The triplets of Jammu and Kashmir
Solution has to be comprehensive, not superficial
ANALYSIS BY AMIT KUSHARI
Thank God, at last peace is returning to Kashmir. We do not hear about too many unfortunate violent incidents. My friends and neighbours in Kolkata are very happy with this development and they have already started planning their holidays in Kashmir after April. The more it hots up in Kolkata more the people of Bengal dream about the cool environment of Kashmir valley where they can spend a few happy days. Many well known personalities like music composer A.R.Rehman, film star Ranbir Kapoor and cricketer Rhodes were recently seen holidaying in Kashmir and that encourages the tourists to finalise their summer holiday plans in Kashmir valley. Some of my friends tell me, "look what a marvelous job Mr. Omar Abdullah has done. He has made Kashmiris forget about their azaadi dreams. The Kashmiris have now reconciled themselves to living peacefully in India."
Since I have known the people of Jammu and Kashmir intimately for almost four decades I know that this simplistic viewpoint is not perhaps correct. The problems of Kashmir valley, Ladakh and Jammu have to be solved permanently in a political way if permanent peace is to be reached in that geographical area which is at present an administrative unit of the Indian union- after having lost substantial chunks of territory to Pakistan and China. I am intentionally calling this area an administrative unit of the government in Delhi and not calling it an Indian state - because this geographical area which is the subject matter of an international dispute - does not really qualify to be called an Indian state. Indian states have one principal language each and one geographical identity. Jammu and Kashmir consists of three geographical regions of Kashmir, Ladakh and Jammu and speak quite a few major languages like Kashmiri, Dogri,Ladakhi,Pahari, Sheena and Gojri. This is not in accordance with the concept of linguistic states in India- where many states can have one language but one state cannot have many languages. In J&K the amazing thing is that three regions of the state belong to three different geographical zones of Asia. Whereas Kashmir valley belongs to Central Asia, Ladakh is a part of Mongolian region and Jammu is a part of South Asia. Jammu and Kashmir which was ruled by one Maharaja before 1947 is in fact the meeting point of Mongolia, South Asia and Central Asia. Around 70% of this area is administered by India presently and the rest by Pakistan and China.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is therefore an area to be politically settled and decided and it is incorrect to solve this entire issue by one political formula which perhaps the interlocutors of the government of India are trying to do. There has to be a three way formula for solving this issue - even if the entire disparate area has to remain within the Indian union. If the people of Kashmir crave for independence or high degree of autonomy or self rule - the people of Ladakh and Jammu in general - specially the non Kashmiri speaking people - resent this idea and would like to be a closer part of India without any sort of autonomy since they believe that autonomy would subjugate them to the Kashmiri speaking people.
The story of J&K is similar to the story of triplets born connected by one cord with one child being born with a malignant tumour the other two babies being normal.The baby with the tumour has to be subjected to intense radiation to save his life but the other two babies cannot take this intense radiation. In such a situation for the welfare of all the three babies the doctor has to first separate these three babies by surgery and then treat the handicapped baby with radiation and chemotherapy. If the doctor tries to maintain the combined common identity of the triplets, no proper treatment of the babies would be possible. Kashmir urgently requires a very high degree of autonomy or self rule, whereas Jammu and Ladakh minus the Kashmiri speaking areas of Doda, Kishtwar, Banihal, Thanamandi etc. need to be merged with India completely.
Recently I heard on T.V. a very interesting debate on 'Kashmir, what next?' in which Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Arif Muhammad Khan( M.P.) participated. All of them were right from their own viewpoints but none of them came close to the real solution of the issue. Arif Muhammad Khan didn't deal with the Kashmir issue at all and dwelt at length on why Kashmiris should not think of Pakistan. He spoke on Maulana Azad and how bad things were in Pakistan. He said if Pakistan did not treat the 100 million Bengalis with dignity, how do million Kashmiris expect a place of dignity in Pakistan? Mr. Geelani's speech was emotional and was a true depiction of the feelings of the Kashmiri speaking Muslims. Indeed he may be the representative of 55% of the people of J&K - a statistical majority.
The debate reminded me of the story of six blind men who felt an elephant by hand and described the elephant in six different ways. None of them could truly describe how the elephant looked like.
For finding a way out for Kashmir we should not call six blind people to 'pat down' the elephant. Rather the Government of India should call for a surgeon and an oncologist .
(Amit Kushari ( IAS Retd.) is former Financial Commissioner J&K. Feedback can be given at 09748635185 or email@example.com).
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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