J&K: Jhelum (not Chenab) Solution
by Sandhya Jain on 29 Dec 2009 27 Comments

BJP mumbles and fumbles

It is amazing that despite RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat declaring Kashmir “a non-negotiable issue” with Pakistan, as it was an integral part of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party was unable to transcend petty differences with the J&K National Panthers Party and support its call for a Jammu Bandh to protest the pro-autonomy report of Justice Saghir Ahmed.


Justice Ahmed, chairman of the PM’s Working Group on Centre State Relations for J&K, unilaterally submitted his report to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on 23 December 2009, after an inexplicable hiatus of over two years. Panthers Party president Bhim Singh told www.vijayvaani.com that the judge had simply endorsed the Election Manifesto of the National Conference; he condemned the report as ‘trash’.


BJP’s reluctance to visibly oppose a report which proposes giving the state government more powers over all matters barring foreign affairs, defence and communications (a Sheikh Abdullah obduracy that drove Jawaharlal Nehru crazy), puts a question mark on its true approach to the Saghir Ahmed Report, despite a formal denunciation by Arun Jaitly, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha.


This suggests that BJP’s uncurbed factionalism may play out on the critically important issue of autonomy for J&K, a stepping stone to the withdrawal of the Indian Army and Indian State from the Valley, and stepping in of Pakistan. On Sunday, 27 December 2009, Panun Kashmir (Agni Shekhar group) felicitated Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for passing a resolution in the MP Assembly on July 24 endorsing the demand for a separate homeland in Kashmir for Kashmiri Pandits. Shockingly, Chouhan was boycotted by all state BJP leaders though he was escorted by national secretary Prabhat Jha and state RSS leaders.


This duplicity calls to mind the BJP conduct in winter 2008, when its national leaders loudly condemned the Indo-US nuclear deal for hurting national interests. Privately, LK Advani assured US Senator Joseph Lieberman that the deal could go through with cosmetic changes; he ensured that Parliament was not stalled on the day the cash-for-votes scam broke, ensuring UPA victory. With his faction controlling the Parliamentary Party and doubtless having clout in the states, a serious compromise of Hindu and national interests may take place, especially given his illegal and disreputable quest for Cabinet rank from the disgraceful UPA regime.


It is imperative that the RSS and new party president Nitin Gadkari ensure that the BJP in the Parliament or State Assembly does not compromise national interests in covert understanding with the Congress and/or National Conference. It is pertinent that a BJP state leader attended the American-sponsored PUGWASH Conference on Kashmir in Islamabad in 2006, and maintained silence when an NC leader made a disgraceful statement to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who himself rebuked the young upstart.


Chenab formula


What is the much-touted Chenab formula we have been hearing about since the NDA first began the dubious Track II diplomacy with Gen. Musharraf? The UPA in both its first and second incarnations has continued this tradition of covert diplomacy – adding ‘quiet talks’ with separatists to its repertoire – adamantly keeping the people of India, the real and only stakeholders in the nation’s future, out of the loop.


This resolute denial of information and/or feeding those with the right to know with half-truths and outright lies is a negation of democracy, a surreptitious and despicable dictatorship. The irony here is that genuine dictators are often quite good at taking care of the genuine national interest, hence the Russian peoples’ enduring love for Joseph Stalin; hence the American hatred for Iraq president Saddam Hussain.


To return to the so-called Chenab solution, it is an obvious communal partition of the State. East of Chenab, adjoining Jammu province, is a Hindu region; west of Chenab is Muslim-majority.


This is nothing more than a re-working of the discredited Dixon Plan of Australian jurist Sir Owen Dixon, who arrived in India in May 1950 as special representative of the UN. In his report to the Security Council on 15 September 1950, Dixon asserted that since Jammu is mainly Hindu, Kashmir Valley predominantly Muslim, and Ladakh Buddhist, a plebiscite embracing all communities would cause Partition-style refugee problems.


He suggested a “plebiscite by areas” in only regions where the will of the people was unclear (read – communal balance of power was not certain!). Thus, Dixon assigned Ladakh to India, the Northern Areas and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) to Pakistan, split Jammu between the two, and envisaged a plebiscite in the Kashmir Valley.


In other words, Dixon endorsed Pakistan keeping what it had grabbed and tried to secure more strategic Indian territory to this white-Christian-western-colonial land bank!


Dixon decided that the international border ran roughly north of the Chenab, separating the predominantly Muslim Doda, Rajouri and Poonch districts from Jammu and joining them to the Kashmir valley. Hindu-dominated Kathua and Jammu would stay with India (such communal clarity! Today, white Christian Australians unhappy with their Muslim co-citizens should consider this formula to divide the vast continent; there is surely enough space there for both Muslims and Christians!)


Pakistan gave Dixon the boot on grounds that his proposal was a breach of the agreement that the destinies of J&K state as a whole would be decided by a plebiscite of the entire state. India rejected Dixon as he proposed partition on communal lines. UN put the Dixon Plan in cold storage, sending other mediators to India and Pakistan, but they too failed.


Musharraf to Habibullah


The Dixon Plan however, kept cropping up in various guises. It was supposed to have formed the basis of a Track II near-agreement in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s time, but fell through once the Pakistanis made it known that the famed Indian interlocutor had agreed to the Chenab as the new border! This led to an outcry and the gentleman was forced to deny reaching such an ‘accord.’


Gen. Musharraf’s Plan for seven councils in the state, five of which would be India, reeks unmistakably of Dixon. Musharraf proposed 2 regional councils in Jammu (along Hindu-Muslim demographic lines), 2 in Ladakh (along Buddhist-Muslim demography) and one for Kashmir (to maintain its Muslim character).


More recently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special expert Wajahat Habibullah mooted the same division of the state at the Working Group on Centre State Relations, unembarrassed by its overtly communal character and anti-India lineage. This was at the last meeting of the group on 2 September 2007.


Interestingly, at the conclusion of his presentation to the Working Group, Panun Kashmir chairman Ajay Chrungoo asked Habibullah three questions which left him fumbling for answers:-


1] If the autonomous character of the State is determined by religious demography, after such an autonomous unit is created, could we have a secular devolution within that? Please understand that Jinnah worked for the Muslim state of Pakistan and then wanted Pakistan to be secular, after creating it on a religious principle. Do you want to replicate this in Kashmir?


2] You propose a division of Jammu in a way that the entire process coincides with the demographic divide in the region. Is it prudent to have an administrative model which deepens the religious cleavage in the state?


3] Is it a coincidence that the administrative units into which you propose to divide the State coincide with the Musharraf Plan?


As Saifuddin Soz and others intervened to save the day, NN Vohra, then the Centre’s interlocutor for J&K, stood up and told Habibullah that the experiment with Hill Councils in Ladakh is working well [meaning – go ahead and divide Jammu]. It is widely believed that he was rewarded with the Governor’s post for this intervention. Habibullah made a hurried exit from this meeting.


A pertinent point about this last meeting of the Working Group was that BJP’s Arun Jaitly maintained stoic silence throughout the first day when Dr. Chrungoo took up cudgels with Habibullah. Jaitly took no stand on Habibullah’s disgraceful presentation (perhaps because it coincided with the Track II diplomacy of the Vajpayee era) and failed to support Panun Kashmir. Nor did he challenge NN Vohra for supinely supporting the communal division of Jammu. He never attended on the second day (typical of the manner in which Indian parliamentarians take their duties).


It is understood that Jaitly submitted a note to the Working Group later. Interestingly, when Justice Saghir Ahmed suddenly submitted his report, Jaitly could not locate the paper he had submitted. He rang up the gentleman who had prepared the concept note on which it was based – who had since left the BJP in disgust at its attitude towards problems of the State – and asked him if he had a copy by any chance!


Jhelum formula the solution


The question now remains, is there a Hindu counter-proposal to the Dixon-Musharraf-Habibullah-Chenab solution? Is there any way Hindus can undermine the repugnant Article 370?


What is pertinent here is the Hindu desire for full integration with India coupled with the free flow of the Indian constitution, geographical contiguity with Hindu-Buddhist regions and the symbols of Hindu civilisation, and the preservation and protection of the critical symbols of the Himalayan civilisational frontier.


This can be achieved by keeping the Jhelum as an unofficial dividing line in Kashmir. The north and east of the Jhelum can be given to Kashmiri Hindus as a Union Territory (the Panun Kashmir homeland), wherein the Indian constitution prevails, Article 370 is negated, and full emotional integration with India can take place.


This has the merit of having geographical contiguity with Buddhist Ladakh, thus reinforcing and protecting the cultural identity of that sparsely population region and sharing viable land access and a foothold with Hindu civilisational symbols. This homeland is less than 5% of the Valley, and roughly corresponds to the Hindu demography of Kashmir (a heart-breaking reality). As Ladakh has more land than Buddhist population, it will be strengthened with Hindu contiguity.


It has the additional merit of geographical contiguity with Jammu province.


Further, all important water resources will remain on the Hindu side of the divide.


More critically, the most important symbols of the Himalayas on this side of the civilisational frontier, namely the Pir Panjal and Zoji La Pass, will remain in Hindu hands.


Thus, with the critical Himalayan geography and ecological systems intact, there is no compromise on any of the civilisational symbols of the land founded by Rishi Kashyap, progenitor of the gods and sages.


The author is Editor, www.vijayvaani.com

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