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Amarnath Shrine Land Revocation Imbroglio
|by Dr. Subhash Kapila|
Appeasement of Indian Muslim minorities has been the distinctive characteristic of Congress Party’s and Congress Government’s political policies in the last 60 years of the Indian Republic. What has been shocking to India’s national sentiments has been the absurd limits to which the Congress-led Government buckled to the Kashmir Valley Muslims agitation to revoke the allotment of 40 hectares of forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Development Board for establishing temporary structures for the shelter of over half a million Hindu pilgrims who annually visit the Amarnath Shrine of Lord Shiva for a couple of weeks.
Besides the violent protests in the Jammu Region spawned by this ill- advised decision this revocation raises fundamental national issues, namely
Who Controls the Kashmir Valley?
Article 370 was not applied in perpetuity to J&K State and is not an article that cannot be altered by a Constitutional Amendment as other acts of the Constitution have been constantly amended by different Congress Governments.
Article 370 applies to the whole of J&K State and is not exclusively applicable only to the Kashmir Valley as Kashmir Valley Muslim leaders try to imply.
The Indian Republic as the successor State of British India on the lapse of Paramountcy and thereafter the Accession to India confers sovereign rights on India as far as control of J&K State is concerned.
However the pitiable way in which the Central Congress leadership buckled to demands of Kashmir Valley political leaders despite the contrary advice of the Congress Chief Minister Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad not to revoke the land allotment to the Amarnath Shrine indicates that the Congress Government has conceded the control of the Kashmir Valley to separatist groups.
Do Hindu Subjects of J&K State have No Rights in Kashmir Valley ?
The first question is where is it stipulated in Article 370 or which Indian political leader has made an official commitment that the Kashmir Valley will be retained as an exclusively Kashmiri Muslim preserve?
More importantly, the second question is that which statute denies the Hindu subjects of J&K State debars its Hindu subjects, whether Kashmiri Pandits or Dogra Hindus from owning land in the Kashmir Valley as State subjects.
In light of the above there was no reason why the Amarnath Shrine Board allotment of land should have been revoked when in the constitution of the Board there would have been J&K State Hindu subjects who have the legal rights of residence in the Kashmir Valley. Or is it now the stand of Kashmir Valley politicians including Mr. Omar Abdullah that Hindu State subjects have no residence rights in the Kashmir Valley?
More significantly , the fundamental issue that then arises is as to how can then Kashmir Valley Muslims own property in the Jammu Region, Ladakh Region and the rest of India. These are the questions that are arising in the minds of the rest of India.
Kashmir Valley So-called Secular MPs Sing Communal Tunes
One never conceded that Mufti Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti were secularists in the purist or politically correct terms. But one was inclined to concede it in respect of Mr. Omar Abdullah. But going by the record of Omar Abdullah’s utterances during this controversy, one regretfully has to point out that he too has succumbed to the Kashmir Valley communal bug.
Both in the Valley and more noticeably during his “Indian media much lionized speech” during the Trust Vote in Parliament he tried to justify that the land allotted to the Amarnath Shrine Board was Kashmiri land and that they would always fight to ensure that the land was not taken away or words to that effect.. In one TV appearance he averred that land was being taken away by the Indian Army for R&R purposes : he would know better what it was for.
One can only draw his attention to what has been written above in that all land including that in the Kashmir Valley is open to residence or shrines by Hindu subjects of J&K State.
One would also like to know that as a secular Kashmir Valley Muslim leader what steps has he taken to ensure the return of Kashmiri Hindus forced out from their hearth and homes.
Implications for India’s National Security and National Cohesion of Buckling to Kashmir Valley Muslims Blackmail
One wonders whether India’s political leaders, their policy advisers and India’s delusionist liberalist fraternity have ever wondered as to how the Government’s buckling to Kashmir Valley Muslims blackmail on such issues affects India’s national security and national cohesion?
India’s national security is severely jeopardized when the Government of the day permits one section of the country to challenge its sovereignty and resort to visible externally supported mayhem and violence for the rest of the world to see.
In the Amarnath Shrine Board land allotment case there was no Government attempt to interfere with the religious activities or shrines of the Kashmir Valley Muslims. Hence the entire mayhem was engineered for the sake of political expediency and that too by the PDP when the Muftis own ministers in the Cabinet had cleared the deal.
In its wake it left the sordid image of India projected abroad that the Indian Republic can be cowed down and forced to buckle down on political non-issues and that too in a border State where on the other side the Pakistan Army is waiting to exploit such situations.
Read the implications in the Pakistani newspaper The Daily Times report of June 27 2008 in which the caption was
– “Singh Directs Officials To Consider Canceling Land For Shri Amarnath Shrine Board”
While the Central Government may have defused the situation in the Kashmir Valley by buckling down to cancel the land allotment to the Shrine what has been left in its wake is that the entire Jammu Region is now aflame with fiery riots ,police firings and people getting killed in such firings necessitating the calling out of the Army. The State stands polarized and national cohesion, a vital ingredient of national security severely compromised.
The Government of the day cannot politically afford to apply double standards to the demands of the Kashmir Valley Muslims and to the Hindus of Kashmir.
The Jammu agitation has its own dynamics where the people of this region of J&K State have pent up intense feelings against the Government for allowing for far too long the Kashmir Valley politicians dictate the direction in which the State ought to move.
For over 60 years the Indian political establishment has allowed the perpetuation of the so-called Kashmir issue both externally and internally. The time has now come to put an end to this charade.
The Special Resolution of the Indian Parliament passed unanimously in 1994 clearly laid down that the issue is non-negotiable and the Indian Governments of the day should strictly adhere to this policy precept both in external dealings and internal political discourse.
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Comments on this Article
P K Chakravorty
11/11/2010 10:15 AM