MK KAW KASH­MIR: A FAILED MIS­SION

Naren­dra Modi has be­lied hopes that he raised among Kash­miri Pan­dits in 2014. He failed to put the plight of the Pan­dits at the top of his po­lit­i­cal agenda

Gfiles - - FRONT PAGE - MK Kaw is a for­mer Sec­re­tary, Gov­ern­ment of In­dia

WHEN Modi took over as the Prime Min­is­ter in 2014, he aroused great hopes in mem­bers of the Kash­miri Pan­dit com­mu­nity. Most peo­ple did not ex­pect ini­tia­tives in for­eign pol­icy or an eco­nomic mir­a­cle from him. Af­ter all, he had been in State pol­i­tics most of the time. But the least one ex­pected from him was a pos­i­tive deal for the Hin­dus. He could be ex­pected to build the Ram Mandir at Ay­o­d­hya, ab­ro­gate Ar­ti­cle 370 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, leg­is­late a uni­form civil code for the mi­nori­ties and make it pos­si­ble for the Kash­miri Pan­dits to re­turn to their an­ces­tral homes. Modi has be­lied th­ese hopes. He did not put the plight of the Pan­dits at the top of his po­lit­i­cal agenda. He has left the Ay­o­d­hya tem­ple to the judges of the Supreme Court. He has more or less aban­doned the RSS agenda for Ar­ti­cle 370. He has nei­ther been able to win over the Kash­miri Mus­lims to the In­dian side, nor brow­beat them into sub­mis­sion. On the civil code all he has to show is the triple ta­laak fi­asco. All this has hap­pened be­cause of a flawed Kash­mir pol­icy, for which one should blame Ajit Do­val, the NSA, and Ram Mad­hav, his Kash­mir points­man in the BJP. Th­ese two gentle­men at­tempted to build a coali­tion gov­ern­ment by try­ing to bring to­gether the PDP and the BJP. This was the most ill-matched cou­ple in the State’s murky pol­i­tics. The ex­pec­ta­tions on either side at that time were so child­like in their pris­tine in­no­cence that we had to re­mind our­selves that th­ese were masters in the art of re­alpoli­tik, not writers of Ae­sop’s fairy tales. One could have for­given Mufti Sa­heb his guieless­ness, for he had tested the as­tute­ness of the war­lords at Delhi when he had put ter­ror­ists in the driv­ing seat of In­dian pol­i­tics by the sim­ple strat­egy of pre­tend­ing that his daugh­ter had been kid­napped by them. But that the

knick­erd­haris should have be­lieved that the BJP would make in­roads into the Mus­lims of the val­ley can only un­der­line the pal­pa­ble fact that Nag­pur is to­tally di­vorced from the grass­roots re­al­ity on the ground. Now the bomb has burst. The sit­u­a­tion in the val­ley has be­come so un­ten­able that the cha­rade had to be called off. Ob­vi­ously the present road was tak­ing us nowhere. The sep­a­ratists and ter­ror­ists were lead­ing In­dia to a merry dance. There were in­fil­tra­tions and bor­der in­cur­sions. There were at­tacks on mil­i­tary and po­lice

The trou­ble with find­ing a so­lu­tion that is uni­ver­sally ac­cept­able is that Kash­miri Pan­dits do not con­sti­tute a ho­mo­ge­neous com­mu­nity with a uni­for­mity of views that can be fully con­verted into a gen­er­ally ac­cept­able pol­icy state­ment

out­posts. Se­cu­rity per­son­nel were be­ing sac­ri­ficed ev­ery day. The De­fence and Home Min­is­ters were is­su­ing bold threats. The Prime Min­is­ter was main­tain­ing a stud­ied si­lence. When I was the pres­i­dent of the All In­dia Kash­miri Sa­maj (AIKS), we had filed a civil writ pe­ti­tion against the Home Min­istry and the State Gov­ern­ment. A sus­tained cam­paign was lodged against the Gov­ern­ment. This re­sulted in the Prime Min­is­ter’s pack­age that led to the con­struc­tion of 7,200 flats at Ja­gati and we were able to take the mi­grants out of tented ac­com­mo­da­tion. The Cen­tral and State gov­ern­ments were forced to cre­ate 6,000 new jobs for Kash­miri Pan­dit youth. Hardly any progress has been made on the re­turn of Kash­miri Pan­dit mi­grants. The AIKS had pre­sented a co­gent plan for al­lot­ment on the ba­sis of all the pos­si­ble op­tions. A Kash­miri Pan­dit could re­turn to his own house or be al­lot­ted a flat in a multi-storeyed hous­ing com­plex. Or, he could be al­lot­ted a plot of land in a wellplanned com­plex. The trou­ble with find­ing a so­lu­tion that is uni­ver­sally ac­cept­able is that Kash­miri Pan­dits do not con­sti­tute a ho­mo­ge­neous com­mu­nity with a uni­for­mity of views that can be fully con­verted into a gen­er­ally ac­cept­able pol­icy state­ment. Take the sim­ple propo­si­tion of re­turn it­self. Prima fa­cie it seems self-ev­i­dent that the very first step to­wards nor­mal­i­sa­tion must start with the re­turn of Pan­dits to the val­ley. Un­less the Pan­dits re­turn in sub­stan­tial num­bers, we can­not start the re­build­ing of a multi-eth­nic so­ci­ety. Yet on this ba­sic ini­tial propo­si­tion there is a vast va­ri­ety of views. To start with, we have the nay-say­ers who re­ject ev­ery propo­si­tion with a neg­a­tive re­sponse: `Re­turn? Who wants to re­turn? Their houses have been burnt down. Or, they have been sold un­der duress for a song. And if you take them back in ones and twos, how would you en­sure their se­cu­rity

and safety? How do you pro­tect their women folk from the goons of the ma­jor­ity com­mu­nity? Above all, what would they do for a liv­ing?’ Viewed at from Delhi or Jammu or the safety of the Raj Bhawans, th­ese may ap­pear to be petty, puerile con­cerns of ag­ing se­nior cit­i­zens. But they are strong enough to force pol­icy plan­ners to think of al­ter­na­tive sce­nar­ios.

AN out­stand­ing ex­am­ple of such ex­trem­ist think­ing is the Pa­nun Kash­mir move­ment. Stripped of the ver­biage, it boils down to the carv­ing out of a sep­a­rate ter­ri­tory for the ex­clu­sive use, habi­ta­tion and pos­ses­sion of the Pan­dits. When I heard this pro­posal for the first time, I pointed out the con­sti­tu­tional il­le­git­i­macy of a con­cept that is to­tally for­eign to the scheme worked out by the found­ing fa­thers . Once the idea that the in­hab­i­tancy of a par­tic­u­lar area must be­long only to a par­tic­u­lar eth­nic, lin­guis­tic or re­li­gious group is ac­cepted, it will be im­pos­si­ble to con­fine such an idea to a par­tic­u­lar geo­graph­i­cal area. The danger­ous con­se­quences of such a con­sti­tu­tional scheme are too hor­rific to con­tem­plate. Yet, be­lieve it or not, there are cur­rently three ma­jor fac­tions of the Pa­nun Kash­mir move­ment. Each of th­ese is sup­ported by a galaxy of in­tel­lec­tu­als, po­ets and philoso­phers. They take them­selves so se­ri­ously that it is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble for the rest of the world to ig­nore them. Things came to such a pass that the gov­ern­ment agen­cies en­gaged in a puerile search for ar­eas in down­town Srinagar that had har­boured Pan­dits for a con­sid­er­able length of time. This is sup­posed to be based on the his­tor­i­cal fact that Pan­dits have loved to con­gre­gate in Batta Mo­hal­las. So what is the likely im­pact of the Gover­nor’s rule on the con­di­tion, re­turn strat­egy and the se­cu­rity con­cerns of Kash­miri Pan­dits? It ap­pears to the un­bi­ased ob­server that the im­pact will be nil. At best, if the Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment in In­dia is able to have its way, it may be able to re­duce the level of in­fil­tra­tion across the bor­der or neu­tralise a larger per­cent­age of mil­i­tants who man­age to sneak across. The lat­est episode in the drama un­fold­ing in J&K may make break­ing news for the me­dia, but its im­pact on the prob­lems of Kash­miri Pan­dits will be a big zero. Let Do­val and Ma­dav have their fun!

An out­stand­ing ex­am­ple of such ex­trem­ist think­ing is the Pa­nun Kash­mir move­ment. Stripped of the ver­biage, it boils down to the carv­ing out of a sep­a­rate ter­ri­tory for the ex­clu­sive use, habi­ta­tion and pos­ses­sion of the Pan­dits

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