Tourism or Terrorism in Jammu and Kashmirpril 2, 2017, was a historic day in the developmental history of Jammu & Kashmir. That day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation Asia’s longest Chenani-Nashri tunnel (9.2 kilometres) in Jammu province, which reduced the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by about 30 kilometres and met the age-old demand of Kashmiri people for an all-weather road. Indeed, it was wonderful to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the tunnel.
The upshot of the Prime Minister’s whole message was that there were only two paths in front of Kashmiri youth which could determine their future: “One is tourism and the other is terrorism”.
After throwing the tunnel open for enthusiastic public, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a mammoth rally at Udhampur (Jammu). As expected, he made an optimum use of the opportunity and advised the Kashmiri youth to discard the cults of stone-throwing and terrorism and confronted them with a choice between tourism and terrorism. He emphasised that stone-pelting and terrorism will adversely impact the Kashmir’s tourism industry and only bring death and destruction. He virtually appealed the Kashmiri youth to shun the path of violence and join the mainstream.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, inter-alia, said: “The tunnel is a boon for the people of Jammu & Kashmir, more so, the Kashmir valley as they would be able to sell their products in New Delhi and elsewhere anytime…
His Government is committed to develop Jammu & Kashmir and take it to the new heights in which tourism will flourish and lead to employment opportunities.orty years of bloodshed hasn’t benefited anyone. It has served no purpose. Whether it was the blood of the son of a Kashmiri mother or any other part of the country…it spilled over the Kashmir valley for 40 years but didn’t help anyone…It was time for the youth of Kashmir to join the path of development, boost tourism and infrastructure and, in turn, get benefited by employment. They should choose tourism over terrorism for the well-being of the people and development of the State.
It was hoped that “mainstream” Kashmiri politicians would appreciate what the Prime Minister said and play a constructive nation-building role by persuading the Kashmiri youth to abandon stone-pelting and other terror-related activities so that peace and normality were restored in the restive Kashmir Valley and people led a peaceful life.
The misguided youth of Kashmir should realise the power of a stone by looking towards the tunnel (Chenani-Nashri)…There are youths, who carved out stones to build the tunnel and, in turn, earned fortunes for themselves with their hard work. On the other, there are the misguided youth in the Valley, who indulged in stone pelting”. (Daily Excelsior, Apr 3).
The upshot of the Prime Minister’s whole message was that there were only two paths in front of Kashmiri youth which could determine their future: “One is tourism and the other is terrorism”.t was hoped that “mainstream” Kashmiri politicians would appreciate what the Prime Minister said and play a constructive nation-building role by persuading the Kashmiri youth to abandon stone-pelting and other terror-related activities so that peace and normality were restored in the restive Kashmir Valley and people led a peaceful life. But it was not to be. Barring Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who has been leading the PDP-BJP coalition government since April 4, 2016, all other Kashmiri “mainstream” leaders paid no regard whatsoever to the Prime Minister’s noble tourism Vs terrorism formulation.
The main opposition National Conference (NC) and the Congress took no time to reject the Prime Minister’s suggestion. Both the NC leaders, including party president Farooq Abdullah and his son and Leader of Opposition in the Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly, Omar Abdullah, and Congress leaders, including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, JKPCC chief GA Mir and former JKPCC chief and Union Minister Saif-Ud-Din Soz in one voice dismissed Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “dictator” and declared that “Kashmir needed a political package, and not financial or other packages” (Greater Kashmir, Apr 3 and 4).
However, it was three-time Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister and former Union Minister Farooq Abdullah who, on April 5, crossed all the red lines in his desperate bid to woo separatists of all varieties to win the Lok Sabha by-election in the Srinagar-Ganderbal constituency so that he could avenge his May 2014 humiliating defeat at the hands of the PDP. He rejected outright the Prime Minister’s tourism Vs terrorism suggestion and said that the Kashmiri youth were not pelting stones on security forces for the development of tourism industry in Kashmir and that they were nationalists fighting for the independence of their Kashmiri nation.
“outh who are pelting stones have nothing to do with tourism. He will starve to death but he is pelting stones for the sake of the nation. They are sacrificing lives so that a solution can be found to Kashmir issue. They are not sacrificing lives for tourism,” he said while addressing party workers during a convention at his Gupkar residence, Srinagar (Greater Kashmir, Latest News, Apr 5). He made this provocative statement while reacting to the Prime Minister’s suggestion that the youth of Kashmir should exercise a choice between tourism and terrorism.
Earlier on December 5, 2016, and April 3, 2017, Farooq Abdullah had also made some highly controversial and unsettling statements. On December 5, he had swung solidly behind the Pakistan-sponsored, funded and controlled Hurriyat Conference and asked his party cadres to join the Azadi movement being carried on by the Hurriyat.
“I am telling Hurriyat not to get divided. We stand with you (Hurriyat) and not against you. Be united and take this (freedom) movement forward. We are not your enemy and we are ready to follow you, move forward and we are with you till your decision is right. If we are divided we will be at loss. The Hurriyat leadership should take forward this (Azadi) movement. We will never be free if we don’t get united…I am telling the workers of National Conference don’t part away from this tehreek (movement). We have given sacrifices for this movement,” Farooq Abdullah said addressing party workers at the mausoleum of his father and former Chief Minister Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah on his 111th birth anniversary at Naseem Bagh, Srinagar (Greater Kashmir/Rising Kashmir, Dec 6, 2016). Omar Abdullah and almost all top NC leaders were present on the occasion.
And, on April 3, Farooq Abdullah urged radical Islamic outfit Jamaat-e-Islami to help him win the by-election, saying if he got defeated, Kashmir would fall and its identity and honour would be completely wiped out.
“Today this is not a battle (read by-election) between Farooq Abdullah and this (NC-Congress) alliance but a larger battle for our very survival with dignity and honour. Today all of us, including our brothers in Jamaat-e-Islami, have to come together to fight RSS or our identity and honour will be wiped out,” Farooq Abdullah said addressing a group of party workers at Gund in Ganderbal district.
“he upcoming Lok Sabha by-polls in Kashmir are ‘fight’ to defeat the RSS and protect the identity of Kashmiris. RSS represents decades of suppression of Muslims across the country and has openly advocated the abrogation of Jammu & Kashmir’s special status since 1947. Today, both as a Kashmiri and a Muslim, I am disappointed and ashamed that PDP sold its 2014 mandate and its conscience to attain political power,” he said (Greater Kashmir, Apr 4).
This is the situation. Leaders of the stature of Farooq Abdullah are directly encouraging the Kashmiri youth to confront the security forces, openly flirting with pro-Pakistan Hurriyat Conference and brazenly hobnobbing with such radical outfits as Jamaat-e-Islami. New Delhi can’t watch these subversive activities as a mute spectator. It has to act and act fast failing which the best opportunity for any action in Kashmir would be lost forever. It’s not just the question of Kashmir Valley, which constitutes only a paltry 7 per cent of the state’s geographical area; it’s the question of the northernmost strategic State of Jammu & Kashmir. I said it earlier and I am reiterating again that if the state falls, the rest of the country would also fall. This is the reality and we can ignore it at our own peril.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.