Kashmir: The Crisis in Perspective
by Dr. S. S. Toshkhani, Mr. B. L. Kaul, Prof.
M. L. Raina
Lies, half truths and
systematic disinformation about the political situation and terrorist mayhem
has become the order of the day. Press and political activists are hostages
to the terrorist outfits. Freedom of opinion, dissent and beliefs have
been stamped out by the terrorists. Their manner of working and propagating
is right out from Fascist or Nazi tactics. Their cry for Azadi is a facade
for secession, depriving men of conscience from liberty and basic freedoms
guaranteed by the Indian constitution. No civilized society can stand this
brand of Azadi, where non-muslim minorities are hounded out, people asked
to change their vocations, and all decency in life decried as evil. Yet,
in India there are opportunists and apologists who have a sneaking sympathy
for the terrorists and terrorism in Kashmir. They are all busy for reasons
better known to them, to spread disinformation in India through the national
Indian Research Institute for Kashmir Affairs
has been established by people who have been part of Kashmir's freedom
struggle and other well meaning friends in the country who have spent a
large portion of their lives in the State. The objective is to keep the
Indian public opinion informed about the State, the genesis of the present
turmoil and related issues. Our endeavor would be to present a true scenario,
without fear or favor.
This first publication is a backgrounder, the
other aspects of the Kashmir situation- ethnic, socio-economic, political,
and cultural - will be forthcoming soon.
M. L. Raina
Indian Research Institute for Kashmir Affairs
4/1931 Gurgaon, Haryana
June 20, 1990
Kashmir: The Crisis in Perspective
Ever Since the State of Jammu & Kashmir became
a part of the Indian Union it has remained a vexing problem for the country.
Three wars have been fought over it with Pakistan and more Rs. 70,000.00
crores pumped in for its development during the last 43 years. Overlooking
all the sacrifices made by the people of India, the Valley of Kashmir seems
to be up in arms against its benefactors. Today, the situation appears
to be assuming frightening dimension with Pak-trained subversives indulging
in murder and mayhem to strike fatal blows to the State's links with India.
Whipping up fundamental frenzy and fanning separatist sentiments, they
are making people to believe that 'liberation' from India is round the
The problem, however, has not burst upon the scene
as a sudden phenomenon, but is the result of follies upon follies committed
by the country's leadership which has a pathetic proclivity to ignore realities
and stick to clich`s in face of trouble. What is needed is a serious review
of these follies in order to get a clear perspective of the present day
Aggression and Accession
On Aug. 12, 1947, the Maharaja of Jammu &
Kashmir offered to execute a Standstill Agreement with India/Pakistan "on
all matters .. pending settlement of details and formal execution of fresh
agreement." While the Government of Pakistan signed the Standstill Agreement,
the Government of India wanted the Maharaja or a representative of his
to come to Delhi "for negotiating Standstill Agreement between Kashmir
Government and Indian Dominion.''
Inspite of the Standstill Agreement, Pakistan
imposed an economic blockade, cutting off supplies of essential commodltles
like food-grains, salt, sugar, tea and petrol to J&K State. In October
1947, having succeeded in creating scarcity of food articles in Kashmir
Valley, Pakistan sent in Afridis, soldiers in plain clothes and desperadoes
with modern weapons to Poonch, Mirpur, Bhimber, Kotli areas of Jammu and
then to Muzzaffarbad, Karnah and Uri with the idea of annexing the State
of Jammu & Kashmir by force. The Maharaja's forces could not beat back
this unannounced aggression by Pakistan as most of his Muslim soldiers
joined the aggressors and killed the loyal Hindu soldiers of the State
Army. Once the Pakistani invaders reached the outskirts of Srinagar, the
beleaguered Maharaja was left with no option but to sue for help from India.
Offering to accede to the Indian Dominion, he made a request for military
aid which was accepted by the then Governor General, Lord Mountbatten on
October 27, 1947. However, in his reply to the Maharaja's request, Lord
Mountbatten added a rider: "As soon as law and order has been restored
in Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invader, the question of State's
accession should be settled by a reference to the people.."
The Role of National Conference
On 15th August, 1947, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah
and other National Conference leaders and workers were behind the bars.
They had been imprisoned for launching the "Quit Kashmir" movement against
the autocratic rule in Kashmir. On persistent intervention of Mahatma Gandhi,
who visited the State from 1st August to Fourth August in 1947, and other
Congress leaders, the Sheikh and his supporters were released on September
4, 1947. The Muslim League leaders, particularly Jinnah, had consistently
opposed the freedom movement of Kashmir, calling it a 'goonda' movement.
The National Conference leadership, under the guidance of Sheikh Abdullah,
decided to defer the issue of accession till the State was granted a responsible
government. Meanwhile National Conference leaders Ghulam Mohammed Sadiq
and Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, who were at that time in Lahore, were asked
to act as emissaries and contact Muslim League leaders and Communist supporters
of Pakistan with whom they had a good rapport, to bring about reproachment
between Sheikh Abdullah and Mohammed Ali Jinnah. However, inspite of their
best efforts, they failed in their mission as Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan
did not condescend to meet Sheikh Abdullah. It may be recalled here that
Jinnah and Sheikh Abdullah had strained their relations in June 1944, when
the latter was on a visit to Kashmir. During this visit of his, Jinnah
was given a public reception by various political parties of the State.
The Sheikh personally welcomed him to the Valley and had long private talks
with him. On the very second day of this meeting, Jinnah asked Abdullah
at a huge public gathering at Jama Masjid, Srinagar to wind up his National
Conference and, using very intemperate language, accused the "Lion of Kashmir"
of double think and double talk. An infuriated Sheikh lashed out at Jinnah
and asked National Conference workers to see him out of the Valley. After
this incident Mohammed Ali Jinnah was not able to address any public gathering
in Kashmir and was forced to leave the Valley before schedule. Since then
there was no love lost between the two.
Reverting to the accession issue, it may be pointed
out that almost the entire leadership of the National Conference, with
the exception of Sheikh Abdullah and a few of the party's working committee
members, were all for a settlement with Pakistan. Even the Communists of
Kashmir, under the directive of CPI, were prepared for Kashmir's accession
to Pakistan. It was the Sheikh who, having been appraised of the views
of the top Pakistani leadership, was desperately in favor of the State's
accession to India. He pleaded fervently with Jawahar Lal Nehru to accept
the State's request for accession and to send the Army to Srinagar. He
did oppose even "reference to people", as he represented the people of
the Valley and headed the then mass based Political Organization National
History plays cruel jokes at times. Pakistan,
which could have got at least the Kashmir Valley and a portion of Jammu
region (already under its occupation), lost Kashmir Valley owing to its
leader's hauteur. "Kashmir is in my pocket" Jinnah had declared. And his
impolitic decision to send tribals and irregulars to invade Kashmir, was
Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, under the influence
of Lord Mountbatten, could not have made a greater folly than adding the
unnecessary rider of "referring to the people" the question of accession,
once the condition stabilized and aggression was vacated. To compound the
issue further, he referred the matter to the UNO, even against the wishes
of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, thereby providing an opportunity to
the interested Western Powers to play their power game in the Indo-Pak
arena. Even though the Indian Government ruled out a plebiscite in Kashmir
after Pakistan joined SEATO and other military alliances, Pakistan went
on harping on U,N resolutions for plebiscite. These initial mistakes of
the Indian leader are with us even today - 43 years later.
Sheikh Abdullah Changes Stance
No sooner had the Indian Army cleared large portions
of the State from Pak invaders and cease-fire was agreed to in January
1949, than the Kashmir leader started demanding the Maharaja's ouster and
a special status for Kashmir in the name of "Muslims of the Valley" or
the "Muslim character" of the State. He took delegation after delegation
to Delhi to discuss the issue and sought and got a number of concessions
like a separate constitution and a separate flag for the State and a different
nomenclature for its head of the State and head of the Government. The
head of the State was to be known as Sadr-i-Riyasat, while the head of
the Government was to be called the Prime Minister. Congress leaders even
got a special provision - Article
370 - incorporated in the Constitution to safeguard the State's special
position. While all reasonable and unreasonable demands of the Sheikh were
being accepted, in complete disregard to the views of some of Nehru's own
ministerial colleagues and a large segment of public opinion in Jammu &
Ladakh regions, a section of the Valley's population had started questioning
the wisdom of the State's accession to India. In a triumphant mood, Sheikh
Abdullah ordered elections for a Constituent Assembly which would frame
a Constitution for the State. Overplaying his cards, he got 73 members
elected unopposed to the Assembly and engineered the defeat of two opposition
candidates from Jammu This led to a virtual one party rule in Kashmir and
further alienated the people of Jammu.
The Jammu Agitation and Permit System
Resentful of being completely ignored and sidelined
as well as misgoverned, the people of Jammu launched a strong agitation
against Kashmir Government and Congress policies under the leadership of
Pt. Prem Nath Dogra, a much respected leader of the region. Raising the
slogan of "Ek Vidhan, Ek Pradhan, Ek Nishan" (One Constitution, One President,
One Flag), Praja Parishad, the organization that spearheaded the agitation,
called for extension of all provisions of the Constitution of India to
the State. Sheikh Abdullah's government came down heavily on the agitation
which resulted in martyrdom of forty young Praja Parishad activists. The
Sheikh dubbed the agitators communal even though a large number of Muslims
from Jammu participated in it.
In Kashmir too the National Conference Government
was accused of corruption and maladministration by a large section of its
own left-oriented workers and leaders. Disenchantment with the Sheikh soon
set in for his strong arm methods of governance. As discontent started
to simmer, the Sheikh's popularity as well as his political base began
to erode fast.
Unable to stem the rot in the State (his own creation),
Sheikh Abdullah started to think loudly about getting the State out of
the Indian Union. He even went to the extent of extolling the new leadership
that had emerged in Pakistan after the death of Mohammed Ali Jinnah and
Liaquat Ali Khan - his personal enemies. He adopted a new stance of denigrating
India and conveying to the Kashmiri Muslim that his woes were not due to
misrule or corruption but due to accession to India. He started telling
foreign reporters and even some of Nehru's colleagues that the issue of
accession needed to be looked into again.
Another event that rocked Kashmir during the first
phase of Sheikh Abdullah's rule was the tragic death of Dr. Shyama Prasad
Mukherji, founder President of Bhartiya Jan Sangh, while under detention
in Kashmir. Dr. Mukherji had been detained for entering the State without
a permit which every Indian living outside the State was required to obtain
those days for entry into the State. His death occurred in mysterious circumstances,
due to the callous attitude of the State Government, and created a commotion
throughout the country. The permit system was withdrawn later, but only
after Dr. Mukherji had given his sacrifice.
Many in the National Conference, like Bakshi Ghulam
Mohammed, G.M. Sadiq, Maulana Sayeed and D.P. Dhar resented Sheikh Abdullah's
anti-India stance and addressed public meetings and party workers opposing
this stand. Several Congress leaders came to Srinagar to talk to Sheikh,
but in vain. In his arrogance, the Sheikh went as far as insulting Maulana
Azad publicly at a gathering at Idgah in Srinagar. He even held secret
meetings with foreign diplomats and dignitaries like the American Ambassador
in India Mr. Henderson and Adlai Stevenson. This created doubts in the
minds of the people. The CPI (undivided) flayed the Sheikh for playing
into the hands of "imperialist" powers. Some people demanded action against
him for his irresponsible acts and sought his removal from power. Throughout
June and July 1953, Sheikh Abdullah continued to fulminate against India
and play on anti-India sentiments, refusing even to meet the Prime Minister
of the country. Perhaps he thought that the Government of India would succumb
to his pressure tactics and, as always, accept his demands, however unreasonable
they may be.
In the grave situation that had arisen, the
and the Central Government in consultation with some prominent National
Conference leaders, had to take the unpleasant but unavoidable decision
of dismissing Sheikh Abdullah and putting him behind the bars. Almost all
the political parties in the country supported this decision in national
Bakshi Comes to Power
Sheikh Adullah was replaced by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed
as Prime Minister of the State. He received total support from a sizeable
section of Natlonal Conference workers and leaders like G. M. Sadiq and
Mir Qasim besides the left parties and several traditionally anti-Abdullah
groups. Even people from Jammu and Ladakh came out to support him. Bakshi
released all political prisoners and through his very first declaration
abolished levy of peasants, made education free from elemenltary to college
stage, introduced subsidy on food and promised all round dcvelopment of
the state. It was during Bakshi's regime that planning was introduced in
the State and central loans and assistance sought for economic development.
Students were given freeships and scholarships to pursue their studies.
A number of new developmental works were executed and an Engineering College,
a Medical College. an Ayurvedic-cum-Unani College, Industrial Training
Institutes and Politechnics were set up in the State for the first time.
Roads and buildings came up and irrigation and hydro-elcctric projects
were undertaken. A major achievement was the construction of the Jawahar
Tunnel at Banihal which shortened the distance between Jammu & Kashmir
considerably, making the national highway viable for traffic for most part
af the year. But with the developmental works came the inevitable corruption
which infected every fabric of the body politic, giving rise to vested
interests. Corruption became rampant as political supporters were to be
pampered and political opponents won over with money and other allurements.
Several centres of extra-constitutional power developed and some even went
to the exent of taking the law into their own hands to browbeat opponents.
While the Sheikh had resorted to political blackmail, Bakshi would resort
to financial blackmail, asking the Central Government to dish out as much
money as possible for keeping Kashmiri Muslims on the right side. Corrupt
politicians and officials started arguing that to keep the people of the
Valley calm and quiet, all irregularities should be overlooked and condoned.
Formation of Plebiscite Front
Supporters of Sheikh Abdullah in the National
Conference rallied around Mirza Mohammed Afzal Beg, his second in command,
who formed the J&K Plebiscit Front (PF) in 1954. Declaring plebiscite
as its goal, this organisation fomented a lot of trouble in Kashmir Valley.
The Plebiscite Front spread its tentacles throughout the valley and enrolled
thousands as its members. It fed the people on anti-India sentiments and
boycotted all elections in the State. A major portion of the Front's finances
came from Pakistan, though some local people and a few Indians also contributed.
It is believed that some of its important functionaries received financial
help and concessions from Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed even. Sheikh Abdullah
was the PF's acknowledged supreme leader, though technically he was not
even its member. The political fallout of the PF in the State was growth
of anti-India forces and large scale dishonesty and corruption.
Democratic National Conference
By 1957, G.M.Sadiq, D.P. Dhar, Mir Qasim and G.L. Dogra, alongwith their left-leaning supporters, got disillusioned with
Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed for his method of governance, rampant corruption
and strong-arm tactics of some of his supporters. Ultimately in October
1957, they left National Conference en bloc and formed a new political
party named Democratic National Conference (DNC) which attracted a large
number of youth to its fold. The formation of DNC resulted in a catharsis of pent up feelings. For the first time a pro-India opposition party in
Kashmir Valley was able to galvanize people on non-sectarian issues - issues
other than plebiscite. The emergence of DNC sent shock waves through PF
leadership, some of whose workers started rethinking and showing eagerness
to join a struggle based on economic issues. Meanwhile, Sheikh Abdullah
was released from jail in January 1958. Still harboring the dream of independent
Kashmir, he bitterly attacked the Government of India in an interview to
the Blitz weekly at Kud while having a good word for Pakistan, thinking
that his release was caused by international pressure on the Indian Government.
In his speeches at Srinagar later, he lashed out at Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed
for being "unfaithful", and condemned DNC and its leaders as "Indian agents"
and "greater enemies" of Kashmir. He was re-arrested after some time and,
alongwith some of his colleagues, charged with subversion and sedition
against the State. Sheikh Abdullah's outbursts against the DNC were aimed
at stifling pro-India voice and projecting PF as the only representative
voice of the people of Kashmir. This betrayed the Sheikh's intolerance
of alternative leadership.
In about two years, some of the DNC's top leaders
started wavering and joined the Bakshi camp. Finally on the insistence
of Nehru and other Congress leaders, the DNC leaders dissolved the party
and its members trooped back into National Conference. Thus due to their
myopic political vision, the Congress leadership lost a great opportunity
of seeing a pro-India political party grow in the State which could act
as a safety valve by letting people ventilate their grievances and satisfy
their democratic urges.
In 1963, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed was made to resign
from the premiership ofthe state under the Kamraj Plan. But the willy Bakshi
got Shamsuddin, a supporter of his, elected as leader of the NC Parliamentary
Party in disregard to the wishes of the Congress Party bosses, so that
he could drive from the backseat. Shamsuddin, however, could only last
for 99 days. The theft of the sacred relic at Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar
triggered off a gigantic agitation which saw millions come out on the streets
of Kashmir, demanding restoration of the relic and prosecution of the "real
culprits". The movement turned against Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed and swept
Shamsuddin out of power. But for deft handling by Lal Bahadur Shastri and
wise counselling by Maulana Sayeed and G.M. Karra, the situation would
have led to a holocaust. The sacred relic was finally restored and its
genuineness attested to by a respected Muslim saint. The crisis was defused
and Sadiq was asked to take over reins of Government.
Sadiq came with his new policy of liberalization,
promising democratic rights and seeking to win over volatile anti-India
elements through discussion and debate. Even Plebiscite Front members were
given a certain respectability and their wards and children provided with
cushy jobs. A formula was devised for admissions to higher educational
institutions and professional colleges on majority-minority basis - the
ratio being 70% for Muslims and 30% for non-Muslims. Though this approach
helped to some extent in blunting the edge of the underground anti-India
movement, and in neutralizing the youth who were provided with jobs, it
also encouraged a large section of separatist elements to come to surface.
Demonstrations against India on a scale not witnessed before became order
of the day and for the first time the slogan "Indian dogs go back" was
raised with impunity. To win elections, Sadiq too resorted to the old stratagem
of getting his party candidates elected unopposed. However, Sadiq took
a number of measures to bring Jammu & Kashmir into the national mainstream.
He got the State Constitution amended to have the nomenclature of the Head
of the State changed to Governor from Sadr-i-Riyasat and that of the Head
of the Government to Chief Minister (Wazir- e-Ala) from Prime Minister (Wazir-e-Azam). The Governor was now to be appointed by the President instead
of being elected by the State Legislature. Further, the jurisdiction of
the Supreme Court was extended to the State and several sections of the
Indian Constitution made applicable to it. The National Conference was
dissolved and merged with the Indian National Congress. This helped to
further strengthen political integration. But integration at the emotional
level remained a far cry.
Qasim and the Delhi Accord
Sadiq passed away in 1971 and Mir Qasim became
the State Chief Minister. During his time overt and covert support to rabid
communal organisations like the Jamat-e-Islami grew with the result that
it could get five of its members elected to the State Assembly. Anti-India
forces gained in strength and the demand for plebiscite was raised with
greater vehemance and frequency. Sheikh Abdullah was released and kept
in a house in Kotla Lane in Delhi.
In 1972, negotiations were started with Sheikh
Abdullah and his colleague Mirza Afzal Beg. After several rounds of talks,
an accord was finally reached with the Kashmir leaders. Mir Qasim stepped
down and power was handed over to the Sheikh in 1975.
Abdullah Returns to Power
It may be recalled that Sheikh Abdullah had spurned
all efforts at reconciliation prior to this. But now his arch foes, Bakshi
and Sadiq were dead (He had asked people to dig out Bakshi's grave and
given a call for a social boycott of his supporters and sympathisers).
But with Pakistan's defeat in the 1971 war and the emergence of Bangladesh,
he felt that he had no alternative left but to come to terms with reality
and accept the accord offered to him.
By accepting the accord, he hadn't become a patriot
overnight, nor had he forgotten the past nor forgiven his detractors. But
being in power he could create difficulties for the Centre and this he
did. His first act was to make some Muslim MLA's of the Congress to defect
to his side. Next, he cut off the subsidy given by the Center on food rations,
asking people to tighten their belts rather than eat food at subsidized
rates. He also reverted to his old game of speaking with two voices - criticising
India in front of his Kashmiri audiences and being his sweet reasonable
self while speaking to Indian newsmen or addressing Jammu audiences.
During the 1977 elections, he refused to come
to an electoral understanding with the Janta Party as that would compromise
his anti-India posture. He fought these elections on the plank of opening
the Jhelum Valley Road, withdrawal of Indian Army from Kashmir and defeating
"political parties of India". He revised the old "Sher-Bakra" feud to placate
critics of his changed political stance. A colleague of his would ask for
votes with piece of Pakistani rock-salt in his hand (associated with Pakistan
in the minds of Kashmiri Muslims) . After winning the elections, Janata
Party supporters were given a rough time by NC toughs: 'Bakras' or Maulana
Farooq's followers had to flee their homes and seek shelter in safer places
to escape the wrath of furious NC enthusiasts. As for Congress supporters,
the choicest epithet of "vermin, insects, worms crawling in the drains"
were reserved for them.
During the second phase of the Sheikh's rule (1977-82),
obscurantist forces were encouraged. The administration was Islamised as
far as possible. Friday prayers were offered in offices. Cinema shows on
Fridays were cancelled during the day for Namaz. Every conscious effort
was made to undermine the authority of the Indian Union. Income tax officials
who came to inquire into income tax evasion by some big business houses
in Kashmir were not only denied police assistance but also physically manhandled
by violent mobs organised by NC goons: IAS officers from outside the State
were given insignificant postings, except a few who did their biddings.
Jamat-e-Islami schools were not taken over as Sheikh Abdullah had promised
earlier. On the other hand, lots of funds started pouring in from Pakistan
and Arab countries for the Jamat and its front organisations and the
In March 1980, the Jamat-e-Islami played host to a delegation from Medina
University. The delegation was lavishly entertained by the Sheikh as well.
Later, a member of the delegation, Prof. Abdul Samad felt encouraged to
say, at a open meeting at Hotel Lala Rukh, Srinagar". For an Islamic revolution
we have to prepare the people individually and collectively. To achieve
it we have to give sacrifices". The same year in September, Amir Jamat-e-Islami
of Occupied Kashmir, Maulana Abdulla paid a visit to Kashmir and publicly
proclaimed that Kashmiris were not a party to the Simla
Agreement. It is believed that the Maulana had come to brief his counterpart
in Kashmir on Gen. Zia's Kashmir plan - "Operation
Topac". However, on the advice of the Central Government, he was asked
to leave Kashmir within twenty four hours.
Under one pretext or other a number of new police
battalions were raised. Some of these battalions recruited Jamat activists
and even persons believed to be from across the line of control.
To prove himself to Kashmiri Muslims, the Sheikh
resorted to Islamization. Government as well as Muslim Auqaf funds were
spent on building impressive mosques and beautifying areas surrounding
mosques. Muslim property worth crores of rupees was built on government
land. A special SRO was issued to change the names of hundreds of Kashmir
villages so as to obliterate traces of old history and culture. By this
policy the Sheikh helped, directly or indirectly, forces, inimical to India
and its secular character. He spent his last years in power to make India
'a suspect' in the eyes of Kashmiri Muslims. That is one of the reasons
why he described all Kashmiri Pandits as IB agents in his autoblography "Aatsh-e-Chinar," and castigated Indian Secularism and Congress leaders.
Incidently this book has been awarded the Sahitya Academy award.
It is conceded by even his admirers that Sheikh
Abdullah died a bitter man. He had stopped trusting people. He fell out
with Afzal Beg who was thought to be his alter ego. He did not have any
confidence even in his son-in-law, G.M. Shah. So he declared his son, Dr.
Farooq Abdullah, as his heir and made him the President of the National
Conference. Addressing a public gathering to mark this occasion, he said,
"I trust him and request you too to help him in doing the job. Like me,
he won't betray your trust. What I have not been able to achieve, he will."
In September 1982, Sheikh Abdullah passed away and Dr. Farooq was made
the Chief Minister ignoring the claims of his seniors and without consulting
the party legislators. Everything was done silently and swiftly, with the
blessings of Mrs. Gandhi, as Farooq was close to her son Rajiv.
Farooq Abdullah - X-rayed and Exposed
Farooq Abdullah's political education started
in England where he came into contact with a JKLF group that had close
links with the British Secret agencies. He came into contact with the JKLF
leader Amanullah Khan in London on his arrival there in 1971, after fleeing
Pakistan with his friends to evade arrest. During his visit to Pakistan
in 1973, Farooq Abdullah went to Pak-occupied Kashmir and took an oath
to 'Liberate' Kashmir in a ceremony organised by the JKLF. He also administered
such an oath to a number of other young men present there. When Sheikh
Abdullah was accorded a reception in Kashmir after his return to power,
Farooq too joined the procession alongwith a number of his JKLF friends
whom he had brought with himself all the way from England and raised a
new slogan "Chyon Desh, Myon Desh - Kashur Desh, Kashur Desh" (Kashmir
is your country, and mine). Whether he continued to have links with JKLF
after donning the robes of Chief Ministership, is an open question, left
to the people to judge. Let us have a brief look at some of his activities
within the State and outside.
On assuming office with the help of his father's
ministerial colleagues, he denounces them at a public meeting right in
their presence and asks for people's mandate to have a new team of 'honest
and trustworthy' ministers. Fed up with corruption, people shout the ministers
down and make them run for their lives.
He tells the gathering that he will never compromise
'the dignity and honour' of Kashmiris, even if it means "fighting the mighty
India." Within three months he assumes an anti-Center, anti-Congress stance
and aligns with the opposition parties as a tactical move to make his position
comfortable. He allows his state to become a backyard of Punjab terrorists
who pour in large numbers. Many young Sikhs of Jammu & Kashmir join
their ranks during his first tenure as Chief Minister. He provides facilities
to terrorists from Punjab to set up training centres in Kashmir and allows
local Sikh extremists to take out processions and demonstrations.
On hearing the news of Bhindranwale's death, he
rushes to Khir Bhawani, where a fair is on, (most Hindus go to this shrine
on Ashtami day) and tells the pilgrims to rush back to their homes as the ''Sardars have lost their Guru" warning them that "the situation was going
to become pretty bad here as well as in India." He knows that the situation
will take an ugly turn, yet he - the Chief Minister-cannot prevrent arson
and loot of houses, temples and places of religious assembly like the Nirankari
Bhawan, in sensitive areas of Srinagar like Jawahar Nagar, Wazir Bagh and
Hanuman Mandir. He sends the police only when the situation starts getting
out of control and Army vehicles are attacked, with the result that more
than 15 persons unnecessarily lose their lives in police firing.
At Kashmir University functions, he exhorts students
to preserve "Kashmiriyat" and Islamic identity. He patronises a group
of Kashmiri intellectuals asking its members to project "Kashmiriyat" before
like-minded intellectuals elsewhere in India, particularly those holding
anti-Congress views, though himself he has very little concern for the
cultural values and ethos fostered by Kashmir.
He accuses India of fomenting communal trouble
and asks whether the Kashmiri Musalman is safe in India. Before Indian
political leaders and mediamen, he tries to present himself as an Indian
patriot hounded by Mrs. Gandhi and her Congress. In Kashmir, he joins hands
with the arch rival of the Abdullah family, Maulana Farooq raising the
slogan of Muslim brotherhood. He organises the youth wing of National Conference
and exhorts youth to work in unison for the goal and be prepared for the
'battle for freedom." As the 1983 elections draw near, he starts fulminating
against India and the Central Government. Addressing election meetings
he says, 'We are fighting the Congress. Its defeat will mean the defeat
of the central power that wants to subjugate Kashmiris."
When Mrs. Gandhi comes to address a public meeting,
the meeting is disturbed and Mrs. Gandhi cajoled and insulted right in
the presence of the police. Some NC goons go to the extent of exposing
their naked genitals before her; The Congress office in Srinagar is set
on fire and all the persons named in the FIR are found out to be National
During the elections hired hoodlums and toughs
are let loose in predominantly anti-NC areas. At places, impersonation
is so blatant that an ex-IGP is told his vote has been already cast.
F'arooq Abdullah wins from most of the Muslim
constituencies on an anti-India and anti-Hindu platform, while the Congress
wins from most of the Jammu areas by playing the Hindu card.
Being the majority party leader, Dr. Farooq forms
the government, concentrating most of the power in his own hands; It is
during this second tenure of his that a 'One Day Cricket Match' between
West Indies and India is organised at Srinagar. During this match, the
Indian players are booed at and greeted with chants of 'Indian dogs go
back' by hooligans waiving Pakistan flags. A pandemonium-breaks out in
presence of Farooq Abdullah, who not only sits through all this but even
tries to justify it. Perhaps this demonstration is aimed at making the
foreign team understand that Kashmiris are not with India. This results
in cancellation of such matches in Kashmir for the future.
In order to gain friends in India, Farooq tries
to prolect hirnself as an anti-Congress Chief Minister. To this end he
attends conclaves of opposition leaders and invites them to Kashmir. This
takes in even the shrewdest of Indian politicians, for he tries to be all
things to all men, while keeping his real cards close to his chest.
Even as he was doing every thing to dilute the
central authority, he maintained close relations with Rajiv with the help
of some common friends. Inspite of his gimmicks, Farooq failed to create
any impression as an administrator, spending most of his time in pleasure
pursuits. His cavalier attitude and frivolous manner cost him his seat,
as Mrs. Gandhi eased him out by engineering defections with the help of
his brother-in-law G.M. Shah. Supported by the Congress, the defectors
formed a new government in July, 1984.
Shah's Misrule & the 1986 Riots
Shah's installation as Chief Minister proved too
costly for India. Even people opposed to Dr. Farooq were not happy with
Shah and his ways. During his rule, the State slumped into chaos and confusion.
Bomb blasts and subversion became order of the day and life came to a standstill
due to frequent imposition of curfew. Some people believed it to be the
handiwork of JKLF activists said to be instigated by Dr. Farooq to queer
the pitch for G.M.Shah.
All through this period, Farooq feigned an injured
innocence and tried to gain the sympathy of the opposition leaders and
the media. He had two faces to show to people - his anti-India face which
was meant for his supporters in Kashmir and the face of a victimized person
which he showed to his friends in the opposition and the Congress.
In February, 1986, riots broke out in Kashmir
against the miniscule minority of Kashmiri Pandits, particularly in the
district of Anantnag. Fundamentalists joined by some N. workers and Congressmen
went on a spree of loot and arson and desecraion of temples to terrorise
the helpless Pandits. Nobody had the courage to save them from the hands
of the rioters except some old nationalist minded Muslims. Stern action
proposed against the then Dy. Commissioner and Police Chief of Anantnag
District was opposed by some religious hot-heads and political extremists.
In view of the situation getting out of hand, Congress withdrew its support
to the Shah Ministry and Governor's rule was imposed. Shah fell, not because
of the sympathy that Farooq had gained during this period, but because
of his own misrule.
The Governor takes Charge
The Governor's rule came as a boon to the people
who were fed up with corruption and misgovernance. With the Governor in
charge, things started moving in Kashmir. Peoples' grievances got redressed
without delay and corruption eliminated to a large extent. The Governor
made every officer responsible for his job in order to solve the problems
faced by the common man. Problems like water scarcity and power shortage
that had been plaguing the state for years, were remedied in a short period.
Governor Jagmohan captured the hearts of the Kashmiri people who felt greatly
impressed by his administrative acumen and competence. Yet there were some
persons - politicians, power brokers, black marketeers, corrupt officials,
drug peddlers and exploiters of all hues - who were not happy. These people
started ganging up and spreading canards against Governor Jagmohan, some
called him "a Muslim baiter" and some "a Hindu chauvinist" of Turkman Gate
fame. These allegations, however, made little dent on public opinion, as
people for the first time saw things being done.
The Rajiv - Farooq Combine
While the Governor was busy clearing the augean
stable in the State, Dr. Farooq was busy mending his fences with the Center.
Corrupt politicians and big businessmen also wanted the Governor's rule
to go as they feared that they would not be able to get their share of
the "loot". By this time Rajiv had already decided to put Farooq back in
the saddle and share power with him in Kashmir. He eased out Mufti Mohammed
Sayeed from Presidentship of J & K Congress by inducting him into the
Central Cabinet. Mufti had tried to build a base for the Congress in Kashmir
and in the process had offered resistance to both the Sheikh and Dr. Abdullah.
During his Presidentship of the State Congress, the Kashmir Government
had resorted to lathi charge and firing on a pro-India rally shouting "India
Zindabad" that he had organised. This had resulted in 9 deaths. With the
Mufti out of the way, all impediments to a Congress-NC alliance were removed.
Though Farooq could have possibly won the elections on his own on an anti-India
plank, he chose to have an electoral alliance with Congress so as to make
sure he would retain power. In the elections, National Conference and Congress
had to face a lot of resistance. Fearing that the National Conference would
lose 14 to 15 seats, the party indulged in all possible malpractices, the
worst being the misuse of police and administrative machinery in contriving
the results. Eager to share power, Congress made the blunder of leaving
the field open to sectarian opposition. By making Congress the Junior coalition
partner, Dr. Farooq, on the other hand, was able to get its influence almost
wiped out in the State. Everybody in the Congress revolved round the ministers
to ask for favours and as the favours were not easy to come by, because
the Congress Ministers did not have any powers and the civil service too
was apathetic towards them, people started getting disillusioned and veering
away from them.
A New Alliance and the Upsurge of Militancy
Such activists of NC as had burnt the Congress
office at the bidding of their leaders and indulged in other subversive
activities, felt cheated by the Congress-NC alliance. So they organized
themselves into a new alliance - the Muslim United Front-which comprised
the Jamat-i-Islami, People's Party, Itehad-ul-Musalmeen, Awami Action Committee,
Independent National Conrerence of G. M. Shah and some youth and student
groups. The alliance got defeated in the elections, its workers beaten
up and humiliated. Of these, a group of youngsters belonging to the Amira
Kadal constituency, who formed the NC's 'martial brigade' earlier, got
particularly infuriated and vowed to avenge their humiliation. One Aijaz
Dar announced right outside the counting hall, from where he was thrown
out by the police and the NC candidate, that he and his friends would shoot
Farooq and other NC leaders as well as top police and civil officers and
other prominent persons. Dar was killed in a police "encounter" and with
his death terrorism took a new turn in Kashmir. Instead of the VIPs, softer
targets were taken - an odd NC worker, a petty police officer, and a number
of defenseless Kashmiri Pandits. The fact is that terrorist activity in
Kashmir got a shot in the arm when Farooq took over the second time. His
first act was to release a number of militants from jail. For sometime
the activities of terrorists remained confined to bomb blasts and sniping
at police officers. Later they changed their strategy and made buses, tourist
coaches and Central Government offices also their targets. Taking it as
a challenge, some police officers succeeded in arresting quite a number
of them, including some self-styled "Area Commanders" of today. But in
1989, Farooq Abdullah released as many as 23 top militants on the plea
that this would give them a chance to join the mainstream and claimed that
this had the approval of "Rajiv Gandhi". The release of the militants demoralised
the police officers some of whom were asked telephonically by the terrorists
to stay away and not to "burn their fingers" unnecessarily. The message
was clear and loud. Police and civil administration officers now started
giving shelter to terrorists and some police officers were even seen saluting
them. Some known terrorists were seen walking down the streets of Srinagar
and exchanging "hello" with policemen on duty.
Feeling encouraged, the militants set the National
Flag on fire right under the supervision of the local police, while CRP
men on duty stood watching helplessly waiting for orders and instructions
from the local police.
A measure of the militants' new boldness could
be witnessed on August 14, 1989, when Pakistan's Independence Day was celebrated
in the Valley with great pomp and show. On the other hand, on August 15
India's national flag was made bonfire of at a number of places. Blackout
was observed in the evening which was carried out from transmissions stations
at a number of places.
A number of school buildings were burnt in the
next phase and several business concerns and godowns ransacked. Anyone reporting
an incident to the police now got a stock reply: "Take it easy and forget
about it." The rot that had set in was so deep that a Kalashnikov gun and
some hand grenades and time bombs were recovered from the house of the Law
Minister's son-in-law: a junior engineer. The junior engineer's younger
brother was arrested by the police in this case, but was bailed out on
the intervention of Farooq Abdullah.
Bars and wine shops were now made the targets
and were looted and bombed during day time. Prominent tourist hotels like
the Broadway were asked to wind up their bars and Amarsingh Club, Srinagar
Club and Golf Club which had Farooq himself as Patron or President, had
to close down their bars. Liquor traders were attacked, their trade premises
looted and ransacked forcing them to close their business.
The fact is that Farooq Abdullah's government
had abdicated its responsibility much before December 1989 and various
terrorist outfits had taken control of the Valley. Local dailies started
reporting the terrorists' activities prominently. These included the "Quomi
Awaz", official organ of the State Congress. The papers were asked by the
terrorists to refrain from writing anything that went against them. Even
'Kashmir Times' an English daily from Jammu, used to give prominence only
to terrorist actitivities in the Valley.
It is indeed intriguing that when the State's
administrative machinery had come to a standstill, Farooq chose to be away
on foreign jaunts. Equally intriguing is the manner in which pistols and
small arms issued to NC workers found their way to the terrorists (They
were snatched away from them, is the explanation offered, but that is hardly
convincing). Another unusual phenomenon that erupted in 1988-89 is the
'civil curfew' or 'curfew' imposed by the terrorists themselves. During
this 'curfew' or a strike call given by terrorist outfits, shops and concerns
owned by the government or Congress or NC supporters were the first to close.
The Rubaiya Episode
The release of Rubaiya, daughter of India's Home
Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, in exchange for five top militants marked
a turning point in the militant movement in Kashmir. With their spirits
soaring higher than ever before, militants and their supporters came out
in the streets in their thousands to celebrate their triumph; singing and
dancing wildly. Anti-India slogans rent the air and for sometime it looked
as if Kashmir had become a part of Pakistan. The Abdullah government was
so paralysed that it did nothing to bring the situation under control,
not even impose a curfew. In fact, the entire state machinery appeared
to be cooperating with the terrorists in their awful display of strength.
Terrorist Outfits and Their Hues
Right from 1949, Pakistan has been involved directly
in organizing subversion in Kashmir. In 1965, it sent thousands of armed
infiltrators to grab Jammu & Kashmir for Pakistan, but the attempt
misfired and resulted in Indo-Pak war and the Tashkent Agreement. Pakistan
was again bloodied in the 1971 war, but it learnt no lessons and continued
to foment trouble in the State. For this purpose a new subversive organization,
the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, was set up in Bhutto's time which
adopted killings and kidnappings as its main strategy. But it was General
Zia who cleverly manipulated a plan of subterfuge, subversion and terrorism
in Punjab and Kashmir providing claws to militancy. His plan for Kashmir,
code named Operation Topac, was prepared painstakingly with the help of
ISI and was to be implemented in three phases. In his view, "It would take
a lot of time for Kashmiri Muslims to rise in armed revolt against India
as they have no martial tradition, but they can through their cunning subvert
Indian polity in Kashmir. Attention should be concentrated on winning over
Muslim bureaucrats and police force and dry up all intelligence sources.
Once it is done, rest can be left to Pak forces." Zia got Kashmiri Muslim
youth enrolled for arms training and subversion by ISI with the help of
JKLF and Jamat-e-Islami. The first batch received such training in Pakistan
in 1984-85. This batch included several known NC workers who were sent
to Pakistan with the blessings of important N.C. leaders. Later Jamat-e-Islami
started sending its own boys for the training. Training camps were also
set up in the outskirts of Srinagar as well as some rural and border areas
of Kashmir valley. These activities were brought to the notice of the Center,
but it chose to ignore the reports on the ground that law and order is
a state subject and Farooq, who held the home portfolio, had denied that
any such activity was going on in Kashmir. Interestingly, when bomb blasts
and other subversive acts rocked the Valley during G. M. Shah's time, he
put the blame on Farooq and his supporters. Thus, as the administration
slept, militants made hay and merrily trained Muslim youth in the use of
firearms and explosives. The cult of the Kalashnikov changed the entire
complexion of the militant movement in 1988-89, with the extremists getting
more and more defiant with every passing day, till the situation exploded
in December last. In the meanwhile, a plethora of militant groups cropped
up, varying in hues but united in their determination to "liberate" Kashmir
from India and following a well planned strategy of creating terror and
anarchy. Today, besiders JKLF, Hizbi Islami Dukhtaran-i-Kashmir,
Allah Tigers, Al Khomeini, Operation Balakote etc. have become names that
are holding the entire Kashmir valley in a grip of terror - a grip that
has shown no signs of relaxing so far.
Strategy of Subversion
Working in tandem, these terrorist, fundamentalist
and secessionist outfits are guided by Zia's Operation Topac for their
strategy, which in a nutshell is: 1) Spread fear and terror; 2) Spread
half-truths and falsehoods; 3) Demoralise political opponents; 4) Gain active
support of Muslim police and bureaucracy in the name of Islam and Jehad;
5) Suppress all dissent through threats, bomb blasts or shoot-outs; 6)
Indulge in selective killings of non-Muslims and scare them away through
verbal or written warnings; 7) Indulge in arson, loot and destruction of
liquorshops, bars, clubs, video parlours, beauty parlours etc, as these
are all un-Islamic; 8) Ensure strict adherence to Islamic rules of conduct;
for instance, purdah in case of women; 9) Eliminate Indian Intelligence
personnel, expecially non-Muslims; 10) Burn down government and private
schools run by non-Muslims and promote Jamat schools; 11) Do not allow
any political activity except that which is sanctioned by militant organisations;
12) Take control of local mosques and mullahs; 13) Ambush and attack security
forces; 14) Kidnap VIP's and their relatives; 15) Assasinate political
enemies and deserters.
With these tactics in their repertory, the militant
groups are recruiting boys and girls aged between 15 and 18 for indoctrination
and training, as youth belonging to this age group are most impressionable,
idealistic, obedient and inclined to make any sacrifice demanded of them.
Hero worship and unquestionable faith in the leader are the other traits
that makes them most suited for carrying out secret assignments.
Irrelevance of Political Parties
With Pakistan-backed secessionist movement holding
absolute sway political parties have been rendered irrelevant in the State.
Paralysed by rear, they do not have the courage to come out in the open
and face the terrorist challenge. While the cleverly manipulated Zia Plan
has kept its schedule, political parlies in the State have responded by
silence and inaction. Riven with dissensions, the Congress has been annihilated in the Valley while the discredited NC leadership has started speaking
in a voice not too different from that of the militants. The party's ranks
are deserting it by droves and its organisational set-up has totally collapsed.
For the last two years, functionaries of the party
have been publicly disowning their links with it through announcements
in the local dailies. Many a top beneficiary of NC-Congress rule have switched
over their loyalty and are today helping the militants liberally with funds.
Other parties do not matter at all, whatever their
hue. The left parties, CPI and CPM, which tried to take a stand, have been
ferociously attacked. Their offices have been ransacked, their leaders assassinated, their workers
terrorised. Bombs have been planted in the houses
of several of their activists forcing them to disclaim their "connections
with the Communists" and announce their "faith in Allah and Islam". Most
of the non-Muslim members of these parties have fled the Valley, while
their Muslim members are either living in Jammu or hiding in the Valley.
The BJP has been one of the worst victims of the
militants' wrath-its leader Tika Lal Taploo being the first to be assassinated for his courage of conviction. A number of BJP workers left the Valley
in wake of Taploo's murder, for they too had received threats of being
With this being the political situation in the
Valley today, it is amusing to hear some people talking of resuming the
"political process" in Kashmir. This is being done more with a view to
taking political advantage of the situation than any understanding of the
reality on the ground. The Indian political parties have, with the exception
of the Bhartiya Janta Party, not been able to desist from exploiting the
situation for partisan ends.
It is high time Indian political leaders removed
their blinkers and saw the reality. The situation is too grave to indulge
in the game of politicking and scoring points. The challenge posed by the
terrorists is a challenge of fascist forces which can not be met with democratic
dialogue. It is a challenge to the very basis of our nationhood, its ethos,
its culture. What can be the basis for a dialogue when the militants have
time and again rejected all political solutions except establishment of
a fundamentalist Islamic state outside the Indian Union - as a prelude
to joining Pakistan.
The scribes and the so-called liberatarians who
are crying hoarse against what they call police repression and genocide
must know that, what is at stake in Kashmir is not only the unity and integrity
of the nation but the very ideological foundations to which it has remained
moored through the centuries. The problem in Kashmir is that a full-fledged armed uprising against the country has been engineered with the help of
Pakistan, and an armed revolt can not be put down by political dialogue
but by firm action. Seeing things through the eyes of Khoemeini brand rabid
fundamentalists responsible for brutal and barbaric killings of innocent
people, to dub action taken by the security forces to protect lives and
property of innocent citizens and to prevent anarchy as repression is pathological
indeed. Why don't these political pundits and self-styled champions of
human rights come out from their safe havens and tell the terrorists that
they are following a wrong path? Why don't they condemn their brutalities,
their inhumanity, their callousness, their bigotry? Why don't they feel
outraged when murderous gangs indulge in gory acts in the name of religion,
democracy and freedom ? Do they know that more than 90% of the minority
Kashmiri Hindus have been hounded out of the Valley while the remaining
10% are holed up in their houses like scared rabbits ? Why are they then
silent over it ? Why this hypocrisy?
Economic Discontent - A Myth Exploded
What is the cause for this uprising, this anti-India
sentiment ? Surely not economic discontent as some who like to cling to
romantic illusions would like us to believe. These people while sipping
Martini or listening to Mozart like to talk of Kashmir's backwardness or
identity crisis. There is nothing farther from the truth. Kashmir alone
does not have the problem of unemployment. Economic conditions in Kashmir
are much better than in many an Indian State. Kashmir is the only place
in the country after Punjab where most of the agricultural operations are
being got done by hired labor from Bihar or Orissa. It is the only place
where education is free from elementary to professional and university
level. The only place where land was distributed to the tillers, where
per capita saving is highest in India and per capita consumption also of
animal proteins; and expenditure on clothing is also the highest; where
everybody has a place of his own to live. They should have seen the number
of "poor" Kashmiris paying hefty sums of two to three lakhs as capitation
fees for admission to a recently opened private medical college in Kashmir
before raising the myth of economic backwardness. Do they know that these
so called backward people own assets worth hundreds of crores in metropolitan
cities of India besides their native Kashmir.
As for identity crisis, let it suffice to say
that Kashmir is the only place where people prefer to teach their children
Urdu or English instead of Kashmiri.
The Illiusion and the Solution
This then is the perspective in which the current
crisis in Kashmir should be viewed. It has not been triggered by unemployment
or some such imagined horror. It is the creation of Pakistani manipulations
and machinations. The plan in operation shows the direct hand of Pakistan,
of the ISI working in collaboration with Pakistani political organisation.
It would be dishonesty to shy away from calling a spade a spade. The situation
is bad enough but not irremediable. Secessionists consumed by hatred of
India and every thing that India stands for, who have gone berserk causing
death and destruction in the state, have to be eliminated and authority
of the state established firmly. A clear and unambiguous message has to
be put across to them and those instigating and inspiring them that India
has the will and power to hold Kashmir.
Respect for the state authority has to be instilled
in the minds of militants and terrorists and their attempts to create trouble
foiled with a firm hand. Only then can dialogue be opened and political
process restarted. The policy of pampering and purchasing loyalties has
proved self defeating. A new thinking and a new outlook has to be developed,
to make the Kashmiri speaking part of the State, understand that India
extends from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and all its people irrespective of
language, culture, caste and ethnic backgrounds are a part of this great
country. Succumbing to financial or political blackmail by a region of
the State can only result in further problems in other regions of the State.
Let the State be rid of terrorists as a first priority. Any political process
can be initiated only after terrorism is completely stamped out and normalcy
restored. This political process should, however, remain confined to the
limits of the constitution and involve all the three regions of the state
so that they have a sense of justice and equal participation.
Dr. S. S. Toshkhani
Mr. B. L. Kaul
Prof. M. L. Raina