Omar Abdullah’s remark on the floor of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly on October, 06, alluding that Jammu and Kashmir acceded and was not merged with the Indian Union has led to yet another stringent debate on the fractured politics of Jammu and Kashmir. There are many theories doing the rounds and most political parties are riding the wave to push personal agendas. While the Hindutva segment is sulking, the separatist segment is getting ready to take the third generation of what they perceive as the prodigal family of Kashmir back into their fold. The Congress is, as usual, trying to downplay the contentious issue raked up unnecessarily by their ally.
When the British left India, it became necessary for the emerging Dominion to legally define its relationship with the princely states. This was done through the medium of a document termed as the Instrument of Accession which was to be executed between the Government of India and the rulers of each of the princely states. Legal sanction for executing this document was provided by the Government of India Act, 1935.
Jammu and Kashmir also acceded to India on the basis of an Instrument of Accession signed by the then ruler Maharaja Hari Singh and the Indian Dominion on 26 October 1947. At this stage, more than six decades after the document was inked, there remains no case to revisit the provisions. The only outstanding issue is the illegal occupation of a large area of the State by Pakistan where an active process of colonisation and repression is being carried out by the country in collusion with China.
A logical assessment of the motive behind this remark made by Omar Abdullah would lead one to believe that the National Conference which was, at one time, looking at good governance as its political agenda has now decided to rake up some political issues of its own to deny space to other right tilting mainstream parties like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This may be because the good governance agenda has suffered a severe beating in the last few months.
Be that as it may, the emerging political fault lines in Jammu and Kashmir give enough reason for the nation to be worried. The Centre has recently announced an eight point package which it felt would help rebuild confidence. However, the situation on ground suggests otherwise. Syed Ali Shah Geelani has not relented in his pursuit of issuing protests calendars despite the overwhelming desire for normalcy expressed by the people. Protests have been held against Geelani’s calendars and in favour of opening of schools in Tral, Maigam, Kangan, Pampore and Magam amongst a host of other areas, sadly, they have gone unnoticed in the political melee. The moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference has rejected the package and called it “disappointing”. “The package again shows New Delhi’s reluctance to address political aspirations of people of the State,” Says Mirwaiz Omar Farooq. The PDP has, in any case, not taken part in the ongoing Assembly session in Jammu and Kashmir. “Unless, this lawlessness comes to a halt, asking questions in the legislature will sound a meaningless charade,” says PDP President Mehbooba Mufti.
While all this is going on the terrorists are a definitely not sitting easy. No less than 42 well armed terrorists have been killed by the security forces in the month of September alone and a large quantity of warlike stores assault rifles, pistols, rocket propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices and sophisticated communication equipment have been seized by the Army. This magnitude of counter terrorist operations in a single month has been unprecedented in recent years and it clearly points towards an attempt by the terrorists to up the ante in support of the ongoing turmoil.
New Delhi’s Kashmir centric approach is also causing simmers of discontent in the Jammu region. The Centre’s decision to compensate those killed in the agitations in Kashmir when a similar compensation was not given to those killed in the Shri Amarnath Yatra agitation of 2008 is causing resentment to the people of Jammu. They feel that the Government is meekly acquiescing to the demand of the separatists without taking into consideration the feelings of the predominant nationalist segment of the State.
So this is Kashmir for you, a place where contradictions thrive despite disbursement of well intentioned development packages, a place where terrorists continue to give a run for their money yet withdrawal of forces is being demanded, a place where logic has given way to charged emotions and vested interests. It is very clear that despite best intentions development packages and appeasement is not likely to reap the desired benefits. An approach based on strict, righteous and legal action against anti-national activities and making disbursement of the development package conditional to political stability and civic responsibility might be more productive.