From Killing Innocent to Eight Point Formula
WHAT LIES AT THE ROOT OF KASHMIR PROBLEM, WRITES BALRAJ PURI
WHAT lessons eight point formula announced by government of India on Kashmir reflects about the turmoil that has gripped the valley since June 11 when an innocent teenagers was killed by a tear gas shell? Why it has happened during this time of the rear when tourism was showing a promise of a new record—when all house boats and hotel rooms were fully booked?
May this year also set a new record when 40,000 Kashmiri Pandits, mostly from outside the valley where they had migrated in 1990, attended their annual religious fair at Khir Bhawani and received unusual warm hospitality from local Muslims.
Again, throughout May there were spontaneous celebrations throughout the valley when a local boy Shah Faesal topped the list of successful candidates in the test of Indian Administrative Services. Shah Faesal promised to be an icon for Kashmiri youth. The separatists could neither join the popular mood nor opposed it and appeared to be irrelevant. Why could not that situation be consolidated. Finally in may militancy was at its lowest ebb.
Killing of 17 year old Tuffail Ahmad Mattoo was followed by firing on his funeral procession killing another youth. A vicious circle then started of protests and killings. Why was the situation not tackled at that stage? Why was no inquiry ordered into causes of first killing and suitable action taken against the guilty police men? And youth leaders invited for talks? Instead speculations started about the real culprits who incited the youth. The Union Home Minister blamed the Lashker-e-Toiba for the trouble. When the youth burnt the effigies of Salahuddin, the chief of the United Jehad Council of which Lashker is a part, for his unwanted advice, the suspicion about its role should have been dispelled. Then blame shifted to separatist leaders.
The reality was it was a revolt not only against the government but also against the traditional separatist leaders. The masked teenagers at an early stage had in their address to the media expressed their disillusionment with the leaders and made certain charges against them.
I apprised the Prime Minister of this fact, who, in his address to the All Party Conference on Kashmir, had “empathized with the anger and frustration of the youth who have been in the forefront of the stone pelting youth.” Sonia Gandhi stressed that “every one should ask why the Kashmiri youth are in anger” and suggested that “all should be magnanimous to respect their legitimate aspirations.”
The Prime Minister, on my suggestion, also advised a conference of Inspectors General of Police of the state to use non-lethal methods of crowed control. In Kashmir not only lethal methods were used but according to the Director Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences “most people were injured due to beating and deaths were also “due to beating by the police and CRPF.”
Government sent some persons to Geelani in jail and offered to release him if he used peaceful methods. He agreed to this condition. He did appeal to the youth to stop stone pelting and resort to peaceful methods. Which was not responded. But as an experienced, leader he was able to give a sense of direction to the movement, give a calendar of protest and a new slogan “Quit Jammu and Kashmir.” However, when he indicated his preference for the state’s accession to Pakistan, the youth group categorically rejected his views.
Later the government tried his rival Mirwiaz Umar Farooq and removed all restrictions on his movement on an assurance by, as per the chief minister, of one of his confidants. He was allowed to lead the Idd prayers and address the congregation while restrictions were put on Geelani. Mirwaiz also addressed a joint public meeting at All Chowk. But he could not discipline the crowd which became violent and burnt some government buildings.
Instead of blaming Geelani or Mirwiaz, the government should have by now realized that the youth were not under their control, nor to any other leader. Thus due to wrong diagnosis and wrong methods of dealing with it, teenagers revolt acquired the form of a mass upsurge. At that stage army was called. It staged a flag march. At some places its camps were also attacked and it came in clash with the protesters.
In this context the eight point proposal lost some of his appeal. However, centre’s directive to the state government to “review all cases of PSA detenues and withdraw orders in appropriate cases” and grant ex-gratia relief to the families of persons killed since June 11,” is an undue interference in the affairs of the state. These suggestions could be given by the Congress party to the state ruling coalition of which Congress is a partner. Similarly advice to open educational institutions is already being implemented and, in any case, should depend upon the assessment of the local situation by the state government and not central directive.
The suggestion regarding the appointment of two Special Task Forces each of Jammu region and Ladakh region to examine their development needs begs the question why not such a task force for Kashmir has caused strong reaction in all the regions. Kashmiris resent against special attention to other regions where it has given an impression as if these two regions are just an adjunct and not an equal partner of Kashmir. Moreover, it is not development alone that the people need. They have equally strong urge for share in power. Why not implement the promise of regional autonomy made by Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah under Delhi Agreement in 1952 and recommended by, inter alia, the All Parties People’s Convention convened by Sheikh Abdullah as leader of the Plebiscite Front, the leading separatist party at the that time and attended by Mirwaiz Umar’s father Mirwaiz Farooq and Jamat-e-Islami, of which Geelani was a member. The Sheikh reiterated this commitment when he returned to power in 1975 to implement regional autonomy which was incorporated in the National Conference manifesto called New Kashmir.
As far development needs are concerned, I had suggested, as head of the Regional Autonomy Committee appointed by the state government, an eight point formula for equitable and objective criteria for allocation of funds. It included area, population, road connectivity in proportion to area, share in government services, share in admission to higher and technical institutions, infant mortality, female literacy and contribution to the state exchequer. The formula can be further discussed and in whatever form it is adopted, can be computed to determine share of each region and district instead of being decided, as at present, on subjective and political considerations or, left to be by experts of the task force.
Inter-regional relations in Jammu and Kashmir is too complex a problem to be dealt with summarily by a Task Force. It is at the root of what is called Kashmir problem.
Finally, cabinet committee on security has recommended to “appoint a group of interlocutors under the chairmanship of an eminent person to begin a sustained dialogue with all sections of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, including political parties groups, youth and students organizations, civil society organizations and other stake holders.”
Who are the persons qualified for the job, have an elementary knowledge about all ethnic diversities of the state, their cultural, social, economic needs and political urges and who can inspire confidence of all sections? What would be their terms of reference? Obviously the pre-condition would be that the solution should be within the framework of the Indian constitution. No separatists party, in that case, will cooperate. On centre-state relations also, there are divergent opinions, including within the Congress party, a coalition partner in the state government.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Oct 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Oct 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Oct 2010 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM OP-ED
KU COUNCIL MEETS
STRESSES ON EMPLOYMENT ORIENTED COURSES
Srinagar, Oct 5: The Governor, N N Vohra, has stressed the need for taking all required measures for ensuring the highest standards of learning so that the youth of Jammu and Kashmir are equipped More
Rates up by 30%
GK BUSINESS REPORTER
Srinagar, Oct 5: In what has warmed the cockles of the fruit growers and dealers, the Kashmir walnuts are fetching good prices in outside mandis. According to reports the walnuts are selling at more More
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
New Delhi, Oct 5: Left parties today sought the setting up of a parliamentary or a political committee to initiate dialogue with all sections of the people in Jammu and Kashmir and a review of the overall More