Amarnath issue and an unheard v(n)oise called 'Azad Kashmir'

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I was perplexed by the fact that God's name is there behind most of the violences, riots, unrests, terrorist attacks and many other heinous crimes.
  1. Amarnath land transfer imbroglio in the name of Lord Amarnathji,
  2. Demolition of Babri Masjid in the name of Lord Rama,
  3. Killing of over 130 innocents due to stampede at Naina Devi temple,
  4. Attacks on temples (Ex Akshrdhama), mosques (Ex Babri Masjid), churches (Ex 2007 Orissa violence) to demonstrate the superiority of one religion over other,
  5. Use of god's name for personal gain Ex: BJP's 'Rath Yatra', using the name of 'Lord Shriram' for political gains, discrimination in the name of secularism (Ex: wowing muslims to gain votes, Cast politics at grass root level).
  6. Spending crores and crores of rupees on holy events at temples, mosques, churches.
  7. Above all incinerating religious comparisons (take a look at these videos).
After all, god is supposed to protect humanity. Why is he silent (if he exist)? If Amarnathji is compassionate about mankind, why can't he help us break the impasse reached at Kashmir, his own home? (I am not arguing against god here, I am still agnostic about the existence of god).

The issue here is not the existence of god, but the use of God's name and diversified religious faiths to attain personal gains. For example, Omar Abdullah said, "As long as there is a single Muslim in Kashmir, the Amarnath yatra will never stop." He spoke vociferously in the parliament about being "an Indian first and Muslim later" (the Indian Nationalism), now he takes a complete U turn and speaks about "Kashmir Nationalism" and Azaadi. Leaders in Kashmir, especially the leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Jammu and Kashmir Liberation front (JKLF) mastermind the protests which lead to the killing of innocents in Kashmir.

"The APHC does not recognize the Indian Constitution and has stayed away from all elections held in the state of Kashmir so far. It blames the lack of sincerity of India for the failure of the repeated attempts at the resolution of the Kashmir issue. It has consistently criticized and Accused the Indian Troops present in Kashmir of Human Rights Violations [wiki]." If they think government is not capable of handling Kashmir, why can't they contest democratic elections and win to rule (or serve) Kashmir? Why can't they choose the democratic way of resolving Kashmir issue? The protests and violences in Kashmir are not showing the road to peace, but demonstrating the vested interests of leaders who are masterminding the violence. Here is a quick look at what exactly happened behind Amarnath land issue.
  1. In the year 2000, Farooq Abdullah government had enacted “the J&K Shrine Board Act’’ to provide basic facilities to pilgrims and managing the religious shrine.
  2. Later, state government refused to allocate any land to run the functions of the shrine board effectively.
  3. A writ petition was filed in J&K high court demanding the land transfer.
  4. On April 15, 2005, a single-judge bench upheld the decision to transfer land to the shrine board.
  5. Consequently, J&K government had allotted 100 acres (0.40 km2) of forest land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB ) out of the total land area of 15,520.3 km2 (5,992.4 sq mi) in the main Kashmir valley.
  6. Now this is what is at the center of the whole agitation. The separatists as well as the opposition parties in J&K now demand that this land transfer be annulled. The nationalists and people in Jammu want the land to be transfered to Shrine Board.  A clear divide between people of Jammu and people of Kashmir is thus visible [courtesy].
Now the mere land transfer issue (in the name of god and religious faiths) is becoming a precursor to what is being called as Azaadi for Kashmir. Here is how the entire situation got worse [wiki],
  1. Six people were killed and 100 injured when police fired into a crowd in Srinagar protesting the transfer of land.
  2. Separatist JKLF (R) organized a march to the controversial land in Baltal. The death of a JKLF(R) activist in a fire opened by the Security Forces became the flash point for protests in the Kashmir valley region.
  3. Some environmentalists argued that the land transfer would hamper the region's delicate ecological balance.
  4. The protests and violences became pervasive in Kashmir and situation went out of control.
  5. People's Democratic Party (PDP) said that it would withdraw support to the Indian National Congress (INC)-led state government if it did not revoke the land transfer agreement.
  6. The state government accepted the demands of PPP and the Muslim protesters. Govt revoked the land transfer decision on July 1,2008.
  7. Hindu groups in the Jammu region organized counter protests and demanded that the land must be transfered to Shrine board.
  8. The crisis deepened further when the PDP didn't lend support to the state government even after the revocation of land transfer.
  9. On 11 August 2008, around 2,50,000 Kashmiri protesters attempted to cross the LoC to Muzaffarabad, in violation of march ban orders. Fifteen people were killed including APHC separatist leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz and hundreds more injured when police and paramilitary forces opened fire on protesters attempting to cross the LoC.
  10. With increasing number of protests and killings, the noise of 'Azad Kashmir' resurfaced.

Thus, a mere land transfer issue raised an unheard v(n)oise of "Azad Kashmir". A small issue, which could have been resolved peacefully if leaders were ready to sit across the negotiation table. Freedom should be respected and honored but not to a ridiculous extent of demanding partition. We have already seen bloodshed due to the partition of Bengal (during British rule), Partition of India & Pakistan, Partition of Bangladesh, and yet leaders of Kashmir & separatist have not learnt their lesson. Pakistan's attempts to provoke Kashmiris into joining the pro-independence protests are clear indications of its desperation for Kashmir. Pakistan should stop its gross interference in our internal affairs and focus on issues where it has a locus standi.

Azaadi (Independence) to Kashmir is quixotic. The situation gets worse if Kashmir become independent, it cannot sustain economic, political and fundamentalistic onslaught. More over, increasing heinous acts of terrorism will only add to the mess. Kashmir is an integral part of India and being so is good for both Kashmir and rest of India.


Anonymous said...

"Amarnath land transfer imbroglio in the name of Lord Amarnathji"

So what's your point ?
Jammu people should not have protested the illogical revocation of the order of land transfer ?
Should the govt always listen to Kashmiri separatists because their nuisance value is more ?

Manjunath Singe said...

I guess I have already answered those questions in the post.
"...a mere land transfer issue raised an unheard v(n)oise of "Azad Kashmir". A small issue, which could have been resolved peacefully if leaders were ready to sit across the negotiation table. Freedom should be respected and honored but not to a ridiculous extent of demanding partition."

Anonymous said...

No. You haven't answered *MY* questions.

Your statement "Freedom should be respected and honored but not to a ridiculous extent of demanding partition" refers to Kashmiri separatists. I appreciate you condemn them.
But you haven't commented on Jammu's agitators.
I would like to know what's your opinion on them ?
Do you think their protests instigated the separatists in the valley ?
If yes, should they not have protested ?
If no, why are you mentioning the both in the same tone ?

"Amarnath land transfer imbroglio in the name of Lord Amarnathji"
This statement gives a sense that the agitation was not genuine - just because some politicians joined it.
Is that what you mean ?
If yes, what should those commoners who want to genuinely raise their voices do ? Should they ask the politicians who come to help them to keep away ?
If no, do you think a movement which moved the whole country, which saw 61 days of bandh inspite of terrorist threats, which got 300,000 arrests in jammu itself on the first day of "jail bharo", is not genuine ?

Manjunath Singe said...

@Anonymous - Great if you could reveal yourself :)

1 (a) : Jammu agitation was "political reciprocation" of Kashmir protests and agitations. That was conspicuous considering the fact that there are organizations like VHP, RSS and Huriyat Conf. I hope you get the point here..
1(b) : Seperatists were just looking for an opportunity to raise their voice since they never got a chance before. Thanks to democratic culture developed in J & K and rest of India. The situation goes something like this - "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" (this is the reason why i was being equivocal).
1 (c) So for seperatist, its struggle for freedom, for rest of us, its hatred feeling of 'division of country'. Don't you think there are better ways than bloodshud? As I told you, if the land issue was not politicised, then all leaders could have come to the negotiation table and resolved the issue. There could have been no question of agitation.

2 : Politicians are democratically elected representatives of people who are supposed to be messangers of peace and harmony in such kind of situations. Insteady of bringing peace, if they join agitation, then whats the point in calling their voice as help? That sounds ridiculous. Agitation and protest are constitutionally recognised but not to the extent of bringing violence in the society. Please remember I am just being very pragmatic here, not speaking in the tone of Non-Violence or something of that sort.

Muslims in Kashmir always helped pilgrims. they represent communal harmony in the region. The outcome of peace pact could have been achieved even without agitation. I am sure muslims had no problem in giving temporary shelter to hindu pilgrims.

So, we must understand everyone (politicians, Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists) compassionately to reach the common ground. There is no point in fighting, it hurts ordinary mortals like you and me and we don't need that right?

Anonymous said...

Well, your profile says you stay in Bangalore. That's like 2000+ km from Jammu, my hometown.

1(a). "Jammu agitation was "political reciprocation" of Kashmir protests and agitations."
>>No. You have got facts *totally* wrong here. It was an agitation for the land which the J&K state govt first gave to the pilgrims and then, under pressure from separatists, took back. Now Jammu's economy is dependent on tourism, which gets a boost during the Yatra. Plus, Jammu has about 70+ % Hindu population, who has feelings for Baba Amarnath. And thirdly, Jammu-junta is Indian at heart. We could not take it that the govt bow to those who openly support Pakistan and throw stones at our army. So we started a protest with a simple demand that the land be given back to the Amarnath Yatra Shrine Board for facilities for the pilgrims. It may surprise you, but this was not a political/religious thing. 36 trade organizations in Jammu, most of them representing Muslims observed bandh for the whole of 61 days.
Secondly, I don't understand how a movement becomes bad just because politicians join it, but I want you to know that politicians from all the parties in Jammu, including Congress were with us (not necessarily openly).

1(c). "if the land issue was not politicised, ... There could have been no question of agitation."
>> Who politicized it ? not us !! The original land transfer was okayed by the state cabinet, by a minister of Mufti's PDP, who later withdrew support. They couldn't stand separatists' pressure. Is that our fault? Is that Jammu's fault?
The thing was on negotiations table for months. There is no point saying "it could have been negotiated". The agitation started only after the negotiation failed.

Please try to understand the fact that we had to put up a 61 day bandh for getting back the land which was already given to us. And even after all this, what we have got is just the situation that was there 2 months ago. This is what is to be a nationalist in India.
The separatists had got the allotment undone in weeks. We had to fight for 2 months !!

2. "Agitation and protest are constitutionally recognised but not to the extent of bringing violence in the society"
>> Agitation in Jammu was not violent. We didn't throw stones at our army. We were carrying tiranga and shouting "bharat mata ki jai". All "violence" we did was torching few effigies to register our protests.
On the other hand, separatists in Kashmir killed our army-men.

2. "Muslims in Kashmir always helped pilgrims. they represent communal harmony in the region"
>> Hello, I would like to remind you that you live 2000 km away from this place, in some AC office of your software company.
Muslims in Kashmir always EXPLOIT Hindu pilgrims. Every thing is sold at about thrice its rate in normal circumstances during the Yatra. There are no places to camp, no toilets, no shelters for miles together. The land was needed for all such basic facilities.
>> And if you think *they* represent communal harmony, I really see no point talking to an ill-informed person. Don't you know how Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of their homes 20 years ago ?

2. "There is no point in fighting"
Every day here is fight, mister...
You are welcome to visit the real Bharat... come to Jammu some day.

Please don't feel offended by any of my statements. I may get emotional on such issues. The thing is, we are now used to "secularists", media-persons, communists, etc blaming us for anything going wrong in the state. We just want the youth of India, esp. the well-educated ones like you to know the truth, and not be misguided by the propaganda.

BTW, I am also an engineer (going to be). I am doing my IV yr BE (Mech) at a private college in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

Manjunath Singe said...

Thanks for your comment Romil.

I agree that i am sitting in a AC room 2000KM from Jammu and I haven't (just) "seen" the ground realities. But I do have freinds from Jammu and Kashmir too. I get the first hand information through them. And the recent issues are not isolated, the whole world was following it. Just wanted to tell you that I have made enough efforts to understand the situation before I wrote this post.

I completely understand your sentiments and I really appreciate your proactive role. Try and get all possible perspectives about the conflict. Your response was spontaneous because that was your home and your are the first person to get affected. Look at the whole issue in a larger perspective, do consider to give a thought on historical background. Try to look at the long term solutions rather than getting rid of day to day problems. I guess may be then you will agree with me.

You said, "Muslims in Kashmir always EXPLOIT Hindu pilgrims." I know few instances where things have happened just the other way around. In any pilgrimage place, locals have always demanded more money from non-locals just because non-locals (pilgrims, tourist) just do not have an idea of true prices there. I am not trying to say that they are not exploiting. But just wanted to let you know the harsh reality of such incidents in any part of the world.

You will understand these things better when you have more perspectives on the issue, when you get yourself out of the kind of mindset you have right now. Please excuse me if I had said something wrong...

Anonymous said...


I should've known that people can get more "perspective" just by the virtue of being able to surf the web at a mouse-click. I am sorry, I collected the actual data from my relatives who are actually participating in the movement. I will read wiki and other blogs next time.

I am not saying one has to be actually there to know the facts, but can you please point me the source which tells the things I did in my last comment? (no. of arrests, participation by muslims in jammu, etc)
None of the media has been telling the ground realities. Trust me. God knows what's wrong with them.
This movement has been the real people's movement, after 1953, when we got rid of the separate constitution, separate flag and the "prime-ministership" for J&K and really integrated the state into India.
Anyway, let's not argue about it anymore. You must be knowing more than I do, thanks to your "sources" with "perspective".

I just want to ask you : If you were in our place, with the govt doing such an injustice on you, what would you do ?
We launched a peaceful protest-just like Gandhiji had taught us. We didn't bow to any pressure - from govt or terrorists or separatists. We carried it on for 61 days.
What would you do ? Writing a blog would have been sufficient for you ? Would that get back the land ?

Manjunath Singe said...

@ Romil
As I already told you, I really appreciate your sentiments. I don't think anyone will be able to convince you until you step out of 'revolutionary mood' :)

@"If you were in our place, with the govt doing such an injustice on you, what would you do ?"
Well, Unfortunately i wasn't there in your situation. You said, you did "peaceful protest". I would have done the same thing. My point here is, (at some places), why did that peaceful protest trun out to be voilent?

Thanks for making me read more about this. Will be gald to know more about you.

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