By Kamal Morarka
Situation in Kashmir is getting out of hand. Although one can say the Kashmir problem has been there since 1948, but it was really in 1990s (especially after 1987 elections in Kashmir, which was largely perceived to be rigged) that the real problem started. Throughout the 1990s we had difficult situations, then with some modicum of order elections were held etc. etc. Now with the current formation of PDP-BJP coalition, the matters have gone totally out of control. The reason being that throughout its political span, the BJP has been saying Article 370 should be abrogated. For them that is the only way to integrate Kashmir into India. On the other hand the PDP has been saying that Article 370 is the only link that Kashmir has had with India. If you abrogate it, they say, it will not be acceptable in Kashmir and Kashmir cease to be part of India. With these two kinds of diametric views, how can they make a government together? Obviously it is only for the loaves and fishes of office – some minister will make money, some money will be collected by the PDP, some money will be collected by the BJP. That in my view is very high price to pay just for collecting some money.
Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’S funeral in his ancestral place Bijbehara was a shock, because only a few thousand people were there, while Mufti always thought that he was the second most popular leader after Sheikh Abdulla whose funeral was attended by lakhs of people. Mehbooba Mufti got weak at her knees and therefore she did not want to form a government. She delayed it quite a lot, till of course some deal was struck, which was attractive to both her and the BJP, and she took office. She has definitely made a political mistake; probably she has ended her political career. But that is gone. Now, how do you handle the situation that is becoming bad to worse every day?
Army tied up one civilian in front of a jeep and paraded to avoid stones being shot at them. Anybody will say that it is a very uncivilized thing to do; it is definitely not the army thing to do. On that there is a debate. On twitter responsible people say Arundhati Roy – who is a liberal as a liberal can be – should be tied on the jeep. Of course, it was not a serious suggestion, but I think country’s discourse will be down. It is certainly not political, it is not even civilized. What we are talking is uncivilized. What is the government’s policy on this? It becomes clear the Defence Minister (the portfolio is being held by Arun Jaitely) wash his hand of the issue said the decisions in Kashmir are best left to the army. I haven’t heard this kind of statement before. Is Kashmir a “colony” of India? It is a state; there is a civilian government there. And according to our constitution army comes in only on the request of civilian government. Of course the Armed Forces Special Act is there, but you can’t give a carte blanche to the Army that can do anything. That means basically you are trying to wash your hand of; the Central government has washed its hand of Kashmir. What kind of message are we sending to Pakistan? What kind of message are we sending to the international community? These statements do not make sense, and our civilized conduct need to be restored. People should be told however hard feeling you may have, make cogent assertions. What is the government’s view I want to know.
This government says Kashmir was Nehru’s mistake. What was Nehru’s mistake? Of trying to make Kashmir accede India was his mistake! Or referring the issue to the UN was his mistake! Or later on realizing that plebiscite was not possible because Pakistan did not withdraw its troops was his mistake? So what was his mistake? That they are not saying. Sardar Patel who is their current hero was of the view that “we needn’t go after Kashmir. When we agreed on a country for Muslims and Kashmir is Muslim majority state, then let it go with Pakistan.” Maharaja Hari Singh was scared he would have acceded to Pakistan but for Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh Abdullah did not want to accede to Pakistan. So they have all gone now. What is your stand? You are Narendra Modi, the most popular leader in the country; every state is with you, blah-blah. What is your stand? Do you want Kashmir? Or you don’t want Kashmir? Just listening to the National Security Advisor (NSA) and the Army Chief is no way of handling problems. Kashmir is ok we understand that. Tomorrow, in any other state, will you give that to the army? Then, just like Pakistan the army will question why do we need a civilian government; the Army will take over. They do not understand that they are playing with fire. This is not the way. They should convene a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Defence, Army Chief, NSA, etc. Rajnath Singh is the Home Minister he is not even visiting Kashmir. So have you taken away Kashmir from the Home Ministry?
There is a policy paralysis, what they used to say for Manmohan Singh. He keeps quite, did not speak. Well, I think Narendra Modi’s silence is deafening. He did not speak a word about Kashmir. Either he has given license to his party people to make money, to squander loot and win elections. I think only one thing Narendra Modi has learned from the Congress is the wrong thing from the congress. Win elections and make government by hook or by crook. His own attention is on that. In Goa they got 13 out 40, still they want to form government there. In Manipur Congress gets 28 three short of majority still BJP makes government. They have learnt all the wrong things form the Congress, while there are plenty of right thing that Congress has done. The Congress may be demoralized, but I have been watching this country for the last 60-70 years, and there are lots of good things in the Congress, and one of them is “dialogue” – keeping the doors open for dialogue. India and Pakistan talks had intermittently been taken place almost since independence. Karan Singh spend lot of time on the Indus Water treaty. So dialogue is the only way out and now even more so when we have nuclear weapons and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. What is your strategy? Please take Indian public into confidence. Take a vote: should we have war with Pakistan? Do or die? And if the people tell you then do it. When you are elected, you are to do right thing or wrong things?
Another matter is freedom of press. Freedom means to write the truth, to write life. Now today I am seeing on the twitter people are objecting to Abhijeet Bhattachariya’s being taken out from the twitter. They say is this freedom of press? Where are all those liberal people? But the question is: What is the freedom? Paresh Rawal twitted that tie Arundhati Roy to the jeep and Abhijeet Bhattacharya supported him. What kind of tolerance is this? These are the people who made some standing in the music world and in the film world and these are their thoughts! It is a pitiable condition. Their IQ is low, EQ is missing, and artificial intelligence they have not heard of.
For heaven sake the cabinet should meet seriously on Kashmir, if necessary call a parliament session on Kashmir and make your policy clear what do exactly you want to do in Kashmir? They do not want to hear from People who have gone to Kashmir (like Yashwant Sinha and myself) that what is their view of Kashmir? It is because they know it is very uncomfortable to face the reality. Earlier they understand this, the better it is.
By Kamal Morarka