Quit Kashmir Movement
by Hari Om on 18 Jun 2014 2 Comments

The BJP’s rational, national and democratic suggestion for a holistic debate on the archaic and regressive Article 370 has so rattled and alarmed the communal, despotic and arrogant Kashmiri leadership that it has crossed the fine line and adopted a threatening posture. The completely routed ruling National Conference (NC) and its ally, the Sonia Gandhi Congress, and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the marginal CPI-M and CPI have in one voice vehemently opposed the suggestion.


Contrarily, they have termed Article 370 a “bridge” between the State and New Delhi and threatened that “Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) will go out of India if any attempt is made to amend it or delete it from the Indian statute book”. They have wrongly asserted that it was “on the basis of Article 370” that the State acceded to India.


In truth, this provision was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly as a purely “temporary” measure on October 17, 1949 two years after the State acceded to India. Moreover, it was enforced in the State more than seven years later on January 26, 1957. Also, the Kashmiri leadership had nothing to do with the accession business as it was the Maharaja’s sole prerogative. J&K was one of the 560-odd princely states which acceded to India under the relevant law. 


It is true that the reaction of the PDP, unlike the NC, the Congress, the CPI-M and the CPI, has been not that bitter, although the basic upshot of its whole argument against the critics of Article 370 is the same. The PDP, like the NC, the CPI and CPI-M, considers J&K an unsettled issue and vouches for greater autonomy, bordering on virtual sovereignty. The PDP terms it self-rule. It wants New Delhi to take Pakistan on board, as it considers Islamabad one of the three “stakeholders”. The other two stakeholders, according to it, are the State, barring Jammu and Ladakh, and India. Like all other Kashmir-based outfits, the PDP considers Jammu and Ladakh as Kashmir’s colonies where the life of people is not one of social, cultural, economic and political aspirations. For the Kashmiri leadership, the people of Jammu and Ladakh are no more than third grade subjects whose only duty is to serve the Kashmiri masters and cater to their needs and the needs of the Valley. They are entitled only to crumbs.     


It was expected that the negative response of the so-called mainstream parties active in the terrorist and separatist-infested Kashmir to the BJP’s positive suggestion would only embolden the disgruntled, opportunist, out-on-a-limb leadership of rabidly anti-India separatist outfits like the Hurriyat Conference (Geelani), Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz) and Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), and this is precisely what happened. Both the Geelani and Mirwaiz factions have condemned the suggestion and demanded what they call “right to self-determination”. But it was self-appointed JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, the so-called Mahatma Gandhi of Kashmir, who threatened to replicate 1946 in 2014.


Only the other day, Malik, murderer and seditionist, condemned the BJP and New Delhi, accused them of triggering a debate on Article 370 to “change the discourse of freedom movement in Kashmir” and announced that he would soon launch “Quit Kashmir Movement” to end the Indian presence in the Valley. The Valley constitutes just less than one-tenth of the State’s land area, which is highly rich and developed. It also houses leadership that has been misruling the State and exploiting its people, blackmailing and browbeating New Delhi and looting and plundering the taxpayers’ money to live like princes and nawabs since 1947.


“The clamour for abrogation of Article 370 triggered by a minister in Modi government has led to a political upheaval. It is an attempt to shift focus on State-Centre relationship. To foil these nefarious designs, we have decided to launch Quit Kashmir Movement on the pattern of Safr-e-azadi (read journey for freedom)…We will infuse new life into the (freedom) movement at grassroots level,” he, inter-alia, said at press conference at Srinagar. He enacted an anti-India act with utmost ease under the very nose of the law and order authorities and went scot-free.


It is pertinent to note that the JKLF organised Safr-e-azaadi in 2007. It lasted for almost one year. During this period, Malik and his associates toured nearly 35,000 towns and villages in the Valley to prepare ground for a full-scale anti-India struggle. Significantly, a number of Delhi-based “human rights” activists and friends of Kashmiri separatists, including journalist Kuldip Nayar, participated in the “journey for freedom”. A number of elements in the civil and police establishment also helped Malik to make his anti-India event a success.


Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who set on fire Jammu in 2008 by subverting the High Court’s clear directions on the piece of land at Baltal (Kashmir) meant for the creation of a few additional facilities on a temporary basis for the Amarnath pilgrims and snatching it from the Shrine Board, was Chief Minister at the time. He and his government watched the anti-India activities indulged in by Malik as mute spectators, thus enabling the JKLF to muddy Indian waters in the Valley. The cult of stone-pelting developed in Kashmir during this “journey for freedom” and played havoc in Kashmir in 2010. It is a black chapter in the history of Kashmir.


It bears recalling that the father and founder of Muslim Conference/National Conference, Sheikh M Abdullah, had also launched a “Quit Kashmir Movement” with the stated objective of forcing the Dogra Maharaja, Hari Singh, and the Dogras of Jammu to quit the Kashmir Valley. (The State of Jammu & Kashmir was founded by the Dogras in March 1846. This happened at a time when the princely states were crumbling one after the other like a house of cards before the canny imperialist Britons.) The Sheikh launched the movement on May 9, 1946 and was arrested eleven days later on May 20. In between, Kashmir witnesses several police-crowd clashes, attacks on the symbols of the State and Indian civilization as well as the minority (Hindu) community. The situation could be brought under control only after the police swung into action. The Sheikh was released on September 9, 1947 only after he tendered an unconditional apology and pledged his loyalty to the Maharaja.


Paradoxically, Jawaharlal Nehru and MK Gandhi appreciated and supported the Quit Kashmir Movement. The British Government also sided with Sheikh Abdullah. Its grouse against Maharaja Hari Singh was that he had demanded self-rule for the whole of India in the First Round Table Conference held in London in 1931. Hari Singh was a bitter critic of British rule. As was expected, Sardar Patel opposed the Sheikh’s movement; Acharya Kripalani also opposed it, calling it “mischievous”.


Now that Yasin Malik has declared that he will follow in the footsteps of the late Sheikh, it is time for the concerned authorities to intervene and nip the evil in the bud. It would be suicidal to depend on the utterly irresponsible Omar Abdullah-led NC-Congress coalition government. The right person to act before it is too late is State Governor NN Vohra. The J&K Constitution has a provision (Section 92) that empowers the Governor to intervene when he feels that the constitutional machinery has broken down. The Governor could invoke it and bring the administration under his direct control for a period of six months, as the situation in Kashmir is assuming alarming proportions.   

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