Excerpts from the speech of the nominated member to Rajya Sabha, while participating in the discussion in Rajya Sabha on August 10, 2016 on the prevailing situation in Kashmir Valley.
I think, today was a very heartening experience in terms of seeing a cross-section of the House, the entire political class as well as people from really all the regions of India actually express their concern, their agony over the happenings in Kashmir – whether it is the curfew, whether it is the deaths and whether it is the general sufferings of both the people as well as the armed personnel.
But, I think there is another task of Parliament, which is, while we try to evolve a national consensus on this pressing issue, we should sometimes be brutally frank about what exactly we are dealing with.
I think it is important to realise that the problem which we face in Kashmir today is somewhat qualitatively different from some of the problems which we faced earlier.
Kashmir is not new to political turbulence.
We have had it during the time of Sheikh Abdullah. We have had it as a consequence of the rather dodgy elections of 1987. We saw the most heinous form of ethnic cleansing which took place in Kashmir in 1990-91. And we saw a bout of terrorism. What marks this is a different one.
Three months ago, as most people have admitted, Kashmir was tranquil. We had a unique political experiment, not merely that the PDP [People’s Democratic Party] and the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] came together, but it was in a sense an alliance between the Valley and Jammu – a geographical alliance between the two – something which was quite unique, and something which was very, very encouraging.
Then, something broke loose. I am a bit surprised and disheartened that people have not referred to what was the immediate provocation which actually resulted in the spate of curfews and in the spate of demonstrations. That was the death of Burhan Wani. Now, the death of any Indian should be a source of anguish to all of us. The unfortunate point is:
Number one, Burhan Wani never considered himself an Indian.
Number two, what do you say about a person who actually flashes his Kalashnikov, puts it on Facebook, and actually tends to glamourise terrorism for everybody?
Should we romanticise such a person, as some people want to do? Or should we say, “Now, this was an encounter, unfortunate as it may be, which happens if we have to maintain the sanctity of the process?”
A grave issue
I think, it is very, very important because the people have taken to the streets. A lot of them may be spontaneous, a lot of them may be saying that it is tragic, that a young boy has been killed – but there has also been a lot of motivation.
Let us not forget, there was a large degree of premeditation on the part of various people, the type of slogans, the type of tweets which have been there.
Now, yesterday, for example, a former chief minister, whose name I shall not mention, gave an interview. I think, he gave an interview more in the nature of political analyst rather than as a politician. I hope so, at least. Referring to the Prime Minister’s generosity, appealing to the Prime Minister’s sense – the same issues which Atal Behari Vajpayee raised – he said that the azadi that the Prime Minister spoke of is not the azadi that the protestors want. They want azadi from India.
Now, I presume he was speaking as a political analyst, not as someone who is a participant, who endorses that. This is in context of a very nice list of development works which the hon. Leader of the Opposition presented and which all political parties across the board have said. Here, he again goes on to say,
“That I am disappointed that Narendra Modi presented Kashmir as a development issue. Boys throwing stones don’t want laptops.”
Now, this is a very grave issue. We have been talking about development, we have been talking about healing hearts, we have been talking about a sense of equality, prosperity et cetera and unfortunately, we have come across a rather big emotional divide.
I don’t want to go into this entire question of Article 370. It is a contentious issue, I realise, but at that time, it was thought that giving special status would facilitate the process of integration. There were others who thought differently. It would seem today that Article 370 or it may not be Article 370, the mere call for pre-1953 status etc. etc. may have actually hardened rather than facilitate the process of integration. It may have created an emotional schism – and that is a very deep issue, the issue of emotional schism.
Today we are faced with a very, very grave issue – of all the reports on the ground, I just want to mention one particular report which came, which was quoting about a meeting in Qaimoh, which is the main market of Kulgam district, of what one person of the Hurriyat Conference said. This is what he said:
“We are all together and we will fight for Azadi. India wants to establish Pandit colonies here, India wants to set up Sainik colonies and we are not feeling safe in Kashmir.”
This is a complete travesty of reality, but this is the type of propaganda which is going on there, which has been fuelled from across the border by having special trains going from Lahore to somewhere, carrying exaggerated pictures of boys dressed up in bandages saying that we have got pellets, and that these type of gruesome incidents are taking place in Kashmir.
Therefore, while agreeing with Shri Sitaram Yechury that we need a political approach to this, I would like to say that what form of political approach and when is a very, very important question.
According to communist mythology, political power is seized in two ways. But one of the first methods is by establishing, what they call, dual power. It means, there must be a challenge to the legitimacy of the State by creating parallel authorities. And, today, in Kashmir, we are seeing precisely that is happening – an attempt to create dual power. Sharad Yadavji spoke very well about how this message spread to villages. And, that is precisely what it means.
Therefore, when we talk about initiating a political dialogue, when we talk about sending all-party missions to Kashmir, yes, certainly, it must be done. But, let us remember that it cannot be done if we have to tie the hands of the Executive and restrict their operational freedom to, actually, conduct what is necessary, because the threat we face today is qualitatively different.
It is not a mere question of autonomy. It is not a question of pre-1953 status. I am glad that Shri Narasimha Rao had said “sky is the limit” which you have referred here. The question is, here is a threat, an orchestrated terrorist threat to, actually, integrate it in Pakistan. That is what it is all about. And the glorification of terrorism – bleeding hearts that we see in the media are all willy-nilly, actually, succumbing to those designs and not realising that, sometimes, to actually maintain the integrity of India we have to do certain harsh things. But harshness is only to facilitate a process of greater love.