Posted by : Shoumik Das Tuesday, June 4, 2013

By Hari Om

AICC president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi appointed Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister of India in May 2004 for reasons not really difficult to fathom. Ever since then, Manmohan Singh, who contested election to the Lok Sabha only once from New Delhi but lost miserably to the BJP candidate Vijay Kumar Malhotra, has been pursuing a policy that has all the potential of a dangerous respectability to the politics of separatism based on religious fanaticism, and unsettling the settled in the sensitive and strategic Jammu and Kashmir. In fact, he has been dealing with Jammu and Kashmir in a manner that makes one believe that he, like Pakistan, considers this northern State as an ‘unfinished agenda of the partition’ whose political future has yet to be decided. His entire approach towards the State, which comprises three distinct historical, political, cultural and geographical regions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh – is patently sectarian, essentially Valley-centric and out and out anti-Jammu and anti-Ladakh. The Kashmiri Hindus, who were persecuted and hounded out of their ancient habitat by fanatics in early 1990, have no place whatsoever in his scheme of things.
Their only crime is that their aspirations are intensely pro-India.  Between February 2006 and April 2007, the Prime Minister held three roundtable conferences – one at Srinagar and two at his official residence 7, Race Course Road, New Delhi – to ascertain the views of political parties and social groups active in Jammu and Kashmir on what could help restore peace in Kashmir. At the end of the first roundtable conference, held at his official residence on February 25, 2006, he declared that “there is the need to evolve a broader consensus on the twin issues of autonomy and self-rule (read semi-independence) within the vast flexibilities as provided by the Indian Constitution”. He made this unsettling statement much to the chagrin of representatives from Jammu and Ladakh and internally-displaced Kashmiri Hindus, who had opposed the idea of the State getting more autonomy on the ground that the demand of the Kashmiri leadership, if accepted, would mean just a step short of complete independence, victory of extremists and defeat of nationalists.

No attempt yet to understand plight of Kashmiri Pandits

In May 2006, he set up five working groups charged with the responsibilities of finding what ailed Kashmir and suggesting measures calculated to win over the ‘alienated’ sections of society. He made the announcement to this effect at the end of the second roundtable conference, held at Srinagar on May 25 and 26, 2006. The mandate of one of the working groups, which was headed by the former Supreme Court judge, Justice Sagheer Ahmad, was to review the Centre-State relations. The Prime Minister mandated Justice Ahmad to review the Centre-State relation notwithstanding the fact that the solitary State of Jammu and Kashmir was already enjoying unbridled legislative powers as well as residuary powers under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

Surprisingly, the secretary to this crucial group submitted the report to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on December 23, 2009, and not to the Prime Minister, who had constituted the group. The report, which provided for more autonomy and suggested that the temporary Article 370 could be made a permanent part of the Indian Constitution, is under the active consideration of Cabinet Sub-Committee appointed by the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister. Omar Abdullah set up the Cabinet Sub-Committee in January 2010 and its under its consideration.
Another working group, which was headed by Mohammad Hamid Ansari, currently, the Vice-President of India, had also, like Justice Sagheer Ahmad, made highly controversial recommendations. For example, he suggested revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) saying that these laws had impinged on the fundamental rights of citizens (read extremists and subversives) and that all such laws should be reviewed and revoked. Besides, it also vouched for general amnesty for those booked under heinous charges, including attack on the India. In addition, it also recommended that the special status of the State must be maintained.
Not content with the outcome of the three roundtable conferences and controversial recommendations of the working groups, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on October 13, 2010 appointed three interlocutors to look into the circumstances responsible for the over-20-old secessionist and communal movement in Kashmir and suggest measures which could help forge a lasting peace in the State (read Kashmir Valley, the only trouble spot). All the three interlocutors – Dilip Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M M Ansari – were not only known for very soft approach towards the votaries of greater autonomy and self-rule but also towards hardcore Pakistani agents Tehrik-e-Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and All-Party Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Believe it or not, but the fact is that Padgaonkar asked some students of Kashmir University in October 2010 to prepare a ‘blue print for Kashmir’s Azadi’ and assured them that the interlocutors would discuss the same with them during their next visit to Srinagar. Radha went several steps further and told the Kashmiri students that the interlocutors would urge the Government of India to amend the Indian Constitution to accommodate the Azadi demand. All the three interlocutors conducted themselves in a manner that led everyone in Jammu and Ladakh to believe, and rightly, that they were all out to pander to the divisive and communal leadership of Kashmir and others in the Valley with whom they interacted umpteen times.
That they were committed to undoing all that the nation had done during all these 62 years to integrate the State into India became clear when they submitted their nasty report to the then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on October 12, 2011 – Chidambaram who in October 2009, had shamelessly said in Srinagar that “Kashmir has a unique history and unique geography, Kashmir has a unique problem that needs a unique solution and solutions which are applicable to other States of the Union cannot be replicated in Kashmir”.
Any way, the interlocutors, among other unsettling and divisive recommendations, virtually suggested that Jammu and Kashmir was a disputed territory, that New Delhi had eroded the Kashmir’s distinct identity and autonomy, that Article 370 must be made a permanent part of the Indian Constitution, that the Government of India should set up a constitutional committee charged with the responsibility of reviewing all the Central laws and institutions extended to the state after August 9, 1953, that the AFSPA under which the Army involved in anti-insurgency operations enjoys legal immunity be revoked, that Kashmir be demilitarised in stages and that Jammu province be reorganised on ethnic (read religious) lines, as it consisted of various sub-regions housing different people. Their report is currently under the consideration of the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister.
Now reports emanating from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) suggest that Manmohan Singh would visit Srinagar on June 25 and make some important announcements. “The PMO has begun working on the mission and seek a thorough feedback on issues facing Kashmir, including its economic reconstruction, and dialogue with stakeholders to find a viable solution to the vexed issue. Top officials of the PMO, including his Advisor T K A Nair, one of the trusted confidants of the Prime Minister, has been asked to work out the modalities of getting a fresh feedback on Kashmir…The PMO has adopted a two-pronged strategy on Kashmir: economic reconstruction on fast track and revival of constructive dialogue process with all stakeholders, including separatists,” one report says. It also says that PMO would work with experts and politicians, including National Conference working president and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Chairman National Minority Commission Wajahat Habibullah, former interlocutor MM Ansari, former RAW chief A S Dulat, former diplomat S Lamba, journalist Prem Shankar Jha and Pradesh Congress Chief (JKPCC) Saif-ud-Din Soz, to find ways and means of resolving the Kashmir issue.
The very fact that the PMO is thinking in terms of putting all its eggs in the basket Abdullah, Mufti, Soz, Habibullah, Dulat, Jha and M M Ansari is an indication that the Congress-dominated UPA Government is likely to play a major mischief in Kashmir. Remember, all these persons are the protagonists of limited accession of the State to India and supporters of the Pakistani cause in this part of Jammu and Kashmir. Indeed, they are communalist whose single-point agenda is to get the State out of the political and constitutional organisation of India. It would not be out of place to mention here that they are playing the role the Muslim League played before August 14, 1947 that culminated in the communal partition of India. It is time for the nation to fight out the communal forces, which control the South and North Blocks and their advisors like Jha, Dulat, Ansari and Habibullah.
Source : Niti Central

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