Prof Kashinath Pandit Writes: Kashmir is in the news. In New Delhi and Srinagar, helmsmen are in close consultation.
Political situation in the Valley has deteriorated. Separatists are agog with joy. Sustained civilian unrest and recurring armed clashes with terrorists, give grist to human rights violation propaganda, with buyers at home and abroad.
Opposition to Modi government in Kashmir valley is hydra-headed, subtler than that of the opposition brigades in the rest of the country.
Terrorists choose new targets and novel tactics of assault ever since the killing of Hizb Commander last July in South Kashmir. Police men are attacked and gunned down in their homes. Home Department’s advisory is that they avoid going home unprotected. Terrorists allege victimized are working against their movement.
Reports say that seditionists have spread a wide network in the valley covering each village and hamlet where a core group of 5 to 8 persons is raised to support the movement in all possible ways by providing intelligence and monitoring movement of security forces. These core groups are also entrusted with the task of motivating the youth to join sedition and subvert administration.
The administrative cadres in almost all districts of the valley are infiltrated and indoctrinated. Government functionaries are subverting administration. All sources of accountability are made defunct and all voices of rationality are stifled,
Religious Imams, local or imported from UP and Bihar pour out anti-India venom during their sermons from the pulpit of mosques and amusingly they are paid monthly stipend or salary of ten thousand rupees a person from the national exchequer. Is there an example in the world where a State pays a certain section of its population to carry anti-State propaganda?
Valley-based opposition leadership is playing its vicious card quiet deftly. So do the ambivalent sections among the ruling class. However, sitting or retired Ministers, legislators and top bureaucrats from the valley are notches more subtle in fomenting anti-India sentiments. A sitting IAS officer from Kashmir cadre once said that Kashmir bureaucracy is part of freedom struggle. He did not exaggerate.
Kashmiris seem to have raised the insurrection to the level of civil disobedience of sorts drawing analogy from Gandhi’s Satyagraha. Administration chaffs at the orders and decrees of judicial authority. Entrenched but hijacked bureaucracy pokes fun at the instructions and orders of the chief minister. Ideology of separatism has percolated down to the lowest rung of civil service. A mix of benign and malignant lawlessness is the order of the day. No senior officer has the will to take any decision within his competence or any action against a defaulting junior. Entire Kashmir Valley civil society is grateful to the gun for inculcating in it the pride of fighting against “Indian oppressors”. The happy news brought by the gun is that it has delivered Kashmir society from a state of uncertainty.
The entrenched thinking among the people is that Kashmir today is at the threshold of separation. Pakistan’s anti–India propaganda machine is perfectly functional with moles deep and wide within the Kashmirian Muslim society.
Dubious elements in Kashmir society assuming the sobriquet of pro-Indian moles are prospering under the munificence of Indian Intelligence agencies. They play the most treacherous role not unknown to their paymasters. Incidentally, these moles have become the big funding source for their masters. Their mutual understanding is fine tuned in misleading Indian policy planning chapters.
The valley press, mostly vernacular, is the virulent anti-India and pro-Islamic media outlet with no holds barred. Many of these publications enjoy Indian patronage and munificence.
The most spectacular scenario is of perfect and masterly demonstration of “victimhood” by the Kashmiris. Anything going by the name of law and order is projected and opposed as anti-Islamic, anti-Kashmiri and sarcastically anti-Gandhi and anti-Vajpayee. The last two names have become iconic with the think-tanks among the seditionists just because both of them were naïve at understanding Kashmiri Muslim mind.
Kashmiris have fathomed the helplessness of India in countering their antics. The gun from Pakistan and truckloads of currency notes from India is the practical meaning of Kashmiriyat.
Valley stands cleansed of its millennia-old Hindu minority. Asking for inquiry into their exodus is considered eternal sin. Administration is fully adulterated. Judiciary is made ineffective. Police runs for safety and security and in the process explores linkages with seditionists. Valley political leadership is overtly and covertly indoctrinating the youth by projecting Kashmir as an Islamic dispute. Of course, their argument is if India could be divided on the basis of religion why not Kashmir? Sheikh Abdullah became outmoded for contemporary Kashmiris on the day he was removed from power and arrested. He deserved it because he had misled the entire State into a false and disastrous decision. Kashmir is a classical example of a secular and democratic India raising a communalized and radicalized Islamic region in its northern corner. They call it “tolerance of Indian civilization”
Now Dr. Farooq Abdullah talks not of country but of “watan” meaning native land. He sees stone throwers as defenders of their “watan”. But who is providing him Z security and against whom? Who is guarding his father\s grave and against whom?
He won thumping victory in parliamentary election in Srinagar. The vote was given to the Islamic slogan which he raised and not to democratic and secular dispensation.
Farooq and his son Omar both have been demanding resolving Kashmir political issue. New Delhi should respond to him. Talks with him should begin with the question of Pakistan formally declaring integration of Gilgit and Baltistan as Pakistan’s fifth province. This brings sea change in Kashmir question. Is India going to remain content with mere protest and do nothing by way of retaliatory act of Pakistan illegally integrating GB? Who will propose options, Farooq or GOI?
In the first place the question is why the EC could not restrain and even disqualify Farooq for spreading hate India propaganda by invoking Islamic religion of Kashmiris? Secondly, why did the President allow him audience knowing that Farooq was presenting himself as the representative of the Muslims of Kashmir valley and not as a democratic and secular leader of Kashmir? How can these very high authorities succumb to blatant blackmail?
Now Farooq Abdullah has thrown away the mask of a secular-democrat and worn the cloak of a leader of Muslim community of Kashmir, the Government of India must ask him to chalk out the map for resolution of Kashmir tangle. Dr. Farooq must spell out what is in his mind about Jammu region that demands Greater Duggar Desh; about Ladakh that demands Union Territory status; about the Valley that demands separation from India and accession to Pakistan, and finally the Kashmiri Pandits who very justifiably demand Homeland in the valley. Incidentally, Homeland demand of the displaced Pandits stands hugely vindicated by the nascent “pro-Watan” stance of Dr. Farooq Abdullah. If he is true to his conscience he should accept this ground reality and hence initiate a breakthrough in the status quo. He should also apologize to the people of the valley saying that his father, he and his son, all the three misled Kashmiris for seven decades and brought untold misery to them. If in atonement of his sins he needs to travel to PoK and Pakistan to beg forgiveness, he should not hesitate to follow in the footsteps of his late father. (The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University)