Cong’s new mantra: Trifurcate JK
Reflects Coalition Confusion: PDP;Good Idea: Sajjad, Endorsing RSS Plan: NC
Srinagar, Dec 6: The statement of a senior state Congress leader supporting Azadi for Kashmir and separate statehood for Jammu has triggered a fresh debate within the political circles in Jammu and Kashmir.
In a surprising development on Sunday, the Minister for Health, Sham Lal Sharma raised the issue of the state’s ‘trifurcation’ calling for making Jammu a separate state while seeking Azadi for the Valley and Union Territory status for Ladakh. The comments, the reports said, came at a public rally in Bani in Kathua district of Jammu region where Sharma was addressing a public meeting in presence of the state Congress chief, Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz.
“Kashmir region has remained disturbed since long. The people there are demanding Azadi, indulging in violence and also raising voices against the nation. Centre is providing massive funding to them. Despite concessions, packages and massive funding, they have continued to raise voice against the country. The nationalist people of Jammu region are being crushed and their aspirations ignored. The discrimination has continued, regional imbalances were at galore and Kashmir was being pumped with funding at the cost of Jammu people. People of Jammu region can not be made to suffer for long. Time has come that Jammu should be separated from Kashmir, Ladakhis be granted UT status and Kashmir be given Azadi,” Sharma had said.
Pertinently, Sham was the first among Congress leaders in Jammu to support Amarnath land row agitation in 2008.
While, AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi described Sharma's remarks as his "personal view" and said the party's stand "is very clear - autonomy within the framework of the Indian Constitution", it is for the first time perhaps that the state Congress has voiced such a plan for Kashmir, which has nevertheless found supporters in Kashmir.
“It is a good idea,” said the Peoples Conference chairman, Sajjad Gani Lone. “The geographical or political unions are not the word of God that they cannot be changed. Any civilized society has and should have the right to have a rethink on any union,” he added.
Lone, however, said force must not have any role in implementation of such ideas. “Nobody forces Jammu to remain with Kashmir. But yes, those in Jammu districts who want to be with Kashmir should also not be forced to remain with Jammu,” he told Greater Kashmir, when asked how he viewed Sharma’s comments. “Jammu is a heterogeneous place while Kashmir homogeneous by and large. So this must be kept in mind while implementing such a plan.”
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) feels that such comments just exposed the “confusion” in the coalition government. “In the first place, there is a dichotomy between what the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah says about Kashmir and what his father says about it. The former in a way raises a question mark on the state’s accession with India while the latter beats the drum that Kashmir is integral part of India. Now Sham Lal Sharma is talking about trifurcation. So this clearly exposes the confusion in the coalition government, which has turned Kashmir tragedy into a political circus for themselves,” said the party president, Mehbooba Mufti.
She said it is better if the confusion is removed. “We will react to Sharma’s assertion if such comments come from the Congress high command. It is to be seen if it is the official stand of the Congress party,” Mehbooba said, accusing the coalition government of playing to the galleries.
The National Conference minced no words in describing Sharma’s view as that of RSS. “I am sorry to say that it can be an extreme view of a party like RSS,” said the senior NC leader, Dr Mehboob Beg. “It is our conviction and commitment that Jammu and Kashmir is a single unit which means Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. There is no question of disintegration of state.”
He added: “I am very sorry to say that when Sharma talks about Jammu, it is not only two and a half districts. Jammu means Rajouri, Poonch, Doda, Kishtwar, Banihal and Ladakh doesn’t mean Ladakh town. In 2002, we had the elected representatives in the state who unanimously passed a resolution asking for restoration of autonomy to the state. That is the crux of democracy. Sharma is piloting the extreme view of RSS when he calls for disintegration of the state. When RSS speaks in this voice, they think themselves as nationalists. This is one thing which is detrimental in the interest of the nation.”
A Hurriyat Conference (M) spokesman said the party didn’t favour division of the state. “Kashmir is a dispute. There is a ceasefire line which divides the state. We are not for division of the state but for its reunification,” he said.
The Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman could not be contacted for comments.
POLITICAL ANALYSTS SPEAK
Political analysts believe that there was no compelling reason for leaders in Jammu or Ladakh to ask for reorganization of the state. “In the past there was politics of discrimination and politics of hegemony which shaped the political discourse in the state. There were voices from the BJP or Panthers Party or even Karan Singh who at one moment in time said that it is an artificial state created by his forefathers,” said noted political analyst, Prof Gul Muhammad Wani, who teaches politics at the University of Kashmir.
But, according to Gul, what has happened in between is that power is now equitably being shared between different regions of the state. “For instance ever-since the establishment of the Autonomous Hill Development Council for Leh and Kargil, lot of autonomy has been granted to these places. Even empirical evidence shows that Ladakh is gaining more autonomy in matters of policy making, funds and decision making. So these regions are genuinely represented at different levels,” he said.
Gul said even in the coalition governments in 2002 and then the present one, Jammu has got its share through a political process. “If there are grievances in Jammu, they are in the Pir Panchal and Chenab Valley regions, and not in the Kathua, Jammu city or Udhampur,” he said.
Gul said the voices of discrimination and deprivation are becoming more and stronger in the Valley. “The terms of discourse related to the regional disparity have shifted to Valley. There is a new sense of insecurity in the Valley that the people are not getting their due share. And why people in the Valley feel discriminated is because they feel that the Indian state is acting on behalf of Ladakh and Jammu regions in an undemocratic manner. So when such voices come from people like Sham Lal Sharma or even Karan Singh, I think they are a reflection of something else, probably Jammu leadership is feeling the heat of the Kashmir conflict,” he said.
Gul asserted that the voices of regional discrimination have gone down in Jammu and Ladakh. “Valley people feel discriminated because there is a large security and bureaucratic establishment which is non-Kashmiri. You can see the figures. And then there is also a feeling that the state government is headed by a Kashmiri Chief Minster who has been marginalized in decision making process over a period of time. So we can conclude by saying that if there are such voices like Sharma, the reasons must be external rather than internal,” he said.
In October this year, a RSS ideologue had carved out a ‘new solution’ for the vexed Kashmir dispute, calling for ‘disintegration’ of Jammu and Kashmir and also the restoration of pre-1953 levels of autonomy to the Valley, albeit with certain pre-conditions. The former RSS spokesperson, MG Vaidya, had recommended that Kashmir be cleaved from Jammu and Ladakh and granted pre-1953 level of autonomy with a prime minister (Wazir-e-Azam) as head of the government, with powers over all subjects other than Defence, Currency, Foreign Affairs and Telecommunications.
The ‘Vaidya Plan’ had said that unlike the pre-1953 status, there should be no separate president (Sadr-e-Riyasat) for the state because “we have only one President for the whole country”. It said that Jammu should become a separate state and Ladakh a union territory in accordance with its distinct “geographical, religious, linguistic and cultural” identity.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 6 Dec 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 6 Dec 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 7 Dec 2010 00:00:00 IST
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