The Chenab Formula Is Unthinkable
28 July 2003
The Indian Express
New Delhi: In his article,'The Chenab compromise for Kashmir' (IE, June 28), Muzamil Jaleel has said that PoK Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan's Chenab formula is fraught with dangerous ramifications. He is absolutely right. Incidentally, it was not Sardar Sikandar Hayat who suggested the Chenab formula as Muzamil suggests, but the UN representative Sir Owen Dixon. As for the response of the people of Jammu and Ladakh to it, they repudiated it outright. They launched the 'Ek nissan, ek vidhan, ek pradhan' movement under the highly effective leadership of Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and 'Sher-e-Jammu' Pt. Prem Nath Dogra. The objectives of this anti-National Conference crusade were full integration of J&K with India, application of the Indian Constitution to the state (minus Article 370) and reorganisation of the state polity on a regional basis. So popular was this movement that Jawaharlal Nehru, himself a Kashmiri and staunch supporter of the Sheikh, had to dismiss the latter's government in 1953 and bring J&K under the jurisdiction of several central laws. What does the Chenab formula actually mean? It practically means the division of the culturally, geographically, historically and economically distinct Jammu and Ladakh regions along religious lines and the merger of all the Muslim-majority areas - Doda, Poonch, Rajouri and Kargil -of these two regions. It also means the segregation of certain Hindu-majority areas in the Jammu region and their merger with a predominantly Muslim Kashmir. The implementation of the Chenab formula would also result in a vertical division of the Doda district's tehsils of Kishatwar, Ramban, Thathri and Banihal, which are inhabited by people of both faiths. It means the segregation of the Gujjar and Bakerwal Muslim-dominated areas of Mahore and Gool Gulabgarh from the Hindu-majority Udhampur district and their integration with Kashmir, which is located beyond the Pir Panjal, the mountain range that divides Jammu from the Valley. Similarly, the Buddhist-dominated Zanskar area would also become part of Greater Kashmir, because it is located within the Shia-majority Kargil. The only Muslim-majority areas which would remain unaffected by the Chenab formula, will be Gandoh, Bhalessa and Bunjwah of Doda district, since they fall on the wrong side of the river Chenab. It needs to be underlined that the people of these areas are vehemently opposed to the Chenab formula. They believe its implementation would seal their political and economic fate and endanger their religious and social life. In fact, the Chenab formula if implemented could lead to a communal holocaust. It would go counter to everything that a secular and pluralistic nation like India values.