Congress and Kashmiri obduracy
by Hari Om on 08 Feb 2012 15 Comments

J&K Kashmiri leadership has been demanding revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and other laws which empower the Army and security forces to tackle the menace of secessionism in Kashmir and other parts of state infested with separatists and terrorists, saying such a step is needed to provide “breathing space” to the people of the Valley. In fact, the Kashmiri leadership has unleashed a vilification campaign against the Army and paramilitary forces and has been accusing them of violating the “human rights” of the people of Kashmir. So much so, it has held the Army and security forces responsible for the “alienation” of Kashmiri Muslims in one sense. Their whole approach is communal.


The attitude of the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister to this controversial demand is odd. They do not believe the problem in Kashmir is communal. They also do not believe that Pakistan is poking its dirty nose in Jammu and Kashmir in order to create conditions which could help Islamabad “finish the unfinished agenda of partition”. (Pakistan believes the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir was part of the partition plan, which was not the case. It was British India alone which was to be bifurcated into India and Pakistan.) left to them, the Prime Minister and Home Minister would agree and enable the Kashmiri leadership to do whatever it wants to promote its pernicious agenda.


Indeed, left to them, they would even render the borders between India and Pakistan and the Line of Control between this and the other part of Jammu and Kashmir porous and irrelevant (just a line on the map), and reopen the issue of the kingdom’s accession to India. The Prime Minister has openly spoken of a non-territorial solution to the so-called Kashmir problem; his suggestions are a clear indication that he would not mind endorsing the standpoints of Pakistan and the [Sunni] Kashmiri leadership as far as the political future of Jammu and Kashmir is concerned.


Dr Manmohan Singh indicated his intention to go in for a non-territorial settlement with Pakistan in March 2009 when the general elections were round the corner in India. His whole foreign policy is based on the misguided notion that Pakistan and the Kashmiri leadership have a valid point when they say that the political future of Indian Jammu and Kashmir is yet to be determined and that they are parties to the “Kashmir dispute”.


As for the Union Home Minister, he has been airing views right from the day he got this very crucial portfolio, which leave none in doubt that he shares most of the views of the Kashmiri leadership. In October 2009, he dumb-founded the nation saying, “Kashmir has a unique history and unique geography; Kashmir is a unique problem that needs a unique solution”.


Chidambaram made these statements in Kashmir itself, thus thrilling the Kashmiri Muslim leadership. Not content with that, the Home Minister went a step further and told media persons in New Delhi a couple of months later that, “solutions which are applicable to other parts of India cannot be replicated in Kashmir because Kashmir is a different case”.


Then, the memory of what he said on 9 Oct 2010 while defending Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is too raw to be forgotten. Omar Abdullah had said on the floor of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly in the presence of Congress ministers, including the Deputy Chief Minister, that, “Jammu and Kashmir had only acceded and not merged with India”. This statement of Omar Abdullah, who held a constitutional position, should have evoked a very strong reaction from the Congress-dominated UPA Government, but it was not to be. Instead, the Home Minister made common cause with Omar Abdullah and defended his statement saying the latter “committed no wrong”. (A day before, our Foreign Minister had made a similar statement and equated Jammu and Kashmir with the princely state of Mysore.)


Similarly, the memory of what Chidambaram Minister said in November 2011 in the wake of the controversy generated by Omar Abdullah’s 21 Oct unilateral statement that he would lift AFSPA from certain areas of the state, still lingers in our minds. The Home Minister defended Omar Abdullah, saying he committed no wrong and that he had simply sought to implement what lay embodied in the eight-point package approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in September 2010.


But what was that eight-point package all about? It asked the State Government to release all those booked under the Public safety Act (PSA) and stone-throwers and arsonists who caused immense damage to private and public property; burned down over 20 police stations and police posts; burned down and damaged over 20 houses belonging to policemen; injured over 4,000 policemen and paramilitary force personnel; burned down over 70 private and public buildings; including government offices; burned down over 20 private and public vehicles and so on in a short span of about 100 days between June and September.


The package asked the State Government to convene a meeting of the Unified Headquarters (UHQ) to review the deployment of security forces in the Kashmir Valley, as also to review matters relating to the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA). The package asked the State Government to give financial relief to the families of those killed during the clashes with the police and paramilitary forces -- all arsonists, rioters and stone-throwers, besides separatists and agents of the separatists.


Besides, the package provided for the appointment of interlocutors charged with the task of looking into the circumstances leading to the rise of stone-throwers in Kashmir and suggesting measures that could end unrest in the Valley. The package, in addition, provided for the appointment of two Special Task Forces, one each for Jammu and Ladakh, to look into infrastructure-related issues and suggest suitable measures to remove disparities, if any, between Kashmir and the state’s two other regions in this particular respect.


In other words, the Union Government, instead of bringing the arsonists, rioters, stone-pelters and separatists to justice and producing a moral effect, treated them with kid-gloves. It simply indicated its unwillingness to discharge its obligations towards the constitution and the nation. The attitude of New Delhi towards the rebels in Kashmir has not changed a bit even after September 2010.


Besides providing fool proof security cover to rebels like Syed Ali Shah Geelani (Tehrik-e-Hurriyat), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (All-Party Hurriyat Conference), Yasin Malik (Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front), Shabbir Ahmad Shah (Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party) and Sajjad Lone (People’s Conference), the Centre continues to accord very special treatment to them. It would not be an exaggeration to say that New Delhi has been sustaining the rebels and their violent struggle against India.


Compare the attitude of Islamabad towards its rebels with the attitude of New Delhi towards the rebels in Kashmir. Islamabad, unlike New Delhi, not only takes on the rebels but also takes no time in liquidating them. It doesn’t mind taking recourse to even aerial bombardment to eradicate rebels. A reference to just one instance in this regard would put things in perspective.


On 1 Feb 2012, Pakistani fighter jets bombed militant hideouts in tribal areas near the Afghanistan border “capping two days of the fiercest fighting in weeks triggered by attacks by the Pakistani Taliban”. The bombardment left 78 Taliban, all members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and 10 Pakistani soldiers, dead, and scores injured. The 1 Feb air strike was in response to an earlier Taliban attack on a security post that had killed 10 Pakistani soldiers and wounded 32 others.


Pakistani jets bombed two militant positions in the Jogi area of the Kurram tribal region, killing 12 TTP militants and six Uzbeks. The jets then hit more militant positions in the nearby Mamozai area in the Orakzi tribal region, killing 20 militants and two commanders. Local TTP commanders Mullah Toofan and Maulvi Moin-ud-Din’s hideouts were targeted and destroyed. The attack led to the killing of 20 militants, including Maulvi Moin-ud-Din, it has been claimed.


This is the difference between the attitude of New Delhi and Islamabad towards rebels. Will New Delhi review its policy towards the rebels responsible for the death and destruction in the Valley and other parts of the state, and tell Islamabad and the Kashmiri rebels to behave, failing which stringent action would be taken against them? It is extremely unlikely that New Delhi (read the rabidly communal Congress party) would review its policy because it is controlled by those interested more in votebank politics than the unity and territorial integrity of India. They do not really represent Indian interests. The situation is indeed alarming.


The author is former Chair Professor, Maharaja Gulab Singh Chair, University of Jammu, Jammu, & former member Indian Council of Historical Research 

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