Kashmiri leadership a problem for Kashmiris outside Kashmir
by Rustam on 16 Jan 2010 7 Comments

According to a report in a section of the print media in Jammu, “Kashmiri traders were given marching orders at the Kumbh Mela that started at Prayag, Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh” on January 14, as they were considered a “security threat”.


What actually transpired was that the Director of Exhibitions, Dinesh Chand Pasi, asked Kashmiri traders who had set up their stalls to “pack off”. This led to arguments and counter-arguments between the Director and the Kashmiri traders selling shawls, artifacts and clothes, etc. The situation turned so ugly that the Director, according to a report, “broke into the stalls and threw away their stuff;” some Kashmiri traders were allegedly “abused and beaten” by the local traders.


Whatever be the true cause behind the peremptory marching orders, one thing is crystal clear: Kashmiri Muslims are an unwanted lot outside Kashmir and the reasons are not difficult to fathom. One of the most notable reasons is that Kashmiri Muslims are considered a threat to national security; they are mentally bracketed with those involved in anti-national, subversive and terrorist activities. This is not a positive development by any yardstick.


Hence the question arises: what has created such a hostile environment for the common Kashmiri Muslims who have been regularly visiting different parts of the country to sell their world famous products? Who is responsible for the emergence of such a situation outside the Kashmir Valley? The answers are not far to seek.


The prosperous and well-entrenched Kashmiri leaders, without any exception, including innumerable separatists, who lead a luxurious and secure life both in the state and elsewhere in the country; who have set up big business houses in different parts of the country; who have palatial houses in Delhi and other big towns; who send their wards outside Kashmir so that they could be educated and trained in prestigious educational and professional institutions; whose sons and daughters hold important positions in the government and semi-government establishments outside the state, as also in multi-national companies; whose highly educated sons and daughters are working in the big media houses and cinema industry; and so on, are squarely responsible. They are responsible for the unfortunate incident at Prayag, and they are responsible for the kind of treatment common Kashmiri Muslims are being meted out in other parts of India at regular intervals.


How are the Kashmiri leaders responsible for what happened at Prayag and what has been happening elsewhere in the country, including Delhi? They are responsible because

-        they have been demanding autonomy or semi-independence and asking New Delhi to take on board and settle the Kashmir issue as per the dictates of Islamabad and Kashmiri leadership

-        they have been demanding self-rule, or a step short of independence, or a mechanism that treats aggressor Pakistan equally with aggressed upon India in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir

-        they are denouncing the Indian Army and other institutions located in Kashmir and demanding their withdrawal from the state

-        they consistently oppose the presence of non-state subjects in the Kashmir Valley and have already rid the Valley of all non-Muslims

-        they have been opposing tooth and nail the idea of (Hindu) refugees from West Pakistan obtaining all citizenship rights

-        they are refusing to include the terms of “secularism” and “socialism” in the preamble of the State Constitution

-        they are playing a double role – taking part in the country’s process of legislation as law-makers (in Parliament) and at the same time opposing the extension of the same legislations (to which they are a party) to the state

-        they are propagating that “Jammu & Kashmir State is a disputed area” and that “the accession of the state to India is conditional”

-        they have been mal-treating the minorities in the state and pursuing a policy of discrimination with Jammu and Ladakh regions, and

-        they have been preaching views which are fundamentally intolerant and non-inclusive.


These and several other similar causes, including their senseless opposition to the May 26, 2008 order under which a small piece of land at Baltal was diverted to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board on a temporary basis during the pilgrimage period, are responsible for the creation of a hostile environment for Kashmiri Muslims outside the Kashmir Valley.


However, to catalogue some of these reasons here about the responsibility of Kashmiri leadership for what happened at Prayag is not to suggest that Pakistan is innocent. Pakistan, like the Kashmiri leadership, is equally responsible for the woes of common Kashmiri Muslims. 


If the Kashmiri leadership really wishes common Kashmiri Muslims to lead a dignified life and carry on their trading and other social activities elsewhere in the country in a peaceful environment, unhindered, it has to reform itself.


It has to say good bye to Islamabad, which is not a well-wisher of Kashmir. The Kashmiri leaders have to prove by deeds and words that they are for India and stands for national unity and integrity; that they will evolve and pursue policies which are holistic, all-embracing, state-centric and people-centric, and not Kashmir and a particular community-centric. There is no other way.


To continue to tread the path Kashmiri leaders have been treading since 1947 would be only to endanger the lives of common Kashmiri Muslims. How can they be a party to the process of legislation at the Centre and opponents of the same legislation at the same time? It is not the 1946 Cabinet Mission Plan under which they are operating. They are participating in the process of legislation post-1947.


The Indian nation is, it appears, and for right reasons, not prepared to tolerate the non-sense any longer.              


The author resides in Jammu

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