By P. K. VASUDEVA:┬áAn all-party delegation of 26 MPs from 20 different parties under the leadership of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking to end turbulence in Kashmir concluded its two-day visit on 4-5 September with no breakthrough, however, Singh saw some positives even as he lashed out at the separatists for their refusal to meet the MPs lacking ÔÇÿInsaniat, Jamhooriat and KashmiriyatÔÇÖ. Talking about the motive behind the visit, Singh said Parliament, which is the supreme ÔÇ£panchayatÔÇØ of the country and the Government, are very serious about the situation in Kashmir and hence decided to send a delegation of its MPs for talks.
Though it was not expected that the all-party delegationÔÇÖs visit to trouble-torn Kashmir would make any difference to the situation on the ground and soon change the attitude of mischief mongers yet it was considered to be a symbolic gesture of confidence building measures (CBMs) rather than a political opening, hence, did not surprise many. There was no change in stone-pelting and low-key violence, and the curfew, which, had been lifted in many places before the visit, had to be re-imposed. However, the delegation held talks with some parties and leaders with open mind and met hundreds of persons in many different groups. The separatists boycotted the team and even rebuffed the members who took the initiative to meet them.
The invitation to the Hurriyat leaders was not made by the Home Minister/Government but by Mehbooba Mufti on behalf of her party, not even as the chief minister. The reports of past all-party teams and the recommendations of interlocutors had all been dumped by the successive governments in Delhi. Hence there was cynicism about the delegation.
The teamÔÇÖs visit would have been more meaningful if the CBMs, like replacement of pellet guns by non-lethal PAVA shells, reduction of security presence, allowing of peaceful protests, release of some leaders in detention and reduction of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) jurisdiction in some sectors were indicated. Some of these were highlighted at the meeting of the members of the delegation in Delhi.
The centre should therefore marginalise the separatists, remove all the perks they enjoy from Govt of India/State Govt at Indian tax payers cost, expose them as well their connection with Pakistan, take steps to freeze all their bank accounts so that funding from across the borders be stopped, investigate the funding of their Pakistani mentors and expose these details before the UN Security Council and Kashmiri people.
Singh said the all-party delegation would like to visit Ladakh also in the near future as the region too is a part of Jammu & Kashmir and it is important to listen to the voice of the people there.
This solution according to them will end unrest in J & K and harmonise inter-regional and inter-communal relations.
People of Jammu and Ladakh constitute more than half of the stateÔÇÖs population and inhabit more than 88 per cent of the stateÔÇÖs land area and only 5 per cent are with the separatists. The majority is ardent believers in the concept of national unity and integrity. They vouch and consistently struggle for a regime that empowers them to shape and control fully their socio-economic and political future under the Indian Constitution. In effect, complete integration into India has been their motto, the gospel of their political redemption.
The people of trans-Himalayan strategic Ladakh have been demanding Union Territory status since decades, saying they cannot have any kind of truck with separatistsÔÇÖ leadership, which donÔÇÖt consider J & K an integral part of India, and exploit them. Similarly, the people of Jammu have been demanding separation from Kashmir on the grounds that Kashmiri leaders of all hues stand for a ÔÇ£regime outside the political and constitutional organisation of IndiaÔÇØ and that they are fed up with the ÔÇ£Kashmiri hegemony and domination over the stateÔÇÖs polity and financial and social institutionsÔÇØ.
They have opined that the State of J & K is an unnatural formation and if the people of the stateÔÇÖs three historically, politically, culturally, ethnically and economically regions ÔÇô Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh ÔÇô are to ÔÇ£live their own chosen lifeÔÇØ, the state has to be trifurcated. So much so, they have termed as ÔÇ£hypocritesÔÇØ those Kashmiris who oppose three-way split of the state and without mincing words acknowledge that there is ÔÇ£no commonalityÔÇØ between the stateÔÇÖs three regions.
Take, for example, what distinguished Kashmiri writer and opinion leader Ghulam Nabi Khayal who returned his Sahitya Academy Award over issue of ÔÇ£growing intoleranceÔÇØ said on November 10 and 24, 2015, ÔÇ£I am of a firm opinion that, whoever advocates holding together all the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir State, is a hypocrite. Those who have been at the helm of affairs right from 1947 and those who are now spearheading a different movement of separation from the Indian Union or holding of plebiscite, are compelled by their political expediency to support this unnatural combine of state brought by those autocratic non-Muslim rulers (in this case Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu) not hailing from Kashmir.The mountainous land of Buddhists, Ladakh, has been playing anti-Kashmir card intermittently. LadakhÔÇÖs genuine demand for Union territory status is to be conceded. Otherwise also, this frontier land is now straightaway ruled by its own (Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council) and not by the state government. Jammu has all along been a pricking thorn in the eye of Kashmir. The anti-Kashmir Jammu be given a separate statehoodÔÇØ. Significantly, late President R Venkataraman had also urged former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to divide the state to limit the area of contention and strife to Kashmir Valley. The granting of Union Territory status would solve many of these anomalies: a Lieutenant Governor representing the Centre would be the Administrator.
P. K. VASUDEVA is retired professor ÔÇÿInternational RelationsÔÇÖ. He may be approached at email@example.com