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A look through the mist in J&K
It is time for Congress, PDP and NC to accept the ground realities and refrain from seeking shelter under technicalities. It has to be accepted that separatists have made the land transfer issue communal and need for them is to work at the ground level

THE NEED has arisen to work hard to sustain the tradition of cordiality and togetherness amongst the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The need has also arisen to treat J&K affairs above group politics by all the political as well as social leaders of India.

The common man of J&K has suffered enough at the hands of politicians and the separatist elements, particularly those who held firmly with faith to 1947 accession of J&K with India. The communal harmony too has been now seriously put at stake. Time demands people to stand against those who want to fracture the state on regional and communal lines. Some statements from even so far known as mainstream Valley-centric leaders who believe in politics of religion during second week of July hint towards hidden intentions to even divide the people of Jammu region on area specific communal lines. It should sound some new alarm bells for the well meaning people of J&K.

New Delhi should exclude J&K from its list of states where simple vote bank politics is to be played. It is time for Congress, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference (NC) to accept the ground realities and refrain from seeking shelter under technicalities. It has to be accepted that separatists had made the land transfer issue communal (anti-Hindu) and need for them is to work at ground level in Kashmir valley to rightly inform the common innocent subjects of J&K there, who have been successfully miscarried by the separatist anti-India elements all these years. Surely, it has been due to the fact that the mainstream leaders have not been working seriously on the ground and amongst the common man...

The Kashmiri leaders, particularly those who have political stakes, today appear to firmly believe that over the years, such a mindset has been created in Kashmir valley wherein anti-India issues questioning the oneness of 1947 accession are the best baits for fishing the votes in the elections. Even Omar Abdullah, who was talking to Barkha Dutt on a TV channel appeared to have forgotten that he is the grandson of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah, who never abandoned his secular credentials as a chief minister. It was only the Sheikh, who had called the people who left Mirpur as displaced persons but those who left Jammu for Lahore as migrants. The protests by the Kashmir-centric leaders against the transfer of forest land for the use of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) have created multi-dimenstional apprehensions in the minds of the people. Through their behaviour, the present rulers have polarised the situation on communal and regional lines. How would a Hindu yatri visiting Shri Amarnath cave from all over the world under an organised schedule for yatra erode and distort the identity and special Constitutional position of J&K state, remains a question still to be answered in clear terms by even Dr Farooq Abdullah?

The manner, in which so-called separatist, political leaders, religious leaders, professionals and academicians have entered the race against the Amarnathji Yatra is really disturbing. Omar Farooq and Geelani had flagged off the protests. The opinion makers, religious leaders and the politicians are directly or indirectly cultivating anti-India feelings in the minds of the people in Kashmir valley. They have gone to the extent of even saying that the Government of India (GOI) through the SASB has plans to increase the Hindu population in Kashmir valley at the cost of Muslim majority.

Many well meaning people even in Kashmir valley were shaken when on June 16, Syed Ali Geelani, while addressing a press conference in the Anantnag district office of Tehreek-i-Hurriyat drew parallels between transfer of land to SASB and the establishment of Jewish settlements in Palestine . He said, "Jews first took refuge in Palestine and then established their own state, while the Palestians are now being forced to live the life of nomads. Even grand Mufti of the state, Mufti Muhammad Bashir-ud-Din Ahmad issued a fatwa (religious decree) on June 25, against the land transfer after a meeting of J&K Muslim Personal Law Board, in which Mohd Shafi Pundit, present chairman J&K Public Service Commission too had participated. As per media reports, Chander Mohan Sharma president of Praja Parishad had demanded action against Pundit as has been initiated against Dr Arun Kumar. Any such issues that relate to sentiments and in this case of well educated people like Dr Arun Kumar and Shafi Pundit, who happen to get trapped in the war of words, it is better not to treat such happenings like normal administrative code elements.

The sentimental goodwill amongst the Hindus and Muslims of J&K in particular and India in general has been targeted by the enemies of this great nation. Controversy has been raised in the name of transfer/diversion of government forest land to SASB in Kashmir in a very crooked manner. The heart of the well meaning people of J&K bleeds more when even the leaders of the political parties fall prey to the evil design of the enemy. First, some leaders communalise the issues and violate local sentiments.

Later, to show their secular image to world community, they play gimmicks and start professing that "Kashmiris have always been known for communal harmony and brotherhood. So cleverly, such people have worked vigorously to erode the traditions of brotherhood. Mehboob Beg of NC said on June 22 at Srinagar that SASB should be handed over to Kashmiri Pundits rather than non-locals. Does Dr Baig not know that SASB is not a non- state subject? More so the Kashmiri Pundits that Baig is talking about are still hopefully looking at the skies for 20 years now, for the day they will be able to return to their homes in the Valley? Truly, such Kashmiri leaders do not have concern for dangers to local ecology/ environment in their mind. Such elements do bring bad name to the people, as well as the Valley.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) SASB, Dr Arun Kumar has been quoted as having said in a Press conference on June 17 at Srinagar that some politicians were playing ’communal politics’ against the Board and pointed to the media that ’nobody interferes’ in the matters of Waqf Board, which too is a religious body and the SASB is also a separate religious body and it is not necessary for people to interfere in every matter. His saying, "Some people are creating the impression that 4 lakh yatris create more pollution than 50 lakh people living in Kashmir. Those people should see the pathetic condition of Dal and Wular lakes and rivers flowing in villages," has drawn serious objections from some quarters.

No doubt, I too would suggest Arun Kimar to clarify the spirit of his comments. Since June 28, he has been attached with General Administration Department (GAD) on the preliminary report of a three-member committee headed by SS Sawhney as constituted on June 21 to analyse the evidence of the press briefing by the CEO. Muzaffar Hussain Baig as a deputy CM of Kashmir did not initiate any penal action against leaders like Geelani, Omar Farooq and Yasin Malik for openly fueling the communal/religious overtones and their anti-national declarations on an issue which started as an environmental issue and later given a pure anti-Hindu colour.

He even brought in the issue of 1947 accession of J&K with India. The damage these leaders have done to the common cause cannot be undone with the window dressing now which Mufti Sayeed group is attempting. Mufti Sayeed too added more controversy on June 21 when he said that desirability of Board for Aamarnathji yatra needs to be re-looked. Dr Farooq Abdullah, while at Srinagar declared publically on June 19 that if voted to power, he would withdraw the orders for diversion of land to SASB and other wrong orders as well. The NC patron had supported the land transfer to SASB the other day while at Jammu.

Unfortunately, some so called mainstream party leaders too fell in the trap. Muzaffar Hussain Baig, deputy CM of J&K had even told publically on June 15 that Congress forced the PDP to hand over forest land to the SASB, threatening that it would otherwise stall the Mughal Road project.

Qayoom, president of Action Committee Against Land Transfer (ACALT) went to the extent of declaring on June 24 that 7 lakhs kanals of land occupied by Indian Army in Kashmir will also have to be vacated.

Grand Mufti Bashir-ud-Din Ahmad joined the issue to claim, "No dance whatsoever is permissible in Islam." This comment was made after Ajoka group from Lahore had presented a ’sufi kalaam’ of Baba Bulae Shah in a three-day (June 19 to June 21) festival that had the participation of SASB as one of the sponsors/organisers where 100 artistes from Pakistan, Ujbekistan, Misr ( Egypt) and Siberia participated.

It has now become very clear that the protests by Kashmir valley-centric leaders on Forest Department Order No: 184 FST of May 26, 2008, diverting 39.88 hectares of land (in block Kukllan, Range Sindh) at Baltal and Domail for the use of SASB are not out of simple environmental needs. Some separatist anti-India elements have to some extent succeeded in linking religion and nationality with the transfer of land.

Leaders in Kashmir have used double edge razors of hatred to poison the minds of innocent Hindus and Muslims. Unfortunately, they have succeeded to some extent. The separatists cannot be bound by national morals, but atleast leaders like Baig can be morally and socially bound till they challenge the 1947 accession.

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