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Putting and end to alienation

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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 approaching 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 support this rather unusual decision. 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 patriotic 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.

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Earthquake, state and the militants

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by K.N. Pandita – “We work better because we have local volunteers with full knowledge of the terrain. The army troops mobilized from the Punjab neither have any knowledge of the region nor the experience for this kind of work…. Our representatives attend daily meetings at Bagh, Muzaffabad and Mansehra with senior military authorities, the UN representatives, officers of the civil administration and representatives of NGOs. We have been working in close cooperation with UNICEF, WFO, WHO, UNHCR, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), Oxfam and Khalsa Aid of UK” says Abdullah Obeid, in-charge of Jama’atu’d-Dawa’s (JD) central relief camp at Muzaffarabad.

The devastating October earthquake galvanized four leading Pakistani civilian humanitarian organizations into action to arrange massive relief for the victims in remote and inaccessible regions of Hazara and POK. The leading among these is JD, a welfare wing of the outlawed Lashkar-e Taiyyaba (LeT) vigorously active in Kashmir Valley and parts of the country. All these welfare organizations have recruited volunteers from LeT, and JD backed Harakatu’l-Mujahideen (HuM). Within hours of the earthquake they established credible networks of relief delivery to the affected areas.

A track record of the relief collection, transportation and distribution work done by the recruits of militant organizations, the efficiency and efficacy with which their volunteers have been performing the task of bringing relief to the affected people, all has won them appreciation from the UN bodies, international NGOs and international print media.

WHO sources confirmed that JD and Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) worked closely with WHO on a daily basis to keep the world body updated on health issues. Representatives of these organizations added that the state force of Pakistan extended cooperation towards JD and other militant and religious elements that in fact came as a pleasant surprise to many observers. For example on more than one occasion, JD was provided helicopter facility by the military authorities to transport its relief items to Tilgaran, Pahelian, Panigot and some other areas while PIMA’s medical teams were also transported in military helicopters to areas at high altitudes.

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