VOICE OF SILENCE
Prof. Virender Gupta
President, Jammu State Morcha
Silence also has a voice. It is the voice of the common masses. But it is unfortunate that the people at the helm of the affairs generally ignore this and give more importance to those who beat the drums, cry loudly and violently about the issues concerning them or create nuisance and violate all the constitutional norms. It is also painful that in a democratic system which India has, the political class gives priority to those who can benefit it in the elections and create favourable political equations, even at the cost of the national interests.
Mrs. Indira Gandhi listened to this Voice of Silence while dealing with the Punjab Problem and separatist movement of Khalistan. The majority of the people of Punjabi were against the Khalistan movement and wanted peace & normalcy; though on certain occasions large section of Sikh community got alienated because of some wrong decisions on sensitive matters. Listening to this silent voice and facing the terrorism boldly and with all means at the states command saved the Punjabi people and integrity of the country.
In the sixties there was an agitation in Tamil Nadu against the domination of north and against the imposition of Hindi on them. The Dravidian parties wanted to overthrow this domination of north on them and asked for the liberation of Tamil Nadu. The common masses of Tamil Nadu who were one with the nation in fighting against the British imperialism were against the separatist movement, though they wanted their equitable share in the Indian polity and were concerned about their cultural and political identity. Those at the helm of the affairs understood the pulse of the common people and showed political maturity in tackling the problem. At present there is no political party or group that is pursuing any separatist agenda in Tamil Nadu state.
With the same maturity and farsightedness most of the problems of the north east part of the country were solved. The country did not break. Identities of the various communities and their political aspirations were recognized and the Assam State was re-organized and was divided into seven states with each state having its own assembly, enjoying the political, administrative powers under the Indian constitution. Similarly all over the world Great Statesman listened to this Silent Voice of the masses in taking decisions affecting the world as it is today.
In Jammu & Kashmir the majority is silent; it is watching the recent developments with shock and surprise as those at the helm of affairs are listening to those who were either in power for last about sixty years and responsible for the present state of affairs or those who have vitiated the peaceful atmosphere of the state by supporting the secessionism, indulged in terrorism and working on the behest of the foreign forces to destabilize the state and the country. Both of these elements coming out with their own propositions asking for Azadi, Kashmiri Sovereignty (Greater Autonomy) and the so called Self Rule under the control of not one but two masters, India and Pakistan. The Government of India is holding parleys and negotiations with these elements to find the solution. Would the Government of India listen to the silent voice of the majority which wants the Constitution of India to prevail and J&K continues to remain as an integral part of the country?
Kashmir Valley constitutes about 50% of the state population and it has and area of about 16000 Sq. Km which is about 16% of J&K state area, excluding the area which is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. Vast majority of the Valley population is either least concerned or confused about the exercise of negotiations by the Government of India. People in general, even those shouting the slogans of Azadi, do not understand the meanings and implications of Azadi, Self Rule or Greater Autonomy. They are being emotionally sensitized and lured by false promises and assurances. As per the population scenario of the Valley there are about 25% Shia Muslims, about 20% Gujjars and 5% Kashmiri Pandits and other minorities ( substantial population of these has migrated from the Valley after 1990 with a majority settling in Jammu region). The Sunni Muslims (excluding Gujjars) constitute rest of the population (about 50%). Leaders of this community have enjoyed power since accession of J&K State and dominated the state polity. They are mostly responsible for the present turmoil and alienation of the Kashmiri Muslims from the national mainstream. More or less a section of this community (which is only about 25 % of the J&K state population) is waging a war against the national integrity and support secessionism in the Valley. It is very clear that the vast silent majority of J&K State is not engaged in secessionist activities & does not support the Self Rule or Greater Autonomy. In fact, it wants to remain as a part of India and enjoy the fruits of Indian democracy that is based on the principles of humanity, social justice and secularism.
The participation of the people in the last held parliamentary and assembly elections exhibits the peoples’ faith in Indian democracy and their earnest desire to come out of the situation that was prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir State for the last about two decades. They ignored the boycott calls of the pro- Azadi and pro- Pakistan elements in spite of the threats from the militants. Their participation in the elections should not be misunderstood, as being claimed by National Conference and the People Democratic Party; as a support for the Greater Autonomy or Self Rule. The People voted for the individuals whom they thought as capable of serving them and delivering the goods and also to the parties which had prospective and capability to come to power. The masses in general thought of their own benefit in the power struggle & voted for the people who could better their living conditions. Otherwise, they would have voted for Sajjad Lone or other leaders who had the support of the separatist elements and the militant groups. The victory of National Conference in Jammu province, particularly in the assembly constituency like Vijaypur cannot be considered as a vote from Jammu region for the demand of Greater Autonomy as is being portrayed by the National Conference.
Therefore the Government of India should be mindful of these facts and should not yield to any pressure, internal or external and compromise on the national integrity and national interests. The exceptional autonomy enjoyed by the Jammu and Kashmir state has culminated to the present situation and grant of any further autonomy or the so called self rule to the state would have dangerous consequences and implications. The present turmoil in the state is not because of the so called erosion of the article 370 but it is because of Autonomy granted under the article 370 and also because of the bad governance provided by the successive governments which directly or indirectly also encouraged and supported the secessionist elements in the valley. Passing of Resettlement Bill and Greater Autonomy Bills by the National Conference Government; the role of so called main stream parties like NC and PDP during Shri Amarnath Yatra last year; the on & off anti-India provocative statements of the leaders of these parties and also some times of Congress leaders of Kashmir; clearly reflect the mindset of the Kashmiri leadership, that is responsible for the present situation. The indecisive policy, wrong decisions at the crucial moments which lacked farsightedness by the Central Govt. also contributed to the present situation.
It is, therefore imperative that the voice of the silent majority of the J&K State must be heard. The opinion of the people of Jammu & Ladakh regions and the other Nationalists elements, which always stood for the cause of the country, even at the cost of their own interests; needs to be given due importance. Their aspirations and interests have to be watched and given priority over the separatist elements. The leadership of the country has to distinguish between nationalist elements and the secessionist forces. This nationalism has to be protected and promoted at all cost, if secessionism and anti –India forces are to be defeated in Jammu and Kashmir State.
Filed under: Articles by Prof Virender Gupta, Hypothesis on Kashmir Solution, Jammu blog, Trifurcation