APPENDIX 10 - GETTING IT RIGHT ON J&K BY ARVIND LAVAKARE

A conspicuous area where anti-national and pro-Muslim sentiments have been articulated concerns the status of Jammu and Kashmir State which, in its entirety, was legally acceded to India on 26th October, 1947 under the British Parliament’s India Independence Act, 1947. This is a fact of history that successive Pakistan regimes have cussedly refused to accept and, instead, have engaged in all sorts of ploys, including wars and sustained terrorist killings, to resolve the so-called Kashmir problem. Pakistan’s aim has been unambiguous all along: it wants possession of the Kashmir Valley where Muslims outnumber all other communities.

However, this section of ‘peace’ and human rights groups and activists profiled in this book have simply turned a blind eye to this Pakistani intent and treated Pakistan’s interest in Kashmir as only a measure to bring about the long-desired peace between the two countries. They have also come to believe that India today must be willing to make sacrifices to ensure peace with Pakistan. This twisted, tragic attitude of motley of our opinion-makers in the media has created around Jammu and Kashmir a thought process, the like of which would be blasphemy in other nation states where the overriding spirit has always been ‘nation first and last.’

Prem Shankar Jha and Kuldip Nayyar, both veteran journalists, Rajinder Sachar, a retired High Court judge, Muchkund Dubey, a former foreign secretary of the country, Prannoy Roy and Barkha Dutt, two celebrities of NDTV, Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN, and, lately, Ram Jethmalani, the well-known lawyer-politician, and Gautam Navlakha of the Economic & Political Weekly—all have written/spoken often enough of the so-called ‘Kashmir problem’ with one focal point: it’s somehow India which is adamant and uncompromising, the villain of the piece, while the ‘Kashmiris’ have been victims of traumatic injustice which must now be redressed by some sort of a pact that will bring Pakistan on board.

Some of the issues which one or the other of the above group picks upon to embarrass the Indian position are:

  • The denial of ‘free and fair’ polls and the efforts to run the state from Delhi, resulting in the ‘alienation’ of the ‘Kashmiris’ (a.k.a. the Muslims of the Kashmir Valley) whose ‘Kashmiriyat’ demands a unique treatment.

  • The heavy deployment of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir which stymies civilians and results in human rights violations of ‘innocents’.

  • The need for ‘self-determination’ for Kashmiris and for such autonomy to the whole state as is short of azadi. ?? The primacy of ‘self-governance’ traceable to Jawaharlal’s Nehru’s naïve old promise of a plebiscite that contradicted the British Parliament’s Act of 1947.

  • The urgency of a negotiated settlement to assuage Pakistan and avoid the horrible possibilities of a ‘nuclear flashpoint’.

From January 2006, one or the other of the above group of opinion-makers has also shown a strong inclination to bite General Musharraf’s bait of ‘an out of the box’ solution of self-governance, demilitarisation and joint supervision by India and Pakistan of Jammu and Kashmir State’s external affairs, defence, communications and currency matters.

At the micro level, two examples of how overall sympathy is sought to be evoked for ‘Kashmiris’ are Gautam Navlakha, a writer on economic/financial matters, moaning that the Mufti Muhammed Sayyed Government’s first financial budget aiming at fiscal autonomy had to contend with abnormal expenditure on security forces, and Dubey pointing to the large numbers of unemployed youth in Jammu and Kashmir as one reason for supporting its demand for greater autonomy.

Ignored, and not even whispered about, by the likes of those in the above group, are several facts.

On the larger canvas vis-à-vis Pakistan’s malevolent interest in the ‘Kashmir issue’, the anti-national stance completely overlooks the following unassailable record of history:

  • After hordes of tribesmen from the northwest invaded Jammu and Kashmir in mid-October 1947 with extensive backing by Pakistan and occupied large parts of his princely territory, the Maharaja of the State legally and constitutionally acceded his whole State to India.

  • In the bitter war that ensued, Pakistan had control of nearly one-third of the state when the UN sponsored cease-fire came. In the protracted negotiations held under UN auspices, Pakistan never challenged the legal validity of the Maharaja’s act of accession to India.

  • Though a UN resolution declared Pakistan as the aggressor and asked it to withdraw all its armed forces from the State so as to enable a plebiscite to be held to determine whether the State should go India or Pakistan, Pakistan hasn’t done so for nearly six decades. Hence, it still holds on to that territory of Jammu and Kashmir which it forcibly seized but which legally belongs to India. Hence, too, the pre-requisite for the plebiscite solution has never been fulfilled by Pakistan.

  • The Indian Parliament resolved in February 1994 to make all necessary efforts to recover those territories of Jammu and Kashmir lying under Pakistan’s occupation and control. But since then, India, ever the peace-loving nation, has maintained its honourable reputation of not even once invading Pakistan to take back what is its own, its very own. Just which other large nation-state would have acted so soberly despite such grossly unjust deprivation of a big chunk of its territory?

  • Considering the above, India really has absolutely nothing to discuss with Pakistan about Kashmir excepting arriving at a final verdict on the status of all Pak-occupied territories of the original Jammu and Kashmir State. If Pak finally retains that territory it acquired by theft through naked aggression, it will be so because we condescend it so. Either that or we tell Pakistan that while the status quo remains, we reserve the right to recover that stolen property of ours in the future. Yet, right from Nehru’s days, we have not been bold enough and man enough to deliver that message to Pakistan right to its face, in public, before the whole world.

At the micro level, ignored, and not even whispered about, by the likes of those in the above group, are several other realities such as—

  • While some earlier elections to the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly may well not have been as fair and free as the ideal demands, there is no doubt that the government that came to power each of those times did in essence represent the majority of the people; it was not as if a Communist Government or a Jana Sangh Government was rammed down the throats of the people.

  • The elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly held in August 1951 were certainly free and fair and, besides, were conducted, not by Delhi’s Election Commission but that of the State itself. And this Constituent Assembly enacted its own State Constitution wherein Section 3 proclaimed that ‘The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.’ To prevent any future mischief from Pakistan and/or Pakistan-backed ‘Kashmiris’, the Constitution’s Section 147 precluded Section 3 from any amendment. That wasn’t done by New Delhi, mind you, but by the allpowerful National Conference party of Sheikh Abdullah. So, what’s all the ceaseless subsequent cribbing and grumbling about ‘self-determination’?

  • Jammu and Kashmir is the only State in India to enjoy the privilege of having its own distinct Constitution with several features different from the nation’s Constitution. It is that State Constitution—not the national Constitution—to which an MLA, a High Court judge and even the Chief Minister has to swear allegiance when assuming office. How many nation states suffer such humiliation in silence?

  • Under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, Jammu and Kashmir State has the right to refuse the application to itself of any law of India’s Parliament; similarly, it has the right to refuse the application to itself of any Article of the Constitution of India that has not been applied to it already. That is why Jammu and Kashmir State has refused to describe its Constitution as ‘secular’. This is because Nehru not only created Article 370 but because, through a cunning order in 1954 under Article 370, made it well nigh impossible to amend that Article. What greater autonomy than that do the Abdullahs and the Sayyeds of the Kashmir Valley want?

  • Nehru’s doing in 1954 under Article 370 also permitted Jammu and Kashmir State to create an elite class of citizens on whom the State could confer special rights and privileges denied to other residents of the state. The State Constitution promptly incorporated that largesse in its final document of November 1957 so that, since that time, thousands upon thousands of Jammu and Kashmir’s residents have been denied several rights including the right to vote in the State Assembly elections. What a farce then that ‘Kashmiris’ should be the ones to complain about the absence of ‘free and fair’ polls.

  • If at all ‘Kashmiris’ feel ‘alienated’, it is they themselves who are responsible. While they have wanted the Indian government to defend them from Pak’s aggression, and to grant them economic development, they have never wanted people from outside their State to come and settle down there. They have never argued or agitated for equal rights to those unfortunate fellow residents who are not categorized as elite ‘Permanent Residents’ under Section 6 of the State Constitution. And it is they who, when they meet Indians from outside the State, refer to them as ‘Hindustanis’ while calling themselves as ‘Kashmiris’. Is that ‘Kashmiriyat’? If so, shame on it. If not that but something else that’s mystical, let’s remember that every State of India is blessed with its cultural traits as distinct and unique as ‘Kashmiriyat’.

  • The Hindu majority in Jammu, a the second largest province in Jammu and Kashmir state, has its peculiar Dogra character while the Buddhist majority of Ladakh, the largest district of the state, has its Buddhist values. So why do the likes of Jha and Dubey talk only of ‘Kashmiriyat’? Indeed, so much are Jammu and Ladakh out of the radar of people like those two that they ignore the shoddy treatment meted out to those areas by the Muslims who rule the state from the Valley. In fact, these two regions of Jammu and Ladakh have organised groups demanding a distinct status for them, separate from the Kashmir Valley and without Article 370. Nobody, alas, among our opinion-makers takes up the cause of Jammu and Ladakh just as they don’t take up the cudgels for the lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) who were terrorised out from the Valley by Muslim fundamentalists around 1989-90.

  • The Abdullahs, the Sayyeds, the Musharrafs et al demand autonomy, self-governance etc. without ever letting out what that desired status will do for its financial upkeep. As it is, the Jammu and Kashmir State under India’s federal polity survives only because of the Central Government’s munificent financial aid since the State lacks its own resources to pay even the salaries of its employees. And obviously unknown to edit writers like Gautam Navlakha, even the State’s security expenses are funded by the Centre. Indeed, figures of grants, loans and Tenth Plan outlays indicate that Jammu and Kashmir State, besides being the most autonomous one in India, is also the most pampered one. That is why the State as a whole has the lowest proportion of population falling below the poverty-line— only 5 per cent as against the national average of 27 per cent or thereabouts. So, what will the scenario be under the so-called ‘self-governance’ with currency matters being supervised by the governments of India and Pakistan? Will Pak procure billions for the ‘Kashmiris’ from its pal called Uncle Sam?

  • There is that point regarding deployment of ‘excessive’ security forces that hampers civilian life in Jammu and Kashmir State and results in trampling of the human rights of theirs as well as of those bystanders caught in firings resorted to in countering terrorist attacks. Well, if armed terrorists, aided and abetted by Pakistani friends or Indian traitors, are lurking in unforeseen corners of the State, the Government of India is fully justified in providing as much armed security as it considers adequate to prevent intrusion through the nation’s borders. Complaints are also made of army/police excesses. Those who lament this aspect forget that when you fire at fleeing armed terrorists, you just can’t aim like the Arjun of Mahabharat. Further, our Army has been very serious about human rights violations by its personnel and has issued official figures from time to time of those against whom inquiries have been conducted and action taken, including dismissal from service.

An example of how loosely, how indifferently and how antinationally our influence peddlers discuss Jammu and Kashmir was available in Ram Jethmalani’s op-ed article in The Asian Age, Mumbai edition, 9th February 2006. He wrote, ‘Gen. Musharraf is absolutely right that the inhabitants of the state (Jammu and Kashmir) must enjoy their basic right’, and went on to advocate that our proposal to Gen. Musharraf must include, inter alia, the proposition that ‘India and Pakistan must ensure…the (local) Governments of both sides must owe their legitimacy to free elections and adult franchise, and must fully protect the basic rights of citizens which in the final analysis must be declared and enforced by a wholly independent judiciary.’

Hey Ram! As a member of the Kashmir Committee formed during the NDA regime, Jethmalani must surely know that the above ambience he demands already exists in that part of Jammu and Kashmir State which is under India’s democratic, federal polity. Then why does he act so dumb by involving Pakistan to ensure the continuance of that political reality? If anything, that ambience is precisely what is missing in the one-third part of Jammu and Kashmir held by Pakistan. Jethmalani should have instead insisted that Pakistan must first bring about that political ambience in its own backyard—which we know is a place of tyranny—before recommending ‘self-governance’ to India in a package deal with Pakistan for resolving the Kashmir issue.

Just one more example to close the case against the biased or indifferent motley opinion makers of our land. In its ‘India- Pakistan Debate’ series telecast by NDTV 24 × 7 in February 2006, a lay woman of Pakistan had the gumption to say, ‘If India has been saying “Jammu and Kashmir is ours”, why is it at all discussing the Kashmir issue with Pakistan? Clearly, it’s a dispute.’ Prannoy Roy simply watched when he should have said, ‘Ma’am, India is discussing the issue because it wants to resolve the status of onethird of Kashmir that Pakistan has illegally occupied for nearly 60 years.’

But it’s foolish really to expect such a reaction from those who are ignorant or jaundiced anti-nationalists of Hindustan.

10th February 2006

See also:
‘The Truth About Article 370’ by Arvind Lavakere, 2005, (Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, 17 Chanchal Smruti, GD Ambekar Marg, Wadala, Mumbai 400 031).