By K.N. Pandita
In its rally last week at Jammu parade ground, BJP top brass made very assertive statements on Kashmir. Political observers did notice unusual fervour among local party workers as they prepared themselves for the rally, but most of them did not expect party leaders to be vehemently outspoken on Kashmir. As such, the situation merits dispassionate analysis.
If one recalls the stance of BJP leadership in their rallies in the town in last one decade or more, one will find that by and large, similar rhetoric used to be exuded with as much resolve as may be imagined in present case. Therefore pessimists would aver that this humdrum will die down shortly, and as usual, everything will be forgotten and forgiven.
Notwithstanding this generalization, it has to be noted that identical statements from the party top brass have been made with a specific background. These utterances have to be analyzed and evaluated in the context of recent political landscape in the valley.
With the rise of Amarnth shrine land row in summer 2008, a new chapter of domestic politics opened in the State. Intentions behind forcing the government to withdraw the land allotment order carried in its womb the seeds of communal discord. It was a point counter point situation, and the ruling coalition then had to exert itself quite a bit before semblance of normalcy was restored.
Many factors served catalyst to three-month long civil agitation in the valley last summer. Diversion of ISI’s attention first to the war-torn NWFP and then to deteriorating domestic condition of security and lastly to the wrath of the elements visible in the shape of unprecedented flash floods, all made separatists and secessionists in the valley believe that Pakistan was not in a position to sustain their movement. As such they had to carry the burden without the crutches provided by Pakistan. They would try to make experiment with non-violence hoping that it would cut ice with New Delhi. A look at local vernacular papers will reveal that for several months preceding the street mobilization histrionics, much tantrum was reported in the print media about Gandhiji’s philosophy of non-violence. Writers and commentators lamented that Indian leadership was blatantly ignoring the teachings of Gandhiji especially his principle of non-violence in Kashmir. The purpose was to create an impression world over that India was blatantly violating the principles of the father of the nation in disputed Kashmir. It was a ploy to project Kashmiris as oppressed people.
But this was something to think out of context. Firstly, J&K is an integral part of the Indian Union, and not a territory snatched or conquered by force of arms. Secondly, the people of the valley are enjoying the democratic rights in full and without infringement. Thirdly and most importantly, the so-called peaceful rallies turned into stone pelting hooligans targeting security forces so much so that nearly 700 security and policemen were injured in the see-saw skirmishes on the streets of Srinagar and other towns of the valley.
It is now reliably learnt that a huge sum of fifty lakh rupees was provided to the agitators for instigating young boys to come out on streets and create law and order situation. Groups of hooligans comprising at least eight members in each were created and given cash dole of 5-6 lakh rupees out of which each stone thrower, called initiator, received 100-150 rupees per day or per session of stone throwing. This could not be called a non-violent movement.
After three months of unabated hooliganism, the operatives realized that following the strike calendar and the call of the separatist leaders was not going to lead them anywhere. Therefore stone throwing exercise died its natural death and situation returned to normalcy by and by.
During these months of turmoil and disorder in the valley, the separatist leaders issued threatening statements meant to strike at the very root of Indian nation’s concepts of social and political structure and the basics of Indian constitution. The secessionists carried out their activities outside the valley as well taking shelter behind the right of freedom of speech. They tied up with other dissenting elements in the country and attempted to make common cause with them.
These knee-jerks made Delhi do some damage control exercise albeit shabby in form and crude in execution. The 39-member All Party Parliamentary delegation, the Task Force Committee and then the Committee of Interlocutors, all visited the valley and interacted with the people but to what purpose remains unanswered. The ruling coalition of UPA thought this would mollify the agitators and win their hearts. But that was not going to happen. It is a bad example of learning by error. New Delhi did not react when the State Chief Minister made a formal statement on the floor of assembly that J&K had only acceded and not integrated into the Indian Union for getting that the contention repudiated the accords between the state and central leadership over the years.
This is the background against which above mentioned assertions of the BJP top brass have come in the course of party’s rally at Jammu. It is both reaction to what has been happening in Kashmir in recent past and also a resolve of the party which might come as of part of its election manifesto for 2010 parliamentary elections.
As these assertions are categorical and decisive and diametrically opposite to the ideology of Kashmir separatists, there is bound to be bitter opposition to it from all quarters in the valley. The separatists, ever since they intensified their movement and found themselves emboldened by the pusillanimity of the central government, were not used to hear some harsh and determined words from the national leadership. As such the warning message of the opposition party will be nothing short of red raga to the bull. It is also likely that they will give usual calls for strikes and rallies and burn the effigies of Indian leaders by way of giving vent to their emotions.
However, should saner thinking prevail, it will be found that the statements of BJP top brass merit cool headed analysis and discourse? There are no two opinions that Pakistan is not in a position to sustain Kashmir insurgency for unlimited time nor is Kashmir insurgency going to exhaust the resources of Indian state for one century at least. Democratic process provided to the State as integral part of the Indian Union is the best guarantee of freedom and self-rule. The process may have loopholes here and there but the remedy is to set them right and make democracy functional in letter and in spirit. For that purpose the Indian nation is making all possible efforts and sacrifices and these have to be valued.
The valley civil society has to realize that its credentials as a modern civil society remain in jeopardy as long as their compatriots continue to live a life of exiles’ outside the valley. Valley society has to regain its natural balance. The statements of the BJP leaders should be understood in that spirit. It is a mistake to give it communal or religious tinge. What they have said, if followed in letter and spirit, would do more good to the people of the valley than to the Indian state. The time has come when a spade ought to be called by its proper name. That is what precisely the BJP leadership has done. The time has come when the people in the valley need to read between the lines.