Kashmiri separatists are isolated from reality Colonel Dr Anil A Athale (retd)

2 09 2008

source: Rediff.com

Colonel Dr Anil A Athale (retd)
September 02, 2008

The second part of Colonel Athale’s analysis of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir [Images]

Part I: Why Kashmir is up in flames

In a television debate, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah mocked a Jammu Muslim who supported the agitation. Little does he or others realise that the Muslims of Jammu have also suffered from the stupid government policy of appeasing the separatists and kicking the nationalists. Just one example should suffice. School teachers’ jobs in even remote Jammu regions go to Kashmiris from the valley. The teachers so appointed (at a good salary) are absent most of the time except on the first every month to collect their salary. The education levels among Jammu’s Muslims are abysmal. In a tehsil of Mendhar in Poonch district, for example, there is not a single graduate!

In Rajouri division, when I led a team of scientists ten years ago (in an attempt at bringing in horticulture technology to J&K to better people’s life), we were aghast to see a soil testing laboratory that had a clean look about it — all the equipment for soil testing was never used! This is the legacy of valley appeasement that the Jammu people revolted against.

The Hurriyat and other separatists, marginalised by the peace process, jumped into the fray, cried wolf and went back to the bad old days of shutdowns and marches to the United Nations office in Srinagar [Images]. A new innovation this time round was a call to march to and a threat to take their fruits to Pakistan. In a reversal of fortune the slogan of ‘Azadi’ (freedom) was replaced by the cry for merger with Pakistan.

Root causes of current unrest in Kashmir

The root cause of the present trouble in the valley is the fact that beginning in the 1980s the Sufi tradition of Kashmir has been on the retreat and in its place the virulent Waahabi/Deobandi Islam has become the dominant creed. Saudi money, the influx of mullahs from UP have dealt a death blow to the Kashmiriyat that took pride in tolerant Islam. The burqa, totally alien to Kashmir, made its appearance. Sufi shrines like the one of Baba Rishi at Tannemarg (on the way to Gulmarg) and Charar-e-Sharif were burnt down by the militants. Girls schools were destroyed and Ayesha Andrabi of Dukhtaran e Millat was emboldened to throw acid on girls daring to wear jeans. The State, such as it was, abdicated its responsibility and watched helplessly. This is the underlying cause of the present unrest — neither the use of force by security forces nor the so-called economic blockade.

The idea of Kashmiriyat today exists only in the minds of a lunatic fringe of candle carrying peaceniks and in the studios of politically correct television channels.

But it will be wrong on the part of the Indian State and even more for the Kashmiris to think that they can repeat the shenanigans of the early 1990s.

Changed geopolitics

The world, specially the West, has changed radically since 1989-90. The sole superpower was then in support of the Kashmiri cause, such as it was. BBC, the paragon of Western objectivity, repeatedly showed a clip of a toothless old Kashmiri woman shouting ‘We want Sharia’ in Kashmir. The US was bent upon teaching a lesson to erstwhile Soviet allies like India. Osama bin Laden was the blue-eyed boy of the Americans and Mujahids (Muslim religious fighters) were still basking in the afterglow of the victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan. The West had still to learn the disaster that awaited it by patronising the Waahabi creed.

The attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, changed all that.

One wonders if the Kashmiri separatists have noticed the absence of any comment from the West on the current happenings in Kashmir. Even the Pakistanis appeared surprised, though delighted, by the present happenings. The Pakistan Senate promptly passed a resolution condemning ‘excessive’ use of force by the Indians. It was comic since at that very time Pakistan was using helicopter gunships and fighter aircraft against its own tribals in the frontier area. The day the march to Muzaffarabad took place, over 50 Shia Muslims were killed in an attack on a hospital in Pakistan. Pakistanis were delighted that while Baluchistan and the tribal areas were in open revolt against the federal authorities, Kashmiris were clamouring to join them. Pakistanis were indeed grateful that at least someone in world thought that they were not a failed State.

But despite some noises, even Pakistanis seemed aghast at the movement in Kashmir. Thanks to the peace process and people to people contacts, most Pakistanis now accept the secular credentials of India. The average Pakistani is keen to establish trade, cultural and educational contacts with India.

Is there a way forward?

The valley Kashmiris’ outburst was and is like a reaction of a spoilt child who revolts irrationally when denied his demands. The reaction in Jammu was the first time ever that the valley people received a jolt. It is noteworthy that the troubles in J&K, of the separatist variety, are confined to Srinagar valley. It is the valley that is out of sync with the region and the world. There is no hope of any support to the irrational demands of a fundamentalist minority.

Neither the US nor UK wants another safe heaven for the Al Qaeda [Images] to come up in the subcontinent. Even China, which faces Muslim separatism, is wary. The Russians know what it is like to create another Chechenya.

Kashmiri separatists are isolated from reality. India must sit tight and not succumb to pressure tactics. After relative peace that Kashmir has got used to, let there be a dose of unrest for the Kashmiri to come to his collective senses.

Colonel Dr Anil Athale (retd) is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Fellow at the United Services Institution, Delhi [Images], and coordinator of the Pune-based Institute for Peace and Disarmament

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Sri Sri calls for peace

13 08 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008 New Delhi

Expressing deep concern over the continuing violence on the Amarnath land issue in Jammu and Kashmir, renowned spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Monday appealed for peace in the state and urged people to exercise restraint.

Asking people not commit “blunder” by continuing with violent protests, the spiritual guru said, “the (state) government has committed a big mistake by first transferring the land to Amarnath Shrine Board and revoking the same later in face of protests.”

“Though people have the freedom to express their opinion and frustration, however violence is no solution,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the exponent of Art of Living, said in a release.

He appealed to people to adopt non-violent ways of protest and maintain communal harmony.

In his bid to find an effective solution to the imbroglio, the release said, he has been in constant touch with leaders of different groups. He also had a telephonic conversation with Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra and hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in this regard.

Source : New Delhi (PTI)

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Source: Various

Jammu (J&K): Renowned spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on 12th August held wide ranging discussions in Jammu with different sections of people from Jammu and Kashmir to resolve the Amarnath Shrine imbroglio.

Sri Sri arrived from Germany in the wee hours and met with the representatives of the 32 organisations that make up the Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti (AYSS), says a statement from Art of Living Bureau of Communication of The Art of Living International Centre (Bangalore).

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar discussing ways to resolve the Amarnath imbroglio with Muslim leaders in Jammu on Tuesday

He also met with the members of the Muslim Front Jammu, Bar Association, Sadhu Samaj, university professors and doctors. He gave a patient hearing to everyone and appealed for communal harmony and peace in the region. He assured them that justice would be done to them and asked them to be patient.

Advising against taking law into one’s own hands, Sri Sri said, “Dialogue is the only way to resolve the present crisis.” He added that in his interactions with the leaders in J&K, they have expressed that they also want a peaceful settlement of the issue.

“Jammu and Kashmir are like two eyes. If one is hurt, the other will also bleed,” he said. He termed the recent happening in J&K as most unfortunate. “The deep wounds and scars need to be healed fast,” he said. He asked the Centre to act fast and resolve the issue. Calling upon the administration to be impartial and give a human and healing touch, Sri Sri urged everyone not to harm women and children.

He underlined the need for the majority community to take responsibility of protecting the minority community. “Wherever Hindus are in majority, they need to protect the Muslims and vice versa,” he said.

Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar on wednesday said the civil society in Jammu and Kashmir should come forward for amicable resolution of the Amarnath land transfer issue.

“The civil society should come forward for resolution of the issue so that peace is restored in Jammu and Kashmir,” he told reporters after a meeting with hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani at his Hyderpora residence here.

He said efforts should be made to prevent the issue from being communalised and justice should be done to all.

Ravishankar is expected to meet chairman of moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Governor N N Vohra later today.

During the 15-minute meeting, Geelani said Muslims of Kashmir have never been against the Amarnath yatra and have been actively facilitating the annual Hindu pilgrimage for more than 125 years.