India and K-Separatists & Gaddafi
by Hari Om on 18 Mar 2011 9 Comments

The oppressed and suppressed people of Libya rose in revolt against the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi on February 15, taking to the streets and demanding an end to the decades-old dictatorship. The struggle continues unabated, with the determined people making it clear they are fighting for a system of government in which they have a say in the governance of their country. Gaddafi’s opponents are made up of ragtag citizen militias, backed by mutinous army units. The middle class has become the backbone of the movement.  


The Libyan revolt was inspired by developments in Tunisia and Egypt leading to the flight of their longtime dictators. In contrast, Gaddafi and his sons have dug their heels in, unleashing a reign of brutalities against ‘the rebels’, using air force and army to suppress the uprising and intimidate the civilian opposition. There has been a wave of arrests and disappearances since February 15, with bodies of the ‘vanished’ dumped in the streets.


Gaddafi’s gunmen descend on homes in the night to drag away suspected protestors. Other militiamen have been searching hospitals for wounded to take away. His militiamen prowl the streets under numerous names – Internal Security, Central Support Force, People’s Force, People’s Guards and the Brigade of Mohammad al-Magarif, head of Gaddafi’s personal guard – searching for suspected protestors. Use of mortars, heavy machine-guns, helicopter gun-ships and rockets have become the order of the day. The objective is to stop the rebels’ advance towards the capital, Tripoli, Gaddafi’s stronghold. There are tanks everywhere across Libya. 


At places, Gaddafi’s sons lead the attacks, perpetrating all kinds of barbarities, saying Al-Qaida and countries like the United States are behind the unrest. Internet service in the country has almost halted completely. Most foreign journalists have left because Gaddafi’s men have told them to leave the country for personal security. 


The forces loyal to Gaddafi are bombing the rebel strongholds, using tanks and burning towns and villages over which the rebels have established control. Reports emanating from ravaged Libya suggest that over 1,000 people, including men, women and children, have lost their lives. Unconfirmed reports suggest the number of those killed in cold-blood could be much higher. More than 2.5 million people, mostly foreign workers, have migrated to neighbouring countries, including Tunisia, to escape Gaddafi’s wrath.


Amidst the growing strife, Britain and France are leading a campaign at the United Nations for a ‘no-fly’ zone over Libya to halt the Gaddafi regime from unleashing air strikes on rebel-held areas. In Washington, President Barack Obama tried to pressure Gaddafi by talking of ‘a range’ of options, ‘including potential military options’ against the embattled Libyan leader. Obama said: “I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Colonel Gaddafi… they will be held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place there… In the meantime, we’ve got NATO, as we speak, consulting in Brussels around a wide range of potential options, including potential military options, in response to the violence that continues to take place inside of Libya.”


Gaddafi has retorted [not without some merit] in an interview with Turkish television, that “West wants to seize Libyan oil, and the imposition of a no-fly zone would be a step in that direction.” “If they take such a decision (to impose a no-fly zone), it will be useful for Libya, because the Libyan people will see the truth, that what they want is to take control of Libya and to steal their oil.” He warned the opposition in Benghazi that “his supporters would hound them out from the city,” Libya’s second largest, with its courthouse, the epicentre of the revolt. “There is no choice for the people of Benghazi but to go out on the streets – men, women and children – to rid Benghazi of this betrayal.” He added “Benghazi, which used to be beautiful, is turning into ruins. It must be liberated.”


All this shows that Gaddafi is least concerned with what the United States and other countries, including Britain, France, Germany, India, say. He can go to any extent to crush the people’s movement and retain control over power.


Kashmir: incremental surrender


Compare the attitude of the custodians of the Indian State towards the separatists in Kashmir with the attitude of Gaddafi towards Libyans fighting for civil and political rights and constitutional guarantees that will, in the words of Tavleen Singh, “prevent them from ever being subjugated again by some autocrat,” and you will find the difference.


Kashmir separatists have been convulsing and bleeding the Indian political scene, particularly since 1987. Between 1987 and till date, they have attacked the Army, paramilitary forces and State police innumerable times, and killed and maimed thousands of our troops and police personnel. They have liquidated thousands of civilians, including men, women and children. As a result, many women have lost their husbands, many children have become orphans and the entire social structure has crumbled. A sense of helplessness, insecurity and uncertainty has gripped the people of the state.


They have attacked on umpteen occasions school buses carrying innocent students and massacred many of them. They have vitiated all educational institutions in the Valley, including the universities where anti-India elements reign supreme. They have caused bomb blasts in several marriage parties and killed hundreds of people gathered on such solemn occasions. Jammu province in general and its erstwhile Doda district in particular suffered most on this count. They have brutally murdered hundreds of political workers as well as a few top-ranking separatists like Abdul Gani Lone.


They have forcibly evicted the miniscule Kashmiri Hindu community from the Valley, forced hundreds of Sikh families to migrate from the Valley; the process continues even today. They have converted Kashmir into a one-community region, thus disturbing the socio-religious and political equilibrium in the state, creating tensions between communities and regions. They have been disrupting economic and social activities in the state in general and Kashmir in particular at regular intervals.


They have consistently attacked the symbols of the Indian State and held rabidly anti-India demonstrations in Kashmir. They have converted religious places into dens of anti-India activities, carrying on hate-India, break-India and anti-minority community campaigns under the very nose of the authorities, some of whom overtly support them by making controversial statements, including statements that question the very accession of the state to India and castigate and demonize the institutions of Army and paramilitary forces. The custodians of the Indian State make statements which have emboldened the separatists to queer the Indian pitch in Kashmir.


Indeed, the policy being pursued by the custodians of the Indian State towards the separatists in Kashmir is one of incremental surrender. The Prime Minister has come out with a strange formulation: “Neighbours cannot be changed but the borders can be rendered irrelevant.” The government is behaving as if it a colonial power and Kashmir a colony seeking independence from India. The Prime Minister has devised a solution to the so-called Kashmir problem which, if accepted, would negate the basis of the Indian State and enable the separatists in Kashmir to accomplish what they have failed to accomplish so far. The authorities in the state and at the center treat the separatists with kid gloves, providing them with a foolproof security cover, even Z-plus.


They have created an environment conducive for the rise of “fanatical” and “violent Islam” in Kashmir. They have been advocating a system that would want women to be veiled and orthodox Shariat laws imposed. In fact, they have been working overtime to replicate the Talibani system in Kashmir.  


They have been hobnobbing with foreign diplomats, holding anti-India seminars in and outside the state, including New Delhi, and using international forums to pour venom on India. They have been openly advocating the Pakistani cause, despite the fact that Pakistan is on the brink of ruin because of the unholy alliance between the Pakistani establishment, the Army, the ISI and dreaded militant outfits against Pakistani civil society, and disregarding the fact that Islamabad has made it clear that it is interested in the state waters and not in the people of Kashmir.


They have been openly instigating gullible Kashmiri Muslims to take the law into their own hands; when people get killed the militants play with the sentiments of the people and cause more unrest. They have raised battalions of drug addicts and anti-social elements to use against the Indian State. They instigate innocent Muslims to confront the Army, paramilitary forces and State Police to create a situation that forces the security personnel to react. Our security forces seldom act because they have been asked to fight insurgency with their hands cuffed, legs cuffed and brain-cuffed. They only react in self-defence and when they react, they only face official wrath; at times they are booked for murder.


Remember, however, that the number of separatist leaders who have played, and continue to play, havoc with the state and the nation is not very substantial – barely two dozens. Their area of influence is also limited to a few pockets in the Kashmir Valley. They do not enjoy any popular support, yet they are allowed to carry on their subversive activities.


Contrast how Gaddafi cracks down on citizens seeking freedom and constitutional guarantees and how the custodians of the Indian State pamper those who wish to wreck the Indian Nation. It would seem that the Indian State is at war with itself and the Indian civilization. Can the authorities in New Delhi rise to the occasion and defend and promote our paramount sovereign interests by taking on and defeating the separatists in Kashmir? They should know that History is a grim witness and a remorseless judge.                        


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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