Writing On The Wall

Writing On The Wall

14 December 2010
Greater Kashmir
Amit Kushari

Srinagar: Sham Lal, Health Minister of J&K and Congress MLA of Hindu majority Akhnoor tehsil of Jammu-eventually got a Show Cause notice from the Congress head quarters in Delhi for his speech urging Government of India to grant statehood to Jammu and Ladakh-and to grant 'azaadi' to Kashmir province. Mr. Sham lal's words must have gladdened the hearts of the people living in entire J&K because he has said exactly what the entire population of Jammu and Kashmir would like to tell New Delhi. However, still he got the Show Cause notice and I won't be surprised if his truthful utterances cost him his coveted chair. It is a pity that even in a democratic country like India people cannot make truthful statements while sitting on a seat of power. I am sure that Mr. Sham Lal made the speech to improve his popularity in Jammu and his pro 'Azadi' statement for Kashmir must be due to sheer despair realising that unless somehow one could get rid of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh could not achieve their cherished goals. New Delhi may not have any serious objection to the aspirations of the Hindus and Buddhists of Jammu and Ladakh- their main objection must be to the proposed breaking away of Kashmir valley. Hence the Show Cause notice. If he had simply proposed an ordinary trifurcation of J&K within the Indian Union, he would not have faced the ire of New Delhi. Anybody who has a good understanding of J&K and who is eager to solve the Kashmir problem would know for sure that trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir would be the first step to be taken by the Government of India for solving the Kashmir tangle.. The present state of J&K is just an agglomeration of three different states where people have three divergent political aspirations. Even Pervez Musharraf, former president of Pakistan realised these realities and this was apparent when he made proposals for solving the Kashmir dispute. However, since he had his wishful eyes set on the Muslims of Jammu and Ladakh also, he had dreamt about sub dividing Jammu and Ladakh provinces also on religious lines-ignoring stark geographical realities. I have been advocating through the media, the creation of a highly autonomous and semi independent Kashmir within the political map of India comprising of all the districts of Kashmir valley where there will be a separate Prime Minister, separate currency, a separate Election Commission and Reserve Bank. Only the Defence Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry will remain with New Delhi and all other ministries will be under the Prime Minister of Kashmir. People with Indian passports will enter Kashmir freely through check posts set up at a few places like, Banihal, Zojila, and Bufliaz. Kashmiris will also enter India through Jammu and Ladakh freely without visa- showing their Indian passports at the check posts. Commerce and Tourism will not suffer. Pakistani businessmen and tourists will be able to enter Kashmir valley through Uri if they can obtain a permit from the semi independent government of Kashmir. However, they will not be able to enter India through the check posts at Bannihal etc. unless they have an Indian visa. The Indian Army will be posted all along the Pakistan Kashmir border so that infiltrators cannot enter India clandestinely. The Indian Army will not be seen anywhere in the civilian areas of Kashmir unless specifically requisitioned by the PM of Kashmir. Jammu and Ladakh will become normal states of India with their own Chief Ministers. It is my belief that if a formula like this is implemented on ground ,it will be welcomed by most of the inhabitants of J&K as a midway compromise peace formula. Even India and Pakistan may reluctantly agree to this proposal. Every party in the dispute should be reasonably happy as they gain somewhat, although losing a little bit in the process. The biggest gain for India and Pakistan will be that tensions will reduce and both India and Pakistan will reduce their Defence budget and spend more on development. Since India may recognise PAK as an integral part of Pakistan, in the process- and Pakistan may recognise Jammu and Ladakh as integral parts of India and also Kashmir valley as a loosely tied part of India, both Pakistan and India may welcome this proposal. Needless to say that the people of Jammu and Ladakh will not only be satisfied - they will be elated. Even 90% of the Kashmiri muslims will be very happy - leaving the 10% religious bigots and lunatic fringes of the community. With peace returning to Kashmir, the Pandits will be able to return to their homes if they so desire. The Gujjars and Bakerwals of Jammu will not have any problem hopefully. The Gujjars of Uri and Bandipora also need not have any apprehensions in becoming a part of semi independent Kashmir.....since there is no reason why the P.M. of Kashmir should treat them unfairly. The Shias of Kashmir should also expect fair treatment from the P.M. of Kashmir. Whether the Supreme court of India will have any jurisdiction over Kashmir could be decided by the government or parliament of Kashmir. In my personal view, the Kashmiris should be wise enough not to cut off the Supreme court of India-because Kashmiris stand to gain everything from the benevolence and protection of the Supreme court...and they have hardly anything to lose. Sham lal may be eventually regarded as a pioneer in Kashmir history as the first Congressman who could see the writings on the wall much before his party men and colleagues could do so. (Amit Kushari, IAS Retd, is a former Financial Commissioner of J&K. Feedback at amitkus@hotmail.com )


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