Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Changing Character of Kashmir Movement
By Balraj Puri
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 20, 2010
For three consecutive summers, Kashmir has been on a boil. In 2008
protest started jointly by all separatist parties over allotment of 100
acres of government land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board which its Chief
executive officer wrongly said was purchased permanently. The land was to
be used for construction of pre-fabricated huts for langars and other
facilities for the yatries. It was interpreted by the leaders of the
agitation as a conspiracy to change demography of Kashmir.
government withdrew the allotment. It triggered an unprecedented agitation
in Jammu for 63 days with various ups and downs against what was called
discrimination by Kashmiri rulers against the region 60 years of
independence. What further caused protest in Kashmir was blockade call day
during essential supplies to Kashmir by the Sangarash Samiti, which was
spearheading the agitation in Jammu. I was able to get it withdrawn after
speaking to LK Advani and the Prime Minister. But a chain reaction
continued for some time more.
In 2009, trouble started over alleged
rape and murder of two young women in Shopian in South Kashmir. Finger of
suspicion pointed towards the police. After some administrative action, a
judicial enquiry by a retired High Court also confirmed the suspicion. But
a CBI enquiry reversed their conclusion. It gave a fresh lease of life to
the popular agitation. Significantly the unity between the separatist
parties was lacking this time.
In 2010, the current phase of
agitation is started by groups of teenagers. It is not being run by any
group of the Hurriyat but was triggered by the killing of “seventeen year
old Tufail Ahmad Mattoo on June 11, who as his parents say was playing
cricket when a teargas bullet struck his head. Thereafter a vicious circle
was set, killing of a boy was followed by protest demonstrations an
clashes with police and CRPF in which another boy was killed which led to
anther protest by the boys till by June 29, eleven boys lost their lives.
As all the troubles happened in summers, which is a tourist season,
the main source of income for Kashmiris, no well wisher of Kashmir could
have planned them. So the theory that the current agitation was sponsored
or pre-planned by any agency does not hold good.
Thus when Union
Home Minister P Chidambaram blames LeT and other outside agencies for the
present trouble he has to explain why they choose the present season. And
could not they have supplied better weapons than stones to the teenagers
and how did they contact them or their leaders when they are not known to
the state government.
Further the fact that the character of the
agitation and its leadership changed every time in the last three years
shows that specific issues that agitate the people are no less important.
The common factor could be lack of trust in the state or the Indian
Therefore chief minister Omar Abdullah’s understanding
of the current situation seems to be partial when he made a plea to work
together towards a lasting peace, as per the aspirations of the people. He
suggested to work to “facilitate a dialogue between India and Pakistan as
well as one between the centre and various shades of opinion in the
state.” Till that happens, shouted all the problems of the people be held
in abeyance? The National Conference contested last elections and sought
votes on the promise of development and good governance which now he says
cannot assuage the aspirations of the people.
Has he done full
justice to the agenda on which he has sought votes? Why people of every
region and every district are complaining of discrimination in the
development of their area? Why are they denied a say in the process of
governance? Why there is no pachayati raj in the state? Even when
panchayats will be formed under the state panchayati raj act, they will be
more an instrument of centralization and regimentation than institutions
of decentralization and empowerment of the people at the grass roots.
Before proper status for the state is sought through Indo-Pak
dialogue, it is important that it acquires a composite and harmonious
personality. One must be clear that is it a solution for the Kashmir
valley that is being sought or also for other two regions and non-Kashmiri
communities. But is there a consensus even within the valley?
far the stand of the National Conference, which stands for autonomy fo the
state, is its present leadership aware that Pandit Nehru and Sheikh
Abdullah agreed in July 1952 with my proposal for autonomy of the state
within India and autonomy of the regions within the state? And the All
Parties State People’s Convention, representing the entire spectrum of
politicians of the value, minus Congress, which was convened by Sheikh
Abdullah in 1968, unanimously adopted draft constitution for the state
with autonomy for the regions and devolution of power to districts, blocks
and panchayats, and that is provided in the party’s manifesto New Kashmir
as revised in 1975?
Moreover will the autonomous state accept
jurisdiction of the Union autonomous institutions, which curb the powers
of the Union executive to encroach into the affairs of the state, like
Supreme Court, Election Commission and Auditor and Comptroller General? It
may be recalled that if Supreme Court’s jurisdiction extended to the state
in 1953, Sheikh Abdullah could not be dismissed and detained.
far as complaints of regions and district are concerned, the repeated
commitments of the present government in 1998 to ensure equal development
of all areas of the state is meaningless without an objective and
equitable formula for allocation of funds. The State Finance Commission is
supposed to be working on this task for the last several years. But
nothing is known about what it has done and when it will submit its
Meanwhile the formula that I proposed in my report on
regional autonomy submitted to the state government as head of the
Committee set up for the purpose may be considered. It suggested an eight
point indices to determine the stare of each region and district. It
consists of area, population, share in state services, share in admissions
to higher and technical institutions, road connectivity in proportion of
area, female literacy, infant mortality and contribution to state
exchequer. The formula can be put to a computer to determine the share of
each region and district. This is a basis for a further discussion and
arriving at a consensus. At present allocation of funds is done on
subjective, arbitrary or political considerations which does not inspire
confidence of all sections of the people.
And should we wait for
dialogue between India and Pakistan or between the centre and parties in
Kashmir to prevent human rights violations? Why Machail fake encounter
which killed three innocent civilians could not be entrusted to a judicial
commission instead of the police? And why no enquiry has been held in the
killing of Tufail Ahmad which triggered the present movement.
Finally, but most importantly, the character of the protest of the
teenagers protest has to be understood. As Umar Farooq points out “the
baton of the present movement is in the hands of the new generation.” Why
is it disillusioned with the older generation? A group of stone pelters
told the media that “the pro-freedom leaders have failed to take up the
issue of the detained youth seriously and remained silent over their
plight.” They demanded release of all youth who have been arrested as the
condition for withdrawing their movement. It is important to know who are
their leaders and what exactly are their grievances. A dialogue with them
need not wait till Indo-Pak dialogue or centre-Kashmir dialogue.
Institute of Jammu and Kashmir Affairs,
Karan Nagar, Jammu Tawi.