… in the current socio-political climate in Kashmir

by K. N. Pandita

Reports have come in that some hooligans tried to disrupt the meetings of several separatist leaders in Jammu in recent days. The finger is pointed towards Shiv Sena activists. Some local papers in Jammu region and many in Kashmir region lost no time in condemning these disruptive plans labeling them pre-conceived conspiracies. It is difficult to say that the outsiders who interfered in the meetings of the separatists were exclusively from the cadres of Shiva Sena. We are aware that there is bitter power rivalry among major political parities and their sympathizers in the State. Goons can be hired and mayhem can be let loose.

Shiv Sena is a recognized political party in the country. It has been fighting assembly and parliamentary elections and winning or loosing seats. As such it is as much responsible a political party as any other national political party. Therefore one will have reservations in accepting the allegation that Shiv Sena activists alone are responsible for the creation of disorder in the meetings.

The critical point that is deliberately overlooked while commenting on this situation is that those who are preaching separatism have connived at the ethnic cleansing of pro-Indian elements from the valley. They encountered no resistance in carrying forward that agenda just because there was no opposition to their externally supported agenda in the valley. Common people gave shelter to the gun-wielding goons, provided them logistical and other crucial support, and saw to it that law and order in the valley was shredded to pieces.

Having achieved a major success of their mission, these separatists are now trying to sell their commodity in Jammu region thinking that the Muslim dominated districts of Jammu region would tow their line and consequently strengthen their agenda of spreading the separatist movement in those districts.

It is but natural that nationalist elements to whom the unity of India is sacrosanct take it a challenge to their sense of nationalism and national integrity. Democracy and freedom of expression do not mean the freedom of striking at the very roots of national unity and territorial integrity. If there is no condemnation of the murderous acts of gun wielding militants in Kashmir, why should the press and some political parities come out with strong condemnation of an act aimed at disrupting a political meeting? Why are there two different measuring yardsticks for identical issues?

Do the militants and their sympathizers allow any assembly in the valley to go on with its deliberations of promoting national agenda like national unity and territorial integrity, democracy and secularism? Political leaders move around in the valley under Z-security arrangements. Despite that the militants have gunned down a number of political activists on showing even the smallest sign of nationalistic proclivity. Yet no newspaper in the valley considers it a moral and professional obligation to condemn such acts of terrorism. The militants have taken them a hostage. But when a minute event of disturbing a separatist meeting took place in Jammu, the pro-militancy press has come out with banner lines and long editorials to paint the Shiva Sena and its partners in darkest possible colours.

A good segment of Indian print media, whose voice reaches all ranks of society generally underplayed the ethnic cleansing in Kashmir in 1990 and at least half a dozen pogroms ever since in which members of minority community were slain. It outright refused to highlight the exodus of the minuscule Pandit religious minority and some nationalist elements, its causes and consequences. But the same segment is quick to magnify a small incident in Jammu, and raise the alarum of impending “large scale communal orgies”. Obviously, these segments are not working impartially and are not observing the basic requirements of objective reporting of events. In crude words they are called “sold outs.”

It is true the government machinery, generally unwilling to adopt preventive measures at proper time in the case of militancy related events in the valley changes its mode when a situation like the one in hand arises in Jammu. No doubt the disruptors will be severely dealt with more for preventing recurrence of incidents than for correcting the defaulters. But is that the solution of the situation that has arisen?

This incident needs to be understood and analyzed in the background of current socio-political climate in the country. Our current leadership, particularly the Congress leadership has lost the faculty of delicate balancing of situations and solutions. It is incapable of understanding that vote bank politics is a cheap and mundane gimmick, which would not be in the interests of the nation in the long run. Rather it would become counter-productive. What has happened in Jammu is a symptom of that counter-productivity. Therefore the need is to address the entire phenomenon rather than resort to piecemeal solution. If the disruption of the meetings of the separatists is bad by whatsoever norms, the killing and extirpation of harmless citizens is no less a despicable crime. And above all, it is ludicrous to propagate separatism in a region where peace and tranquility have been maintained by and large. It is important that State authorities rise above communal considerations and take a nationalistic view of the entire situation. Disruption of a meeting, though an unfortunate event, is insignificant in comparison to the pogroms unleashed against a defenseless minority and then forcing it to proceed on imposed exile. (The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir)

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