Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kashmir, The Finale: Secularism Vs Pseudo-secularism in the Amarnath Debate

Are Kashmiris, Indians first and Kashmiris next or are they Kashmiris first and Indians next, or they are Kashmiris first, second and third and not Indians at all?”
– Shyama Prasad Mookherjee questioning Jawaharlal Nehru on the floor of the houseJawaharlal Nehru had not been able to answer the question. In 60 years, our secular centrist and Marxists haven’t been able to answer the question or have intentionally prevaricated in order to excuse themselves of pronouncing the uncomfortable verdict. But today, every Indian can answer the question thanks to the open admission of the Kashmiris themselves who have left no stone unturned in declaring “teri jaan meri jaan Pakistan Pakistan!” (Your life, my life is only Pakistan!) with hundreds of Pakistan flags making the extra-ordinary symbolic gesture. Placards read “Crush India”; “Hindustan Murdabad” ; “When Lashkar comes India will be defeated” [1] in English while the Urdu counterparts are best left un-translated.
Terrorist leaders from the dreaded Lashkar e Taiba who staged the hostage drama couple of days ago lead the agitation from the front with Kashmiris cheering for these Islamo-fascists. Syed Geelani, the hardline separatist and the unanimous leader of the Kashmiri people emphatically declares that we will settle for nothing less than an Islamic republic of Kashmir for secularism and democracy are all anti Islamic machinations of the devil; facts which must have left the teeming Islamic apologists who vainly invent democracy in the Quran gushing. To be fair to the Kashmiri Muslims and these separatists, even before the Amarnath controversy as I had pointed out in a previous article pro Pakistan sympathies and support for terror groups was ubiquitously visible in the valley [2] including firebrand university student cheerleaders for Osama Bin Laden but such reporting’s were usually censored by the media in order to mischievously portray all Kashmiri Muslims as secular and peace loving.

Prelude to a storm

The Amarnath Yatra is an annual event. Between 3-5 lakh pilgrims trek hundreds of miles to pay visits to the ice lingam every year. Unfortunately little has been assured in terms of safety and well being for them despite being charged pilgrim taxes by the government, a quarter of which until recently was diverted to a prominent Muslim family. Under the high courts order, the Cong-PDP government issued a notice to transfer 300 kanals of degraded forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board for setting up temporary lodging and other basic facilities for Amarnath pilgrims.

The popular protests by the Kashmiri Muslims in the valley fanatically fired by the government ally, the PDP became so violent and uncontrollable that it compelled the Congress leadership to revoke the order without even consulting the members of the Amarnath Shrine board or any Jammu leaders on the likely impact and possible Hindu reaction.

The Islamic apologists argue that was there need to transfer 40 hectares of land to the Amarnath Shrine board when Amarnath Yatra was going in for so many years now? This begs the question that is not the upgradation of virtually non existent basic facilities a responsibility of the government. Then, the right to perform pilgrimage within any part of India is a fundamental right of every citizen of India. It is not subject to any Muslim concession just like Muslim pilgrimages and mosque making in excess of their needs is not limited by the constitution. One could appreciate Muslims helping the Hindu pilgrims but is there any dearth of examples where Hindus have aided Muslim pilgrims. Are Kashmiri Muslims not lured by the economic incentives which are involved in 5 lakh Hindu visits to Amarnath? Amidst all this insanity some outrageous canards have been floated by Islamic apologists as to the origins of Amarnath being a Muslim discovery when the history of Amarnath is at least 1000 years old references to the shrine being found even in Kalhana’s Rajatarangini, an 11th century text. [4]

What about the predominantly Hindu taxpayer subsidizing the Haj to the tune of 350 crores which is not the case in any single major Muslim country including Pakistan? [4] Is the making of basic elementary provisions like water, sanitation and rest houses for over 3 lakh Hindu pilgrims in one of the most inclement terrains in the absence of encroaching on a single Muslim interest not a moral obligation on the part of the government? Definitely, the Amarnath Yatra would have continued even in absence of these amenities but their denial against Hindus in order to appease Kashmiri Muslims cannot be justified under any canon of human law

Hindu organizations have been questioning why did the government cancel the Amarnath land transfer? Very clearly once again the “secular” Indian government succumbed to Islamic fundamentalists! Not even a single Amarnath Shrine board member was consulted before taking the decision. Not a single Hindu representative from Jammu was taken into confidence? Not a single minister of the state allayed the genuine apprehensions of the Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists of the state. Not even cursory promises for their well being and no future discrimination were issued. The non Muslims of the state were taken for granted, as a top leader of the agitation believes because of their patriotism. As Swapan Dasgupta reflects that after all, or so it was felt, a (Hindu) community that had meekly stomached the ethnic cleansing of the Pandits from the Valley, would easily reconcile itself to an unfavorable administrative order [5]

Cause for the crisis

Kashmiri Muslims along with their separatist leaders staged the most dramatic demonstrations alleging a conspiracy was afoot to change the demography of the region by inviting Hindu colonization of the valley. This forces us to consider whether these Kashmiri Muslims of the valley are not suffering from delusion of persecution? To expect temporary installations within 300 kanals of land for a period of at most three months to alter demography of the Kashmir valley in spite of article 370 installed which no supposedly “secular” government is going to annul is the height of paranoia and perversion. Moreover, they have no qualms when Muslims from Bangladesh launch a demographic siege on the nation. Worse, they are not perturbed when Muslim Pathans from the North West Frontier consistently deluge the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (a.k.a. Azad Kashmir). It must be mentioned here that several Kashmiri separatists, mainstream politicians and common Kashmiri Muslims have procured houses in Jammu while it is hard for Hindus to do the same in Kashmir. The fact is the demographic concern of the Muslim separatists is a part of the larger process to deny Hindus any space in the valley. It is nothing less than Hindu xenophobia and the outcome of a ghetto mentality

The declaration of the separatist leader Syed Geelani that the land transfer issue was actually not of any importance to them, and their sole demand was always demand for independence and integration into Pakistan has proved beyond doubt the futility of rationalizing the empirically non existent Kashmiris grievances

How do we explain the crude conduct of the protestors in the valley? A defensive Ghulab Nabi Azad, the most secular Muslim of the valley blamed it on the separatist propaganda including that of its own partner PDP; in a TV interview he even hinted at the latter’s terror links which were wholeheartedly confirmed by the ex governor Sinha. [6] That the PDP ministry, first consented to the land transfer and then intentionally backtracked knowing the consequences obviously give rise to a conspiracy theory. Yet, blaming the separatists alone is only a figment of imagination of the Islamic apologists. The real roots of the problem lie in the orthodox Islamic indoctrinated mindset of the valley it self which for the past 60 years has become increasingly fundamentalist in character. For even before 1989 the Kashmir valley remained the hotbed of separatism except that armed insurgency was not in operation. Therefore, widespread protests would enrage the valley when an Islamic student discovered a graphic representation of the prophet in an encyclopedia of Islam whose author had been dead almost two decades back. Sheikh Abdullah (grandfather of Omar Abdullah) dismantled several Hindu religious sites in the valley. Previously, Muslim landlords including himself had usurped Hindu lands in the valley without any compensation in the name of social justice. [7] He along with his ministers instead of taking oath in the name of the Indian constitution substituted it with the Quran! Indian cricket stars were frequently abused even when pitted against non Pakistani rivals which so much charmed Imran Khan that he demanded a cricket match in substitute for jihad which would determine the fate of Kashmir! [8] In 1987, Leaders of the MUF (Muslim United Front) built their campaign around issues such as the sale of liquor and laws that proscribed cow slaughter, which were cast as threats to the authentic Muslim character of Kashmir. In 1999, two teenage girls in Srinagar were shot and wounded for the crime of wearing jeans. Hundreds of women have been blinded or maimed when acid was thrown on their unveiled faces by Muslim fanatics who considered such immodesty in not wearing hijab as un-Islamic. For instance in 2001 there was an "acid attack on four young Muslim women in Srinagar ... by an unknown militant outfit, and the swift compliance by women of all ages on the issue of wearing the chadar in public” [9]

Marxist secularists as is usual to their class hold the Hindu organizations of Jammu currently responsible for the hardened stand of the valley in demanding independence when the fact remains there was never a time when the Kashmiri protestors had the tricolors in their hand instead of Pakistani flags. Even when the Jammu protests were nowhere in sight, the Kashmiri protestors had the same murderous slogans against the Indian state. [10] Demands for azaadi have been incessantly made in the past, were being made during the initial protests against the land transfer, are being made now with an even greater passion and unfortunately it seems will not be ebbed in the near future. Early in 2007 when even the ghost of Amarnath future was absent the return of Syed Ali Shah Geelani from renal surgery at Indian state expense sparked wild celebrations in the valley. Amid pro-Pakistan and pro-freedom slogans, Geelani ruled out all the temporary solutions and said the right to self- determination was the ‘‘only solution to the Kashmir issue.” The main attraction of the rally was flags of Lashkar-e-Toiyaba and Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfits which were seen flying from different directions. [11]

The Amarnath Pilgrims were in some cases brutally attacked. Pouches of water and milk were sold at exorbitant prices and pilgrims were forced to chant slogans in favor of Pakistan. These tales of terror were echoed throughout Jammu and they did reinforce the belief amongst the Hindus that the time had come to challenge the anti national Islamic fundamentalists of the valley who for the last six decades they perceived parasitically pinching the benefits of their hard work. The tempers in Jammu were further accentuated by the communally overloaded and separatist bent of the speech in Parliament by Omar Abdullah in which he refused to share even an inch of land with the Hindus of Jammu, and his persistence in solely blaming Hindus for the current crisis. [12]

It may be true that if the Hindu organizations had maintained the undignified silence which was expected of them by the minority appeasing parties, then the current conflagration could have been avoided although it would have done nothing to arrest the intrinsic separatist mindset of the valley. But this would have come at the cost of their self respect, their dignity and nationalism and would have been against the principles of natural justice. As a local advocate reasoned the government had “underestimated the determination of Jammu's long-suffering Hindus who have had to cope with denial and deprivation for decades as the state government focuses only on the Kashmir valley”

The myth of economic blockades

What was the nature of the Jammu protests? Why did the Jammu Hindus stage economic blockades is a question on the lips of every ill meaning secularist!

Perhaps, they have forgotten in their eagerness to defend a particular community’s interests that the Jammu protests were initially largely peaceful until a couple of Hindus nationalists committed suicide in protest against the blatantly Islamophilic communal posturing by the so called nationalistic Muslim representatives of the state. The consequently emotionally charged atmosphere naturally caused a Hindu reaction which was further incited by the inept handling of the situation by the district administration which enacted a violent clampdown on the Hindu protestors including women and children. The situation was further worsened by the vituperative outbursts of semi separatists of the PDP and even the supposedly responsible leaders like Farooq Abdullah who threatened the Hindu agitators with dire consequences if their agitation was not called off [13] Mehmooba Mufti expressed her very heinous sentiment to see members of the Amarnath Shrine board shot dead [14] probably with the backing of the terror outfits she and her father are suspected to be in cohorts with!

The myth of the economic blockades was allowed to be perpetuated by both incompetent media analysts and the anti national separatists despite the assurances of the army and the district administration to the contrary. Initially there was complaint that there was food shortage in the valley which was squarely refuted by the authorities of the food distribution system who assured everyone that the current grain stock in the valley was enough to last two months. [15] Then, medicine shortage was supposed to have gripped the region while all the time, not a single government hospital complained for the lack of any of it. The Divisional Commissioner went on record and said they had abundant supplies of medicines brought directly to the valley.

Finally, there was the accusation that the Jammu blockade was preventing the Muslim farmers of the valley from sending their produce of fruits to the rest of India for sale. It has now come to light that the source of this information was sympathizers of the Hurriyat, and quite incredibly these unsubstantiated accusations were internalized as gospel truths and aired without verification by several sections of the mainstream media. [16The truth as it stands reveals that the apples in the orchards of Kashmir which are supposed to be rotting do not even mature until October. [17] Even as on 14th August 2008 The Times of India had revealed the ISI hand in fanning the fears of a non existent economic blockade in order to help the Hurriyat separatists [18] Despite these pertinent revelations and facts, some journalists like Karan Thapar continued to delight in the inane fancies of the separatists until he was rudely interrupted by Arun Jaitley [19]

But has any media personnel with “secular” credentials even inquired into the Hindu grievances at Poonch where armed Muslim mobs have destroyed and burnt Hindu property worth crores with the District Commissioner standing as mute witness to the madness. The Indian express reported three days of continuous attacks on Hindus especially on the women by mad Muslim mobs feeding on rumors spread by terrorists which has eventually forced the Hindus villagers to leave the district. [20]

The facts of Hindu discrimination in Jammu

Apart from the ethnic cleansing of Hindu pundits in the valley which according to Omar Abdullah’s self admission had the backing of all Kashmiri Muslims; ever since 1996, the tempo of Islamist terror strikes against Hindu villagers in Jammu had escalated. Even the communist daily, Frontline admits that hundreds (of Hindus) were killed in the attacks, part of a campaign which was intended to drive out Hindus from areas north of the Chenab river and thus bring about the de facto communal partition of Jammu and Kashmir. [21] The callous counterclaim that the Hinduvta groups capitalized on the killings is unfathomable for any nationalist party was expected to defend the human rights of Hindus who had been alienated by terror approving minority community leaders. Should Hindus be expected to be proverbial lambs for slaughter who would unquestioning submit themselves, their families and even their religion to the jehadi agenda?

Jammu has a geographic area which is larger than that of Kashmir. Moreover, Jammu has absolute number of registered voters which is significantly higher than that of Kashmir. Yet, there are 46 MLAs in Kashmir and only 37 in Jammu. The number of job opportunities for Hindus of Jammu are dwindling to say the least as thanks to torticollis, the face of successive Muslim chief ministers of Kashmir remains permanently directed towards the valley, if not Pakistan.

The communist national daily, “The Hindu” in a very queer accusation claimed underrepresentation of Jammu was factually incorrect on the basis of the hopelessly fudged census of 2001 [22] while relying on the subterfuge that voter registration was not feasible in a period of militancy while committing academic sacrilege in ignoring the millions of Hindu pundits as also Sikhs who resettled in Jammu in the wake of the Hindu pogroms in the valley

The PDP, the increasingly separatist outfit has been often charged with hobnobbing with terrorists, something they have never cared to deny. Their antics include the infamous healing touch policy where murdered terrorists are elevated to martyrs and their families are entitled to special provisions which even the families of killed army officers rarely receive, overall something definitely unheard of in any other place in the world, demands are made for complete autonomy, grants for Hindu universities are scuttled while orthodox Muslim education is encouraged by setting up universities for the same on prime forest land involving disruption of several wildlife sanctuaries [23] Even the ancient Hindu town of Anantnag has been renamed to Islamabad which is rather anachronistic because we are supposedly living in a secular country and not a medieval Islamic theocracy which required Hindu cities to be renamed in the spirit of Islam in order to prove Islamic hegemony over Hindus. [Like Prayag to Allahabad, Karnavati to Ahmedabad]

Years of persecution has naturally hardened the Hindu stance and rendered it uncompromising in their seemingly just struggle for elementary pilgrimage provisions. Yet, the unsympathetic approach of the Congress administration has given rise to the just perception that Jammu is being unfairly targeted because they are patriots [24]

Futility of state sponsored pampering of Kashmiris

In an enlightening article, Ronald Abraham Uri [25] identifies the ingratitude of the Kashmir Muslim despite being pampered beyond comprehension. For just after the earthquake of 2001 in Kashmir which killed around 1300 people; a total of 650 crores of central assistance was doled out to the valley which amounted roughly to Rs 50 lakh per victim. In contrast, the much more severe Bhuj earthquake where 20,000 people lost their lives received a meager 4400 crores amounting only to Rs. 2.6 lakh per victim excluding the foreign aid, which raised the same to 22 lakhs still substantially lesser than the Kashmir victims. One may record that both these unfortunate incidents happened under the NDA regime and Gujarat remains its bastion. Yet, this supposedly Hindu nationalist government keenly shed more tears for the Muslims of Kashmir in order to represent its secularity and adopted a ridiculous step motherly approach towards the Bhuj victims being aware that nationalist Hindus of Gujarat would accept whatever was offered as they are not diseased with secessionist tendencies. In contrast Ronald Uri’s incisively noted how the Kashmiris consistently threw tantrums on the amount of aid offered and insisted they be given independence if the Indian government could not take care of them! They, of course, do not know that what they have received is many times more than parts of the country that are not disputed. There were no kind words for the government anywhere. We are sure they are very much aware of how much was given by Pakistan to the victims in the jannat of Azad Kashmir. Reportedly, millions of rupees meant for earthquake victims of the latter were diverted to terrorist groups who had been badly hit by the quake but this was perfectly acceptable to Muslims, at least on one side of the border since it was a small sacrifice in Allah’s cause.

Furthermore, in the 10th plan it was revealed J and K gets about Rs 4,400 crore as Central grants while Bihar and Orissa get only Rs 1,350 crore and Rs 1,900 crore respectively.

All in all; there is every reason for Kashmiri Muslims to believe in themselves as privileged citizens (or guests?) of the Indian state

Government geniculations towards separatists and anti-national ideologues

“Impose Islamic nizam (jurisprudence) in Kashmir. Islam should govern our lives, be it in our political thought, socio-economic plans, culture or the ongoing movement. The creed of socialism and secularism should not touch our lives and we must be totally governed by the Koran and the Sunnat. Secondly, I have been propagating that we must fight against anti-Islamic forces. These forces come in our way under the garb of nationalists, secularists, racists, linguistic chauvinists, and so on.” – Syed Ali Geelani, chief of Hurriyat in an interview to rediff.com [26]

This man is no ordinary roadside Taliban taught Islamic fundamentalist. He is the old man, who is single handedly leading the Muslim youth of Kashmir to their doom. But, the Indian government dare not touch him in order to appease the rather vitriolic and volatile fundamentalist sentiments. But in an egregious game of double standards in Jammu two Hindu activists Dinesh Bharat and Dalip Kumar were arrested on the charge of making inflammatory patriotic anti Muslim separatist speeches under the draconian Public Safety act which allows arrest without trial for a period up to two years

In Srinagar, on Independence day, the slogans which could be heard were Jiyo, jiyo Pakistan, hum hain Pakistani. [Long live Pakistan, we are Pakistani. Other slogans included Islam Zindabad [Victory to Islam], Lad ke lenge azadi [We will take independence through violence] and Allah-u-Akbar [Allah is great] At exactly 8am, CRPF hoisted the Indian Tricolor at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar on Independence Day. At 3.45pm, Lal Chowk wore a totally different look. Hundreds of slogan-shouting protesters swarmed the area and at 4pm and planted the flags of Jamaat-e-Islami (which looks like the Pakistani flag) and the terrorist outfit, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, on top of the same tower where the Indian flag had been hoisted. Around 2.45pm, before the namaz at Jamia Masjid in old Srinagar town was over, a bunch of 15 women in burqas burned the Tricolor. [27]

Pronouncing the final verdict

The relationship of India and Kashmir is at the crossroads. After an honest introspection it is high time the Indian government finally accepts the religious dimension of the Kashmiri problem which the communist internationalist in Nehru had never fathomed. Years of pampering have not solved the innate lust for Islam nurtured in the bosom of Kashmiri Muslims who only view India as a hostile Hindu neighbor. The minority appeasing governments may be crippled with their myopic vision but it is clear that nationalist Hindus, especially those of Jammu have lost their dignified patience for six decades. It is ridiculous to claim that any party can orchestrate the mass movement both in Jammu and Kashmir in absence of complete local approval. Those who attempt to deny the obvious nationalist vs separatist orientation of the dispute live in self deception for even a mild nationalist finds deeply repulsive the anti India mindset of the Kashmiri Muslim while even the common Hindu, forget the extremist is horrified at the Islamo-fascist bent of mind which is overwhelming all Kashmiri Muslims. As a correspondent of the usually centrist Hindustan times conceded “When the people in Jammu see the administration standing as mute spectators while separatists hoist the Pakistani flag, and the same administration clamping curfews and using force against people who are carrying the Indian flag, there is bound to be unrest. The people in Jammu want the anti-national sentiment to be reversed” [28]

We have doubts whether the situation can ever be normalized, because such a situation never existed thanks to the Nehruvian blunder of espousing the depraved policy of constitutionally recognized separatism. The seceding tendencies were always on fire; they have only been further fanned by the Pakistani instigations from across the border. Kashmir reiterates the historical truth of why a majority Muslim state finds a minority non Islamic population intolerable especially when chained with the anti Islamic fetters of democracy and secularism.

It is time we take cognizance of the fact we are not dealing with ordinary secessionists who desire just independence. In this case what we perceive is a significant section of Kashmiri Muslims including their leader in Geelani demanding accession to the Islamic republic of Pakistan. One can appreciate moves to restore independence seeking secessionists into the mainstream, but how on earth can psychological non resident Pakistanis be converted into Indians is a question every Indian asks but refuses to answer!


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