Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tyranny of the rulers from Kashmir -- Arvind Lavakare

It's Jammu vs Kashmir --- finally

Arvind Lavakare
Monday, 25 August , 2008, 12:01

Arvind Lavakare has published a monograph, The Truth About Article 370, in 2005.

When several of our mainline English dailies recently splashed what they thought was the novel headline, "Jammu vs Kashmir", on account of the unprecedented angst and anger in the Jammu region of J & K state over the denial of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board, I was amused.

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I was amused because as many as seven years and 11 months ago a major web portal had posted an article of mine bearing the headline "It could finally be Jammu vs Kashmir". My forecast then was not based on astrology or prescience but on a study of the past agonies of Jammu that had run over into the present. And study is something that current bred of "Breaking News" journalists hardly do, if at all.

UN monitoring Kashmir situation

It did not require meticulous research, but just some serious reading, to know that Jammu's troubles had begun soon after the monarch of J & K, Maharaja Hari Singh, from the Dogra community of Jammu, chose to sign his princely state's accession to India, rather than to Pakistan, in October 1947 under the British Parliament's Indian Independence Act, 1947. The troubles emanated from Sheikh Abdullah, the towering National Conference leader from the predominantly Muslim populated Kashmir Valley, who, for reasons as yet unclear, was the pet of Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Prime Minster among several Congress ones who believed that the Hindu community was a danger to free India. It was just a matter of time therefore that Nehru coerced Maharaja Hari Singh to hand over the reins of the J&K state to the interim government of Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference Party --- the first time that Muslims, not Hindus, became the rulers in J&K.

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So enamoured of Sheikh Abdullah was Nehru that while he had left the integration of 561 princely states either into India or Pakistan to his deputy and Home Minister, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, he chose to deal with J & K himself. And so crafty and cunning was Sheikh Abdullah that he got Nehru to agree to include in the Constitution of India,1950, the Article 370 that gave J & K a special status that no other state of India has ever enjoyed. And even as J & K was allowed to draft its own State Constitution (separate from the Indian Constitution), Abdullah was permitted to hold the position of the state's Wazir-e- Azam, or Prime Minister and the J&K state was permitted to have its own flag.

Full coverage: Amarnath land row

The supreme dominance of the Kashmir Valley and its Muslims over Jammu & Kashmir state had begun. The suppression of Jammu and the state's third region, Ladakh (predominantly Buddhist) had begun.

And the first opposition to this monopoly over the state of J&K was started more than half a century ago. Ironically, it was started by Nehru's ministerial colleague, Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. The Bengal tiger staked his life in his effort to (i) secure the integration of J&K with the rest of India and (ii) save the Dogras of Jammu from Sheikh Abdullah's actions that were reportedly described by a former central intelligence chief as a bid at ethnic cleansing.

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In a speech at Kanpur on December 29, 1952, Dr Mookerjee had made the grave charge that, "Mr Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah have jointly decided to carry on a ruthless policy of repression in Jammu." He had referred to "an impression gaining ground that with our blood and money we are carving out a virtually autonomous state for Sheikh Abdullah." Therefore, he proclaimed, "Jammu and Ladakh must be fully integrated with India according to the wishes of their people."

Read all columns by Lavakare

Dr Mookerjee categorically stated that while he did not want the partition of J&K, it had become a matter of Hobson's choice: Kashmir Valley could be made a separate state with all necessary subventions desired by the Sheikh and his advisers, but Jammu and Ladakh must not be sacrificed.

Images: Fresh violence in Jammu and Kashmir

Dr Mookerjee died on June 23, 1953, under suspicious circumstances while under house arrest in an abandoned cottage on a hill outside Srinagar, with no telephone or medical facility within miles, without Nehru meeting him there even once during his 40-day detention. His soul must surely be astir now with talk gaining ground about the revived call for a separate Jammu and a separate Ladakh.

Images: Shrine row strains Jammu

Contrary to the allegations of the pseudo-secularists, this separatist drive and the present anger in Jammu over the Amarnath land are not based on the Hindu-Muslim divide. Instead, it is entirely based on the economic deprivation and political despotism exercised by the Abdullah clan and its kith and kin from Srinagar. The charges against the Kashmir Valley clique are many. Writing in the May 2000 issue of Voice of Jammu Kashmir magazine, J N Bhat, retired judge of the J&K high court, alleged that:

  1. Thousands of plots carved out in the suburbs of Jammu have been allotted to Kashmiris, all the beneficiaries belonging to one particular community.
  2. In some localities of Jammu city, water is supplied after a gap of three to four days, and not even enough of it to quench the thirst of the people. Obviously, funds got for development get misused.
  3. In the Jammu region, the Hindu minorities of Doda and Poonch districts have been tortured and many of them have found, according to sources, conversion the only option, though they prefer death to forced conversion. Another eminent person who has made more serious accusations is Hari Om, professor of history in Jammu University, and a member of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR). In a newspaper article --- eight years ago, mind you --- the professor complains that:
  1. Though Kashmiris constitute roughly 22 per cent of the state's total population, the delimitation mechanism cleverly devised by Sheikh Abdullah's National Conference Party in 1951 enables it to capture nearly half of the total assembly and Lok Sabha seats. The trick lies in 46 assembly segments having been created in the small Valley as against 41 segments combined in Jammu and Ladakh regions that are far bigger and more populated than the Valley. This mechanism is apparently contrary to the rules framed under the Indian Parliament's Representation of People's Act and those under the relevant State Act of 1957.
  2. Kashmiris hold over 2,30,000 positions out of a nearly 2,40,000 positions in government and semi-government organisations in the Valley. In addition, they corner nearly 25 per cent of the jobs in the regional services of Jammu and Ladakh.
  3. All the professional and technical institutions, universities and all the big public sector industrial units like HMT, the television, telephone and cement factories located in the Valley are the sole preserve of the Kashmiris. Besides, they manipulate for themselves more than 50 per cent of the seats in Jammu's ill-equipped and under-staffed medical and engineering college and in the Agricultural University in R S Pura. No such institution exists in Ladakh.
  4. The Kashmiris control trade, commerce, transport and industry, and own big orchards as well as landed estates. None of them is without a house. Likewise, the per capita expenditure on woollen clothes in Kashmir is perhaps the highest in the world. Till date, no one in Kashmir has, unlike in UP, Bihar and Orissa, died either of hunger or cold.
  5. Interestingly, yet not surprisingly, a vast majority of the Kashmiris don't pay even a single penny to the state in the form of revenue due to it. It is Jammu and Ladakh that contribute over 90 per cent to the state exchequer, but a major part of this money is spent not in the extremely backward and underdeveloped Jammu and Ladakh but in the highly prosperous and developed Kashmir Valley.

As a result of the above, professor Hari Om says, "It is Kashmiris and Kashmiris everywhere and all others in the state exist nowhere."

Read more columns by well-known authors

The dismal scenario above has apparently prevailed for so long that even editors of our national daily newspapers refer most casually to J&K merely as "Kashmir", forgetting the fundamental fact that "J&K" is not Kashmir and that "Kashmir" is not J&K.

Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference cabal created that scenario with the connivance of Nehru and his Congress dynasty. Today, the Mufti clan has added fuel to the fire. It has all become perpetuated because Pakistan's cross border terrorism has struck New Delhi with cowardice, denying them the courage to fight against the Kashmiriyat clan for the rights of the meek and the oppressed, the Jammuites and the Ladakhis who too have been demanding freedom from the tyranny of the rulers from the Valley.

The coming months will show whether the Jammuites have finally stopped turning the other cheek. If Jammu's old political outfit, the Praja Parishad Party, can take re-birth as it were and join hands with the Ladakhis, Buddhists and all, the ongoing Jammu vs Kashmir battle will add another page of history to J&K and India.

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