Jammu & Kashmir: The Way Ahead

Solving the Amarnath issue should be immediately taken up on a war footing by the UPA Government.The rift between the regions of Jammu and Kashmir needs to be healed.

Khushwant Singh,the noted journalist has one solution to this simmering problem:The sudden explosion of violence in Jammu & Kashmir over the trivial matter of some 40 hectares of forest land clearly shows a deep communal divide that has its roots in history. The state, as we know it, comprises of three regions, which we have treated as one administered from Srinagar and Jammu. This is entirely because ever since the annexation of Punjab by the British in 1849 and its sale to Maharajah Gulab Singh, it has been treated by his descendants as a Dogra fiefdom till India attained its independence in 1947. It is time we took a good look at the ground realities, however unpalatable they be, and found a solution that will be acceptable to all three regions as well as to India and Pakistan.
The three regions are geographically divided into the Valley of Jhelum, Jammu and Ladakh. They are also distinct from each other in religion, language, and perception of their future. The people of the Valley are over 90 per cent Muslims, speak Kashmiri and demand azadi (freedom) without defining its full implications. The people of Jammu are predominantly Hindu, speak Dogri, Hindi or Punjabi. They definitely do not want the kind of azadi the people of the Valley clamour for. Nor do the Ladakhis, who are Buddhists and speak their own dialect.
The core of the problem is the demand for azadi by the Muslims of the Valley. It can be met without upsetting their relationship with India. It is too small and landlocked to become a sovereign, independent state. Its economy is largely dependent on India which is the only outlet for its agricultural produce (fruit, saffron etc), its handicrafts, carpets and shawls. Most of its tourists come from or through India. There cannot be, nor need be, any break in its relations with India. India should and must give the Valley complete autonomy to manage its internal affairs without meddling with the administration of Jammu and Ladakh. India must continue its military presence but only to guard its borders against infiltrators from Pakistan and no more.
If the people of the Valley are agreeable to this kind of a settlement, I am sure Pakistan will accept it as well. We have had enough of ill will and violence — it has gone on for far too long. It must be put to an end, and the sooner the better.

No comments: