Azadi for J&K?
by Sandhya Jain on 29 Sep 2009 14 Comments

It is neither accident nor coincidence that the now America-friendly Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi called for an ‘independent state’ of Kashmir at the UN General Assembly on 23 September 2009, even as news reports hint at New Delhi’s plans to cede more autonomy, vindicating Hindu fears about disproportionate concessions to separatists.

The larger picture is Washington’s desire for tangible gains in Afghanistan. America feels Islamabad’s cooperation could turn the tide in history’s ‘graveyard of empires;’ but this is unlikely until Pakistan makes material gains in India’s northern state. President Barack Obama, who mooted this formula during his presidential campaign last year, suddenly hyped the near-dead Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty at the UN as pressure tactics towards India.

He also, at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting in New York, urged “sustained and expanded” support for Pakistan, and got the Senate to triple non-military aid to about US$ 1.5 billion per annum till 2014. The House of Representatives is expected to follow suit. As it is no secret how Islamabad has consistently used aid, it is time New Delhi stopped hallucinating about the special relationship with America. 

President Gaddafi promoted the idea of an independent ‘Baathist state’ between India and Pakistan. Does this mean a minority dictatorship, like Sunni Saddam Hussein over Shia-majority Iraq? He was allowed to wax eloquent for 100 minutes, as opposed to an allotted 15 minutes; this reinforces my view that UN is a colonial tool of modern imperialist powers, though he muttered some rhetoric against America and the Security Council.

An ‘independent’ Kashmir is, of course, baloney. It is a euphemism for supinely handing over Jammu & Kashmir to Pakistan, because all it involves is India moving its armed forces out of the state, and allowing Pakistani forces to move in. There are grave apprehensions among Kashmiri Hindus that unwarranted concessions are afoot.

Hindu leaders warn that the Government of India is planning to reduce Army presence along 35 sensitive routes in the Valley, particularly the highly-permeable Rajouri-Poonch sector where annually there are nearly hundred infiltration bids. They question the rationale for reducing Army presence in a sector with maximum infiltration bids.

More pertinently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself said on 15 August 2009, and also at the Chief Ministers meeting, that the situation in J&K is deteriorating. Yet simultaneously there was talk in the Valley about the return of Hindus, which is bizarre as the situation is hardly conducive to such an event. In an interesting and doubtless concerted development, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq invited the Government of India for talks and assured it that he would not embarrass New Delhi during his visit to Islamic countries.

Kashmiri Hindus say attempts are being made to persuade a handful of Hindu families to return to the Valley, to provide a symbolic cover for the proposed concessions to the separatists. It will then be claimed that the separatists are no longer ‘communal’, and that the concessions are not being given on the basis of two-nation theory, but on ‘secular’ grounds.

Anguished Hindus say that at a time when Pakistan is visibly wilting, whispers abound in the Valley that the Prime Minister feels that ‘no stand off with Pakistan is possible.’ All kinds of rumours are being floated, and no source attributed. But now, a major national daily has reported that far from taking steps to scrap the deleterious Article 370 which has encouraged separatism, the Centre is planning to give J&K even more powers, most notably, taking the State out of the purview of Article 356 which gives New Delhi the power to dismiss the State Government.

Such a suicidal step will effectively ‘liberate’ the state from Indian control. Should the J&K Assembly vote for independence or joining Pakistan outright, New Delhi will be powerless to do anything. If the Army is withdrawn, secession would be even easier. It is pertinent that in the recent session of the J&K legislature, both PDP and National Conference legislators mooted resolutions demanding that Kashmir must become independent or semi-independent. Way back in 2000 also, the NC-led government had made the Assembly adopt a resolution seeking greater autonomy, virtually bordering on sovereignty, for the state.

PDP legislators also demanded the release of those booked under charges of sedition; withdrawal of all anti-terror laws, including the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA); POTA and Public Safety Act (PSA); self-rule, India-Pakistan joint control over J&K; abrogation of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty; and withdrawal of all Central laws and Central institutions from the state. The Chief Minister announced that while the PDP had enforced the AFSPA, the National Conference would ensure its withdrawal from the State!

In such a politically volatile climate, it is inexplicable why the Centre is keen to implement some version or other of the Chenab formula of former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. This involves identification and segregation of areas of Kashmir on communal lines; demilitarization of the State; cross-border traffic across the Line of Control; and making the Line of Control irrelevant.

In the corridors of power, Kashmiri Hindus say, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah determines matters pertaining to J&K, and he has managed to sideline the National Security Advisor. He has been assiduously promoting the division of the State on demographic lines, proposing five regions called assemblies or hill councils – the Chenab formula again.

At the recent Working Group on Centre State Relations on Jammu & Kashmir, Habibullah proposed having mountain and plains area hill councils; a de facto division of Jammu into Muslim and Hindu areas. In April 2005, he had suggested Regional Assemblies for the State on communal lines. Given this backdrop, it may be advisable for the Centre to reconsider a reported decision to appoint him as Governor of Assam, a sensitive state under demographic invasion from Bangladesh.

The UPA must immediately take the nation into confidence about its intentions in J&K. It must know that any concessions to separatists in the wake of Pakistan’s 29 August move to quietly integrate the Northern Areas into the Islamic Republic will be perceived by the international community as a willingness to relinquish the State. If that is indeed the case, the people of India have a right to know why, and on whose behalf, such surrender is being envisaged.


The author is Editor,  

User Comments Post a Comment
Comments are free. However, comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate material will be removed from the site. Readers may report abuse at
Post a Comment

Back to Top