Contradictions thrive in Jammu and Kashmir

Written by: Nairita Das
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New Delhi, Oct 9 (ANI): Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's remark on the floor of the state Legislative Assembly on October 6 that Jammu and Kashmir acceded and not merged with the Indian Union has led to yet another heated debate on the fractured politics of Jammu and Kashmir.

The controversy is being used by different political parties to push their agendas. While the Bharatiya Janata Party and allies are sulking, the separatist segment is getting ready to take the third generation of what they perceive as the prodigal family of Kashmir back into their fold. The Congress is, as usual, trying to downplay the contentious issue raked up by their ally.

When the British left India, it became necessary for the emerging dominion to legally define its relationship with the princely states. This was done through the medium of a document termed as the Instrument of accession, which was to be executed between the Government of India and the rulers of each of the princely states. Legal sanction for executing this document was provided by the Government of India Act, 1935.

Jammu and Kashmir also acceded to India on the basis of an Instrument of accession signed by the then ruler Maharaja Hari Singh and the Indian Dominion on October 26, 1947. At this stage, more than six decades after the document was inked, there remains no case to revisit the provisions. The only outstanding issue is the illegal occupation of a large area of the State by Pakistan where an active process of colonisation and repression is being carried out by the country.

An assessment of the motive behind this remark made by Omar Abdullah would lead one to believe that the National Conference which was, at one time, looking at good governance as its political agenda has now decided to rake up some political issues of its own to deny space to other right tilting mainstream parties like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This may be because the good governance agenda has suffered a severe beating in the last few months.

Be that as it may, the emerging political fault lines in Jammu and Kashmir give enough reason for the nation to be worried. The Centre has recently announced an eight point package which it felt would help rebuild confidence. However, the situation on ground suggests otherwise.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani has not relented. He continues issuing protest calendars despite the overwhelming desire of the people for normalcy. Protests have been held against Geelani's calendars and in favour of opening of schools-in Tral, Maigam, Kangan, Pampore and Magam amongst a host of other areas. Sadly, they have gone unnoticed in the political melee.

The moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference has rejected the package and called it "disappointing". "The package again shows New Delhi's reluctance to address political aspirations of people of the State," says Mirwaiz Omar Farooq.

The PDP has, in any case, not taken part in the ongoing Assembly session. "Unless, this lawlessness comes to a halt, asking questions in the legislature will sound a meaningless charade," says PDP President Mehbooba Mufti.

While all this is going on, the terrorists are definitely not sitting easy. No less than 42 well armed terrorists have been killed by the security forces in the month of September alone and a large quantity of assault rifles, pistols, rocket propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices and sophisticated communication equipment have been seized by the Army.

This magnitude of counter terrorist operations in a single month has been unprecedented in recent years and it clearly points towards an attempt by the terrorists to up the ante in support of the ongoing turmoil.

New Delhi's Kashmir- centric approach is causing simmers of discontent in the Jammu region. The Centre's decision to compensate those killed in the agitations in the Valley is being questioned as a similar compensation was not given to those killed in the Amarnath Yatra agitation of 2008. They feel that the Government is meekly acquiescing to the demand of the separatists without taking into consideration the feelings of the predominant nationalist segment in the State.

So this is Kashmir for you, a place where contradictions thrive despite disbursement of well intentioned development packages. Logic has given way to charged emotions and vested interests. It is very clear that despite best intentions the packages from the Centre are not likely to reap the desired results.

An approach based on strict, righteous and swift action against anti-national activities and making disbursement of the development package conditional to political stability and civic responsibility might be more productive. By Jaibans Singh (ANI)

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