J&K: Chidambaram playing with dangerous tools
by Hari Om on 08 Aug 2010 5 Comments

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s statement in the Rajya Sabha on Aug. 6 is nothing but a blend of contradictions and formulations which have the potential of unsettling the settled in Kashmir, and negating the supreme sacrifices our Army to preserve Indian sovereignty in Jammu & Kashmir all these 63 years of the State’s accession to India.


Chidambaram acknowledged that Pakistan has changed its strategy on fomenting trouble in the Valley and is “now relying on civilian unrest for dividends”. Yet instead of assuring the Rajya Sabha that New Delhi too would change its strategy in the changed circumstances to controvert Pakistan’s pernicious influence and defeat its evil designs on Kashmir, he raised the issue of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the presence of security personnel in the State in general, and Kashmir province in particular. He told the Council of Elders that the Union Government is “keen on fulfilling its promises, including on the AFSPA and reduction of security personnel in the state,” and “It will be my endeavour to find a way how can we deliver on promises.”


True, the Union Home Minister did circumscribe this willingness with a caveat that all “depends on the situation there.” Nevertheless, his statements will demoralise the Army and paramilitary forces which have been fighting magnificently in Kashmir in an extremely hostile environment. There can be no doubt that his statement on AFSPA and security personnel will paralyze action and embolden the Pak-inspired Kashmiri separatists and ISI saboteurs to heighten their anti-India activities. The Union Home Minister’s speech was a sign of weakness, and must have left the Armed forces chaffing. He was apologetic; is this the way to take on Pakistan, defend the unity and integrity of India, and deal with regressive, intolerant and dreaded forces which are playing havoc with symbols of State authority and harassing and oppressing hapless non-Muslim minorities in Kashmir Valley? 


Nor was Chidambaram content with this. He went further and declared that New Delhi would resume dialogue and urged the separatists, including Pakistan protagonist and well-known fanatic Syed Ali Shah Geelani, to join the dialogue process. His Rajya Sabha reflections on Geelani, who has been pouring venom on India and everything Indian and flirting with terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Toiba, could have led the Indian nation to believe that the Tehrik-e-Hurriyat chief is the sole spokesperson of Kashmir or the chief determinant. (It is a different matter that Geelani rejected out-of-hand Chidambaram’s highly questionable offer, saying he would not accept anything short of what he has been striving to achieve for decades – merger with the theocratic, feudalistic and dictatorial Pakistan.)


Perhaps Chidambaram was inspired/influenced by the decision of the Omar Abdullah-led coalition government to abdicate authority in favour of Geelani, as also by PDP president and State Leader of the Opposition Mehbooba Mufti’s suggestion that the state government should use the good offices of Geelani to douse the fire in Kashmir. It bears recalling that only the other day one of the Chief Minister’s political advisors met Geelani and asked him if he wanted to destabilize the state government, and told him he was free to carry on his anti-India activities subject to the condition that these did not make the position of the state government “awkward.”


Geelani reputedly told the advisor: “My intention is not to destabilize any state government, my goal is political redemption.” After this meeting Geelani asked the unruly mobs to eschew violence, not attack and destroy public property, and come on the roads to hold massive anti-India and pro-Pakistan demonstrations so that he and others of his ilk could fulfill their most cherished dream – dismemberment of India and merger with Pakistan.


Was this not to damage the national cause, demoralise the Army and paramilitary forces and embolden Pakistan and its dreaded agents in Kashmir? Yet Chidambaram, to the chagrin of the non-Muslim minorities who constitute nearly half the state’s population and occupy more than 88 percent of its land area, reiterated that Jammu & Kashmir had acceded to India in “unique circumstances”; the State has a “unique problem” and requires a “unique solution.” Hence “We have to put our heads together to find a solution to the unique problem.”


Chidambaram added: “It was his intention to do everything possible to resume the quiet dialogue which he undertook with the moderate Hurriyat leaders before it got interrupted on December 4, 2009 after assassination bid on one of them”. He claimed the “quiet dialogue” had contributed largely to “peace” in Kashmir before the current spell of unrest; that “I have impressed upon all interlocutors that I am wiling to resume the quiet dialogue”; that “we have to find courage that allowed to hold dialogue”; and that “we will pick up threads (and) reactivate the political process so that a solution can be found…”


Chidambaram is a student of Law. Doesn’t he know that Jammu & Kashmir acceded to the Indian Dominion as per the constitutional law on the subject? Under the Indian Independence Act of 1947, under which Pakistan came into being as an independent and sovereign country, it was the rulers, including the ruler of Jammu & Kashmir, of the 560-odd princely states who alone had the power to decide the political future of their respective states. The ruler of Jammu & Kashmir, like other princes, exercised that authority and linked the political fate of his State with India on October 26, 1947.


The Independence Act nowhere said that the Princely States had to join either the Indian Dominion or the Pakistan Dominion on or before August 15, 1947. Moreover, Jammu & Kashmir was not the only State that decided its accession after August 15, 1947, viz., Jodhpur, Baroda and Bahawalpur.


What did Chidambaram mean by “unique circumstances”? Did he mean the Pakistani aggression on Jammu & Kashmir or did he mean the rape, murder and mayhem committed by the Pakistani regulars and irregulars in the State? If he meant the Pakistani aggression and the rape, murder and mayhem, what difference does all this make as far as the political status of Indian Jammu & Kashmir is concerned? It should not make any difference. Nor should all this inspire or motivate Chidambaram to reopen the issue settled 63 years ago by the Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir and the Government of India.


It appears that today’s Congress leadership and the likes of Chidambaram have completely forgotten Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri and PV Narasimha Rao, who did all they could to integrate Jammu & Kashmir State into India, leave aside some acts of omission and commission on the part of Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Had Chidambaram taken into consideration the bold interventions of Nehru and Indira Gandhi in the State, or had he found time to study the Kashmir policy of Narasimha Rao, he would not have made such loose and controversial remarks. It seems our Home Minister in whom the concerned Indians have pinned their faith is blissfully ignorant about the history of the integration of the Indian States. It is surely paradoxical that our internal security is in the hands of a person who does not know the ABC of the Kashmir question, and appears to be yielding step-by-step. How else can one describe his insistence on “unique solution” to the “Kashmir problem”?


Yet, at one level, it is true that Kashmir has a “unique problem.” But it is the problem of an extreme form of communalism. There are leaders in Kashmir who believe in the pernicious two/three nation theory. It’s not just the reactionaries and backward-looking Geelanis or Mirwaizs or Yasin Maliks or Salahuddins who are ardent believers in the concept of two/three-nation. All so-called mainstream Kashmiri political leaders, including the Abdullahs, Muftis, Sozs and Tarigamis, to mention only a few, belong to the same medieval school of thought. They hate and abhor any regime that has anything to do with India and things Indian. They, like the Geelanis, Mirwaizs and Maliks, want a regime that is out-and-out theocratic; that ruthlessly enforces primitive laws; and has the extraordinary and unbridled power to humiliate, persecute and enslave the non-Muslim minorities.


It was hoped that the Union Home Minister would look all these facts in the face and stop playing with dangerous tools. Sadly, he continues to toy with dangerous ideas, overlooking the hard realities in the State. He cannot go on like this. Nor can he think in terms of throwing in the lot of non-Muslim minorities with the Geelanis. The non-Muslim minorities in the state are an important part of the problem that needs to be addressed politically.


The first step is trifurcation of the state into Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The second step is bifurcation of Kashmir so that the internally-displaced Kashmiri Hindus are able to return to their land of Vitasta and manage their own affairs themselves under the Indian Constitution. The third step is to neutralize the baneful influence of the Kashmiri leaders of all hues.


Finally, this is the most appropriate time to expose and take on Islamabad. In other words, it’s time to abandon the Chidambaram line and pursue a policy that not only promotes our geo-political interests in the region, including in Afghanistan, but also silences the likes of Geelani and defeats their evil designs resolutely and comprehensively.


The author is Chair Professor, Gulab Singh Chair, Jammu University, Jammu

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