The latest carnage of 35 innocent Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir is part of the scene that'sall so deja vu since the last 20 years or so.
First came the TV news, the tragic images and the screaming newspaper headlines thereafter.
Then came the immediate flying visits of VIPs to the massacre sites, their public appeal for communal harmony, their announcement of financial relief to the families of the victims, their condemnation of the incident and their proclaimed resolve that New Delhi will not be bend by the perpetrators.
Quickly followed the hand-wringing, rationalising editorials interspersed with human interest stories, hospital pictures, and police/army reactions-cum-speculations.
Within a week, the whole episode went-off the national radar, and it'sback to square one: the terrorists ready with plans for more terror attacks of one kind or another, in Doda or Udhampur or elsewhere, smug and secure that this Indian nation of ours is just too soft, impotent in giving ?an eye for an eye? and, instead, remains naively susceptible to yet another carnage with its attendant replay.
The only difference this time around is that no outfit was boastful about committing what it did, though the finger yet again points to one of those evil jihadi outfits nurtured by Pakistan. Then there is the other conspicuous element this time of our National Security Adviser'scryptic reaction that ?We will send an appropriate message? even while avowing that ?The peace process will continue.?
What, pray, is an appropriate message, Mr. NSA? And to whom would it be given? Chewing on a betel-nut or something like that in his car while answering the media'squestions, all that Mr. NSA disclosed was that the PM would not be going to Pakistan in June as was earlier believed. Was that the ?appropriate? message? We don'tknow.
We don'tknow because the incumbent UPA government, that otherwise preens itself for having created the Right To Information Act, doesn'tbelieve in disclosing the whole truth to the people of India about anything ? even about the civil energy nuclear deal with the USA and veiled negotiations to withdraw our Army from the Saltoro Range.
The fact of the matter is that an appropriate message to Pakistan is indeed an imperative now for the Indian nation. And that message should be blunt: India'sunilateral decision to freeze the entire peace process until Pakistan gives solid evidence that it has permanently wound up every single one of its terrorist camps of which the government of India has concrete proof that it has shared with the USA but not, alas, with its own people. The imperative message should be that till Pakistan gives proof of having kept its words given in the Islamabad Declaration in January 2004 that it will not allow its territory to be used for terrorist activity, India will just not have anything further to do with Pakistan in any sphere, be it Bollywood, or cricket or talks on Track II.
Simultaneously, our government must let our people know of the extensive network which Pakistan'sISI has cunningly spread in our land. When he was Home Minister in the NDA government, L.K.Advani had assured us of a White Paper on the subject.
The argument against issuing such a White Paper was said to be that it would pre-empt the elimination of the ISI network by our forces. In the four years since Advani'sunkept assurance, there is nothing to indicate that our forces have killed the ISI'soctopus. Now, our people should no longer be kept in darkness regarding just how much the ISI has soured our soil. That'sthe only way to convince our people that there'ssimply no percentage for India in exhibiting Mughal-e-Azam in a Lahore theatre or letting Sehwag score a triple century in Rawalpindi or in lighting candles at the Wagah border every year.
Regarding Jammu and Kashmir too, we must forthwith stop hiding behind meaningless CBMs and fond hopes of a peaceful solution to that 59-year-old issue. We must send a message to Pakistan, with a copy to the entire world, that we have always known that Pakistan wants to somehow wrest the Kashmir Valley from us whatever the disguises it may have put on its core objective.
Right from the third week of October 1947, when Pakistan sponsored a tribal invasion into Jammu and Kashmir and all through the United Nations debates, the six Summits with our Nehru government as well as the intervening wars it waged till its two Summits with the NDA government, and the subsequent talks with the UPA government, Pakistan'ssole goal has been to seize control somehow over the territory that legally belonged to India since the Kashmir Maharaja signed the official Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947. Contrary to what some Pak propaganda has said, that signed document is neither fiction nor a forgery; it exists in the safe-keeping of our Ministry of External Affairs which must now put it up on the government'swebsite and copies of it made available to anyone.
It'shigh time, therefore, that we tell Pakistan that the subject of the alleged Kashmir Valley dispute is now permanently closed. We must tell them that the only thing we are willing to negotiate on that subject is a legal international agreement accepting the existing L.O.C. as a permanent border between the two countries.
A message is also needed to be sent to all the secessionists (called ?separatists? all along by the unthinking) and to the Hurriyat, quite a few of whose leaders have been investigated by various intelligence and revenue agencies for the lavish lifestyle they lead and for the mysterious sources of their livelihood. They must all be told publicly that this nation has had enough of their tantrums and that this nation has spent, in handling them, millions of megawatts of energy that would have been better utilized in attending to the problems of other states who owe unconditional loyalty to the theme of India that is Bharat. They must be told that if they wish to run the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir state, the only way they will be allowed to do so is if they win the State Assembly elections as per Constitutional laws prevalent in India that is Bharat. If they don'tlike this message, they should be told to migrate to Pakistan or wherever or risk going to the jails here.
Finally, a message must also be given to the Abdullah dynasty'sNational Conference and the Mufti dynasty'sPDP. They must be publicly told that because of the combination of its own State Constitution and Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir is the most autonomous State in India and that there is therefore simply no question of granting any further autonomy to that State unless the same is given to all the other states that comprise the territory of India.
They must further be told, in public again, that because of the unbelievably munificent financial aid given from the Central budget (at the cost of depriving really poor states like Bihar), Jammu and Kashmir has the lowest proportion of population living below the poverty line?just three per cent! Such pampering, they must be told, will no longer be permitted and Jammu and Kashmir must learn to live within its own means or else open the Jammu and Kashmir State to the rest of India'sworld-class entrepreneurial skills.
Once the above two messages to the National Conference and PDP are made known across the length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir, the people there will realize that, if they feel alienated and deprived, the villain of the piece has along been the utter, all-round failure of successive state governments rather than New Delhi. It is critical for this to happen.
All the above suggested responses to the latest terrorist carnage in Jammu and Kashmir are admittedly radical, but we live in times of ?out of the box thinking?, don'twe? Besides, be truthful: just what has been achieved by the Pakistan policy we have followed for the last 59 years? It is always Pakistan that has thrust its agenda on us, and we have merely responded ? passively. Result: Pakistan still hates us and remains determined as ever to bleed us with a thousand cuts while we cringe for its friendship.
Almost the same has been the case with Jammu and Kashmir that too has enervated every government in New Delhi. Imagine the fact that all the selective provisions of the Constitution of India that are today applicable to Jammu and Kashmir State are with the concurrence of the ruling government of that State?no provision has been thrust on it. And it is because even Indira Gandhi could not get that State to give its concurrence for the relevant clause in the Forty-second Constitution Amendment Act of 1976 that the Preamble of the Jammu and Kashmir State Constitution does not proclaim that state to be secular!! Again, like several laws enacted by the Indian Parliament, the Right to Information Act is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir State because that State government is not willing to have it?for reasons kept secret from the rest of India. One suspects that the ordinary people of Jammu and Kashmir are not at all aware of all this. Time has come to banish that ignorance. These facts must now be communicated across the whole of Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India.
How is Pakistan likely to react to all of the above with increased cross-border terrorism? When did would animosity and hostility against us ever decrease? Will Pakistan dare the whole world and engage in a nuclear retort? Unlikely if it has sense enough to realize that such action would boomerang in seconds and end up being a massive fidayeen attack in which the bomb man also dies. Really, we?ve now had enough of Pak'sevil eye on us and of Jammu and Kashmir leaders? arrogance.
(The writer can be contacted at Flat 202, Dosti Erica, Antop Hill, Wadala (E), Mumbai 400 037.)