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  Profile
  Vision of India and Kashmir
  Kashmir: Illusion and Reality
  Open letter to Ms. Robin Raphel
  Autonomy: Nuts and bolts
  Letter to Mr. Rajiv Gandhi

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Open Letter to Ms. Robin Raphel

By Jagmohan

Your recent statement (December 13,1996) on 'Maximum Autonomy to Kashmir' Robin Raphel has impelled me to write this open letter to you.

This statement has left the uncomfortable impression that you are not averse to the idea of a torn and tormented India an India that is continuously at war with itself - In the name of artificially whipped up, impractical and divisive autonomies.

I am driven to write this letter to place on record my apprehensions about the political architecture that you are advocating for Kashmir as I sincerely believe that "the only thing necessary for triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".

You say, "We really very much hope the Government of India remembers it has made a commitment to maximum autonomy to Kashmir and does not let that slip to the back-burner because, if they do that, you are in danger of having the whole problem under the surface again.

"What you are doing virtually amounts to pouring oil on the furnace which is already burning intensely.

Is it wrong to infer that you will not allow the burner to cool?

And does this inference not get reinforced by your observation:

"The election in Kashmir is not going to resolve the underlying question of Kashmir as a disputed territory. The question still remains."

May I remind you that Kashmir's relationship with the rest of India did not begin in 1947 and it does not rest only on the Instrument of Accession and Articles 1 and 370 of the Constitution of India.

It is a relationship of mind and soul that has existed from time immemorial and found ample expression in common avenues of intellect and emotions, poetry and literature, philosophy and outlook.

Every green pasture that you walk around in Kashmir, every silvery peak that you watch from pleasurable distance, every stream that sings its song by your side, every enchanting lake that you come across now and then and every little town and city that you visit has some signpost or other of this deep and abiding relationship.

Even when Islam came to Kashmir, it did not alter the ethos of the common folk.

Most of the Islamic teachings were just grafted on Vedantic beliefs and thoughts.

The central message of Kashmir's patron saint and founder of the Rishi order, Sheikh Nuruddin Noorani, was:

There is one God/But with a hundred names;/There is not a single blade of grass/Which does not worship Him.

What do you think is post-1947 India?

Is it a mere collection of states and territories or something more than that?

Is it a new political reality only or also an expression of a common heritage and history, a common culture, a common set of values that have nursed and nurtured the same way of life for ages in diverse circumstances and in different regions?

The answer to these questions is clear. The new republic is a new constitutional entity.

But it is not merely that.

It is also a historical and cultural continuity - a continuity that is unique, that mocks at the ravages of time and has remained unperturbed by the scars and strains left by the upheavals of history.

And all parts of the country, including Kashmir, are a part of this continuity.

You very well know that Kashmir already enjoys a high degree of autonomy.

There is a vast area which is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the state government.

It includes a substantial portion of the Concurrent List of the Constitution and also residuary powers.

The citizens of India are not ipse facto the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir.

Even if they have been residing in the state for years, they cannot acquire the right of settlement and hold property in the state.

They have no right to vote in the elections to the state assembly or the local bodies or the panchayats.

No declaration of financial emergency can be made with regard to J & K as Article 360 of the Indian Constitution has not been applied to it.

Article 365, which authorises the President of India to issue directions to the state government in exercise of the executive power of the Union, has also not been extended to J&K.

In fact, quite a few of the problems of present-day Kashmir are due not to insufficiency but a surfeit of powers.

You see your own history.

A vast chunk of America - the southern states - wanted to secede.

You did not allow that.

You fought a civil war.

Both North and South suffered a great deal.

There was hardly a household that did not undergo trials and tribulations.

But you kept the country united.

Today, you are a great power - the world's number one.

You call Abraham Lincoln the 'Father of the Nation'.

And rightly so.

You take pride in your great melting pot.

And there is every justification for doing it.

How can then you, of all people, encourage small sovereignties and unworkable autonomies which are bound to cause tensions, turmoil and bloodshed?

Why do you forget the long-term implications for India if it should succumb to momentary pressures?

Has the partition of India solved any problem?

Has it served either the Muslims or the Hindus?

On the contrary, it has kept both in perpetual poverty.

Old animosities have sharpened and new animosities have arisen.

Had India remained united, it would have, like the U.S., become a great power - a model of dynamism and resurgence, a country in which hunger and backwardness would have been forgotten like a bad dream.

You need to spare a moment or two for the noble ideology which inspired the great American visionaries and think why it is necessary for the United States to create its nests of power in Kashmir even at the cost of weakening a nation whose heritage of compassion, contentment and catholicity could contribute a great deal in building a new culture and civilisation all over the world.

Woodrow Wilson once said:

"If I have forgotten in any degree what America was intended for, I thank God if you remind me," The purpose of this letter is to serve as a reminder.

Reproduced from: The Times of India - January 11, 1997

 

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