Dialogue July-September 2008, Volume 10 No. 1
in Jammu & Kashmir
allotment of 39.88 hectares of land to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board on May 28,
2008, triggered nine-day protest in the
in which six protestors were killed in police firing. The order was cancelled
on July 1, 2008. Thereafter, there was protest in
. It was both spontaneous and disciplined. For the first time,
raised its voice against the high-handedness of the Valley leaders. The
agitation continued for 62 days, during which nine protestors were killed in
police firing; two committed suicide. Finally, the land was restored to the
board on August 31. While the formal order was awaited, there was another
suicide bid in
The objections raised against the allotment of the land to the Shrine
Board were based on four grounds.
It was alleged that land transfer would bring demographic change in the
Valley by enabling the outsiders to settle there. While levelling the charge,
they forgot that Baltal site remained under snow for more than seven months in a
year and no human habitation was possible there. Even if the site was located
, how many people would have been settled in less than 40 hectares of land? Was
really that microscopic percentage of the population to disturb the religious
demography of the state? Did Mufti Mohammad Sayeed not know that the land was
allotted only for specific purpose — and for temporary use? Then why were the
people instigated to come to streets, calling for azadi?
Another reason was that it was a forestland. Incidentally, at least four
allotments of the forestland were sanctioned by the state Government on the same
day the land was allotted to the Shrine Board. The Muslim locality of Bhatindi
city has been built on the forestland. Forestland has also been allotted to the
Railways, among others.
Ecological factor was also cited for opposing the allotment.
Pre-fabricated shelters, which were planned for the pilgrims, do not adversely
affect the ecology. Besides, there are several other serious cases of
environmental degradation, but no Kashmiri leader has ever raised the voice
against the same. Lakhs of people gather at Hajratbal, Charar-i-Sharif, Baba
Rishie and other places. Is ecology of
not ravaged by the same? Then why objection in this case? The stone quarries
here and there in the state, the cement factory at Khrew, cutting of thousands
of trees and destruction of wildlife for the construction of the Mughal Road
from Shopian to Budhal connecting Kashmir to the Muslim majority areas of Jammu,
encroachments around Dal Lake, destruction of floating gardens of the lakes for
acquiring land posed the real ecological problem. No voice has ever been raised
against the same on ecological grounds.
concerns: Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s Government wanted promotion of domestic and
international tourism on the premise of improved security scenario. Then why the
about-turn in the Amarnath land issue?
Whereas thousands of Kashmiris have settled in
and are further settling there everyday, a person from
is hardly allowed to reside in the Valley. Sheikh Abdullah systematically
settled refugee Muslims in
. Then there was ethnic cleansing in the Valley. Pandits were forced to evacuate
and settle in the camps in
. Clearly, what has happened in the valley is the questionable behaviour of the
Kashmiri leaders who often indulge in blackmail, ever since Sheikh Abdullah’s
time. While Sheikh hardly paused to think about the demographic change in
, he ensured that not a single outsider — not even a Muslim marrying a
Kashmiri woman — settles there. The behaviour of the Kashmiri leaders, thus,
cannot fit in any democratic, secular frame-work.
and Laddakh has always suffered at the hands of Valley leaders. Sheikh behaved
autocratically from the very beginning. He stalled the entry of the candidates
of the Jammu Praja Parishad in the state Assembly in 1951. As the nominations of
candidates of the other party were rejected, his party won 73 of 75 seats. Soon,
the Assembly turned into the state’s Constituent Assembly and it was easy for
Sheikh to have the constitution of his choice. Thus, he thwarted the voice of
in deciding the future of the state. Sadly, the discrimination against the
and Laddakh continues unabated.
As per the 1961 Census, the population of Kashmir was 18 lakh, while that
was 16 lakh. Kashmiris elected one MP for every six lakh population, whereas
people elected one for every eight lakh population. Similarly, in case of the
voters elected one MLA for every 67,741 people, whereas Kashmiris elected one
for every 53,288 people. The 1991 Census was not conducted in the state fearing
the population of the Valley might be less than that of
due to out-migration of the Pandits, thus inviting attention on the electoral
dominance of the Valley. The same happened in 1951 when the constituencies were
formed on the basis of the 1941 Census.
The discrimination against
and Laddakh is done in other matters as well. While funds are asked from the
Centre for the development of the three regions, the Valley always ends up
getting proportionately more. The communal agenda of the Valley-dominated
Kashmir Government, such as taking out Doda from Udhampur and Kargil from
Laddakh, hurts the other two regions. Gujjars and Shias, too, are not favourably
did not go to
as an invader. The document of accession was dully signed and Sheikh was a
party to the decision and to sending the Indian Army for thwarting
’s nefarious designs.
, although despite signing a treaty with the Maharaja to maintain status quo. It
captured Muzaffarabad on October 22, 1947, and Baramula five days later. The
population of Baramula, which has a Muslim majority, was reduced from 14,000 to
3,000. Kashmiris resisted Pakistani aggression till the Indian Army reached
after the accession document was signed by the Maharaja.
Tehreek-i-Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has emerged as the
principal secessionist leader in
. The PDP has played a key role in the rise of radical Islamism in the Valley.
The party, by communalising the Shrine Board land issue, has been responsible in
making the state communally surcharged. The PDP Government had soft attitude
towards the secessionists from the very beginning; it wanted withdrawal of
security forces, open border and even use of Pakistani currency. While showing
his love for the people of the other side of the border, Mufti forgot the
suffering of real Kashmiris thrown out from the valley due to communal reasons.
The Cabinet members of both the Congress and the PDP consented to allot
land to the Shrine Board. Yet, the PDP withdrew from the Government. It was
sheer opportunism, as Mufti had already enjoyed his term as Chief Minister and
it was the turn of the Congress to run the state. By doing so, he gave
opportunity to the anti-nationals to further polarise the Valley on communal
It should be remembered that the pilgrimage to the shrine and
Shaivism — Kalamukh Shaivism being the oldest — is not a recent phenomenon.
The pilgrimage was not possible without the co-operation of local Muslims. The
people were economically benefited by the same. One-third of the share of
whatever was offered to the deity went to a Muslim family. This cordial
relationship between Hindus and Muslims was systematically destroyed in the
Kashmiri leaders should remember that this country cannot afford to allow
weakening of secularism and polarisation of its people on communal lines. What
Valley leaders are asking for is not possible on both the counts.
cannot allow the triumph of the Two-Nation Theory. The brinkmanship and the
blackmail must end.
Government has always been accused of giving undue importance to the
secessionist leaders in the Valley. It established them in the eyes of the
people. Hurriyat leaders, once incapable of winning even municipal elections,
have generally been given more importance than the elected representatives of
the people. This is undesirable and perhaps due to American pressure.
Another disturbing development is the voice emerging in support of
’s secession in the media, especially the English-language press. Earlier, it
was Ashok Mitra, Communist politician and intellectual, and the Naxalites. Now
there are many. They want to prepare the people to accept secession of the
Valley or the nominal link; they want us to accept theological assault
willingly. The country needs to prepare itself to face the challenge. There are
knows it all
under above-mentioned caption was published in the Hindustan Times on the
day Delhi Police commandoes stormed terrorist hideout in Jamia. Comments from
the public: there was no “cross-firing”, “fake encounter” “planted”
by Delhi Police, etc. The running commentary continued. There were further talks
in the newsrooms and elsewhere: “He must have shot himself in the foot. They
do it so often to win gallantry awards” (comment of an activist associated
with a Left-leaning think-tank), “repeat of
”, “a desperate move by the Government”…
Human rights activists became overactive, passing early judgement, making
calls to the residents of Jamia and around.
The media in
, especially the electronic media, often work irresponsibly. The issues
adversely affecting national integration and communal harmony are often treated
casually. It happened the same way this time as well. Our TV news-channels
forgot the need of rigorous editorial protocol. Rather than getting and
disseminating well-informed and cautiously assessed information, they indulged
in spreading rumours, demonised policemen while one of their officers was
fighting for life. The information conveyed to the people was that it was a fake
encounter, that the firing was one-sided, that it was actually a bomb explosion,
that the terrorists were planted in the middle of the night. The source were
roadside commentators, who themselves were uninformed but wanted to be seen on
the screen, mischief and rumour-mongers and publicity hounds. What was conveyed
through the one-liners was rumour and bazaar gossip. There was a tendency to
ridicule the police version. Rather than promoting self-introspection, caution
and sobriety, the media promoted fear, mistrust and anger. Rather than informing
impartially and educating, they indulged in myth-making and creating confusion.
— both jihadi and Maoist — is spreading fast. There are powerful
politicians — Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan, among
others — who have overtly or covertly supported SIMI. Paswan wants
Bangladeshis to be given Indian citizenship. A former Congress Chief Minister of
Uttar Pradesh and a BSP MP met the father of terrorist Abu Bashar to convey
their sympathy. Our political parties indulge in competitive vote-bank politics.
A section of Muslims, too, sympathises with terrorists. Muslim intellectuals
like Asghar Ali Engineer indulge in negationism and invention of the so-called
grievance theory. Dr Mushirul Hasan, Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia, a
, openly commits the public fund to provide legal aid to the alleged terrorists.
These undesirable acts create both complication and confusion.
Pressure on the police is increasing by the day, thanks to increasing
anarchy in society. Bandhs, protests, natural calamities and communal clashes
create added pressure. Take the case of Orissa and Karnataka. These states have
failed to control violence and attack on churches. The country cannot allow what
is happening in the two states. The state governments should act effectively or
go. At the same time, the church should also tame the provocateurs inciting
riots. The conversion by incitement and fraud should stop.
to say, the task of the agencies fighting terror and restoring law and order is
difficult. The media should not increase their difficulties. Imagine if
Inspector Sharma was alive. There would have been protest rallies everywhere by
the liberals, human rights activists and Muslim organisations against the
police, asking for an inquiry commission and the head of Inspector Sharma. In
that way, Inspector Sharma’s death has saved the police department from the
combined onslaught of the media and the rights groups. While the police cannot
be given clean chit everywhere, the press, too, cannot sit in judgement without
properly investigating the issue. While there is need for the police to be
transparent, the Muslim community cannot be oversensitive; the media shall also
have to change its modus operandi.
A further point about the Indian media needs mention. They are in the
habit of diverting the attention of the nation on non-issues when it requires
attention and introspection on serious problems. Recently, there was too much
focus on the wardrobe of Home Minister Shivraj Patil. The salvo fired at the
Home Minister, whether due to political one-upmanship within the UPA or the
Congress or for other reasons and given prominence by the media due to
latter’s hostility towards them, was ill-timed, politically motivated and
stupid. The prominence of the news-coverage diverted people’s attention from
the real problem of terrorism. Incidentally, we may remember the heat generated
by the media on “Urine Therapy”.
- B.B. Kumar