Kashmir talks: Govt should beware of pitfalls

Instead of acting on redistricting and making a more equitable representation in the assembly, the government wants to talk with separatists...

The powers that be, however, should not harbor any illusion either about the magnitude and complexity of the problem or intentions of Hurriyat Kashmir talks
Instead of acting on redistricting and making a more equitable representation in the assembly, the government wants to talk with separatists...

The Narendra Modi government seems ready for dialogue in Jammu & Kashmir but from a position of strength. Governor Satya Pal Malik said that publicly on June 22, in the presence of two Union Ministers. The Centre and the authorities in the troubled state have to ensure that they don’t fall for the shenanigans of not just the separatist leaders but also the sophistry of the Pakistani leadership.

“Things are much better than when I came here. Look at the Hurriyat, Ram Vilas Paswan stood at their door and they didn’t open the door. Now they are ready for talks,” Malik said at a Doordarshan event in Srinagar. He also made it clear that there won’t be any lowering of the guard: “We do not feel good at all about young men dying. We are interested in bringing them back and Centre is thinking about this. However, when a bullet is fired, one cannot respond to that with bouquets. A bullet will be responded to with a bullet by General Sahib.”

The next day, Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq responded positively: “I can tell you that if meaningful talks are initiated, there will be a positive response. Dialogue is the only way and that is our consistent stand.”

So far, so good. The powers that be, however, should not harbor any illusions either about the magnitude and complexity of the problem or about the intentions of Hurriyat: the magnitude and complexity are enormous, and the intentions are scarcely honorable, notwithstanding the rhetoric on “peaceful resolution of the issue.

The story is over seven decades old. As Jagmohan, former J&K governor (January, 19, 1990-May 26, 1990; April 1984-July 1989), wrote in My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir (Allied Publishers, 1991): “The first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, of India, had committed several mistakes in the resolution of Kashmir issue.”

The first mistake, which can be called the original sin, was taking the issue to the United Nations: “On January 1, 1948, India took the case to the United Nations under the leadership of Pandit Nehru. He took the case in the UN to get the solution of dispute state as per International law. But the question is, Was J&K considered as dispute state? The simple answer was NO. Because Maharaja Hari Singh had accepted J&K as part of India and signed the instrument of accession on October 26, 1947.”

The second mistake was Article 370, whereas the third was the release of Sheikh Abdullah from jail, which “was not mistaken but blunder.”

Decades of Islamization of Kashmir brought things to such a pass that at the fag-end of the 1980s, it was on the verge of secession, with the Hindus as sitting ducks for jihadists. Herculean efforts on his part led to the rescue of lakhs of Kashmiri Pundits, though many of them suffered at the hands of terrorists. “It is Mr. Jagmohan …. who saved the Valley for India. He slowly re-established the authority of the State. He put the terrorists on the run,” journalist-scholar and former Union minister Arun Shourie wrote.

Priyanka Bakaya and Sumeet Bhatti of Stanford University studied the subject in a paper ‘Kashmir Conflict: A Study of What Led to the Insurgency in Kashmir Valley & Proposed Future Solutions.’ They wrote, “In 1980, the Islamization of Kashmir began with full force. The [Sheikh] Abdullah Government changed the names of about 2,500 villages from their original names to new Islamic names. For example, the major city of Anantnag was to be known as Islamabad (same name as the Pakistani Capital).”

Then came Saudi influence, petrodollars, and more radicalization. According to Bakaya and Bhatti, “The exact role of Saudi Arabia cannot be known due to lack of evidence currently, but there are clear indications showing their influence. Many Saudi religious personalities and scholars held an Islamic Conference in Srinagar in 1979 and visited often thereafter. Further, they set up the Jhelum Valley (JV) Medical College in 1980, through which they were able to funnel large sums of foreign exchange money into Kashmir… Anecdotal evidence suggests it was the doctors in this hospital that began spreading the message of radical Islam and communalism.”

The media didn’t remain unaffected. In Radio Kashmir: In Times of Peace & War (Stellar, 2018), Rajesh Bhat wrote: “Before the onset of militancy in 1989-90, Kashmir was publishing 17 dailies and 16 weeklies. The content of these dailies was normally pro-people, pro-India, and was contributing in building and cementing national interest to quite an extent. These newspapers, through their editorials, were in equal measure promoting communal harmony and giving adequate coverage to national and local political parties, who placed faith in democratic principles. However, after the outbreak of militancy, there was a sudden rise in the printing of newspapers from Kashmir and a swing in the mood, as some of them thrived on hailing militancy.” Further, certain private electronic channels also “promoted and glorified the militant acts…

It is in this milieu that the Central and state governments have to find a way out. The path would be full of roadblocks, traps, and ambush points. The authorities should beware of the possible pitfalls.


1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Ravi Shanker Kapoor
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  1. while there are a million debates on “talks” and “talks with whom” etc and opinions galore, I think we are missing the fundamental point to answer. what is there to talk? why a need to talk? do we speak to people in other states of india.. do we even need to? what is in dispute..
    We agree that entire J&K is a part of india and the only discussion is to how soon and how to get back the part that Pak has stolen. Hurriyat is a bunch of ruffians legitimised over the decades by crooked politicians running our state and central govts. People of K dont give a damn to hurriyat and have not elected them in any way. They are bullies and get their piece of respect only out of fear. If we speak to them we respect the bully in them and the ability of Pak to prop a bully. This can never be forgotten. A bully must be treated in a way that he completely forgets what is bullying and the source of strength for the bully from across the border and mosque must be so brutally crushed that idea of bullying the state can never ever come up.
    I think we must clean every supporter of separation under any name
    Till we address this phenomena of clerics in mosques taking up a role beyond religion we are keeping the germination potential of militiancy alive. Hurriyat is being defanged and slowly this operation will be compltee. Try the terorist like Yasin Mallik for murder and sentence him to death. No mercy. If we cannot sentence a man who killed our IAF personnel in daylight we are no democracy to be proud about. Every guy who opposes his sentencing to death is a person who is an anti national. Democracy is good and only after accepting that the nation exists. If the ones who question the nationhood are to be spoken to, the we are mad and should not be in power.
    Any political party in J&K, NC or PDP can contest elections but cannot speak on talks with Pak or separatists. They have to declare if they agree that J&K in complete is inalienable part of india or not. If they agree then they contest to rule the state like any other state and Union of India will be left to deal with outside forces that fuel trouble. You cannot have enemies of state residing and being fed inside the state. Human rights do not apply for enemies to sabotage the state from within

  2. Terrorism from cannot be won over with kid gloves approach. Kashmiri Muslims were all along treated as Super Citizens above other communities enjoying all unbridled rights, privileges and facilities without any duties and responsibilities as Citizens to our Motherland Bharat, leaving the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists in lurch. The Kashmiri laws were framed openly negating the principles of justice and equity, which will not stand the scrutiny of law. A temporary provision of Art 370 of Indian Constitution is sought to be made PERMANENT, WHICH MUST BE STRUCK DOWN FORTHWITH along with surreptitiously inserted provision Art 35A. This cannot be carried on forever. PM Narendra Modi is frittering away the goodwill and benevolent 2019 mandate in this peace talks mirage exercise, which is not going to fetch any tangible results and bring in any positive change in the attitude of Muslims, in the process wasting valuable 2-3 years from 2019 to 2022. Hurriyat Conference will take the Kashmir Governor & the GOI representatives in the garden path under the guise of dialogue, which is only to buy time and tire down GOI in the process.

    Without wasting further time, GOI should right now resort to abrogation of Art 35A & Art 370 thru Cabinet resolution approved by President of India, as suggested by DR Subramanian Swamy, BJP Rajya Sabha Member. SC will find it difficult to halt the process of abrogation of Art 35A & Art 370 by GOI. Thereafter start settlement of Retired Defence personnels with weapons for ensuring their safety along with Kashmiri Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhist, so that they feel secured.

    Any local opposition to the above move can be tackled effectively by GOI now through an effective Governor and his able advisors. After abrogation of Art 35A & Art 370, the delimitation exercise in J&K State MUST be started immediately and be completed within six months time. Thereafter hold elections to J&K State Assembly. If even after delimitation exercise normalcy is NOT restored in J&K, Make Jammu a Separate State. Ladakh and Kashmir a Union Territory and thus manage the affairs of the J&K State.

    If the GoI indulges in peace talk process, which is self defeating exercise & delusive, thus waste 3 years between 2019 & 2022, thereafter it will run out of time for initiating effective action later and they will INCUR THE WRATH OF HINDU COMMUNITY AT LARGE ALL OVER INDIA, for betrayal of their Trust reposed in PM Narendra Modi. GoI is forewarned of the pitfalls while dealing with Kashmiri Muslims & Hurriyat Conference leaders.


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