Dialogue July-September 2008, Volume 10 No. 1
Issue-Towards Recasting Understanding
The founding fathers of Indian republic recognized continued accession
of Kashmir with
as a key element in
’s pursuit of secular nation-building. Yet their blinkered vision did not link
Kashmir’s functioning as an active secular society with
’s secular nation-building process. The problem was further compounded as
the leaders of Indian national movement overestimated the secularism of Sheikh
Mohammad Abdullah and ignored the strong undercurrents of communalism in the
ideology of National Conference.
In many respects the National Conference was pursuing a strategy which
was not fundamentally different from the path chosen by Muslim League in the
. Delineating the many strands in Sheikh Abdullah’s ideological outlook, Dr
K.N Pandita remarks:
“Sheikh Abdullah did try for rapproachment with the Muslim League and
Jinnah in 1944-45 but Jinnah was unaccommodating. In 1947 again, Sheikh tried to
toe the PC Joshi and Adhikari line (on Two-Nation Theory). P.N. Bazaz who had
worked closely with Sheikh and who understood him far better than anybody else
stated that the NC and Sheikh stood for Muslim nationalism and Muslim precedence
in the state of J&K but for Congress and secularism outside the state of
J&K…... The National Conference continued its tactical support to
accession but ensured to prevent the integration of Kashmiri Muslims with
(Kashmiri Muslims: Vexed Identity, Business and Political observer, New Delhi
5th June 1993).
A full scale review of the history and social background of the
anti-autocratic movement lead by National Conference is outside the scope of
this write-up. There was inherent incompatibility in the nation- building models
pursued by Indian National Congress and the National Conference. Leaders of
Indian National Congress visualized the success of secularism through
delegitimising religion- based identity politics. But the very ‘raison
detre’ of National Conference politics was avowed pursuit of Muslim
identity politics. In the situation aggravated by imperialist intervention
Indian leadership resorted to short cuts. They ignored that the secularization
of Kashmiri society would be the soul of Kashmir’s continued accession with
. Indian leadership abandoned non-Muslim pro-India social groups in
, Kashmir and Ladakh to the mercy of Muslim communal leadership of Valley and
overlooked the calculated attempts by Kashmiri Muslim leadership to inject
communalism in the body politic of
Jammu and Kashmir
To counter the secessionism which was inbuilt in this situation Indian
leadership decided to patronize pro-accession communal politics. Prof. M.K. Teng,
the distinguished Political Scientist explains:
“The Congress leaders had always believed that improvised power
equations, redistribution of political patronage and wider financial inputs into
Muslim communalism would end the “Muslim alienation” in
and provide the settlement for peace. In sheer self-conceit, they clung
tenaciously to their belief that the Muslimisation of the state did not conflict
with Indian secularism, and they could strike a bargain with the militant
regimes, even if it was at the cost of the Hindus and the other minorities.”
(Kashmir-Myth of Autonomy, Anmol Publications).
Over a period of time pro-accession and anti-accession communal politics
developed a symbiotic relationship. While the anti-accession groups were
building separatist movement to detach Kashmir from
, the pro-accession groups were using separatism as a lever to blackmail Centre
and squeeze the non-Muslim groups in the state. Both groups cooperated in
strengthening the Muslim precedence, facilitating Muslimisation and the
Islamization of Kashmir and adjoining regions of Doda and Kargil and weakening
Kashmir’s link with
through instrumentalities of Article 370 or outright secession.
The emergence of secessionist movement in
cannot be delinked from the changing sociology of Kashmir Society over the
years and the rise of militarized trans-national Islamic fundamentalism.
In the first two decades since independence urban Muslim middle class and
the commercial bourgeoisie were co-opted in the political power structure of
. However, these very groups subsequently thwarted the aspirations of lower
middle class in urban areas and resisted the strong urge of the rural propertied
groups for rightful share in the political power structure. This created the
groundswell which facilitated the rise of disaffected political groups in the
. Indian leadership’s policy of patronizing personalized politics syndrome
strengthened the oligarchic tendencies among the ruling families of
. These families created a network of interests which looted the public
exchequer creating a big rentier class and alienating people through rampant
was quick to reach out to disaffected political sections and the alienated
populace rallied behind these disaffected political groups. Prof. Mustapha Kamal
Pasha has examined this phenomenon in his essay “Between the Two Nation
Divide: Kashmir and Islam” (Perspective on
ed. Raju Thomas). He says:
“Increasing social differentiation and rising political consciousness
among new social groups coincided with kleptocracy, nepotism, corruption and the
politics of greed, rather than a functioning democratic order with political
accountability as its chief aspiration”. The intervention by
was easy because of the substratum of communalism, kept alive through
fortification of Muslim identity politics.
Jamaat-i-Islami of J&K played a critical role in this venture. It
used Muslim identity politics as a fertile soil for creating a subversive
infrastructure within the society and the administration. It institutionalized
the symbiotic relationship which was possible between the pro-accession and the
anti accessions varieties of Muslim communalism. Jamaat eventually sought to
integrate Muslim identity politics in the state with Pan-Islamism.
Rise of transnational Islamic fundamentalism both in the context of Gulf
oil boom in 1973 and the Afghan war 1979 onwards created the logistic base for
Pakistani intervention in
and arms-financial pipeline for sustaining the terrorist movement. The western
powers’ global designs helped provide the crucial diplomatic support to the
terrorist movement in
The unwillingness of the national political leadership of
to adequately fathom the subversive potentialities of the National Conference/PDP
politics is the main reason that solutions to end militancy elude us. There are
three genres of separatist politics in
. One, the avowedly pro-Pak groups which seek annexation with
. Secondly, the so-called pro-independence groups which seek independent Islamic
state. Thirdly pro-autonomy/self-rule groups which seek an Islamic state on the
with weak constitutional and political links with the country.
The subversive potentialities in National Conference/PDP politics can be
1) Its penchant to link the Muslim majority character of
with accession and weaken the constitutional links with the country.
pursuit of Dixon Plan which implies in the first stage to create Greater Muslim
Kashmir and in the second stage an autonomous Greater Muslim Kashmir.
Abdullah is on record having endorsed the dangerous Dixon Plan, which seeks to
. In a letter to Col. GA Naseer, the then President of
, in 1965, Sheikh wrote:
“Sir Owen took a detached view of things and considered this as the
best practicable solution under the circumstances. It appears to be a fair
method of resolving the present tangle. In order to avoid a number of
complications, that might arise by holding a plebiscite immediately in the
territory referred to in clause (c) above, a reasonable way can be found in
keeping the said territory under UN Trusteeship for a specified period (i.e. 5
to 10 years). The people of the territory can be given an opportunity for the
exercise of the right of self-determination in a suitable way, after that
In 1948 NC
created Doda district in
province to consolidate Muslims in
region. This facilitated the spillover of plebiscite and later fundamentalist
militancy politics into the Doda region. In 1979 when Sheikh Abdullah was at the
helm NC created Kargil district as a Muslim majority district to consolidate the
Muslim identity there. The dangerous regional autonomy plan of NC seeks to
province on communal basis. NC’s patronage to Chenab Development Council
which seeks to merge Gool and Mahore tehsils of Udhampur with Doda leaves no one
in doubt about the seriousness of NC to implement Dixon Plan.
NC has been trying to patronize Muslim groups in Poonch, Rajouri and Bani (Kathua)
to weaken the Dogra identity of
also groups have alleged that under a definite plan National Conference had a
greater design to change the demography of
province. Praveen Swami, a well-known, Journalist and author of “The
Kargil War” exposes National Conference’s game-plan to undermine
secular-plural identity of
. He observes, “The Regional Autonomy Report forms an important backdrop to
recent events, and underlining the multiple way in which democracy and
secularism in J&K have come under assault. Released by the RAC, the Report
calls for the historic regional formations of Kashmir,
and Ladakh to be broken up into new entities. In some important senses this
holds out more fundamental threats to the prospect of a secular and democratic
J&K than any number of Lashkar-e-Toiba insurgents. But the most dramatic
impact of the RAC recommendations would be on
. The district of Doda, and the single Muslim dominated tehsil of Mahore from
the adjoining district of Udhampur, would be made into a new
. Largely Hindu Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur districts would become the
province. Poonch and Rajouri districts, for their part, would form the Pir
Panjal province. The existing
would thus be turned into three provincial blocks divided along the
geographical fault lines of Hindu and Muslim majorities. The strange history of
the RAC and its equally bizarre recommendations, suggest that meaningful
democratic change is the last thing on the National Conference’s mind...The
sole outcome of the RAC proposals will be to enable National Conference
politicians in the Jammu region to represent themselves as defenders of local
Muslim communities against a largely fictional hegemony of Jammu’s largely
Hindu urban trading communities.” (The Kargil War).
Wajahat Habibullah’s proposals virtually simulate this.
Conference also tried to silence the criticism of pro-India groups by pursuing a
policy of ethnic preference and ethnic exclusion. In the Ladakh region it was
patronising the minority Argon Kashmir Muslim group to under cut the Buddhist
majority. In Kargil district aspirations of the Zanskari Buddhists were being
counteracted by adding Muslim areas to the Zanskar assembly constituency.
The interests of the strongly patriotic 12 lakh strong community of
Gujjar Muslims are being harmed by subverting the benefits of ST reservation and
raking up Paharis as a counter group.
In the wake of ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Kashmir, Doda, Udhampur,
Poonch and Rajouri the policies of ruling National Conference/PDP have created a
situation where the exiled Hindus can never go back to their homes.
In the context of separatist violence in
there are four issues which need to be addressed.
Restoration of the law and order by ending the terrorist violence.
Reversing the genocide against Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus in
Rebuilding the edifice of participatory democracy in the state.
Muslim populace away from the separatist politics.
is still not being treated as a war by the Indian leadership. There is an
inherent contradiction in the policy of Govt. of India. It only seeks bringing
down the terrorist violence to manageable levels in the hope that it would
create space for a political solution. Due to this flawed approach destroying
the support structures of terrorists does not become a priority. To defeat the
terrorism comprehensively the Indian state needs a new military doctrine.
’s game-plan in
is to push out Hindus from the Muslim majority areas. This is being achieved
through physical destabilization of Hindu minority and by imposing genocide. So
far the successive leaderships at the Centre have demonstrated total lack of
vision and will in evolving a doctrine of survival for these patriotic minority
groups. The communalization of the Kashmiri Muslim society and its intense
socialization with separatist politics has contributed to the destabilization of
the Hindu groups. Thus reversing of genocide entails secular governance as well
as secularization of
promoting Muslim precedence by National Conference has lead to the political
marginalization of people of Ladakh, Dogras, Kashmiri Pandits and Gujjars. Even
a partisan writer like Gautam Navlakha, whose sympathies lie with Muslim
communal leadership of Kashmir concedes:
without saying that the absence of a clear cut policy towards non-Muslims is a
shortcoming of the political leadership in
. It has seldom bothered to go beyond the generalities, which only assuage the
insecurity felt by Kashmiri Pandits” (Economic and Political Weekly, Bombay
November 6, 1993).
Towards a New
There has to be new approach
in ending communal and ethnic discrimination against the patriotic groups.
Restoration of participatory democracy, which accommodates aspirations of all
ethnic groups will strengthen the nationalist base of polity of J&K.
The Muslim alienation in
has many strands. One section
has political grievance that the ruling national conference had thwarted
their chances of upward mobility by following oligarchic policies. Second
section is alienated because of rampant misgovernance. The third section feels
because of heightened sense of communal identity reinforced by autonomy
politics, and Islamic fundamentalism practiced by Jamaat-i-Islami.
Inability of the Indian state to invest in secular national building in
Jammu and Kashmir
and its proctivity to compromise with Muslim communalism created a situation of
siege for Kashmiri Hindus in Valley. Its presence was sought by the political
to legitimize a communal compromise which Indian state fostered with Muslim
communalism. However while compromising with Muslim communalism Indian state
sought to proclaim victory for secularism in
Jammu and Kashmir
. This built a vicious situation for Pandits. Muslim communal establishment
looked at Hindu presence in
as a critical element of Indian secularism as well as Hindu civilisational
continuity. Ideologically it endeavored to destroy both. With the militarization
of Muslim communalism genocide was unleashed the Kashmir Hindus to destroy
secularism as well as the civilisational basis of Indian nation.
of Kashmiri Hindus & Panun
For Muslim separatism to make advances, destruction of Kashmir Hindus was
a prerequisite. But for Indian state, which visualized Hindu presence and
survival only in cosmetic terms, protection of Kashmiri Hindus was the last
priority. For Indian political class, Kashmiri Hindu was not a vote banks. It
also represented the apex of the caste based social hierarchy which it sought to
change, ignorant of the fact that Kashmiri Hindu never nourished caste system.
So Kashmiri Hindus were abandoned to the forces of history.
In this isolation and attrition Kashmir Hindu had to devise a survival
response. Panun Kashmir Homeland is the political expression of this response.
It seeks to reorient the politics in the state of J&K by building high
stakes for separatist politics and communally-oriented agendas.
It also endeavors to end communally motivated discrimination in the state
Jammu and Kashmir
. Panun Kashmir presents the reorganization of the
Jammu and Kashmir
as an imperative necessity.
The creation of Panun Kashmir in Kashmir valley would not only
sssrestore Pandits to their Homeland, it also holds the potentiality of
creating the basis for secular accountability in the
valley. It is the first strategic response in the Modern India to the sinister
proposal of communally motivated Dixon Plan. Panun Kashmir is thus not only a
solution to the problem of Kashmiri Pandits as such but is also a solution to
problem on a long-term basis. It would also raise stakes for pursuit of
separatist communal politics in Kashmir and help in consolidating
on its own strength. With Panun Kashmir the politics of Doda and Kargil will
also undergo change. The creation of two political systems in Kashmir valley
holds the potential of creating national consensus on