Putting and end to alienation

By K.N. Pandita – Much has to be done to put an end to the alienation of the people of Kashmir. A decade and half of insurgency and counter insurgency has intermittently thrown up many ugly situations in which both physical and emotional alienation took its toll. No state can afford to leave a chunk of its citizenry alienated for one reason or the other.

The recent letter of J&K Chief Minister to the CMs of no fewer than 11 states entreating them to deal with Kashmir traders and students with dignity and consideration is one more step in the direction of wooing the alienated people.

The CM has strong argument to take this rather unusual step. He is said to have received reports that the traders from the valley who travel far and wide in the country during winter months for trading Kashmir handicrafts and Kashmiri students who have sought admission in different educational institutions in the country are reported to be put under surveillance by the local police and intelligence outfits. In the process, they feel they are subjected to unnecessary questioning and investigation.

On the face of it, if that is actually happening, one can say it is trespassing on the privacy of a person, which is disallowed by law. It is also violation of the right to freedom of movement. In a democratic country such violation of human rights cannot be tolerated.

The citizens of J&K State are as much nationalist as any other people in the country. They cannot be discriminated against. The security agencies have to keep this in mind. If the CM did not make a reference to this legal aspect of the case, it is because of his politeness and matured statesmanship. The recipients of his letters are no ordinary persons and they can very well understand his position as the elected leader answerable to his people.

But all this in its place, there are some more aspects of the case that need to be stated while we discuss the issue. In the first place, state authorities are within their jurisdiction to step up security of life and property as is demanded by the constitution of India. They are within their limits to ensure that any attempt of subversion is nipped in the bud because then only can the precious lives be saved.

The second point is that Kashmir has been the scene of active terrorism for last one and a half decade. The roots of terrorism lie outside Kashmir as well. Our enemies have been trying to spread the tentacles of terrorism in many parts of the country and for this purpose they have been using Kashmiris as mercenaries and insurgent activists.

Unfortunately, these terrorists have been trying to stalk the length and breadth of the country also in the garb of either traders or students thinking that they would not easily fall into the net of security forces and intelligence agencies.

We have many cases of bomb blasts, subversion, kidnappings, arson, robberies etc. in which involvement of Kashmir terrorist was proved. Their interrogation revealed the links they had established with Kashmiri conduits outside Kashmir and in the length and breadth of the country.

Involvement of Kashmiri terrorists was proved in attack on J&K Legislative Assembly, Union Parliament, Akhshardam temple, Raghunath Mandir in Jammu, Varanasi temple and many other places not to speak of hurling of bombs and firing in crowded places. The question is why Kashmiri terrorists are somewhere behind the scene of these subversive activities?

We have also stories of Kashmiri students indulging in anti-national activities in educational institutes including some prestigious ones like the JNU, AMU and Jamie Millia. Many incidents even at institutes of excellence, in which Kashmiri students were involved, have not been reported in order to minimize their impact. In many jails in and outside Kashmir, a large number of Kashmiris arrested in different parts of the country remain interned.

All this is a situation of much despair and sorrow. This should not have happened. Kashmir students traveling all the way from remote villages to big cities for education and professional training should not allow terrorists and anti-national elements to use them as shield and safe haven. Likewise, the traders hawking their goods to earn a living far away from their homes and families should never succumb to the intimidation of the terrorists to provide them a hiding place or to conduct their nefarious designs under the rubric of business and trade.

We have heard reports from the principals/ heads of institutions in different parts of the country that most of the Kashmiri students are well-behaved and disciplined. But at the same time there are some cases in which these students have gone astray and provided logistical support to the militants coming to foment trouble in towns and cities. This has necessitated the local authorities to bring the Kashmiris under surveillance.

The security measures adopted by state governments are not anti-Kashmiri either in letter or in spirit. These measures are actually meant to safeguard the disciplined and law abiding Kashmiri traders and students against the inroads of the subversives of their native place. Therefore the governments are only discharging their constitutional duty of protecting life and property of Indian citizens.

In this background, it was logical that the J&K Chief Minister should have issued a directive that any student in any educational institution in or outside the state found to be collaborating with militants would be brought to book in accordance with the law. Similarly, the directive should have also come down with a heavy hand on those Kashmiri traders who willy-nilly provide safe haven to the militants under the rubric of trade and business.

It is hoped that the Chief Minister of J&K will address this urgent requirement also, which would be another step towards bringing normalcy in the state.

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