No space for Jinnahs of Kashmir in India, Mr Prime Minister
by Hari Om on 14 Aug 2010 6 Comments

The people of Jammu province, who constitute nearly half of the population of the State and occupy an area almost twice that of Kashmir, are up in arms. What has put the people of Jammu and other pro-India constituencies in the State on the virtual warpath is the Prime Minister’s statement in New Delhi on August 10, to the effect that his government is not averse to the idea of the State getting Autonomy.


This Autonomy proposal has stung the nationalist constituency. It is seething with anger and has started preparing for a full-scale campaign against the Prime Minister and his rag-tag and questionable UPA government. The State’s nationalist constituency in general and Jammu province in particular has come to believe that the Prime Minister, like Kashmiri separatists and communalists, does not consider India as a nation state, and that he, like the “secular fundamentalists, takes India to mean a congregation of several nationalities, with each nationality having the right to secede.


Dr Manmohan Singh’s mind-boggling and unsettling statement has sprung a big surprise on the nationalist constituency in the state and Jammu province in particular, and has dumbfounded and alarmed every one in Jammu. It has also infuriated them to the extent that the premier organization of the student community, Jammu Joint Students Federation (JJSF), has demanded immediate separation of Jammu province from the separatist, communal and regressive Kashmiri Muslim leadership. It has unequivocally asserted: “We reject outright the Prime Minister’s autonomy proposal; we will not accept anything short of statehood for Jammu province within India and the Indian Constitution.” This student body has coupled its demand with an unambiguous warning that any move on the Prime Minister’s part to link the fate of Jammu with Kashmir shall be countered and defeated with full force.


The Bar Association Jammu (BAJ), which is held in high esteem by everyone in Jammu, has also upped the ante and declared that the Prime Minister’s autonomy proposal is utterly unacceptable to the people of the province. It suspended work for a day on Friday to register its opposition to the autonomy proposal. The upshot of its argument is that Dr Singh’s proposal, if implemented at the behest of the Kashmiri leadership, shall only “promote communal tension in the state and encourage anti-national elements and separatists.”


Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) international spokesperson Surinder Jain, who visited Jammu on Thursday, denounced the Prime Minister’s remarks on autonomy. He opposed the autonomy proposal tooth and nail and demanded “tough action against anti-national elements in Jammu & Kashmir.” Dr Jain opined, very rightly, that autonomy is synonymous with independence and secession from India. He said: “Those who talk of Pakistan in Kashmir should keep in mind that the people who supported Pakistan in 1947 were thrown out of this nation at that time and that if any one in Kashmir still talks of Pakistan, he should be thrown out of this country.”


Dr Jain went further and accused the Prime Minister of not realizing the “pain and agony of the people of Jammu, Ladakh and displaced (Kashmiri) Pandits who are in exile for the last 20 years” and pandering to the regressive and separatist urges of the Kashmiri fanatics and separatists. Jain is absolutely right. Grant of autonomy means negation of the Indian constitution as well as negation of the idea of India. The kind of autonomy the National Conference is demanding is just a step short of complete independence.


The Prime Minister’s autonomy proposal has infuriated everyone in Jammu to the extent that even the parent body of the VHP, Rashtriya Swayamsevek Sangh (RSS), had to made common cause with the nationalist constituency in the state. Its Prantiya Sanghchalak, Brig (retd) Suchet Singh, told media persons on Thursday that “the Government will have to face the wrath of Jammu, Ladakh and nationalists in Kashmir in the event of the Prime Minister conceding the demand for autonomy.”


Suchet Singh asked the Union Government to declare Kashmir Valley a disturbed area so that the Army takes charge of the situation. He said “the time has come for the abrogation of Article 370;” and that the “RSS is of the firm view that the violence must end and the state and central governments, instead of succumbing to the pressure of separatists, should take quick and stern action against separatists and anti-national elements.”


Jammu State Morcha (JSM) and the Jammu Province People’s Forum (JPPF), a conglomerate of over a dozen socio-political organizations, have protested against the Prime Minister’s autonomy proposal and warned the Union Government that it will have to face serious consequences in case it insists on the pro-separatist autonomy proposal. All the displaced-Kashmiri Hindu organizations, without any exception, have, like other nationalist formations, repudiated outright the autonomy proposal. Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) opposed the autonomy proposal and demanded the State’s reorganisation during the so-called all-party meeting at the Prime Minister’s official residence, 7 Race Course Road, on August 10.


The refrain of all those who have been stung bitterly by the autonomy proposal is that the people of Jammu province would be left with no option but to create in Jammu province the 2008-like situation – a situation that led to the collapse of the Congress-led government in the state, virtual economic blockade of Kashmir, and retransfer of the Baltal land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). They have declared that they mean what they say and that it would be only prudent for the Prime Minister to abandon his autonomy proposal and integrate the state fully into India.


Dr Singh just can’t afford to ignore the nationalist constituency to keep the communalists and separatists in Kashmir in good humour. To ignore them would be to provoke the people of Jammu province and the Prime Minister knows well that once the people of Jammu province get provoked, no one can control them. The people of Jammu province have been fighting relentlessly since 1947 for what they hold very dear, and what they hold very dear is the Indian nation, the Indian state and Indian sovereignty. The Prime Minister would commit a grave blunder in case he decides to give effect to what he said on August 10.


It is time Dr Singh rose to the occasion and took stern action against those who have been bleeding and fleecing India, propagating their regressive, intolerant and primitive ideology with the help of certain elements in the political establishment, and seeking separation from India on religious grounds. He should immediately confront the Jinnahs of Kashmir with a choice between India and migration to Pakistan.


India suffered at the hand of Jinnah in 1947 and it cannot allow the Jinnahs of Kashmir to effect another partition. Enough is enough. We are not a banana republic. We are a nation state and those whose idea of India is different need to quit India at once. They should go to Pakistan. The doors are open and it is already a porous border...


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

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