Separatists? march to Muzaffarabad is a crime against the State?pure and simple?and must be treated as such. The mob carried Pakistani flags, raised anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans and indulged in violence and arson. They attacked security forces at number of places, including a Rashtriya Rifle post, and caused widespread damage to public and private property. Inflamed Islamists outnumbered the force deployed to handle them and left the latter with little option but to use force to stop them from violating the Line of Control (LoC) across which the Jehadis were keenly awaiting their arrival.
The authorities had repeatedly warned the agitators about the grave consequences of their intention to cross into territory in illegal occupation of Pakistan. How unfortunate that no Kashmiri has ever tried to enter PoK with the intention of liberating that part of the state that constitutionally and legally belongs to India. On the other hand, hordes of separatists have been going there for long to receive training in acts of sabotage and terror and to receive weapons and ammunition to ?liberate? the valley.
PDP led by Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, a former Union Home Minister and former Chief Minister of Kashmir and his fire-eating daughter Mahbooba, is also guilty of treason by lending support to the march and inciting passions in the valley. PDP is an ally of the Congress at the Centre and was till recently a part of the Congress-led coalition in the state. It is for Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to explain their position vis-?-vis PDP and its anti-national activities. Will the party continue its association with this pro-separatist outfit and still hope that people of India will treat the Congress (I) as a mainstream party of nationalists?
The entire premise on which the march was taken out is based on falsehood. A disruption in traffic on a highway because of mass movements is not unheard of. To call it an ?economic blockade? leading to severe shortage of medicines and foodstuffs is a ruse to inflame sentiments and spread hatred among a particular community (read Kashmiri Muslims). Army was deployed on the highway connecting Srinagar and Jammu on August 4 and it has ensured that there was no disruption of movement of goods to and from the valley. Official figures show that 3072 trucks carrying essential commodities were escorted by the army to Srinagar and 2142 trucks laden with fruits were escorted out of the state during the first eight days of its deployment on the highway. Allegations about valley fruits rotting are baseless. In fact, most qualities of apples grown in the valley are not yet ready for export. Canards about shortages of essential commodities in the valley were spread by Islamists to arouse passion to revive the demand for azadi. If the intention of the marcher was to highlight their ?plight?, they should have organised a peace march of trucks laden with fruits to Jammu. But that was not their real intention.
The agitation against concellation of land to Shrine Board is now a mass movement. Citizens of Jammu region have risen to a man to express their anguish and the resolve not to tolerate injustices and discrimination against the Hindu-majority region. Such movements can'tbe suppressed with force.
If the entire J&K is on the boil what with widespread violence and loss of human lives and property on an unprecedented scale, it is because of faulty policies of the Government. Its policy of appeasement has encouraged separatists and anti-national elements and anguished patriotic citizens in and outside the state. Although Hindu majority Jammu is more populated than the valley, its representation in the Assembly and Parliament is less than the latter. Jammu'scontribution to the state exchequer is much more than the valley but the former is grossly discriminated against in allocation of projects and funds. No one can fault the people of Jammu if they think that they are being punished for their patriotism and unflinching commitment to country'sterritorial integrity. While they are conducting their movement under the national flag, the agitators in the valley carry Pakistani flags.
Congress-led Government is responsible for the grim situation in the state. It was obsessed with the nuclear deal and the trust vote and allowed the situation to worsen. It must act firmly to deal with violence unleashed by Islamists in the valley and take appropriate measures to address Jammu'sconcerns. Arun Jaitley'sproposal to undo the mischief done by revocation of the land-use decision by sincerely implementing the May 2005 High Court decision is reasonable. The court had directed that land be handed over to the Shrine Board for erection of temporary facilities for pilgrims during the period of yatra and that the Board should identify the sites for various facilities and that these would be liable to be removed after the yatra was over. It is a workable formula around which a broad consensus needs to be built to restore normalcy in the state. ?Secular? media need to get over its propensity to blame nationalists for mischief done by separatists.