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Hey Ram: Let's give away Kashmir

Source : SIFY
Last Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2008 07:35 hrs
Ram

Give away Kashmir. Give it the azadi that the people are demanding.

Because our democracy, God bless it, does not allow us to ‘trample over’ the wishes of the people.

And while we are at it, perhaps we should ‘give away’ parts of the northeast as well. Because people there too are chafing over ‘Indian rule.’

In other words, instead of summarily trying and executing the people who blatantly abuse, denigrate and desecrate our nation, who openly raise anti-national slogans on our soil, we should actually bow before their demands. That has been the long-standing demand of our friendly neighbour, Pakistan.

But all of a sudden, sections of the Indian mainstream media -- and people like Arundhati Roy -- are echoing these views.

‘What if he (Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a separatist ‘leader’) and his followers were to adopt the strategies of non-cooperation and satyagraha, which were used (by Gandhi) to gain independence?’ asks Jug Suraiya in an article titled ‘India Minus K-word’, in the Times of India dated August 20, 2008. ‘Could the Indian state use physical force against such a peaceful mass movement – if in fact it did arise, as some say it now has – and still retain its moral idea of itself?’

By the same author: Why am I proud of India? | A troubled Pakistan bodes ill for India | Youngistan needs You

“If you believe in democracy, then giving Kashmiris the right to self-determination is the correct thing to do. And even if you don’t, surely we will be better off being rid of this constant, painful strain on our resources, our lives, and our honour as a nation?” argues Vir Sanghvi in the Hindustan Times. (Think the unthinkable, August 16)

“India needs azadi from Kashmir as much as Kashmir needs azadi from India,” pontificates Ms Roy, the writer turned whatever.

But if I was scared when I read all this, I was downright terrified when a reasonably reliable contact in one of our intelligence agencies hinted that this was actually a “trial balloon” being floated at the behest of the UPA government, to gauge the people’s reaction to such a proposal.

Full coverage: Amarnath land row

But then, should I expect better from a government which actually wanted the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India, clearly linked to the recent terrorist attacks, to be lifted?

So, give in to the demands of people like Yasin Malik, the gent who is not sure whether he wants to be a Gandhi or a terrorist swine. The man who a few days ago was ready to go on a "fast-to-death" like the Mahatma, all for peace, and then let it be known that he was ‘co-ordinating’ his activities with Hafiz Sayed, the maniac who heads the Lashkar-e-Taiba. (External link) . Let the terrorists win.

Give away Kashmir. After all, it has been a drain on the national exchequer for over 60 years. As Vir Sanghvi explains, “Kashmiri are Indian citizens but Indians are not necessarily Kashmiri citizens. We cannot vote for elections to their assembly or own any property in Kashmir. Then, there is the money. Bihar gets per capita central assistance of Rs 876 per year. Kashmir gets over 10 times more: Rs 9,754 per year. While in Bihar and other states, this assistance is mainly in the forms of loans to the state, in Kashmir 90 per cent is an outright grant. Kashmir’s entire Five Year Plan expenditure is met by the Indian taxpayer.”

Which is why J&K has 3.56 per cent poverty level while Maharashtra has about 25 per cent.

The BJP had pledged to rescind Article 370, which grants special rights to Kashmiris, but reneged on this after coming to power. Apparently doing so could lead to the accession of the state itself being questioned or revoked. Excuse me? So all that talk about the state being an integral part of India is horse manure?

So, after subsidising the state for so long, we should just walk away? After strident declarations, three wars, we should now hand it over on a plate to Pakistan, with our compliments?

Mansoor Ijaz , a Pakistani-American who was reportedly used by President Bill Clinton to mediate on the Kashmir dispute, once told me that “Pakistan had too much blood invested in Kashmir to just walk away.”

Read other columns: Why Kashmir is not the problem | Trade must come before Kashmir for India, Pak | PoK totally lacking in democracy

India, if we are to accept the Suraiyas, Sanghvis and Roys, obviously does not. We can shrug off the blood being shed by our men in uniform each and every day in Kashmir. Just like we did after the 1971 war, when we agreed to release 90,000 Pakistani Prisoners of War and return more than 15,000 sq km of captured territory, without settling the Kashmir dispute once and for all.

The latest agitation in Jammu and Kashmir was sparked over the allotment of some forest land for Amarnath pilgrims. The separatists immediately denounced this as an attempt to change the demography of the state. They should know, having successfully cleansed the Valley of Pandits earlier.

The government’s knee jerk decision to revoke the allotment of land sparked off protests in Jammu, and there were reports of a blockade of the Kashmir Valley by the Hindus of Jammu. “It’s now Jammu vs Kashmir!” screamed our headlines.

Mehbooba Mufti, the president of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), then declared her support for a march --sponsored by the fruit-growers association of Kashmir and the Hurriyat Conference -- towards Muzaffarabad, in Pakistan occupied Kashmir -- to sell their produce.

Read other columns: Why Kashmir is not the problem | Trade must come before Kashmir for India, Pak

Instead of letting them go there and then permanently blocking their return, Indian security forces broke up the march. Sheikh Abdul Aziz, a separatist leader, and three others were shot dead by unknown assailants, though our men in uniform were immediately blamed. On the other side of the border, a similar march by Pakistanis reportedly carrying food and other essential items for their brethren in the Valley was halted by Pakistani security forces using tear gas at Chakothi.

But hold on. A week before that, the Indian home ministry said there was “credible and mounting evidence that Hurriyat was using the contrived complaint of an 'economic blockade' to nudge the people to look towards Pakistan-controlled Muzaffarabad.”

Briefing journalists, a senior Intelligence official vehemently rejected reports about the blockade, and said as of the morning of Wednesday, August 13, “over 236 trucks and tankers carrying oil, gas, sheep, medicines and poultry products crossed the Jawahar Tunnel from the Jammu side early in the morning, and at least 82 of these vehicles had reached Srinagar by afternoon.”

As for the trucks reportedly stranded in the Valley, he said a particular transport operator, known to be a Hurriyat man, was stubbornly refusing to let his fleet move towards Jammu despite being repeatedly assured of full security. This, the official argued, indicated that the “so called blockade” had been staged by Pakistan’s ISI and the Hurriyat, to help the latter regain some of its fast eroding credibility in the Valley.

Read other columns: Why Kashmir has failed Pakistan | North East of what?

Give away the Kashmir Valley. Forget its economic and strategic importance, it’s immense potential for power generation, and the fact that it gives access to the river heads of the mighty Indus, the Jhelum and Chenab, which flow into Pakistan. Forget land access to Ladakh.

And forget the fact that we will be creating a Waziristan on our borders. Let the Kashmir Valley become the new headquarters of the Taliban, the Al-Qaeda, the LeT, the Jaish-e-Mohammed.

All this, because we do not have the leadership or the statesmanship to tackle the root cause of all the unrest in Kashmir: Pakistan.

If we were to divert or dam the three rivers that feed Pakistan, we could turn that nation into a desert. Have we ever considered leveraging this, the Indus Water Treaty be damned? Surely even the thick-skinned ISI, and the Mad Mullahs who lead the militants, would come to heel when faced with the prospect of indulging in urine therapy to quench their thirst?

We boast of being a superpower in waiting. If India and Indians think that Article 370 in law or "in effect" needs to be abrogated or "ignored" - then let us do it - openly or through subterfuge. Big countries do this all the time. Threaten something bigger, and then revoke the offensive Article, legally or illegally.

“I don't think we yet understand power. I don't think we understand power at all,” Arundhati Ghose, one of India’s finest diplomats, once told me.

“Economically, today we have more power, relatively, compared to what we had 10 or 20 years ago. But we do not understand it. We do not how to use it, we don't know how to project it, we are uncomfortable with it. We are more comfortable with the powerless. If you have power, you have to be able to use it, to leverage it. Be very clear about what it is you want,” said the lady who torpedoed American attempts to force us to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in August 1996.

And for those who tout our democratic traditions, they need to know that:

Democracy must work for the 500 million people of the Gangetic plains too.
Democracy means that we must punish, not reward, ethnic cleansing.
Democracy means that we must not allow a Waziristan next to Himachal Pradesh.
Democracy means that we must not allow appeasement of the worst human rights abuses.
Democracy means that we must treat all religious groups "equally."
Democracy means the state has the right to do whatever it takes, including the use of brute force, to check elements that threaten it.

Whether it is the Kashmir Valley militants or the Naxals, anyone who believes that force, violence and attacks against specific groups helps their cause must be taught, forcefully if needed, that it does not. Because otherwise we could say that the extreme Hindu groups also are a people's movement against Muslims, so, should we now allow them to target and kill Muslims?

Read other columns: Why Pakistan won’t leave Kashmir alone | As Kashmir burns, Sonia hits the Games

As for morality, let us be very clear that when we're talking about the well being of more than a billion people - moral principles which guide our individual daily lives are not adequate. National priorities cannot be evaluated based on our individual moralities.

Anyone who promotes secessionism or separatism -—violently or peacefully -- should be tried and punished under stringent sedition laws. The boundaries of our nation are not negotiable.

Anyone who uses religion to justify terror or other anti-national acts is the diseased north end of a south-bound swine. And should be treated as such.

And anyone who feels that this is not their country is welcome to try their luck elsewhere.

If we cannot do all this, then why Kashmir, we might as well give away India.

The author is the Chief Editor of Sify.com



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