This is the first part of my interview with M K Tayal Editor Correspondent who is aiming to prepare report about the situation in Kashmir valley and its contours.
What is the present situation in the valley?
Kashmir is a powder keg, rather a flash point in South Asia. Without its resolution there can’t be permanent peace and no guarantee of stability in whole Indian Sub-Continent. Regarding to present situation in Valley, situations are not permanent they keep changing with the occurring of events which shape it accordingly. Before Assembly elections National Conference had promised that if N.C comes to power it will release pro-freedom leaders, activists and other people, who had been imprisoned in the wake of agitation here due to economic blockade. But unfortunately despite passing off so much time they keep to be languishing in jails, others have been kept under house arrest and N.C has displayed iron-fist in dealing with the situation here, pro-freedom leadership is being denied political space and even peaceful protests by people is being ruthlessly stifled. Though there may seem a lull here but it is temporary such kind of arm twisting methods adds to the alienation among the people. It is infact these kind of things which slowly and steadily brew anger among people and which comes in the shape of some spontaneous reaction by people. Last year before June no outsider would have imagined that people who seem to be busy with their day to day affairs will rise in such large numbers that took observers and analysts by surprise seeing lakhs of people attending the marches breaking the myth of normalcy. Even after elections people protested in large number against the dastardly and inhuman double rape and murder of a teenage student and her sister in law in Shopian.
Should Kashmir get Independence?
As a Kashmiri definitely yes, many national and international opinion polls have suggested that over whelming majority of people of Jammu and Kashmir want to see Kashmir as an Independent, neither with Pakistan nor with India. There is an immediate need felt by many in India and Pakistan that this is the high time o resolve this dispute through tripartite talks so that it gets resolved peacefully and amicably. So on negotiations table nether India will accept to pull its troops and hand over its administered part to Pakistan nor Pakistan will do the same. And Kashmiris won’t accept any solution which negates their national aspirations. Already military solution to this dispute has been ruled out because both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers so can’t afford war. So the best possible way out is that both countries cease their claim over the respective parts of Kashmir under their control and allow them to get united and declare Kashmir as an independent country. It will be a buffer state between the two and a bridge of friendship between them. Lingering this dispute means to put peace, prosperity, progress, welfare and security of one and half billion people of South Asia in peril. So Independence of Kashmir as an Independent State recognized by India, Pakistan and World community is the only way out from this tangle.
Has the Indian government done enough for development?
This needs to be seen in right perspective. Kashmir has been bestowed with abundance of natural resources by Almighty especially water. But it has been exploited by India as well as Pakistan. Both Countries have builted large dams which suit their national interests and ironically Kashmiris on both sides have been left out. This is sheer injustice. India has stretched its claws over this sector and robbed Kashmiris of this resource. The power projects which are running in Kashmir are feeding north India and other states. Out of the total 24000 M.W’s which NHPC produce 16000 M.W’s come from Kashmir alone. And Kashmir gets only meager royalty which doesn’t cross more than 12 %. Kashmir at present has the potential of producing 20000 M.W’s of power and still we reel under darkness and power curtailments mostly in winter. And ironically we have to buy our own power generated by our water from northern grid at whooping costs. Due to Indus Water treaty Kashmir has suffered loss of more than 65000 crores so far. From a long time no productive investment has been made in Kashmir and Kashmir has been deliberately turned into consumer state our annual import from Indian states stands at more than 36000 crore rupees. And in this scenario India doesn’t do any favor to us by spending any amount in development. For your information the announcement of giving 24000 crore package to Kashmir few years ago by Indian P.M was made out of that 18000 crore were for power projects of which Kashmir doesn’t get any benefit. It is our money out of which few pennies are used in so called development.
Do you support calling a person with an AK-47 who dies in the valley a martyr?
My opinion doesn’t matter much in this regard. It depends on a person from which angle he sees the things in Kashmir. Kashmiri ultras are terrorists if one believes that they have no logic or right for holding gun against Indian rule. Similarly Subash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, the great sons of soil of India, are terrorists if one believes British have the right to rule India. India promised right of self determination to Kashmiris before whole world and then backtracked. And in the instrument of Accession which India claims Maharaja has signed it is clearly mentioned that this accession is temporary subjected to ratification by the will of people of Jammu and Kashmir. So India is legally and morally bound to held plebiscite in Kashmir to ascertain wishes of people here. Elections as substitute to referendum were itself ruled out by India’s first Prime Minister Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru in the Indian parliament when he said that Elections in Kashmir are meant just for administrative purposes and neither that administrative assembly nor this ( Indian) parliament can deicide fate of Kashmir. Here as rejoinder I repeat the India’s first Prime Minister Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru’s pledge in January 1952 that “Kashmir is not the property of either India or Pakistan. It belongs to the Kashmiri people. When Kashmir acceded to India we made it clear to the leaders of the Kashmiri people that we would ultimately abide by the verdict of their plebiscite; if they tell us to walk out I would have no hesitation in quitting Kashmir….. We have taken the (Kashmir) issue to United Nations and given our word of honour for peaceful solution. As a great nation we cannot go back on it. We have left the question for final solution to the people of Kashmir and we are determined to abide by their decision…” (Amrit Bazar Patrika, Kolkatta, Jan. 1952). Armed rebellion in Kashmir started when India payed no heed to the moderate voices who called for peaceful settlement of Kashmir and to remind India of its own promise that is why when any armed guerilla dies in any encounter people here call him a martyr and thousands of people including women and children come out for his funeral amid tears and sobs of whom Indian media calls “terrorist”.
Is militancy about to end in Jammu and Kashmir?
Indian strategists and analysts live in fantasy and make believe world in this regard. Violence is not the favorite hobby or recreation of Kashmiri youth who have taken arms. It will die down in few days without the support of local population. As I said in earlier question there is emotional attachment of people towards armed guerillas because India frustrated every move for the peaceful settlement of Kashmir dispute so in one way itself responsible for the creation of militancy in Kashmir. Any struggle has two fronts Political and armed when you crush the peaceful and political struggle with brute force what is the alternative. But at this point of time they (ultras) have maintained low profile just to pave way for the peaceful struggle so it is upto India to grab the opportunity. Political struggle has been allowed to take the drivers seat by the resistance leadership and you saw last year how people of Kashmir transferred this struggle into peaceful one successfully, India should respect that and avoid repeating its mistakes as situation can take ugly turn any time. India should start meaningful and result orientated talks with Kashmiris and Pakistan and there should be some change felt on ground by common people of Kashmir. This should be the first step in resolving and addressing this issue. Till India harps on bogey of ‘integral part’ and ‘cross border terrorism’, ultras will feel tempted to continue their activities just to add to the Indian vulnerability and bewilderment. It is therefore absolutely preposterous to think about breaking the will and resolve of Kashmiri ultras through military operations.