Excerpts from the speech of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury while participating in the discussion in Rajya Sabha on August 10, 2016 on the prevailing situation in Kashmir Valley.
This is the third occasion in the last three days when I am rising with a degree of agony, anxiety and anger at what is happening in the Kashmir Valley.
I have heard what the ruling party and my colleagues have said. How to develop Jammu and Ladakh and other regions in Jammu &Kashmir was discussed. It is a serious matter and it should be discussed. But today what we are discussing is the situation in the Kashmir Valley.
Today is the thirty-second day of the curfew. There has been a continuous curfew for 32 days and every day firing is taking place. Every day somebody is being killed. Every day people are getting injured. Why is this agony and pain continuing unrelenting in the Valley? And how can you stop it? That is the issue before us. We are not talking about the old packages for Kashmir that all of us had announced and why they are not being implemented. They are important. Development of other regions of Jammu and Ladakh is important. But right now the issue is this. What is happening in the Valley? And why are we not able to control it?
I am continuing with the same anguish, the same anger and the same anxiety over what is happening after thirty-two days of curfew. We have not come to any way of trying to find a solution to the situation there. I had suggested in the last two days to
- Stop using these pellet guns.
- Start the political process.
- Call an all-party meeting in Delhi.
- Call a meeting in Jammu and Kashmir.
- Consult all shades of opinion and start the process of a political dialogue without which there cannot be a solution.
Unfortunately, till now this has not happened. And I again demand that this should be done immediately. Of course, there is a question of Pakistani interference, cross-border infiltration. All those questions will always be there. I think the whole House, the whole Parliament, the whole country has, without any hesitation, said that that is something which must be stopped. We always stood against it and we will stand against it. They have no business to interfere. That is a different question.
But please remember that. I want you to listen to this point. Even a vulture, when it dips down to eat on the carcass, comes down only when it smells blood. Only when it smells blood that there is a dead carcass, the vulture comes down to feed on that carcass. That blood is being spilt and we are allowing vultures across the body to come and feed on that.
Why is that blood being spilt? Why is there a trust deficit today in the Valley? Why is there a degree of alienation amongst the people? That is the question which needs to be addressed. We have to stop this violence. That is one aspect. But, address the trust deficit. Why is that trust deficit happening? We have to ponder over that.
Aspiration of independence
The people of Kashmir, men and women, at the time of our independence, fought against the Pakistani raiders to defend our independence even ignoring the religious affiliations of the people. Everywhere in North India, particularly in Punjab, and in Bengal, you had communal holocaust – you had Mahatma Gandhi not here at the Red Fort when our flag was flown on the day of Independence. He was there on a hunger strike to stop the communal riots at Noakhali in Bengal. But, in Kashmir, there was not a single communal clash. Please remember that. They started with the aspiration of independence, coming and joining India, and overthrowing the feudal operation there. It is the only State in the country where the land of the landlords was confiscated without compensation and given to the tillers of the land.
The aspiration was for prosperity, unity and maintaining that uniqueness of what is called the kashmiriyat. We have talked about the uniqueness of kashmiriyat. I have said it here a number of times. I have said that to Dr Saheb [Karan Singh] who was then the Maharaja of the Dogra Empire. At that point of time, you had the Pari Mahal – and he said that it was opposite his house. On the other side of Pari Mahal, diagonally opposite, you had the Shankaracharya. You had a culture where all religions were intermingling with each other and it was at that Pari Mahal that Dara Shikoh, who ought to have been the Mughal Baadshah – that is a different story of history – was inspired to write the treatise called the Majma-ul-Bahrain: The Mingling of Two Oceans of Sufism and Vedanta, and how both of them mingled together for the sake of advancing humanity. That is kashmiriyat. There were no communal clashes. It was called the Wahdat al-wujūd, which means the unity of purpose of life. That is the kashmiriyat that you are talking about, which has to be kept in mind.
Why are these people alienated today? We need to address that question. You talked of Article 370. Many people question: Why is it only for Jammu and Kashmir? You have Articles 371, 371A, 371B, 371C, 371D, etc. I am a beneficiary of that. I am a beneficiary of one of those Articles which deal with Telangana. Now, the State is divided. That is a different point. At that point of time, you defined who is a domicile. It was called a mulki. A mulki certificate was given – an Andhraite was a mulki in Telangana. The Constitution provided me the special right. So, Article 370 is not unique to Jammu and Kashmir only. We have that for many States in the North-East. You had it for other parts of the States in our country.
So, what did you promise then? It was the autonomy. One of the Indian Prime Ministers said that sky was the limit for autonomy. You know about which Prime Minister I am talking about – Mr PV Narasimha Rao. But he said that sky is the limit. We have heard the repetition of what Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee said, of the insaniyat, Kashmiriat and jamhuriat – democracy, humanity and humanism. The Leader of the Opposition has correctly said that that being repeated by somebody, who does not carry that credibility today, does not make any sense. That is correct.
But, remember, it was not only the slogans that Mr Vajpayee gave. Mr Vajpayee, on the 19th of November, 2000, declared what is famously known as the Ramzan ceasefire. He talked with the Hizbul Mujahideen and declared a unilateral ceasefire from India. Mr Vajpayee did that. Then, on, 22nd January, 2004, Mr Lal Krishna Advani, as the Deputy Prime Minister, as the Home Minister of India, calls for a round table meeting, going out of the way, calls the leaders of the separatist movement to Delhi for a discussion – the same BJP government. So, mere slogans are not sufficient. What is your concrete action? What are you proposing now? How do you want to carry this process forward?
If Mr Vajpayee can declare a unilateral ceasefire, if Mr Advani can call a round table meeting with Hizbul Mujahideen and the separatists, what is preventing this government from initiating a political dialogue and the political process? I told you, as far as Pakistan is concerned, on that, there is absolutely no different shade of opinion. But, then, with Pakistan, is it not our job to shame Pakistan in the international fora – to tell them how they are interfering in independent affairs of our country?
What are you doing with that Indo-Pak dialogue – blow hot, blow cold? When you want to wish Happy Birthday, you suddenly land in Islamabad. Then, after that, you stop all the talks. It has already been said, – my friend Mr Sharad Yadav has already said it – by giving nuclear parity to Pakistan, you cannot have the option of any war with them. What are the diplomatic channels? How are we using them? Are we using them?
String of betrayals
So, that trust deficit, among the people in Kashmir, is a string of betrayals of the promises that we have made. I have here a whole set of documents. If you want, I will give it to the Home Minister to refresh his memory. They must be there in his files. I have here, all the Working Groups’ records. One of these Working Groups was headed by our hon. Chairman at that time, in 2007. All the recommendations are here. These also, I will give to the government, if they want to refresh their memory.
Then, after 2010, we sent an all-party delegation. As I told you yesterday, the Leader of the House, myself and a few others, went there. After that, we met the Hurriyat leaders. The government was not very happy but we insisted; we went there and met them. Then, the situation was returning to normalcy. We appointed a team of interlocutors. That team of interlocutors was announced in this House. The team of interlocutors gave their report. Where is that report? Why is it not being placed in the House when it was decided in the House and an announcement was made here? What are those recommendations?
You have to address this central question of the promises made to the people of Kashmir at the time of Independence and the string of betrayals that have happened since then. I can go through the history if you want to hear that –what all happened, what the 1953 understanding was, what happened subsequently with the Sheikh et cetera. The arrest of the Sheikh – what happened to that? After his untimely death, how undemocratically an elected government was toppled. We can go into all those issues. But that is not the point. That would not solve the problem today.
The real problem
The problem, today, can be solved only if you initiate a political dialogue on this central issue of the promises made to the people of Kashmir. How are you going to implement that? And, on that, I have been urging upon this government, all along, that this can only come through an atmosphere of trust.
If there is a trust deficit, you have to create an atmosphere of trust. If, every day, you start saying “abrogate Article 370”, are you creating trust? If, every day, you say “in the name of gau raksha, I am going to kill,” are you creating trust? You hang two Muslim youths in Latehar in Jharkhand, on a false allegation; you murder Akhlaq in Dadri, on a false allegation: Is that all creating trust? Love Jihad, Ghar Wapsi – this kind of atmosphere that has been created in the whole country is actually vitiating that trust.
I want this government to seriously ponder because the point is to solve the problem in Kashmir, which is, actually, a wound for all of us. It is paining all of us and it should be paining the whole of India. How do you address that point? Create that trust. To create that trust, you will have to show the credibility in creating that trust. Merely repeating what Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee said is not going to create that trust. Create that trust by your behaviour. Create that trust by stopping this entire campaign saying “abrogate Article 370”. Create that trust by stopping this communal polarisation that is taking place in the country and only then can we actually, create the conditions.
When we went to Jammu and Kashmir in 2010, we were told that, at best, there are only 200-300 militants. Today, the Home Ministry’s official assessment is that they are something to the tune of 3,000-4,000. Why did they grow? Why did this happen? Unless you address that central question of the political trust deficit and address these important issues of the promises made to them on the question of autonomy, on the question of Article 370, I do not think we can resolve this thing.
So what is to be done? I urge upon this government once again. Please discuss all these issues and discuss them with an open mind. Don’t fix up any agenda of that nature which is limiting. Discuss that with an open mind, listen to all the ideas and within the framework of what we have promised to the State of Jammu and Kashmir at the time of accession to the Indian Union. We will have to remove all the inadequacies that have happened in the past. At least, start addressing that issue. That is absolutely important.
For that, that confidence building is required and, for this, first, take all the political parties here, in the Parliament, on board. Call them together and discuss this issue. Then, you call all the forces, like Mr Vajpayee did, like Mr Advani did, and discuss with them. And then, you please consider sending an all-party delegation to give that confidence to the people that we are there, we are concerned about these issues which have been remained unresolved so far. And that, is what is required right now.
Therefore, I end by only re-urging the government to please start this process of political dialogue. Please stop these pellet guns.