Restoring peace in J&K: Pursuing de Gaulle line would be dangerous
by Hari Om on 25 Nov 2009 9 Comments

By 1959-60, it had become almost clear that Algeria would obtain independence from France. However, the question was with whom to negotiate the issue of transfer of power. The advisors to French President Charles de Gaulle were of the opinion that talks should be held with the Algerian moderates. They were of the view that it would not be advisable to negotiate the issue with the Algerian terrorists, who were using terror as a weapon to frighten the French establishment to achieve their goal.


De Gaulle, on the other hand, held an altogether different view. He rejected out-of-hand his advisors’ noble advice, and instead told them that “if you wish to forge a lasting peace in Algeria, negotiate with those who are firing on our soldiers; you never negotiate with those with no blood on their hands because they are irrelevant”. His advisors had no option but to fall in line. The result was talks with the Algerian terrorists and the resultant transfer of power to them.


That the advisors of De Gaulle were right when they expressed themselves against the idea of transferring power to the unruly elements and radical Islamists became immediately evident. The cult of terror which had entered Algeria continued unabated, with the silent majority in the country suffering from the depredations caused by the Islamic terrorists. The situation in Algeria is far from normal even today. The bulk of its population continues to suffer as before – before 1960s due to oppressive French rule and after 1960 because of the nature of the administration handed down to them by the Algerian extremists.


It may sound ridiculous, but it is a fact that there are persons in India who advocate the De Gaulle line in the 21st century, and very strongly urge the Union Government to start parleys with those in Kashmir who use the cult of terror as a weapon to frighten India and achieve their sinister goal – another communal partition of India. They masquerade as “peace-mongers”, “conflict-managers”, “trouble-shooters”, “democrats”, “secularists” and “human rights” activists. Their single-point agenda is to demonize the Indian State and the majority community and give legitimacy to the cult of the gun on the spurious plea that the Indian State is cruel and anti-minorities. It is hardly necessary to name them in this political essay, as they are well-known and always conspicuous by their presence in hate-and-break-India seminars.


What is perhaps more alarming is the presence of those in the Indian political establishment who are more than eager to initiate talks with the separatists and religious bigots; some of them are very influential. The Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister belong to this category of persons, who instead of isolating and punishing the undesirable elements, are giving subversives and anti-national forces a freehand to ride roughshod and vitiate the country’s political atmosphere, or to further disturb the already rather disturbed socio-religious and political equilibrium by propagating their perverted views.


Should the Union Government initiate discussions with Kashmiri separatists who are hand-in-glove with heavily-equipped terrorists and who enjoy Pakistani patronage? Should the Union Government go by what the Kashmiri separatists and extremists are demanding and withdraw everything Indian from Jammu & Kashmir? Has the Union Government ever taken note of the fact that it is the Kashmiri Muslims who have been ruling the roost since October 1947, and are at the same time striving to take Jammu & Kashmir out of the constitutional and political organization of India?


Has New Delhi ever sought to call the Kashmiri separatists’ bluff by calling a spade a spade and telling them that it is the people of Jammu and Ladakh and several other religious and ethnic minorities in the State, including Kashmiri Hindus, Sikhs, Gujjars and Bakerwal Muslims, Shiite Muslims and so on, who constitute the most neglected lot in the State? (The people of Jammu and Ladakh and the religious and ethnic minorities constitute more than 77 percent of the State’s population. They also constitute a stable and trustworthy pro-India constituency in Jammu & Kashmir.)


Has the Union Government ever tried to study the nature and composition of the ongoing separatist movement in Kashmir? Have the powers-that-be in New Delhi ever tried to study the area of influence of Kashmiri separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabbir Ahmad Shah, who are in the forefront? And have they ever tried to rid the State’s administrative apparatus and political establishment of those who have been consistently facilitating the separatists’ task?


These are some pertinent questions the answer to which is not in the affirmative. The answer to each one of these questions is a big NO. The result has been that the undesirable elements are in full command. They are calling the shots. Most of those who matter in the State’s political establishment, in the police department, in the administrative apparatus, and even in the crucial revenue department are giving overt and covert support to the anti-India and communal forces.


The separatists are touring the Kashmir Valley under officially-provided foolproof security cover, misusing mosques, organizing (safar-e-azadi) freedom marches and asking gullible Kashmiri Muslims to rise in revolt against India. The ardent believers in the concept of terror continue to bleed everyone who comes in their way, cause bomb blasts and kill and maim our soldiers, who are fighting magnificently, notwithstanding the fact that their hands are tightly tied by the political masters.


The hapless and patriotic people of Jammu and Ladakh and the totally marginalized religious and ethnic minorities continue to suffer at the hands of the Kashmiri ruling elite, continue to face onslaughts on their self-respect, and continue to evoke negative, nay hostile, response from the authorities in New Delhi, as also from all the mainstream parties operating from New Delhi. The Kashmiri Muslim leaders (read Sunnis) continue to hoodwink and blackmail New Delhi, loot and plunder the Indian exchequer and fleece everyone. And the Kashmiri Muslim leaders and their supporters and collaborators, including the followers of De Gaulle, continue to tarnish the Indian image both in and outside India and go scot-free.


What is the nature and composition of the ongoing secessionist movement in Kashmir? The nature of the movement is communal and the secessionist outfits, without exception, are composed of and controlled by the well-entrenched, articulate, highly rich and powerful Kashmiri-speaking Sunnis. The area of influence of separatist leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabbir Shah is rather limited. It is confined to a few pockets in the very small Valley. They remain in the limelight by enforcing shutdowns at gun-point, taking recourse to this methodology every now and then, with the biased media giving them extensive and exaggerated coverage, making mountains out of molehills and painting things in lurid colours.


The constituencies of these separatists are fundamentally parochial and they derive inspiration from medieval and exclusivist ideology. None of them speaks the truth. In fact, each one distorts facts to mislead everyone and none ever dares to sit across the table to discuss things concerning Kashmir. Each lives on the blood and sweat of ordinary Muslims.           


Their goals are identical and at the same time none wants peace to return to Kashmir; none wants to forge unity with other separatists. In other words, they operate from different platforms, preach pernicious views and do not see eye to eye with one another. They hate each other and their supporters also conduct themselves in the manner their leaders behave. None of them wants to work with or under other separatists, because each one wants to run his militant-producing mill independently so that none is able to share the loaves and fishes of the anti-India profession.


Is it not a fact that Geelani, Yasin, Farooq and Shah, so-called Kashmir’s arbitrators, are fighting with one another in order to establish their own supremacy? It is a hard fact. Just look at the local newspapers and you will see for yourself the extent to which they are opposed to each other. One separatist proposes and others take no time to dispose and denigrate their fellow separatist. Take for example, the sharp reaction of Geelani to the revelation by Praveen Swami of The Hindu the other day that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq met the Union Home Minister in New Delhi while on his way to the United States to take part in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC)-sponsored anti-India meeting.


Geelani not only denounced the secret meeting between the Union Home Minister and the Mirwaiz, but dubbed the latter as anti-Kashmir and pro-India. And what was the response of Mirwaiz, who is facing a formidable challenge to his leadership from within his own rag-tag amalgam for his dictatorial functioning and for keeping his associates in the dark about his discussions with the Union Home Minister and others in Delhi as far as the resolution of the so-called Kashmir problem is concerned? (The APHC is on the verge of another split.) He downplayed everything and said “we are operating separately but our goal is the same”.


As for Malik and Shah, while the former is holding himself aloof from both the Mirwaiz and Geelani, the Mirwaiz’s colleague Shah and Nayeem Khan openly disapprove of what the so-called moderate Hurriyat chairman is saying and doing. Both have been accusing Mirwaiz of doing things in a hush, hush manner and speaking one thing at Jamia Masjid (Srinagar), another in the APHC meetings and an altogether thing in Delhi.


The story of relations between the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party, and between them and the separatist outfits is no different. Both parties are behaving in a fashion similar to the one in which the separatists have been behaving since decades.   


The truth, in short, is that all these separatist leaders are no more than rabble-rousers and represent none except their own vested interests. And it is with these ever-feuding extremists and separatists who shamelessly justify terrorist-related violence that the Union Government wants to hold talks with a view to winning them over and restoring peace in the Valley. New Delhi is seeking to achieve the unachievable. This is a flawed approach. They must discard the De Gaulle line; abandon the idea of dialogue with Kashmiri extremists because they are not really different from the dreaded Taliban who have a let loose a reign of terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan.


New Delhi should isolate and neutralize the influence of the extremists, initiate talks with moderates like the people of Jammu and Ladakh, and victims of terrorism displaced Kashmiri Hindus, and empower the neglected and marginalized communities in the state. Such a line alone could help them restore peace and normality in Kashmir and defend and promote further our vital national interests. 


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

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