Stop wailing and tell us how to resolve this 70-year-old headache for India
In all the wailing and breast-beating over the scrapping of the special status of Kashmir and the denial of basic freedoms to the people in the Valley, there hasn’t been even a smidgen of a suggestion offered to deal with the decades-long menace of foreign-funded insurrection. Critics have, as is their wont, provided fodder to Pakistan, the real trouble-maker in Kashmir, painting a gory picture of the inhuman treatment of Kashmiris at the hands of a fascist regime in New Delhi.
There is little appreciation of the Indian State for having shown extraordinary patience to a group of misguided people who, instigated by infusions of ISI cash and a gross misreading of Islam, wave the enemy flag in Srinagar while trashing the tricolor. This could not be tolerated by any self-respecting Indian for an indefinite period. India has done all it can to humour these ingrates who constitute a small but violent minority even among the total Muslim population of J and K. To bring them back to the path of sanity, changes earlier this month in Kashmir’s status seemed to be the only doable option. The other option was to offer Kashmir on a platter to Pakistan.
It is incomprehensible why a former RAW chief who was personally involved in negotiating a Kashmir settlement should find fault with the deletion of Article 370. All through his stint in RAW and later as a special interlocutor for Kashmir he tried for a mutually acceptable agreement. Even Vajpayee’s offer of an accord with ~Insaniyat~ at its root could not help this celebrated sleuth pull off a deal. He failed miserably, with nothing to show for his efforts. If this did not persuade him to the futility of talking indefinitely with those who are determined to break this country on the basis of religion, nothing will.
Let me put it bluntly, though unwittingly it was the former Home Minister who gave voice to it first. The real cause of what we call the Kashmir problem, Chidambaram clearly suggested, lay in the religion of the majority in the Valley. Speaking at a conference in Chennai earlier this month he criticized the Modi Government for doing away with the special status of Kashmir, and then went on to ask rather rhetorically whether Modi would have withdrawn the special status if there was a Hindu-majority in Kashmir. Certainly not. But there would have been no need for a special status for Kashmir if Hindus were in a majority there.
Why would Chidambaram ask such a question, especially when his secularist pretensions would prevent him to see the reality of the ISI-Islamic terror, remains unclear. But even if it was a slip of the tongue, he unintentionally bared the real cause behind the endless jihadi mayhem in Kashmir. Admittedly, not all Kashmiri Muslims may be part of the ISI plot. By and large, the Shias in Kargil, Bakarwals, Gujjars, etc. in Jammu and even in the Valley have kept away from Paki jehad. Sunnis, indoctrinated further by the petro-dollar-fuelled Wahhabism, constitute the core of the ISI operations in the Valley.
Because it was Muslim-majority, Kashmir became a headache in the first place. A duplicitous Maharaja Hari Singh signed the accession agreement when the Paki marauders were literally at his doorstep. He wanted `azadi’ from both India and Pakistan but chose to go with India when forced to make a decision at the pain of his own life. Nehru grossly mishandled the situation, gratuitously giving Pakistan and its western patrons a handle by internationalizing Kashmir. And later, relying on his `dear friend’ Sheikh Abdullah, who after having seen off the Maharaja, dreamed of replacing him as a sovereign ruler. He did not want to join Pakistan for they would have swallowed Kashmir and made him a non-entity. Yet, he held India hostage, wanting it to offer protection against a Pak attack but otherwise leave him alone to rule as he pleased.
Over a period of time, what was the problem essentially of Kashmiri Muslims has drawn in their co-religionists from the rest of the country. Not long ago, a Muslim in Merrut or Hyderabad would have had little concern for the events in Kashmir. No longer, though. Now, with the deepening of the Pakistani entanglement with Kashmir, Muslims all over the country endorse the call for `azadi.’ That may be why there was no condemnation when a few years ago the `tukde-tukde’ gang raised slogans for `azadi’ on the JNU campus. Kashmir has sucked in the Indian Muslim mentally like never before.
That may be why the Congress Party chose to oppose the deletion of Article 370 even when a fiercely anti-Modi Mamata Banerjee, sensing the popular mood, elected to abstain from the vote. Why, even the Aam Aadmi Party, which had an eye on the sizable Muslim vote in the upcoming Assembly poll in Delhi, preferred to heed the majority sentiment and voted with the Government. Whether the Congress was reverting to its old appeasement policy or it was for some other reason is hard to tell, but its opposition to the end of special status for Kashmir is bound to further mar its prospects in the Assembly polls in Haryana, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. For proof, go no further. Ask Bhupinder Singh Hooda, two-time chief minister of Haryana. The Congress seemed to have shot itself in the foot yet again. Its wipe-out in the coming Assembly poll would amply confirm it.
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Tilted on the other side
It is good that despite the strict blackout of independent news from Kashmir, a lot of it is filtering out through western wire and broadcast media outlets. The problem with the Srinagar-bylined stuff put out by the western agencies is that it too tends to give a one-sided picture, in this case wholly tilted against India. Even if you were to discount the inherent anti-India bias of BBC --- look at the despicable way they glossed over the violent siege of the Indian High Commission in London on the Independence Day --- other foreign media outlets are no better. One reason for this might be that the Srinagar based- reporters are all locals, and may well ascribe to the separatist cause either out of fear or otherwise. You don’t have to go far to know what the foreign media is saying about Kashmir. Just get a copy of a Kolkata daily. It has embraced the Srinagar-based correspondents to its heart, highlighting on front page whatever they put out. The paper whose current boss had pledged not to rest till he single-handedly ousted Modi from power, could as well be coming out from Timbuktu for there is little of Kolkata and West Bengal in it, with vicious anti-Modi agenda finding prominent space in its news and views pages.