WHAT do some of our intellectuals and political commentators have to say about the recent events in Kashmir, and of jihadis in generals? Here are some samples (more will be provided in a later column) of their thinking: Writing in The Hitavada (June 27) Tavleen Singh says: “In the Muslim quarters of Indian cities it is possible to meet any number of sensible, moderate Muslims who have deluded themselves into believing that the whole purpose of American foreign policy is to destroy Islam”. According to her, the reasons given by “moderate Muslims” for jihadi terrorism are: Kashmir, the demolition of Babri Masjid, discrimination in jobs and in finding apartments to rent in Delhi and Mumbai”. Averring that Muslims are becoming increasingly radicalised, she noted that “inadvertent support” to it, “comes not just from moderate Muslims but from liberal intellectuals who never fail to support radical Islamists, whenever they get a chance”. She refers to “the fanatical preacher, Zakir Naik” who has been saying “the most awful things about religions that are not Islam” and argues that “if anything, western governments have been too tolerant of radical Islam”..
In an interview to The Times of India (July 12) Khurram Parvez who works with the International Peoples” Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir, says that the mood in the Valley among youth is one of “helplessness, anger, frustration” and ‘stone-throwing, militancy and political agitations are manifestations of the peoples’ demand for justice”. As he sees the situation “non-resolution of the Kashmir issue is complicating the situation” and the response to unabated violence and the non-resolution of the conflict is deepening the frustration and anger among people”. According to him, “stone-throwing is the symptom; one needs to address the root cause”. He says: “There is absolutely zero-tolerance for dissent. Freedom of expression is curtailed. Detention of hundreds of people regularly under preventive detention Acts, unprovoked firing on civilian unarmed protestors, murder of children and Youth….. confirm the disconnect between the words of the Prime Minister and the conduct of the Armed Forces”.
Seema Mustafa, writing in The Indian Express (July 12) says, that it makes no sense to blame either the Hurriyat or the PDP. As she put it: “Neither of them is right. It is frustration, unemployment, anger, unhappiness, all coming together in young people…. They are fed up. Fed up of political parties, fed up with India, fed up of Pakistan, fed up of their meaningless lives, fed up with the inability of all concerned to resolve the issue and bring a semblance of peace in their lives… They are not the Lashkar, They are not under the leadership of the Kashmiri separatists who they, in fact, despise… The fault does not lie with the people of Kashmir. Not at all. It lies completely with the political parties in and out of power…
The Kashmiri separatists have slowly lost their hold over the people… no one from the separatist camp now commands a following in the valley… Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has just no interest in the State… In the absence of a will and initiative, the stone-pelting youth will have no option but to continue hurling the missiles at the security forces. Each stone they hurl is basically a cry for help, for justice, for dignity, but the deaf and blind governments use these stones to kill and maim and prepare the ground for more violence….”
According to Vir Sanghvi (The New Sunday Express, July11) “there is a substantive issue that divides us (Indians and Pakistanis)-and that it must be solved before any lasting peace is ensured”. Sanghvi holds that the so-called Musharraf solution has no basis and that “every time you mention this deal to Pakistanis, they laugh very loudly and deny that they had ever agreed to it”. His belief is that “within weeks of the deal being implemented, Pakistanis would have flooded into Kashmir, would have been welcomed as heroes by at least some of the people who would have put up Pakistani flags, and India would have been abused at every street corner”. Sanghvi claims to be a realist. Says he: “It’s time to be realistic about Kashmir. There will be periods of peaceful development. But as long as Pakistan exists-and perhaps long after it has been broken up-there will never be any lasting peace in Kashmir.” And so there will never be peace between India and Pakistan”.
And what does Omar Abdullah himself say? Said he in an interview to The Times of India (July11): “The troubles erupted in areas where voting was less than 20 per cent even in the 2008 election that was considered a major success…. I have to increase my direct interactions with the public… The biggest lesson I have learnt from the crisis is that I will spend less time in office and more in the field.” We all know that there are vested interests. Not all protests are instigated by the Lashkar-i-Toiba….”
Neerja Chowdhury, political editor of The New Indian Express (July 13) blamed Omar Abdullah for his “lack of experience of a new generation of leadership”, for spending “every weekend with his family in Delhi”, “for his penchant for candour” and suggested it would be better if Omar’s father Farooq Abdullah took over the State’s Chief Ministership. But the best comment to date came from BG Varghese, writing in The Deccan Herald (July 13). Firstly, he warned not to mistake what happened in a small part of the Valley as happening all over Jammu Ladakh and elsewhere. Nothing of that sort had happened. Verghese said that “it is not Omar’s folly”. Also, he said, “there is by now fairly well-documented evidence of intercepts, that separatists and cross-border mentors are instigating, funding, recruiting and organising your stone pelters through agent provocateurs”. Verghese noted that “mosques are being used as political platforms, giving murderous agitation a righteous jihadi halo from tounch-me-not sanctuaries”.
The Hindustan Times (July 9) said “Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has lost control of his state (and ) the question now is whether he can recover it”. Hindustan Times accused Omar Abdullah for behaving “solely as a National Conference leader, as opposed to a Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister”. “Letting the army out on the streets of Srinagar is an invitation to be left holding the can when New Delhi is quite vociferously trying to make the J & K to its mandated job: to govern Kashmir”.
Balbir K Punj writing the The Asian Age (July 9) criticised Dr Manmohan Singh for his “soft-power approach” towards separatists, believed that Omar Abdullah “seems to be increasingly ineffective’ and pointed out that ‘religious extremism is on the prowl” that “Congress is promoting this same extremism in other parts of the country as well” and that “the war against fundamentalism cannot be won by sleeping with the fundamentalist”. Punj pointed out that what is happening in Kashmir “has been a long story of deceit, well-planned stirring of communal passions and Islamic orthodoxy to hack at Kashmiri culture and convert it into a fully Islamic one, stripping it of any infusion from its ancient Hindu heritage”. What more needs to be said?