Intro: The government of J&K, the Congress-led UPA Government was expected to join hands to defeat the communal forces in the Valley, but, unfortunately, it hasn’t happened.
History has yet again repeated itself in the separatist and terrorist-infested Kashmir. In June 28, radical Islamists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani dismissed the Shri Amaranth Shrine Board (SASB) and the Congress-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) coalition government as the two agencies of New Delhi, and charged them with hatching a conspiracy against Kashmir.
They described the decision of the SASB to enhance the period of Amarnath pilgrimage from 45 days to two months as a “conspiracy to change the Muslim-majority character of Kashmir” and a “cultural aggression” on the Kashmiri Muslims, as also a deliberate attempt to destroy the Kashmir’s “fragile” ecology and pollute its “salubrious” environment. They also dismissed as a “conspiracy” the decision of the state government to implement the instructions of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) High Court and transfer 100-acre plot of waste forest land at Baltal (Kashmir) to the SASB on a temporary basis for creating some additional facilities for the Amarnath pilgrims. They criticised the decision for creating “Hindu settlements’ en-route the Holy Shrine. How ridiculous! How could anyone settle at a place which doesn’t have a single tree and which is uninhabitable and unapproachable for almost eight months in a year, due to heavy snow?
They put forth three specific demands: Withdraw forthwith, the land transfer order; curtail duration of Amarnath pilgrimage and reduce substantially the number of pilgrims. Their vicious campaign had a negative impact on the Kashmiri society and created a serious law and order situation across the Valley. Regressive forces in Kashmir also got overt support from the PDP which was not unexpected. After all, the PDP, when it was in power in alliance with the Congress between November 2002 and November 2005, had itself gone to the J&K High Court against the decision of the SASB to enhance the pilgrimage period and advanced the arguments of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others of his ilk in June 2008 against the annual Amarnath pilgrimage.
It was expected that the government of J&K, the Congress-led UPA Government and Governor of J&K would join hands to defeat the communal forces in the Valley, but, unfortunately, it didn’t happen. The cancellation of the land transfer order came on July 1. And the number of pilgrims going for the Yatra also reduced significantly.
As for the National Conference (NC), its president and Lok Sabha (LS) member Mr Omar Abdullah shamelessly declared on the floor of the LS on July 22 that “land (Kashmir) belongs to us, we will not give an inch of land to the SASB, we fought for it in the past and we will continue to fight for it”. Sadly, however, Mr Abdullah’s intervention and the hostile attitude of the authorities in J&K, including the Governor, and the Centre towards the agitating people in Jammu not only culminated in the suicide of the outraged and shocked Kuldip Varma at Parade Ground Jammu on July 23, but also the brutal murder of 12 more devotees of Lord Shiva at different places in Jammu region at the hands of the state police between July 23 and August 31.
The NC-Congress coalition government took just 24 hours to outrage the sensitivities of Kashmiri Hindus in July 2014 to demonstrate that the minorities have no place in its scheme of things. The case in point is the reversal of its own decision to allow four-day-long Kousar Nag pilgrimage, an annual affair since centuries. But it was on July 30 that Kashmiri separatists suddenly came on to the scene and resulted in a blanket ban on the pilgrimage from the traditional route.
The pilgrimage was to commence on July 31, but at the behest of the NC-Congress-controlled political establishment the Kashmiri Hindus were stopped from proceeding towards Kousar Nag- a lake connected with God Vishnu.
The decision of the state government to disallow the Kousar Nag pilgrimage has not only accorded a dangerous legitimacy to the ongoing process of radicalisation in Kashmir, but also vindicated the stand of the internally-displaced Kashmiri Hindus.
-Hari Om (The writer is former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Jammu)