Agitation in Jammu and Kashmir: A study in contrast

21 08 2008

Source: TOI
JAMMU: The peaceful demonstrations in this otherwise bustling city, in stark contrast to the high decibel protests in Srinagar, said it all.

If the idea was to play on the contrast with Srinagar in communicating that they have been differentiated against, Jammu’s agitationists succeeded in sending across the message quite clearly. In prominence are community langars in every locality where daily wagers and the poor are being fed by households that can cook their meals even as the more than month-long bandh continues. The picture is one of bonhomie among citizens, irrespective of denomination.

And clearly, any attempt to suggest that a single political party has taken over the movement that the Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti has sustained for 53 days is clearly a non-starter. There is a rare unity to be seen in Jammu for a cause that seems to have built up over years of what the people here see as institutionalised neglect.

Also, there is a careful attempt to ensure that it does not take a communal turn. This was clear when a local BJP leader confided that a proposal by Baba Ramdev to join the movement by marching up to the Amarnath shrine with a contingent of sadhus had to be stalled, so that it did not create communal trouble and spoil the “legitimate demand” to allow the shrine board to use the adjacent land for pilgrims’ facilities.

Even BJP, which has taken up the Amarnath issue to build up a national level campaign against the ruling Congress for “offending the sentiments of Hindu pilgrims”, has had to redraw plans to participate in a rally organised by the Sangharsh Samiti.

In fact, BJP has called it “communication gap” between the two organisations. Going on the backfoot after being snubbed by Sangharsh Samiti chief Leela Karan Sharma, who denied there were any plans for a rally, leave aside any invitation to BJP leaders L K Advani and Rajnath Singh to participate, the party’s state president Ashok Khajuria told TOI , “The Sangharsh Samiti is the last word on this movement and BJP is only one among its 42 member units and hence will follow what the Samiti says.”

Interestingly, a good number of field level National Conference and PDP workers in Jammu have joined the Samiti. Surinder Singh Shinghari of NC, a corporator from the city’s Bakshinagar area, has resigned from his party and post and joined the movement. He is not the only one.

It is not easy for a city that thrives essentially on trading and business activities to sustain complete closure of shops and business establishments for 53 days without having any idea as to how much longer they will have to take it. Leela Karan Sharma said, “We are ready to talk as equals to all – the Centre, Kashmiri leaders – but only if our core issue of allowing the High Court order on the land is reverted back to.”

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Giving Kashmir away? No way :: Rajiv Sikri

21 08 2008


Soure: Rediff.com
August 21, 2008

Is it an orchestrated coincidence or random chance that on August 17, two leading national dailies prominently carried commentaries advocating independence for the Kashmir Valley? With surprising ease and lack of angst, each author has argued in favour of secession by part of an integrally constituted state of the Union of India.

Tremendous efforts by all the state and non-state personae in Jammu & Kashmir and the rest of India over the last six decades have seen sharp ups and downs, almost see-saw phases in the feelings of alienation followed by assimilation, poverty followed by growing prosperity among the people of this state.

The last few years have brought in the most sustained period of political stability, free and fair elections, economic recovery and strengthening integration, achieved through painstaking efforts and sagacity by all players. Heading into the November 2008 state assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir, the separatist groups found themselves on the sidelines, threatened with further irrelevance and declining support should these elections be held as smoothly and with equally wide participation as those in 2002.

The Amarnath Yatra [Images] land issue that surfaced in June has been extremely poorly handled by the state and central governments at every stage. The nation needs answers and accountability about why in less than two months the marginalised separatist groups are once again being allowed to set the political agenda in the Valley. Why have no efforts been made to explain the reality of the proposed temporary land allocation scheme (for the Amarnath Yatra) to the agitating people in the Kashmir Valley? Why have the strong feelings of every community in Jammu over the cancellation of the allocation been so deliberately ignored and under-estimated? Why is it that even the most elementary efforts were not undertaken to disabuse the people of Kashmir Valley about a so-called economic blockade? If there was at any point the possibility of a shortage of essential supplies for the people of the Kashmir Valley this should have been overcome by arranging sufficient airlifts and/or trucking in such supplies through the alternative Manali-Leh route.

At the same time, no matter how serious these lapses, the answer cannot be to suggest that the Kashmir Valley be allowed to secede from India. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is as much a composite whole as the human body is. If there is an ailing part of the body, you diagnose the problem and take remedial measures, not carelessly, almost casually, suggest an excision and discarding of the offending section.

For those who advocate a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir [Images], there are some questions. Do they feel that Jammu and Kashmir legally and constitutionally cannot be considered a part of India? On what basis can there be a referendum in the Kashmir Valley, or separate referenda in Jammu, Ladakh and the Valley? On what basis can “independence” be considered as the so-called third option? Should the proposed referendum be based on the UN resolutions of August 1948 and January 1949? Or are such sentiments the manifestation of a simultaneous bout of exasperation and giving in to the separatists who have been quite unnecessarily allowed to mount pressures in a sudden reversal of the peaceful situation that existed in the state prior to June?

The UN resolutions of 1948/49 (adopted by the UN Commission for India and Pakistan) are unequivocal and specific in making the proposed plebiscite in all the five regions of Jammu and Kashmir conditional upon (i) withdrawal of Pakistani troops from all the areas of the state of Jammu and Kashmir that it has occupied (this includes PoK, the Northern Territories and the Shaksgam valley that has been ceded by Pakistan to China); and (ii) the withdrawal by Pakistan, from these occupied areas of Jammu and Kashmir, of their tribesmen and nationals not ordinarily resident in these areas. The UN Commission in an aide-memoire issued on January 14, 1949, stated that in the event of Pakistan not implementing these pre-conditions, India’s acceptance of the UN resolutions would no longer be binding on them.

As recently as March 2001 former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, speaking in Islamabad [Images], accepted the legal and practical difficulties in implementing the UN resolutions and hence their irrelevance. It is evident that the UN resolutions no longer provide any basis for holding referenda either in the Kashmir Valley or in Jammu and Ladakh.

Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, and will remain so. The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir itself recognises this. Any move to hold a referendum in any part of Jammu and Kashmir would contradict the fundamental statement in Section 3 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir that ‘the State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India’. Section 147 prohibits any amendment of Section 3 by the state legislature. In any case, India has stringent laws that forbid secessionist activity.

It is time that the people of India and all national political parties come out unequivocally against anyone who advocates secessionism. In this context, the print and electronic media too should be more responsible about giving prominence to such views.





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.