Why is Kashmir ‘Burning’?

Abraham Lincoln called democracy government by the people, of the people and for the people. Kashmir’s Chief Minister the young Omar Abdullah could do well to remember nuances of the three distinct phrases used by Lincoln to define democracy. Given contretemps of electoral democracy, Abdullah can legitimately claim to be elected by the people of the state in the first past the post system. That some of the mandate was extremely narrow and fragile was evident from the low percentage of voting in some of the hard line separatist boroughs in the Valley, Down Town Srinagar, Sopore and Baramulla. 

Clearly a man of sharp wit and intellect, that he is Omar wouldn’t have missed the underlying message of rejection in these constituencies. The way out was to be a government, “for the people,” his failure to do so or since the jury is still out appear to be doing so may be the principal cause of the current wave of violence in India’s troubled Northern state.

The disconnect of the Chief Minister with the people in the State was evident when Mr Abdullah went to meet victims of violence in a Srinagar Hospital in a helicopter and that too after almost two months of rioting and large number of youth fatalities. Thus there are many questions being raised as to how far he would be willing to face the ire of the public and why he has not been sensitive to their needs rushing to Delhi instead to keep him in the chair of power. 

While Mr Abdullah has the support of the Central government unless he is able to reconnect with the electoral support base which had given him the mandate to rule the State howsoever fractured it may have been any change in the ground situation is not likely for the government cannot hope to rule with the help of the police without grass roots sustainment by the people.

The Central Government too in its attempts to come to grips with the situation needs to remember this ground reality of all democracies, the people are the centre of gravity. Thus political solutions being attempted as indicated by the statement by the Union home minister P Chidambaram in Parliament and the ground given by hard line separatist leader, Geelani who also issued an appeal to eschew violence will only be short respites in the anger of rejection by the people. 

The Chief Minister has made desperate attempts for calm with assurances of giving Geelani political space in the Valley. The separatist leaders as well if they deem to represent the people have a joint responsibility to ensure order and the two sides have to speak to reduce the level of violence in the days ahead. For while the separatists as Geelani may not be committed to democracy, it is their supreme duty if they are true representatives of the people to prevent anarchy.

Yet the situation remains volatile and it would be difficult to ensure that the grieved who are now many and have been harmed over a period would come to accept any measures by the government for calm unless they are applied the balm of consolation. The government may therefore have to come up with a strong package of psychological compensation along with simultaneous political devolution and also combine the same with prevention of anarchy. At present this remains a tall order but hopefully the same can be implemented to bring peace in the state.
Meanwhile outside players could do well to stay out of the complexities weaved around the Kashmir cauldron. The mystery of the Email statement, purportedly from the office of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is now alleged to be the work of a Pakistani-origin spokesperson.  Farhan Haq who had e-mailed a statement to journalists at the UN headquarters in New York last week added another dimension to the problem and possibly inflamed violence in the State. 

India has reportedly taken up the matter through its UN mission as the remarks were a departure from usual norms. According to a statement by India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Ban’s office has clarified that no question about Kashmir was raised at any press conference. This denial also applies to another part of Mr Haq’s statement which talked about the Secretary-General backing resumption of composite dialogue between Indian and Pakistan. Such statements by international organizations at a sensitive time will instigate mobs rather than douse fires and are best avoided. As to Pakistan, Islamabad will continue to fish in troubled waters therefore the peace strategy in Kashmir will have to factor the same.

The solution in Kashmir is simple in theory but highly complex in implementation, it is the commitment of the nationalist leadership in Kashmir that has to win back the confidence of the people along with firm action to control the anarchists with minimum collateral damage. Hopefully we will see a new hope if this happens?  

Images (c)     


More by :  Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle

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Views: 3379      Comments: 2

Comment Namaste.

This is amazing. Start now all these wonderful ideas. I'm all for it, eventhough I'm a Canadian living far away from your troubled land but a Sanatanee at heart. I wish I were there to help. I will nonetheless, pray for the annilhination of terrorism in your community and all over the world.
Rise you brave men so the cowards can flee.

Paddy Landreville

Paddy Landreville
22-Aug-2010 21:20 PM

Comment I have read your article with interest. You are right that we have to win the trust of the Kashmiris.

On my part I have tried to develop a solution for this problem and posting it to you. I hope you take out time to read this.


Trifurcating JAMMU, LADAKH and KASHMIR-

a solution to India’s problems

Jammu and Kashmir, the northest part of united India, is our pride and yet today is crying needing our helping hand and a healing touch.

So many formulae have been tried in the J&K and yet nothing seems to work as finally the separatists and the Pakistanis start creating problems and violence.

Let us now, as Indians, seriously take up the proposal for tri-furcating J&K.
This makes sense seeing the history and the violence which has almost killed 50,000 people.

This will strengthen the secularism of India. If we can have separate states of Ladakh and Jammu, and Kashmir is reduced to 2500 sq km, things will be easily managable.

The Kashmir problem which looks sizeable on the world map would immediately be reduced to the size it actually is. To a narrow strip of land, 30 km by 70 km in size.

We could then use our resources to win over the hearts and minds of the people in this strip of land. As well as create a good infrastructure for tourism and industry.

Let us at this point also remember that today, as Ladkah has been hit by a cloudburst and the population out there suffers, it is the separatists in the valley who are hogging the headlines and consuming all of the state's budget....

The need for this tri-furcation has never been as urgent as now....

The salient features.

a) Kashmir should be divided in such a manner that the river flow to the rest of India is unhampered. And our military and civil administration can have a better control over the borders and insurgents.

b)Terrorist violence basically happens in 2500 sq km. Once J&K is trifurcated, it would be easy for the army and the civil administration to control 2500sq km

c)A plebiscite will never happen as we are too strong to let the world force us. However in case of a hypothetical situation that it does, then India has the right of taking the vote of Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir.

d) Pakistan has already integrated Baltistan as a seperate state, so we have to see what others are doing. In fact they have changed the demographic pattern of Muzzafarabad and occupied Kashmir so that Punjabis are in a majority.

e) Once kashmir is reduced to 2500 sq km, it will make the separatists realise that their dream of a small landlocked independent country is futile.

f) We can revoke section 370 for Jammu and Ladakh immediately after trifurcation so that patriotic Indians from all over the country can buy land and settle there.

g) Ladakh has Lakes, mountains, and calmness as well as Buddhist tourist spots. A huge potential exists. While Jammu attracts lakhs for the Vaishno Devi Yatra.Once they shine, Kashmiris will be inspired to give up the gun and join the mainstream

h) People of Jammu and Ladakh have time and again asked for separate states or UT status. Let us make them as states. Srinagar can be the capital of all three distinct identities of Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir, and would be a Union territory.

i) There is a huge section of people in Kashmir, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who always favoured India over Pakistan or freedom. They would always remain with us. Infact they would work with double zeal to get their brothers who have been misled, back into the mainstream.

j) We should remember that tri-furcation is not secession or ceding ground to Pakistan. Infact, by dividing states in the North East of India we have considerably managed to reduce the regional tensions. Further on, division of PEPSU led to three happy states of Punjab, Haryana and HImachal. And more recently, the creation of Chattishgarh, Jharkhand and Uttrakhand has led to a fast paced development of these areas....

At the end of the day all people from the J&K region would be proud to be Indian. Currently we are holding the people of Jammu and of Leh-Ladakh hostage to the political machinations of a few outsiders.

Why should we not, as Indians, push our government to start working on this tri-furcation?

vijay kumar
19-Aug-2010 02:51 AM

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