Kavita Suri

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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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‘I am all for the healing touch policy’ : Dr Karan Singh

Born heir apparent to Maharaja Hari Singh and Maharani Tara Devi of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Karan Singh was catapulted into political life at the early age of 18 when in 1949, he was appointed Regent by his father on the intervention of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. A renowned scholar, an author of distinction and a great philanthropist, Dr Karan Singh who is also the sole trustee of Dharmarth Trust, a religious body set up by the former Dogra rulers of the state for the upkeep of majority of temples including the Raghunath Temple complex which was attacked second time in less that a year by the terrorists, is recognized as an outstanding thinker and leader both in India and abroad. The man who is a renowned orator and connoisseur of Indian classical music but rarely gives interviews as “ these tend to get complicated and twisted”, spoke to KAVITA SURI on the temple attack, new government and related issues in a rare interview at Jammu recently. Excerpts….

The historic Raghunath Temple has come under second fidayeen attack in less than a year. How do you see it?

Dr. Karan SinghRaghunath Temple attack is a matter of deep anguish for everybody - for Hindus all over the country particularly Dogras as it is our main temple. Maharaja Ghulab Singh laid its foundation around some time in the middle of 19th century. The fact that it could be attacked twice is really shocking. It shows breach of security and failure of security system. I must say, it’s a major security failure. Even I was told that there was no electricity at that time which helped fidayeen to penetrate deep into the temple to cause maximum causalities

After listening to the news of attack on Raghunath Temple, what was your reaction? You even had to cut short your literary tour to Europe and Japan after the fidayeen temple of Raghunath temple. 

Yes, my wife and me were in Japan. I was shocked to listen to the news. We rushed back and came to Jammu. I have spoken to the chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Deputy Chief minister Pandit Mangat Ram. I think we will have to ensure 24-hour power supply to the temple. Strengthening temple security would include a number of things including 24-hour power supply, increasing security personnel, putting some wires on the sides, raising a wall etc. We will have to put a detailed plan and submit it.

There is also a need to initiate fool-proof steps to prevent such incidents which could provoke communal violence. This second attack at the temple has caused considerable damage to the confidence of the public which needed to be restored at the earliest. There is violence which has not just affected the Dogra community but also the Muslims. We cannot tolerate such violence in our state.

Don’t you relate it to the release of political prisoners and terrorists by Mufti Sayeed-led coalition government?

Not directly. Obviously there is not direct relation. The release of prisoners took place in Kashmir few days ago while these jehadis came across the International Border from Pakistan in Jammu.

But surely the release of terrorists and political prisoners is a morale boosting for the ultras.

Morale boosting is a different thing. First of all I would like to tell you, you couldn’t make a direct link. After all, there was attack on parliament, attack on assembly, previous Raghunath temple attack. This is one of the series of the whole terrorist attacks that have taken place in the recent past. The other question that you have raised, the broader one with regarding to the healing process, that is something which has to be watched. It is too soon to come to any conclusion regarding that. I think one has to make a distinction between political prisoner and prisoners who have been convicted of terrorist activities. I think there is a distinction between them. Besides, you must understand that to facilitate a dialogue, the release of political prisoners is usually done. You did in Srilanka, Nagaland or wherever conflicts of such kind exist. However dealing with actual people who are involved in violence and terrorism, I think, both Centre and state must coordinate their activities.

But already a controversy has been triggered off between the Centre and the state government regarding the release of political prisoners. While Advani said Centre was not consulted, Mrs Sonia Gandhi said in Jammu that they had the approval of Central Intelligence agencies.

I do not know who is right. I do not have access to the official documents. I am not in a position to decide who is saying the correct thing.

But if this is the kind of healing touch that the PDP-Congress coalition government would provide wherein innocents are killed, would you justify it?

As I said, it is too soon to comment. I am all for healing touch. I have been writing consistently on it. I am all for that. Give it some time at least. One should keep one’s security situation and defenses very-very strong at this time because there must be people who are deliberately likely to sabotage the healing touch process and new government’s initiatives.

Are you saying so because you yourself are a senior Congress leader?

No, why should I say so only because I am in Congress. It has nothing to do with Congress. For the past 55 years, this state’s been through successive disasters. If we ought to make any attempt to sort out the problem, we will have to make a move. We cannot continue with our rigid postures and so there is nothing to do with Congress. My ancestors founded this state. My father signed the Instrument of Accession in this very building where you are sitting. I was the head of the state here for 18 years and remained in parliament for another 18 years. It is not a party matter, it is matter where I feel that healing process has to be initiated. However during the process, we should increase our vigilance as its very likely that during this process, repeated attempts would be made to create situation so that the process cannot continue.

Then, in a way, you support release of prisoners?

I did not say that. You are putting words in my mouth. I am not commenting on the government so I do not know who are the prisoners released. I do not know their background. I cannot say I fully support their release. All I am saying that in the process of reconciliation and healing, the release of political prisoners is a common procedure. The detainees freed by the coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir are not hard-core terrorists but political prisoners and the criticism against the Government’s move in this regard is merely politically-motivated.

I support Mufti government's policy of providing "healing touch" to the people of the state as it is required by all sections of the people of all the three regions of the State who have been witnessing blood-shed for the last over a decade. I support the process of healing and reconciliation. I have been writing about it consistently long before the Mufti government came to power. In every article over the last 2-3 years, I have always mentioned that it is a massive human tragedy in Jammu and Kashmir. It’s a tragedy for Kashmir Muslims, Pandits, Dogras, for those people who are uprooted from borders, whose temples are being attacked

You had advocated Ghulam Nabi Azad to lead the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Immediately after the elections, National Conference emerged as the biggest single party. You cannot forget the fact or write them off. As Congress emerged as the second largest party and had support in Jammu and to some extent in Kashmir also, so I said that Azad should become the chief minister. But as it turned out, there were prolonged negotiations in which I wasn’t involved. Ultimately a situation emerged in which PDP came to power. So if it is an arrangement between the PDP and the Congress, lets give it a try.

But even Congress hasn’t got good portfolios?

I think portfolio allocation is till on the way. You are obviously aimed at trying to rubbish and trash the present government. May I say respectfully, you should not rush to conclusions. I think you should give them time, it’s a very difficult situation. It’s not a simple magic wand because you have differing aspirations. People of the three regions of the state have different aspirations. How do they balance it and when do they do it, give them a little time. The problem is that we tend to go euphoric. Either we say that everything is going to be solved with these elections. Even at that time I pointed out that elections were over-hyped in the sense it is good that elections took place but people began getting the idea that these elections had solved all of our problems. 

Sonia Gandhi has shortlisted your name for campaigning in Gujarat to play Hindu card?

"I do not any idea about it. Neither I have any information regarding it. But let me tell you, I am not a Card. I am a person of my own repute, one of the senior most politicians of the country.

But would you got for campaigning in Gujarat if directed by the party high command?

This is too hypothetical a question. And why you are asking these questions? Ask me about Raghunath Temple which has been attacked.

You were the heir apparent to the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Your father ruled the state. How do you see the regional aspirations of the people of Jammu and Ladakh?

I have been writing about it for years and years. I am not gonna spell out my views at this stage regarding it as a dialogue is now beginning. Lets how the dialogue proceeds. Whenever there is a suitable occasion, I will express my views either publically or privately to the Prime Minister. I won’t spell out anything at the moment.

But do you think that Kashmir is a problem? If yes, what is the problem?

Everybody knows about the problem. And nobody understands it more than I do. But won’t speak anything at the moment about it.

Autonomy?

No comment at all.

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