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?
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
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
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
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.
No comment at all.