Interlocutors’ Report on J&K: Reflections – Part III

By K.N. Pandita

Chapter 3 of the New Compact contains recommendations in the area of culture. Instead of pontificating about cultural bonds we expected the team to probe into the causes of erosion of cultural harmony. Report nowhere responds to the grouse of Kashmiris that India is making cultural invasion into Kashmir. According to them all cultural manifestations stem from Hindu mythological sources and are in total violation of Islamic civilization. Dance, music, painting and sculpture are strictly forbidden in Islam. Destruction of Bemoan Buddha was extensively appreciated by Kashmiri literati. In regard to media, interlocutors have cleverly circumvented the ugly truth that local media is polarized on regional, community and ideological levels.  

Urdu press has hardly demonstrated national orientation and Hindi press has rarely come out of right wing moorings and ultra-nationalist tendency. Report does not touch on the role of media in fanning flames of disorder and turmoil by taking recourse to insinuations. There is not a single piece of writing in the vernacular media during past two decades that condemns the gun and gun culture or denounces militancy. Is there a single instance of PCI taking up a case of violation of journalistic ethics in the State?

Chapter 4 is a comprehensive study of economic situation in the State, major developmental projects in the pipeline and a slew of recommendations of dos and don’ts. The core of this study is that the State is financially a deficit state and maximally dependent on aid from the Centre. While dealing with the doctrines of Greater Kashmir and Self-Reliance of Kashmir leaders the report does not find any ask why there is no proposal of a meaningful economic reform or innovation in them that would reduce State’s dependence on Central aid. The reason of non-utilization of funds provided by the centre is too serious a matter and should not have been swept under carpet. It has political trappings. The State government and political leadership has consistently opposed and discouraged private sector investment by mega industrial houses in the country. A couple of industries established in recent past like the HMT and Cement Factory have all run into difficulty as these have been made strongholds of parochial and anti-Indian politics. Jammu region has suffered more on this count because it was poised for more conducive atmosphere, better labor conditions and work culture. The Report does not take these features of Jammu region into consideration and does not propose vigorous investment and energetic industrial policy.

Chapter 5 deals with the credibility of the dialogue process. Very strange to note is that the interlocutors are convinced that trust deficit among Kashmiris “is partly due to the ambiguity over Jammu and Kashmir’s political status”. They further hold that there are two credibility gaps, viz. centre-state and state-people. It is unfortunate that the team interlocutors have succumbed to the haranguing of “political uncertainty” cliché. Instead of examining and analyzing situations and issues from a solid ground of J&K as an integral and irrevocable part of the Indian Union, and PoK being under illegal occupation of Pakistan, they tend to behave like arbiters between the oppressor and the oppressed. By accepting uncertainty syndrome, we shall be recklessly diluting all the sacrifices made in terms of men and material to protect J&K against foreign aggression. We will be demoralizing our armed forces who have performed unparalleled acts of gallantry that the country can boast of.

Credibility deficit is directly the result of ambivalence of political leadership in the State. In any democratic arrangement political leadership has the onerous duty of not only directing but also of educating the people on the virtues of a particular ideology and line of action and party line. This element has been woefully lacking in the State especially in Kashmir region. The result has been deep-seated trust deficit. The interlocutors have done a great disservice to the people of the State by not concentrating on the fault line adopted by local ambivalent leadership. It will be noted that Kashmir leadership has generally been said to be changing the content of its political discourse in Srinagar, Jammu and New Delhi. The team says it was often posed the question whether their mission would be result-oriented. Sadly, the interlocutors fail to fathom the import of the question which when simplified boils down to: “Are you going to report that India has forcibly occupied Kashmir and she should quit? This is verifiable from how Mirwaiz Umar Faraoq the Chairman of Hurriyat (M) reacted to the publication of the Report of Interlocutors. It may be harsh to recount that on March 30, 1990; nearly 15 lakh people assembled on Idgah grounds in the vicinity of Srinagar city and declared legitimization of gun as the instrument of winning freedom of Kashmir from Indian occupation.

The issue of human rights has been discussed (5.3) in very laconic manner creating an impression that it does not carry the weight it should while discussing Kashmir issue. The gun wielder, bomb hurling youth and stone pelting student as well as the “migrants” and “displaced persons within the valley” all have been clubbed together as deserving to be meted out justice according to human rights. This casual treatment neither credits nor testifies to the unbiased approach of the interlocutors. Killing of hundreds of minority community in the valley in 1990, extirpation of entire minority population from their thousands of years old habitat and their ethnic cleansing (as stated by the Indian government in its report to International Committee of Jurists in Geneva) are all only trivial matters for the team interlocutors not meriting an exclusive paragraph if not a page. Likewise there is hardly any mention of its reaction to the suffering of people displaced from PoK in 1947 and still homeless and stateless. What inter-community dialogue can be fruitful when not even a simple enquiry has been ordered in the rise of Theo-fascist movement in Kashmir in 1989-90? In contrast, there is hectic activity to pave the way for return and rehabilitation of militant youth from PoK.
(to be concluded).

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