Rising threats in the Valley

Situation is gradually on the downslide in Kashmir

By K.N. Pandit

In a bid to offer sops to the electorate in forthcoming parliamentary elections, the Amarnath land deal, hanging fire for over three years, was hastily concluded. Then there followed the storm of protests in the valley. Notwithstanding its initial bravado, the Congress-led government succumbed, and, in a state of frustration, induced the newly – appointed Governor to sign the withdrawal notice.

Things went haywire. When the PDP pulled the rug, the government crumbled and the bravado became a mock show. The question is when the Chief Minister knew he would not be able to cobble majority in the assembly, what was the urgency to persuade the Governor to withdraw the deal? What followed was even worse.

In Jammu there was reaction: reaction to the decision of the Governor and reaction to the response of the Jammu-returned Congress members in the house and in the Council of Ministers to the happenings in the valley. The Congressites behaved like a stupefied lot.

The Congress and the Left in tandem hastened to label Jammu demonstrations as show of muscle power by the “Hindu communal forces.” That is far from truth. BJP and RSS and VHP are surely the components of agitating masses in Jammu but to say that the agitation is a communal one is totally incorrect. It is led by those who had voted for the Congress in Jammu province, which includes a large segment of Muslims of Rajouri and Poonch districts as well.

In addition, the demonstrations are against the hasty and unwise decision of the Governor. In both cases the demonstrating public is justified though vandalism is unacceptable. Appeasement is worse.

The entire episode has made it clear that the Congress has been opportunistic, and in the process, is the worst sufferer. Its vote bank constituency has immensely shrunk in Jammu. Masses of people take all damage controlling efforts of State Congress leadership nothing more than a gimmick. It will cut no ice whatsoever in the assembly or in parliamentary elections.

The worst is that the unwise and lackadaisical attitude of the Congress, when in power, has given grist to the separatist machine in the state. Separatist forces have come closer and forged fresh unity among themselves. This is discernible not only in outright and overt support they received from PDP but also from National Conference and even from ambivalent sections of the state Congress. It speaks a lot for the shape of things to happen in Kashmir in near future.

Now both PDP and NC appear to be voting in favour of UPA –- read Congress -– in the trust vote next week. They do not do so for any love they have for the Congress and its principles. They do it on the basis of their inherent hatred for the BJP, which they speculate, could be a winner in the sequel to nuclear imbroglio. That further strengthens our view that in crucial issues with direct bearing on the majority in the valley, political groups of all hues stand either in unison or in broad agreement.

In the forthcoming assembly elections, National Conference will have a clear edge over all other parties. But even this once mainstream party, has been tilting towards the dissidents in order to win their goodwill. That is what the PDP has forced on it.

If the NC is returned to power, it will ask for greater autonomy and New Delhi finds little space to wriggle out of the trap. The idea of reverting to three-point accession has takers in Washington as well. In view of escalating Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, the escapade of more than a hundred hardcore Taliban from Kandahar prison, aligning of Kashmiri terrorists with Al Qaeda and Taliban-Al Qaeda nexus pulling Kashmir issue from backburner to frontline importance, all contribute to escalation of armed activities in the valley and intensifying of ISI’s subversion.

Amusingly, national press has been reporting in some detail central government’s unwillingness to choke the sources of hawala funding of the separatists and militant organizations in the valley. Mr. Azad, the former chief minister of J&K has, in a press conference, openly said that demonstrations against his government in the context of Amarnath land deal were funded by the Saudi and Islamabad regimes. Was not this information with the Home Ministry before his government fell and what steps were taken either by his government of by the Union Government to choke the sources of illegal funding? Why did not Mr. Narayanan, the National Security Adviser, who pokes in his nose right or wrong in all security related matters, issue a warning to the government and suggest precautionary measures? Is the Union government soft –peddling with the separatists in Kashmir?

(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).

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