The widely held perception is that entire J&K is burning, while the fact is that these disturbances are confined to valley of Kashmir which is less than 14% of the total territory of J&K that is now in possession of India.
Our minds are so conditioned with these perceptions that we too seem to have developed a tunnel vision like our leaders. The report of the interlocutors clearly indicates that they went with a pre-conditioned mind set. In spite of travelling across J&K and meeting many people they could not broaden their horizon and understand the issues afresh before pronouncing their views. If it were capable of this expansion of mind and ideas, they would not spout the theories and views of separatists and hardly mention issues of other regions of the state. Where such mention is made it is done it is as if in passing; not giving due weightage to those people who have stood by India all through these six decades in every condition.
According to 2001 census. of the total population of J&K, of 1.25 Cr, 7 million are Muslims, 3 million are Hindus. But, to treat this as a Muslim sentiment and urge to merge with Pakistan or remain independent would be a huge fallacy, as out of these Muslims, 18% are Gujjars, 12% Shias, and 8% Pahadi Rajput Muslims (totaling 38%); – all of whom have been loyal to this country and fought against aggressors whenever and wherever the need be.
While there have been sporadic incidents in the Valley on and off, specially since 1989, other 86% of the area and majority of the population is totally at peace with itself and with its merger with India. There has not been a single anti-India agitation in any of these areas of Jammu or Ladakh or participation of larger sections of Muslim population in the disturbances that we see in various media, since its merger with India nearly 64 years ago.
These sections of population have their own grievences like lack or representation in proportion of their population, lack of education and developmental support from government, lack of support to citizens who are fighting against separatists and terrorists. While militants are being proposed amnesty and gainful employment and pension etc. by the interlocutors, they are silent about fate of disenfranchised refugees, common people, police personnel who died or suffered badly in their fight against terrorists. There is no state protection for patriotic citizens of India, nor is there any well defined blue print for return and protection of Kashmiri Pandits displaced by separatist violence.
Here is a state government that has refused delimitation of constituencies like other parts of India in 2002, that has allowed only 4 panchayat elections since last 64 years, the current one being held after intervention of Supreme Court of India. The assembly representation in J&K assembly is highly skewed in favour or Kashmir valley – Kashmir valley has 46 assembly seats and 3 MPs with 70 lac population in 16000 sq km of land, while Jammu has 37 assembly seats and 2 MPs with 55 lac population spread over 269000 sq km. Ladakh region with 3 lac population has 3 assembly seats and one MP. This skewed policy ensures that persons from Jammu or Ladakh would never be in control of the government. It may not be out of place to mention that SC/ST reservation was not available till 2007 till Supreme Court forced it. Even now, political reservations are not available to ST of J&K. These are the politicians and people who talk of democracy, devolution of power autonomy!
Let me introduce a few more startling facts – In 1997-98 IAS, KAS written examinations – 1 Christian, 3 Muslims and 23 Buddhists passed exams, out of them only 1 Buddhist got appointment. Of 3500 state secretariate cadre – there is not a single Buddhist. Not a single Buddhist has been selected for this cadre in last 52 years. Of govt servants – out of 3.54 l , 1. 04 lac were appointed by Farooq Abdullah in year 2000. Of these only 319 (0.31%) are Buddists. In state owned enterprises, there are 3 Buddhists in public roadways and in other 8 enterprises there is not a single Buddhist.
Let us consider some more bare facts. There are 10-11 lac refugees from POK living in 56 camps since 1947. They are stateless citizens with no rights as citizens as giving them citizenship would jeopardize our right on POK. It is a different fact that no Indian government has ever raised this claim on POK. 24 seats are kept empty for POK in assembly, but these refugees are not given right to even these seats. Then, there are 2 lac refugees from Lyllpur since 1947 who live in absolute penury as they too have no rights. There are refugees from Chhamb that was gifted to Pakistan in 1972 by generous Indian government. There are 4 lac recent Kashmiri Hindu ‘refugees’ who have no representation in assembly. Has Central government or team of interlocutors given any space to immense suffering of these people?
We have the charade of a report from interlocutors who have parroted only lines of separatists and given scant respect to the silent communities of the valley and our own forsaken people. Therefore, I submit that the problem is not Jammu & Kashmir, but Delhi establishment that cannot comprehend Jammu & Kashmir beyond the narrow confines of Kashmir valley. Or probably it has no political will to bring peace to J&K. Need of the hour is to take people along to greater democracy, better development and isolate the trouble makers. Only then will we have a lasting solution. We need take a wider perspective with India as the centre piece of the discussion, to really resolve the problem.
J&K problem has much wider international ramifications due to its geo-strategic importance, and it is a part international power games. Unfortunately, history of India’s conduct on international diplomatic stage since independence has been a history of defeatist compromises. Delhi must come out of this mindset to come out this muddle.