Kashmir seminar: Soz sang Abdullah, Mufti song
by Hari Om on 12 Nov 2009 5 Comments

The Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), a principally ICSSR-funded institute for the study of social sciences and humanities, organized a day long seminar on Kashmir at the capital’s prestigious Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, Teen Murti Bhavan, on November 7. It was convened by CSDS faculty member and feminist Madhu Kishwar, and the famous lawyer Ram Jethamalani, a well-known sympathizer of Kashmiri separatists and protagonists of greater autonomy and self-rule.


(Ram Jethamalani and his close associate and professional colleague Ashok Bhan (Congress) have been, it needs be underlined, hobnobbing with Kashmiri secessionists in order to find a solution to the Kashmir issue. Madhu Kishwar, whose political credentials are unknown but is being projected by unknown sources in the government, has been metamorphosing into a Kashmir expert (sic) in recent times. She opposed the idea of installing a Congress-led government in Jammu & Kashmir in November 2005, and wanted the Congress to allow Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to occupy the chief minister’s chair for a full term of six years. She was of the view that Mufti could carry forward the “peace process with Pakistan” (whatever that means) and wrote an article projecting the same in the Indian Express. She and a bunch of Jawaharlal Nehru University professors lobbied for Mufti and his People’s Democratic Party, indicating a soft corner for Kashmiri separatists.)    


The venue of the conference, Teen Murti Bhavan, indicates that it was given the go-ahead by invisible powers in New Delhi, with the objective of organizing ‘pressure’ on New Delhi so that the Kashmiri secessionists could achieve their sinister goals. It was attended mostly by those who either want independence for Jammu & Kashmir, or greater autonomy and self-rule.


These included Mohammad Shafi Uri (National Conference), Mehbooba Mufti and Muzaffar Hussain Beig (People’s Democratic Party), Yasin Malik (JKLF), Abdul Gani Bhat (Hurriyat Conference) and Saif-ud-Din Soz and Manishankar Aiyer (Congress). Others invited included Balbir Punj (BJP) and a couple of Kashmiri Hindus (for parity), but their presence was no more than symbolic because it was basically a separatist-dominated show.


The basic objective of the organizers of conference was to forge unity among the Kashmiri separatists and rope in a couple of weak BJP leaders and others of their ilk so that they could work out a joint anti-India agenda so that the Union Government cannot sabotage their efforts by saying that Kashmiri separatists are a divided lot. (Keen political observers insist the conference was a covert official initiative.)  


It is, however, a different story that while the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party delegates indicated that their parties were more than willing to work with the Hurriyat Conference, Yasin Malik punctured their balloon by saying he was not prepared to accept anything short of independence from India.


This article is not to convey an impression that the so-called mainstream delegates and separatists were not united as far as their hatred for India and the Indian Constitution is concerned. They are all one in this respect. In fact, both the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party denounced everything Indian in their typical style.


What the so-called mainstream delegates and the separatists said in the seminar was not altogether unexpected. That they would pour venom on India and suggest the state’s segregation from India was a foregone conclusion.


It is no wonder that Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who has been virtually snubbed by the likes of Democratic Freedom Party chief Shabir Ahmad Shah for his eagerness to accept the Union Government’s invitation for talks, and whose line of action has been totally disapproved of by Yasin Malik and the head of the breakaway faction of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, took no time in directing the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party to renounce power and join his outfit.


All this should not surprise anyone. Nor should the conduct of JKPCC chief and former Union Minister Saif-ud-Din Soz surprise anyone. After all Soz, who was the National Conference’s ideologue right till 1999 and organized seminars on autonomy in Delhi and edited a book on the same subject, joined the Congress only recently. His ideas about Kashmir remain unchanged.


Soz said: “The Congress will work as facilitator between New Delhi and Srinagar to settle the issue of Kashmir… Hurriyat Conference (should) come to brass-tacks and avail the opportunity to discuss issues with the Central Government… People’s Democratic Party and National Conference (should) dovetail their autonomy and self-rule documents”. In other words, Soz only sang the song of Farooq Abdullah and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and left no one in any doubt that he is one with them and the Kashmiri separatists, and that he also stands for a solution that is practically outside the constitutional and political framework of India.


Soz, however, Soz sprang a surprise when he told delegates that “no power, not even the Indian Parliament and President of India, can abrogate Article 370” and asserted that “only authority that could have abrogated it was the Constituent Assembly, which stands dissolved.”


This stand on Article 370 was not just provocative, but exposed his hollowness and lack of knowledge. The remark that “only authority that could have abrogated Article 370 was the Constituent Assembly, which stands dissolved”, was childish. He should know that the job of any constituent assembly is only to frame the constitution. Once it does that and a government is in place as per constitutional stipulations, it is the government and its legislative wing which enjoy absolute power to amend the so-adopted constitution, depending on the needs of the time and the requirements of the people. He should have also known that the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution he talked about has been amended umpteen times during the National Conference rule, as also during the Congress-People’s Democratic Party rule.


Soz made a mockery of himself by adversely commenting on the amending powers of the Union Government and the State Government. He was responding to the nationalist demand by the BJP MP Balbir Punj and Kashmiri Hindu delegates that Article 370 should be abrogated and the state brought on par with other states of the Union.


Anyway, the moral of the story is that Soz has now openly jumped on to the separatists’ bandwagon, of course, with the consent of the Congress high command. Yet another moral of the story is that the Kashmiri separatists are as divided as they were before. This division is not a lapse on their part. It is all deliberate. They know that they would become irrelevant the moment they forge unity amongst themselves. They know that unity means their destruction and inability to mint easy money, visit foreign countries and lead a luxurious life in 5 or 7 star hotels. They do not believe in the age-old proverb “United we stand, Divided we fail”. For them a new proverb is far more appropriate “Divided we gain, United we lose”.


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

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