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18 August 2008

Can't Let Go

Hurriyat-Lashkar-Jaish-Harkat's Kashmir would be Taliban's Afghanistan II

World beware! Masood Azhar's rally in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, where he had vowed to recruit half a million terrorists. He managed to recruit many more

Surajit Dasgupta
There is no need for any Indian to get worked up for what national self-flagellation champion Arundhati Roy said yesterday — that Kashmir needs 'AzAdI' from India as much as India needs 'AzAdI' from Kashmir. Instead, as senior journalist Harinder Baweja reminded Times Now in the debate in response to Roy's statement, let us think of Vir Sanghvi and any other known opinion maker who is less of a maverick than Roy. Sanghvi is one of the two writers who, in their respective columns in the same newspaper — Hindustan Times — had suggested last week that the Indian union set the Kashmir valley free for it to fend for itself.

The presumption made in course of their arguments by Vir Sanghvi and Khushwant Singh is similar to that made by the retreating British administration in 1947: The British had assumed that India was too full of contradictions to be able to manage its own affairs once the Whites left; an ‘inevitable’ collapse of the then newly formed state was doom-said. It never happened. In all probability, it will never happen to this state that is known to many as a "functional anarchy". The assumption this time is different only to the extent of no mention of inherent contradiction among Kashmiri Muslims. They are talking about Jammu & Kashmir depending on truckloads of Indian money to survive. When the privileges enjoyed by the valley's people cease to exist in the event of the area being declared free of the Indian union, tourism, the bread-and-butter of the local population, alone cannot pull the region off, assume the writers. So, that a newly formed country's future is doomed, is the assumption common to the British colonialists and the aforementioned columnists.

This is, however, the least of India's concerns. Both politically and philosophically, the mentality of being happy about the possibility that the people who don't want to live with you ultimately cannot do without you is gross and sick. After a family feud, if your brother leaves you to set a home of his own and the next day you get the news of his death, if that makes you happy, you are the perfect case for psychiatric treatment.

Whoever thought that India was not setting Kashmir free in the fear of the region dying a natural/economic death? India should — and does — worry about the formation of a new Taliban state, should the valley become an independent country. For, any country formed on the foundation of the hatred-filled, exclusivist ideology of religion alone cannot turn out to be anything other than a diabolic state of fanatics that begins by troubling the world and ends by committing hara-kiri when the sight of an absence of foreign enemies threatens its terrorist populace of unemployment.

A more immediate threat is that of the country's defence. In this regard, Khushwant Singh has been more considerate, asking for the Indian troops to stay in the valley. Vir Sanghvi, on the other hand, has had enough of the 'headache' and wants to do away with the whole geographical area entirely, caring to bother little that Pakistan-occupied and India-administered Kashmirs together would turn into a convenient transit route for the military of two hostile neighbours — Pakistan and China. It is not for no reason that the Indian Army has been guarding the inhospitable heights of Siachen for more than two decades. Obviously, if Kashmir goes, so does India's control over the Siachen glacier. A free Kashmir takes India farther away from the southernmost tip of a friendly Russia, congenial Commonwealth of Independent States and a north-eastern edge of what is now our big beneficiary — Afghanistan. This is not to suggest that a terrestrial connection exists between India and these countries at the moment. Rather, the geographical proximity to friendlier states comes in handy during emergencies like war. Let's not forget that when the once-unfriendly US stayed away from confronting India militarily during the 1971 (Bangladesh) war, one of the considerations was that the USSR was much closer to the region for a possible counter-action.

Orange alert! The Indian army controls all of the 70 km long Siachen Glacier as well as all of its tributary glaciers as well as the three main passes of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the glacier, Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La, thus holding onto the tactical advantage of high ground. Gyong La is at 35-10-29 N, 77-04-15 E; that high point is controlled by India. The Pakistanis control the glacial valley just 5 km southwest of Gyong La. If this area stays with India, it's not likely that the Pakistan and China military will scale the heights of the Karakoram range to encircle the Indian positions

So, when Pratap Bhanu Mehta says, "I cannot imagine what it is to live like under half a million troops, a standing reminder that no matter what our politicians claim, our bonds are sustained more by force than by spontaneity," it reminds us of a 1997 television interview with the then prime minister, otherwise famous for his abnormally docile "Gujral Doctrine", where he had said, "The Indian troops are not in Kashmir on a picnic; militancy necessitated their presence in the valley."

As for Kashmiri Muslims’ ‘legitimate grievance’ — if that were the 'root cause' of militancy — here is the truth. The pre-1989 status of Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir is described as under:
• Kashmiri Muslims owned 97.4% of the agricultural land, leaving 2.6% of agricultural land to Hindus and other minorities who together constituted about 11% population of the province.
• Muslims owned 96% of the fruit orchard acreage in the valley, whereas Hindus owned only 2.8% of the fruit orchards.
• Muslims owned 98.7% acreage of Kareva highland, growing saffron, whereas Hindus owned 0.03% land yielding saffron.
• The export of dry fruits — almond and walnut — was a monopoly of Muslims in Kashmir, with Hindus having negligible or no share in the export of dry fruit from Kashmir.
• The export of precious walnut and willow-wood was wholly a monopoly of Muslims, with Hindus having no share in it.
• Muslims’ employment in the horticulture industry approximated to 800,000 people working on 481,000 orchard holdings. The employment of Hindus in the horticulture industry was less than 0.5%.
• Of the industries using electric power in Kashmir province, Muslims owned 98.9% and only 0.02% were owned by Hindus.
• The handicrafts and handloom industry of Kashmir was almost wholly owned by Muslims; it provided employment to 91,941 people of whom only 0.4% were Hindus.
• Of the 17,776 members of the handicrafts and handloom cooperative societies in 1985-86, the years when the Muslim fundamentalists were turning militants, only 0.3% belonged to Hindus.
• In 1985-86, the number of small-scale industries and industrial units registered with the Directorate of Industries in Kashmir province was 46,293. The number of units registered in the name of Hindus therein estimated to only 0.01 %. 98.7 % of the industrial units were registered in the name of the Kashmiri Muslims.
• The Khadi and village industries, registered under the Khadi and Village Industries Board, provided employment to 28,110; of them, 98.8 % were Muslims.
• Road transport in Jammu & Kashmir, the primary means of communication in the absence of railways, was a monopoly of Muslim transporters and transport companies, with Sikhs having a marginal 4.2 % share. Hindus of Kashmir had a negligible share in the transport organisation of the state.
• According to the statistics and figures collected from government sources for the years 1985-86, the State Transport Corporation employed 6,434 persons of which Kashmiri Hindus accounted for 0.8%.
• According to the figures available for the year 1985-86, the entire boat transport in the state was monopolised by the Kashmiri Muslims. The number of the various types of boats, was as follows:

Type of Boats .....…………………….. Number……… Number of persons employed
Tourist house boats .......................... 825 ........................... 3, 300
Passenger boats ............................ 1, 152 ........................... 2, 304
Carriage boats ................................... 685 ........................... 1, 037
Fishing boats ..................................... 480 ............................... 960
Tourist doonga ................................. 275 ............................... 825
Taxi boat ............................................ 785 ........................... 1, 570
Total ................................................ 4, 232 ........................... 9, 996

The entire fleet of the boats of various types, listed above, was owned by Muslims. The fleet included high-cost luxury house-boats, which had considerable commercial value.

• The hotel industry is a highly lucrative industry in Kashmir. It was always a closed preserve of Muslims of Kashmir. Muslims owned almost 96% of the hotel property in Kashmir, Hindus owned only 2.2% of the hotel property.
• 94% of the State subsidy paid on horticulture, agriculture, agricultural implements, fertilisers, pesticides etc. was appropriated by Muslims in Kashmir with less than 2.4% of the subsidies received by Hindus.
• Muslims appropriated the whole of the subsidies directed to the state on industrial loans, exports, self-employment schemes, etc. The share of Hindus of Kashmir in such subsidies was negligible — less than 0.1%.
• The share of Hindus in the industrial loans provided by the state government, the loans on self-employment schemes, loans on small-scale industries and cottage industries like handicraft and the lands allotted for the establishment of such industries, was negligible — less than 0.1%.
• Hindus were almost fully excluded from contracts and public works undertaken by the Government and were given, on an average, a share of 4% in the works undertaken by the state.
• The share of Hindus in the exploitation of forest products, until the forests were nationalised in 1979, was 6.2%.
• The licensing for quarrying and mining of marble brick-kilns was a monopoly of Muslims.
• The manufacture and export of carpets, of Kashmir was a monopoly of Muslims.
• The manufacture and export of shawls of Kashmir was a monopoly of Muslims.

In any event, losing Kashmir will be a big embarrassment for India which has, since its inception in a new awatar in 1947, always opposed the idea of the two-nation theory. The possible argument that can be guessed hypothetically at the moment, which the government might forward then, is that "a 'Hindu' India did not throw out a 'Muslim' Kashmir"; rather, "the 'Muslim' Kashmir, despite all efforts by a 'secular' India, did not want to continue to live as a part of this country". And Pakistan would be happy that it's agenda of partition is finally complete.

A whole lot of untruths would start donning cloaks of legitimacy if India and Kashmir were to part ways. The international community would forget the incursion and invasion of the valley by Pakistani tribals in 1947. In India, the Hindu right wing will feel less inhibited to call first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru a moron; for it was his wisdom that brought about the UN-imposed ceasefire over the Line of Control at a time when the Indian Army was pushing the invaders back and was on the verge of recovering the entire lost territory. Whichever party rules India at the time of Kashmir's departure would have to forget coming back to power for a long time to come. What would be touted as "self-determination" or "plebiscite" would camouflage the 1990s' brutal religious cleansing — it's not "ethnic" cleansing; Kashmiris converted to Islam and, hence, cannot have a different ethnicity — carried out by Muslims in the areas and the hurrah of AzAdi would outshout the agonising cries of Kashmir's Pandits, which are already reduced to a squeak, in wilderness.

Why did things come to such a pass? It beats reason why India cannot be a Melting Pot; why it should follow the British ways of multi-culturalism where every culture keeps demanding a bigger share of the pie, gets it more often than not but is still left feeling let down. For, this is the root cause of the strife: The more you give, the more they demand. It beats reason why India has to be condemned to live forever the folly of the foolhardy promise that was made to Kashmir during its accession to the union and not repeal Article 370. What is so communal about all states of a union being governed by the same set of laws? What is so communal about a uniform civil code where all religions ought to be bound by the same set of civil and criminal laws? Why should Muslims fear that bringing about uniformity in law would mean a 'Hindu-isation' of the laws of the land and, therefore, oppose the idea? There are indeed a few exemplary acts in the Muslim Personal Law that, in case of a uniform code, can be incorporated to let citizens of all religions benefit from them.

Vir Sanghvi thinks that Indian Muslims do not share any affinity with their fellow religionists in the Kashmir valley, and so his proposed separation of the region from India will not have a telling effect on this country's secular credentials. So I thought, till I got to see a written statement in the last blog-post here in Research from an Aligarh Muslim University staffer. In context of the controversy surrounding the now-dumped state government proposal of transferring some land to the Amarnath Shrine Board for two months every year during the pilgrimage, N Jamal Ansari had originally written: "There is (a) danger of permanent settlement if any temporary settlement is allowed in the area. Then it will change (the) demography of the region, which will further complicate the issue." Since this is a perception and not the absolute truth, I had to edit it to: "Kashmiri Muslims are not convinced that there is no danger of permanent settlement, if any temporary settlement is allowed in the area. They fear it is Government of India's conscious effort and first ominous step towards changing the demography of the region." One might, of course, argue that the cited writer does not represent all of India's Muslims. Those forwarding this argument should then be reminded of another Muslim homogeneity: When the nation was debating whether or not Parliament House attack conspirator Mohammed Afzal should be hanged, while Hindus and followers of other religions were divided on the issue, not a single Muslim thought leader or opinion maker based anywhere in the world spoke or wrote in favour of Afzal's hanging.

Nevertheless, on the basis of informal talks with several members of the Muslim community, it is reassuring to find that hardly any Indian Muslim living outside Kashmir wants the valley to secede. Should that lead to a deliberate communal state policy wherein India engages Kashmiri separatists of the Hurriyat fold in talks with delegates of government functionaries that are predominantly Muslim? No. The incident of arson and setting a local police commissioner's house afire, despite his being a Muslim, indicates that this tactic will not work. Several Kashmiri Muslims who wanted the region's freedom but were against the idea of joining Pakistan have been eliminated from the scene. The compulsion to toe the Pakistani line is so pitiable that the son of one such victim, Sajjad Lone of People's Conference now speaks of separation from India but keeps the choice of the valley's independence or its acceding to Pakistan tacit. This is to cite just one example of the fear factor. Much as the separatists fashion themselves, militants and terrorists as "freedom fighters", and draw audacious comparisons with Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose while arguing with Indians, the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter is all too known: Unlike the Kashmiri murderers, India's freedom fighters never bombed and gunned down ordinary civilians, school children, office goers, shopkeepers and bystanders during the Raj.

Kashmiri terrorists killing Kashmiri civilians:
• January 1999: 56
• February 1999: 40
• March 1999: 36
• April 1999: 43
• May 1999: 37
• June 1999: 67
• July 1999: 42
• May 2000: 74
• June 2000: 14

Muslim terrorists killing Muslim civilians:
• The 19 February attack on the Friendship Train service between New Delhi and Lahore, Pakistan, that killed dozens;
• The 18 May bomb blast at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad that killed eleven;
• The 11 October blast at a Sufi mosque in Ajmer, Rajasthan, that killed three.

Freedom fighters? Whose freedom?
True, the times are too volatile to repeal Article 370 that caters to Jammu & Kashmir or enforce a UCC in the whole of India. But granting more autonomy to a region, which is already more privileged — and pampered — than any autonomous domain can be, makes little sense. Kashmiri separatists are bound by no code of ethics or bond of religion or ethnicity. It is impelling to conclude that they are a band of sick marauders who relish the feeling of perpetual anger, enjoy the sight of constant destruction and are alien to the idea of a normal, peaceful life. The world in general and India in particular cannot afford to lose Kashmir to a mob.

Innocent blood: Lying in these coffins are little children who fell to the bombs and bullets of Kashmir's terrorists

The writer is a mathematician and linguist, now a corporate communicator and has been a science journalist, a teacher and a marketing manager (in reverse chronological order) in his previous vocations


I. Instrument of Accession executed by Maharajah Hari Singh, ruler of Jammu & Kashmir (princely state), on 26 October 1947:
Resolution of the UN Security Council of 13 August 1948
Article 370 of the Constitution of India:
Temporary provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. —
(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, —
(a) the provisions of article 238 shall not apply in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir;
(b) the power of Parliament to make laws for the said State shall be limited to —
(i) those matters in the Union List and the Concurrent List which, in consultation with the Government of the State, are declared by the President to correspond to matters specified in the Instrument of Accession governing the accession of the State to the Dominion of India as the matters with respect to which the Dominion Legislature may make laws for that State; and
(ii) such other matters in the said Lists as, with the concurrence of the Government of the State, the President may by order specify.
Explanation. — For the purposes of this article, the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognised by the President as the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers for the time being in office under the Maharaja’s Proclamation dated the fifth day of March, 1948;
(c) the provisions of article 1 and of this article shall apply in relation to that State;
(d) such of the other provisions of this Constitution shall apply in relation to that State subject to such exceptions and modifications as the President may by order specify: Provided that no such order which relates to the matters specified in the Instrument of Accession of the State referred to in paragraph (i) of sub-clause (b) shall be issued except in consultation with the Government of the State: Provided further that no such order which relates to matters other than those referred to in the last preceding proviso shall be issued except with the concurrence of that Government.
(2) If the concurrence of the Government of the State referred to in paragraph (ii) of sub-clause (b) of clause (1) or in the second proviso to sub-clause (d) of that clause be given before the Constituent Assembly for the purpose of framing the Constitution of the State is convened, it shall be placed before such Assembly for such decision as it may take thereon. (3) Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this article, the President may, by public notification, declare that this article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may specify: Provided that the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State referred to in clause (2) shall be necessary before the President issues such a notification.

The US's Worldwide (Terrorist) Incident Tracking System: Spotlight Kashmir
The Amarnath shrine land transfer dispute

Whose Kashmir?

After putting its view on Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Parliament during the trust vote, Research visits the other darling of the media, the man whose speech on the same day at the same venue caught the fancy of the Fourth Estate — Omar Abdullah — in the form of a debate in the wake of the seemingly endless strife in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir

Celebrating tyrants
Saradindu Mukherji
The person who turned an overnight hero of the Indian media — as also the ‘liberal’, jihad-friendly ‘secular’ intelligentsia — following his speech in Parliament on 22 July, is incidentally the grandson of the man who is widely suspected to be responsible for the mysterious death of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee in a jail in Jammu & Kashmir at the age of 53. One may read the letter written by Mukherjee’s mother to Jawaharlal Nehru to know more about the conspiracy. It was Mukherjee, the last of our Mohicans, who almost single-handedly saved Calcutta and then Western Bengal from being grabbed by Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

You may further note that, Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee, father of Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, also a visionary Hindu Mahasahabha leader, was a close associate of Mukherjee in this Herculean rescue act. What a fall, my countrymen!

As for some of the points raised by Omar Abdullah, a darling of India’s spineless chattering classes who are simply allergic to facts and just need an occasion to flaunt their admiration for what any high-profile Muslim says, it must be observed that just because he says he is speaking as an Indian does not make him any less a champion of the ummah or the not-so-clever lobbyist of ferocious Arab imperialism.

Abdullah said he would not give ‘his’ land. But whose land was he referring to? All available archaeological, literary and oral traditions indicate that the Kashmir valley was a land of Hindus and, later, partly of Buddhists. After all, Kashmir was the cradle of Shaivism — the primordial deity of our civilisation. Islam came here through conquest and wanton plunder and established itself by unholy means — rape and abduction — and forced nikAh of Hindu women with the ‘holy’ warriors. Not to be forgotten are large scale desecration, destruction of the temples of polytheists and, of course, mass conversion as taught by their holiest of holy prophets.

Hence, logically, this land belongs to the kafirs and Muslims are enjoying it as a stolen property. But then those reared in the tradition of robbers and pillagers do not easily restore such a property willingly and so easily. There must be ways of getting it back.

The young Abdullah from his paternal side is a descendant of a Kashmiri Hindu family and not a Central Asian marauder. His mother is an English lady. How then does it become a land under the sole proprietorship of some representatives of Arabian imperialists? His facts are mischievously false and blatantly crude propaganda, yet no one rebutted what he said. Why?

To understand this non-response, even from those claiming to represent Hindu/national interests, explains why the so-called warriors of Allah are succeeding in Bangalore and Ahmedabad — the latest victory notched up by jihad.

History of the world shows that what Muslims claim to be their property — both the land and its people — once belonged to the pagans, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Jews and Christians. Present day Muslims are nothing but representatives of an unending expansionist Arab imperialism. With rare exceptions, they are carrying on with the diktats of the “religion of peace”.

Another point raised by Abdullah is: “We do not destroy mandirs and masjids”. The fact remains that Muslims are the most infamous destroyers of Hindu temples. Muslims have a history of building mosques over desecrated Hindu temples, Buddhist viharas, Zoroastrian fire temples and also many Jewish and Christian holy places. This ‘holy’ duty was, jihadis claim without much opposition from their fellow-religionists, enjoined upon them by their Prophet. Finally, everybody knows about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits.

Another crude joke couched in ‘secular’ terminology, which drew a loud applause from many in Parliament, was: “As long as a single Muslim survives in Kashmir, the Amarnath Yatra will go on.” What generosity! What large-heartedness! Next you will hear from another Islamic ‘secular’ hero that Hindus in India are permitted to live for a few more years! And, surely, it would be lapped up by our great ‘secularists’ as another message of the eternal message of peace which only Islam can give. The proprietors of what we rightly call ‘The Times of Pakistan’ will, in all likelihood, issue a special supplement to celebrate that statement.

The fact remains that obeisance has been paid at the Amarnath shrine for more than 5,000 yrs while Islam came 3600 after that practice started. “A single Muslim surviving in Kashmir” in the near future is a laugh riot. In about 700 years, their numbers have swollen to now constitute 99% of the population. And not even 5,000 Hindus are left to die or be converted.

It is Muslims who routinely throw grenades and bombs at Hindu pilgrims whereas Haj pilgrims from India are feted by ‘leaders’, including someone of the stature of a Hindu-nationalist: former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpyee. There are special Haj terminals and resting places constructed at Hindu tax-payers’ expense. In return, even National Security Adviser MK Narayanan admits that some of the Hajis take the opportunity to be trained in jihad in Arabia. The biggest irony is that, on return, they merrily kill the very kafirs back in India who had funded their trip to Mecca.

As historian Sita Ram Goel used to say so presciently, if Hindus do not change their mindset even after centuries of assault and unspeakable atrocities and humiliation, they would just vanish. We are losing our very right to live. Today in the Kashmir valley and tomorrow, God forbid, anywhere in India.

The writer is a reader in the University of Delhi

The scare is hoax
N Jamal Ansari
Mukherji’s response to Omar Abdullah’s speech evokes pity. For, it has been expressed without the writer doing his homework. Instead of analysing the speech objectively, he preferred to ride on emotions.

The writer has raised three basic issues. First, Abdullah has not been sincere enough. Second, the Kashmir valley belongs to the so-called kafirs which Muslims are enjoying as a “stolen” property and, third, Hindus should change their mindset and oppose all Muslims.

Those who have been involved in the process of national integration know that the direction of the aforementioned thought process is dangerous enough to precipitate communal tension, if not a riot.

People, particularly those in public life, should not be judged in isolation. As far as Abdullah is concerned, he belongs to a family which has contributed a lot to the socio-political unity of the Kashmir valley with the Indian union. Nobody can deny the fact that it was Sheikh Abdullah who snatched away the valley from the jaws of Pakistan. Who can forget the role of Farooq Abdullah, father of Omar, in strengthening the NDA coalition. By no stretch of imagination can the Abdullah family be called communal. The Abdullahs are genuine Indian politicians like all their peers. Their merits and demerits should be noted in that way alone.

Let’s recall what Abdullah Jr said in Parliament during the recent confidence motion. His speech was among the shortest, at the same time the most important, nevertheless. He was delivering his speech when some BJP MPs were adamant to not let the House function, following the crudely exposed cash-for-votes scandal. Abdullah said:

Thank you, Mr Speaker, Sir. I think that it is a matter of great misfortune for Parties like mine. … (Interruptions) I do not know whether the Rs. 1 crore that was shown here is genuine or not. But I think that it is extremely unfortunate that if nothing else, this Rs 1 crore is seeking to buy the silence of Parties like mine who are not being given an opportunity to speak in a correct manner in this House. … (Interruptions)
I have been a Member of this House for 10 years, and I have never disturbed this House in these 10 years. I have sat with them and I have sat on this side, and I have never disrupted a speaker and yet here they do not have the courtesy to listen to what I have to say. … (Interruptions)
I am a Muslim, and I am an Indian. I see no distinction between the two. … (Interruptions) I see no reason why I, as a Muslim, have to fear a deal between India and the United States of America (USA). … (Interruptions) This is a deal between two countries. It is a deal between, we hope, two countries that in the future will be two equals. … (Interruptions)
Sir, the enemies of Indian Muslims are not the Americans, and the enemies of the Indian Muslims are not ‘deals’ like this. The enemies of Indian Muslims are the same enemies that all the poor people of India face, namely, poverty and hunger, unemployment, lack of development and the absence of a voice. It is that we are against, namely, the effort being made to crush our voice. … (Interruptions)
I am not a Member of the UPA, and I do not aspire the Membership of the UPA. But I am extremely unhappy with the way in which my friends in the Left have taken on this self-imposed position of being the certifiers of who is secular and who is not. … (Interruptions)
Until a few years ago, I was a part of the NDA and I was a Minister with them. The same Left people considered me as a political untouchable, and they considered me an outcaste because I was a part of the NDA. Today, the same Left people are telling me that all secular Parties must unite with the BJP to bring down this Government. … (Interruptions)
I made a mistake of standing with them once. I did not resign on the question of Gujarat when my conscience told me to do so, and my conscience has still not forgiven me. I need not make the same mistake again. … (Interruptions)
आप लोग अमरनाथ की बात करते हो, आपने अमरनाथ का आरोप लगाया,…(व्यवधान) आप एक जगह दिखाइए, जहां पर किसी कश्मीरी ने यात्रा के खिलाफ बात की हो, जहां किसी कश्मीरी ने कहा हो कि हमें यात्री नहीं चाहिए, जहां यात्रियों के ऊपर हमला हुआ हो।…(व्यवधान) हमारी जमीन का मुद्दा था, हम अपनी जमीन के लिए लड़े और मरते दम तक अपनी जमीन के लिए लड़ेंगे, लेकिन हम आपकी तरह फिरकापरस्त नहीं हैं।…(व्यवधान) हम आपकी तरह कम्युनल नहीं हैं। हम मस्ज़िद नहीं गिराते और मंदिर भी नहीं गिराते। …(व्यवधान) वहां एक सौ साल से ज्यादा अमरनाथ की यात्रा चलती आ रही है और जब तक कश्मीर में मुसलमान हैं, श्रीनगर और अमरनाथ में आपकी यात्रा चलती रहेगी। …(व्यवधान)
अध्यक्ष महोदय, मैं यह बात दावे के साथ कहना चाहता हूं कि इन लोगों की तरह मेरी सियासत बदलती नहीं है, आज इस तरफ और कल उस तरफ। …(व्यवधान) हमने सेक्यूलर फोर्सेस के साथ हाथ मिलाया है और मिलाते रहेंगे। The Jammu & Kashmir National Conference will vote to support the Motion moved by the Prime Minister. Thank you. (unedited)

Thirty-eight-year old Omar Abdullah is a true representative of modern India. His influence in politics is spreading fast and he is also in the hit list of terrorists. He was attacked in 2007 and on another occasion when he was visiting a school. The terrorists could not kill him but they attacked the girl students of that school. One remembers Abdullah having famously said then, “I cannot believe that any religion, ideology or aim will justify the attack on innocent girl students of the school.” Abdullah wants the Pandits to return to the valley. Often he remarks, “We are trying to develop a situation in which Pandits could return to their homes.”

Omar is a fine example of India’s composite culture. He is condemned and criticised by the Hindu right wing because he has refused to join hands with the BJP again. It is a sorry state of affairs. According to my opponent, Abdullah said that his community would not give away land to the Amarnath Shrine Board. First, he did not mean “Muslims” by the term “community”. As he was speaking as a Kashmiri, “community” must have meant the Kashmiri people — who developed a fine fabric of secularism that is known far and wide as “Kashmiriyat”. The Amarnath Yatra is taking place for centuries and Kashmiris, predominantly Muslims, have always facilitated the pilgrimage. It is the Muslims who provide the infrastructure needed for the yatra. In fact, their economic interest is closely interwoven with the yatra. The land in question is, overlooking another dispute, under the forest department and its allotment to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board will ultimately damage the environment and ecology of the region. We should understand the motive of those who are advocating otherwise.

What was the need to spark off this dispute? We should not forget that former governor SK Sinha had got the approval of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir at the fag end of his tenure. Why was Sinha hell bent on the allotment? Because, he was influenced by a certain ideology like another former governor, Jagmohan .Certainly, there is more than what meets the eye. Kashmiri Muslims are not convinced that there is no danger of permanent settlement, if any temporary settlement is allowed in the area. They fear it is Government of India's conscious effort and first ominous step towards changing the demography of the region. Hence, there should be no allotment at all. The pilgrimage should go on like it has been so far.

My opponent’s case is that the contentious piece of “land belongs to the kafirs and Muslims are enjoying it as a stolen property”. First, it should be clear that Hindus do not fall under the category of kafirs. A kafir is one who does not believe in the existence of God. The Kashmir valley never belonged to atheists.

Religion has unfortunately become a seed of discord between communities. Hinduism, for one, has been torn apart to establish Hindutva. Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris and that includes Hindus and Muslims alike. Nobody has “stolen” anything from anybody.

The call to Hindus to change their mindset and oppose all Muslims is sick. Can anyone oppose those Muslims who laid down their lives for the nation during and after our freedom struggle? Mercifully, the majority of Hindus are secular and they believe in peace. Such calls will, hence, fall in deaf ears. It is for common Hindus to reject the divisive Hindutva philosophy conceived by VD Savarkar.

There is an old conspiracy to divide Jammu & Kashmir into three parts: the Kashmir valley, the Jammu hilly region and the Ladakh plateau. It is clear who is benefiting from the anarchy. It is obviously the BJP. This party is playing very dirty and mean politics to achieve its goals. Saner elements of the Indian society should rise above religious and political affiliations and oppose the BJP; or else not only will Jammu & Kashmir but also the whole of India will disintegrate.

As far as Abdullah is concerned, he is a statesman in the making. One should appreciate his soberness and intellect. He had started his political journey in 1998 when he was elected to the Lok Sabha. He was again elected in 1999 when he became the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. He was elected a third time in 2004. In 2006, he was made the president of the National Conference for the second time. Nobody can doubt his secular credentials; leaders like him, irrespective of their religion, should be encouraged and not criticised.

Finally, after the shameful events of the Babri Masjid demolition at Ayodhya on 6 December 1992 and the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, we have forfeited our claims to be a civilised, law-abiding society. If we have to embark upon nation building, it is impossible without the participation of Muslims. We should develop a constructive approach and India must be governed by its Constitution in both letter and spirit. The pressing need of the hour is for measures which will restore communal amity and banish rancour and ill will.

The writer is a staff member of the Aligarh Muslim University

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Surajit Dasgupta treats no individual, organisation or institution as a holy cow.