This Blog provides an insight on the Kashmir-issue, India and Pakistan. The articles on this Blog can be best described as thought-provoking. The articles thrive to trigger debate about the miseries enslaved Kashmiris are facing and discuss also possible solutions to this long standing conflict. It also aims to convince readers why Independent Kashmir is the best solution for all parties involved.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Tempest in a tea cup - The statement storm

Background of Omar Abdullah’s statement in the Assembly

In his speech in the assembly on J&K State situation, chief minister Omar Abdullah said that “our state scripted an agreement with the Indian Union for accession only and not for integration like other confederating units of the Indian Union.” On this statement, not only BJP but many others also tried to create a storm in a tea cup. The chief minister had also said “that he was not a henchman of New Delhi .”

The opposition in the State has shown two reactions on the statement. PDP called it “an attempt of re-establishing credibility with the masses of the people while BJP and Panthers Party called it a conspiracy against India.” The separatists considered it vindication of their stand. Thus we find that all stakeholders interpreted the statement in according with their respective ideology and perception. Many non-state actors, too, expressed their views and characterized it as anti-India. We shall make an effort to analyze the entire case.

Omar Abdullah’s political career starting from hotel service to the platform of National Conference was chartered away from the peculiar politics of his father trying to create the impression that he would like to walk on the footprints of his grandfather. That is why he adopted his name as Omar Abdullah and not Omar Farooq. He was conscious that there still lingered on much mystique with the name of Abdullah. He introduced himself among the masses of people as one who adopted principled politics and was concerned about the progress and welfare of the people of the state.

Nevertheless, he found projection in the BJP government as “show boy” in the position of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. In 2002 elections, he lost his traditional seat of Ganderbal to an ordinary candidate. During the coalition government of PDP and Congress, he failed to prove his mettle as the leader of opposition, and, after becoming MP, he remained out of the state for most of his time. Thus up to 2008, he did not have the opportunity of gaining experience in running the administration of the state. In other words, he was groomed in the traditional divisive political culture of National Conference.

Barring a portion of the period of NC rule under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah, this party has generally played anti-people politics in this state. The highlights of its antagonistic policy are implementation of PSA law, not revoking Maharaja Hari Singh’s Enemy Ordinance, an extremely tyrannical law scripted by the British rulers of India to suppress the Indian masses. (the Maharaja had imposed the law after the tribal raid) and establishing of Task Force. These all are the gifts of National Conference rule. Apart from this, the party indulged in unbridled nepotism, bribery, and exploitation.

During 2008 elections, NC and Omar Abdullah in person made tall promises with the masses of people. Among the promises were the withdrawal of AFSPA, discarding PSA, providing employment to one member in each family, releasing the interned people and solving the Kashmir issue. After the election results were declared, NC agreed to form a coalition government with Congress despite the fact that it had always been castigating Congress as dishonest party that had acted deceptively a number of times during the rule of the Sheikh and Farooq so much so that Sheikh Abdullah called them “the worm of a dirty drain.” Among the team of ministers selected by Omar Abdullah, there are many tainted with accusations of corruption.

During two years of his tenure, Omar Abdullah did not do anything that would make up for his service in the interests of the masses of people. Leave aside any mega industry, even a garbage recycling plant was not established. Yet one more tragedy of Omar government is that it inherited a cabinet whose many members do not enjoy good reputation with the people. He was not able to undertake any initiative worth the name that would make people think that this young man had some potential to work for the welfare of the people in general. He could not come up to the expectations of the people who thought he was “good” to be a chief minister.

One reason for the decline of National Conference and Omar Abdullah is the wayward utterances and actions of his father Farooq. Bribery, nepotism and unleashing of tyranny on the people worked as the last nail in the coffin. Precisely, like the earlier chief minister, he became a sacrificial goat to the system. Neither AFSP nor PSA was withdrawn nor were the people provided employment nor was there any improvement in the supply of electric power and water.Thanks to Mufti Sahib and Azad Sahib, opposition political workers and leaders, NC true to its tradition, tried to suppress them through the instrumentality of police force. Police and CRP personnel undertook killing of innocent kids. The bloodshed of Tufail Matto whipped up anger and resentment among the masses of people which culminated in the killing of 111 persons so far. But despite all this, the issue of J&K could not be solved. Government tried to set off tension through the gimmick of dispatch of a parliamentary delegation to Kashmir .

It is said that unlike traditional politicians, Omar Abdullah does occasionally respond to the pricks of conscience. As such the history of the J&K State and the conditions prevailing at the moment became compulsions for him to speak candidly on Kashmir issue in the assembly that the state had acceded to the Indian but not integrated. However, in regard to accession, he did not say the whole truth. India took the issue to the United Nations and promised that Kashmiris would have the right to their final opinion. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru reiterated this promise no fewer than twenty times in the parliament, in his broadcasts through AIR and in various press conferences. He explained that referendum would be held in Kashmir in any case. He said “that if Kashmiris wanted to withdraw the accession and stay independent India would not put up armed resistance though the decision of secession of the Kashmiris would be painful for her. “

This clarifies that we had an agreement in the shape of accession with the Indian Union on the basis of which the state had agreed to four things viz. defence, currency, foreign affairs and communication. In the context of defence, the Indian forces were supposed not only to protect the borders of Kashmir, but also the safety and security of life, property and respect of the people of Kashmir were also to be taken care of. But not to speak of protecting life, property and honour of the people, Indian army has become an enemy of the people in their eyes. In regard to communication, India has not been able to make a road connection between Jammu and Ladakh during last 63 years. It is possible that the State of Jammu and Kashmir decides to rescind accession meaning the contract with the Indian Union. Omar Abdullah says that “we are not a part of India ”.

Omar Abdullah’s statement weakens India ’s cause in Kashmir in international circles. The Indian Minister of External Affairs declares at the UN that “Kashmir is an inseparable part of India and puts forth the arguments that there have been elections repeatedly and people have elected their representatives and as such it is an integral part of India .” But on the other hand, the Chief Minster of Jammu and Kashmir , National Conference and PDP assembly members get votes from the people by telling them they are asking votes for solving economic problems like roads, water and electricity and elections will not have any adverse impact on the nature of Kashmir issue.

India wants to counter the struggle of separatists through various types of propaganda. But when the chief minister rakes up in assembly a question on the election itself, it naturally strengthens the contention of Pakistan and separatists on international level that it is a dispute and awaits a decision.

We find there is some justification in New Delhi circles for displeasure against Omar Abdullah because India has been labeling it a law and order issue while India shies away form this reality. Omar Abdullah’s sincerity will be ascertained by his action whether he wants to translate his words into action or whether it is another ploy of NC of misleading and duping the masses of people.?

Omar Abdullah and Ali Muhammad Sagar had leveled charges against CRP in the beginning. But despite the killing of 111 persons including some kids, Omar Abdullah could not send in his resignation.? We know that even a rail accident anywhere in the world results in the concerned minister sending in his resignation and even governments are dismissed. But what type of conscience is this that does not get pricked van on the death of innocent people.

As far the question of a client government is concerned, who knows better than Omar Sahib that law and order in Kashmir is controlled by Delhi , and even the orders for opening schools also comes from Delhi . What more proof is needed to prove that the State government is a handmaid of New Delhi ?

A debate has begun in many political circles whether in response to this statement the government of Omar Abdullah should be dismissed or that this bitter pill should be swallowed. It is also considered whether it would be feasible that instead of bringing in a new chief minister, governor’s rule should be imposed and the path for fresh elections cleared. It is hotly rumoured that Omar Abdullah will be shown the door after the visit of the US President Obama is over. The Minister of External Affairs has defended Omar’s statement. In Congress circles, especially in the circles of State Congress the rumour making rounds is that after the dismissal of Omar Abdullah, a coalition government of PDP and Congress would be formed. And in case PDP is not inclined to form the coalition government, then Congress would form the government with its support from outside. If this, too, did not work, then both the houses of the legislative assembly would be called to session in which PDP members would absent themselves thus paving the way for Congress to form the government.

Circumstances on the ground are such that the central government is not in a position to bring in a new government in the state unless PDP becomes a part of it. However, as far as PDP is concerned, joining the coalition government would be tantamount to suicide. Thus if PDP does not form the government in coalition with the Congress, then the only option available is to impose governor’s rule after dismissing Omar Abdullah. Interestingly Farooq Abdullah is making a loud noise all over the country that “Omar Abdullah is single handedly fighting against the separatists and he should be supported.” In this way Farooq is promoting “communal nationalism” to save the chair for his son.

New Delhi has appointed two journalists and one educational expert for solving Kashmir issue. This is a big joke with Kashmir . An issue which could not be solved by personalities such as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh in their capacity as Prime Ministers of India, will it be solved by a delegation of powerless journalists? This step has exacerbated anger and despair among Kashmiris. They are convinced that there is no alternative before them but to strive hard for their freedom and rights. People’s sentiments and their sacrifices are being humiliated and trivialized in the name of dialogue. Measures like these would widen the gulf further.

We regret to think whether today’s India is the India of great heroes and martyrs like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Tagore, Subhash Chander Bose and Bhagat Singh, where killing of Kashmiri children is taken as an act of pride?

The police, the government and the chief minister all have expressed satisfaction over the arrest of Masarrat Alam. But they forget that for last 63 years, this movement has found and shall continue to find thousands of Masarrat Alam. By arresting one Masarrat Alam or by martyring people an end to the freedom struggle of Kashmir will not come about because this movement has been nurtured by many martyrs like Maqbul Butt Shaheed.

Sings the bard:

"Ham rahe Safar hain, hamen namun se na pahchan
Kal kisi aur nam se ajaenge ham log"



Hashim Qureshi
Chairman JK Democratic Liberation Party

This article was published in Greater Kashmir on 29-10-2010.