant just to control law and order. They can not defend the territorial integrity of this country but the Indian Army can. It is therefore in the interest of separatists and their mentors operating from Islamabad to create discord between the Indian army and the Indian state. Also rolling the boll of the present crisis towards Army can also be read as a ploy to put Kashmir mess at the center's door and turn attention away from Omar's failures. While taking back his 11 days agitation the hawkish leader A S Geelani as a mark of protest for the sake of defamation has asked the people to register their protest against the Army's presence in the valley on social networking sites. Besides AFSPA the fact remains that army deployed in the valley has not only helped the trouble torn state in its peace achievement process but has also helped to stabilize the derailed social setup of the common Kashmiri. The Army have been running their own health camps, health centers, providing free of cost health checkups and medical consultation for the benefit of the local residents of the Valley. Schools have been setup in the far-flung areas to provide education and to enlighten ignorant minds. Every year Bharat Darshan Yata is organized for the children in remote areas to make them understand and aware about India and its rich culture, social heritage of which they are part and parcel. Many N G O's with the help of Army are supporting the locals by providing them means of earning livelihood, contrary to those who instigate them into streets to throw stones and raise anti-India slogans. The reason for the continuous assault by A S Geelani and other Hurryat leaders as well as Kashmiri Politicians is that they really do not have to bother about the struggles of the aily lives as all the comforts are available to them. Appeasement policies adopted by the govt. and the packages after packages that have been offered have spoiled them with no good response from their side. Another economic package is surely on the anvil to keep the stone-pelters stones in their hands. In short the financially handicapped state govt. is always keen to do something or the other to keep the protesters and the separatists in good humor. New Delhi is desperately trying to straighten the Dog’s tail by opening new medical, Engineering colleges and new universities but still the separatists have made it clear that all these grandiose schemes that are being embarked for the economic welfare of Kashmiri's are not going to help their hearts and minds. In fact they say that this time people are hell-bent to win Azadi for themselves and are relentlessly pursuing their goal of breaking away from India.

The Indian govt. is trying to woo back the separatist elements and win their allegiance for India. The constitution of 35 members all party delegation to take first-hand view of the present crisis in the valley can be taken as yet another step in this direction. Although Hurriyat and other separatist groups along with PDP have already slammed their doors against such delegations, our honorable home minister went ahead to toy with their so called serious proposal in the direction of solving the Kashmir crises. But how fair is this delegation and how legitimate when they only care to understand the self-inflicted pain of those shouting anti-India, Azadi slogans and pelting stones without understanding the viewpoint of those meant for their safety and security? Also has the govt. been serious enough to formulate such delegations that would seek to improve the lives of Kashmiri Hindus who are the real sufferers in the entire crisis! While creating the recent all party delegation, New Delhi did not find it imperative to include any Kashmiri Pandit. They considered invitation to separatist leaders more desirable.

The state and the central govt. seem to be so much averse to considering the plight of pro-India/ patriotic people of the state that even the initiatives taken by them for their self rehabilitation have no takers in the govt. hierarchy. The efforts to regain their identity get no encouragement from the Government, like the recent steps taken by the All Party Migrant Co-ordination Committee (APMCC) to revive the sanctity of age-old shrines. Yajinas and the other religious ceremonies were held at number of places in the valley but the govt. has not come forward with any kind of assurance and reinforcement measures to provide morale boost to these youths who are undertaking such programs while braving the hostile attitude and environment in the valley. Does it mean that in this country "Bharat", in order to legitimize demands, it is important to stop being patriotic and come onto the streets against the nation? That is the method adopted by Kashmiri Muslim youth to blackmail New Delhi to give concessions and desired packages etc.

Surprisingly, as regards Kashmir issue: the national TV channels also have not been able to put forth this burning issue in fair perspective, always legitimizing the separatists view point. From their side the root cause of Kashmir issue has not been addressed properly and they are bent upon glorifying the anti national elements by terming them as angry generations venting their suppressed emotions”. Some news channels to my utter surprise are conducting debates every now and then over the Kashmir issue with those people on the panel who never accept India as their mother nation and those who till yesterday did not know any thing about Kashmir. We hardly find any representatives from Jammu, Ladakh, Kishtwar or representatives from the displaced Hindu community. It means aspirations and anger of today's valley youth have value while as aspirations and t grievances of the other stake holders do not.

Talking the other way round it can be said that the gun and violence still attract the attention of the higher ups in the country of Mahatma Gandhi who waged Satyagraha against the Britishers. This should not be the case. There should be no denying of the fact that the sovereign issue of the nation can not be diluted for any kind of political expediency. The valiant Indian security forces should be complimented for they have been able to control the situation in the Valley at the cost of great sacrifices made over the last 20 years. No measures should be accepted to demoralize and insult their purpose.

Terrorism and separatism have brought shame to this paradise. The wheels of factories are rusted and educational institutions are deserted. People have lost their childhood and the vigor of youth is being channeled in the wrong direction. The possible solutions to Kashmir problem like autonomy and self rule as demanded by Kashmiri political establishments can not be accepted because Kashmir is already autonomous enough with its Article 370. Also full demilitarization of Kashmir is not possible as long as terror groups and camps remain active across the Line of control. Giving independence to the Kashmir is a complete no-no because natives of this Valley who are living in exile in their own country and many nationalists will not be party to it. And what will it be, Kashmir today, Punjab tomorrow? The regions of Jammu and ladakh should be given due consideration so as to respect the aspiration of the people living there. Due to the lackadaisical approach of politicians right from 1947, Kashmir surely has assumed the form of a monster problem. A resolution needs dialogue with people across the table but also immediate and forthright hard-nosed action plans to protect the nation's interest.
*Rajesh T Bhatt (freelancer), a Kashmir valley resident from Anantnag, Education: Post graduate in computer Science, working with Telecom sector for last 8 years. Father retired from defence services. Presently living in Delhi with his family.
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