Dr. M. K. Teng
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Hindus and the Peace Process

By Dr. M.K. Teng

During the last several years, the quest for a peaceful settlement of the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir has spread out into a long process of track two diplomatic interaction, commonly known in India as the peace-process. The peace-process spreads across a wide spectrum of responses at a less formal range of negotiations, involving governments, administrative agencies, non-governmental organisations and non-official institutions representing various sections of people and their interests. Both India and Pakistan profess their commitment to find a settlement which is acceptable to the people of the State. So do the non-government organisations and non-official agencies profess their commitment to find a settlement which is acceptable to the people of the State. However, Pakistan and the Muslims of the State identify the people of the State with its Muslim population.

Pakistan insists upon a settlement which is acceptable to the Muslims of the State. The Muslims of the State insist upon a settlement which is acceptable to them and the Muslims of Pakistan. The Indian political class appears to lend tacit support to the claims made by both the Muslims of the State and Pakistan that a settlement reached on Kashmir has to be acceptable to the Muslims of Kashmir and the Muslims of Pakistan. A.G. Noorani, a self-styled expert on Kashmir, notes with undisguised hypocracy: "The people of J&K must have a voice. It cannot be expressed at a round table. That will make it a tower of Babel". He prefixes his comment with an unambiguously crude expressions: "The Kashmir dispute is at the outskirts of a solution; the amnesty that will follow it will return Syed Salahuddin to state politics as a major player and alter the scene radically; deep divisions rule out the kind of the involvement in India-Pakistan that Kashmiris aspire".

The Round Table Conference does not provide a convenient platform for the Muslims to settle the dispute over Kashmir. It is a Tower of Babel because, Syed Salahuddin, the chairman of the United Jehad Council and the leaders of the Hurriyat, besides the leaders of other Jehadi regimes are not in it and it gives a wide representation to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who are not Muslims.

The impression that the people of the State are identifiable with the Muslims of the State and settlement on the Kashmir dispute is subject to their acceptability and the acceptability of the Muslims of Pakistan, has assumed the validity of a historical fact, a development unsparingly used by Pakistan and the Muslim separatist flanks in Jammu and Kashmir to legitimise the Muslim separatist movement as well as the Muslim Jehad.  The Government of India has made no attempt to remove the  erroneous impresssion that the people of the State are identifiable with its Muslim population. Nor has the Indian political class clarified that a settlement on Kashmir is also subject to the acceptability of India and the Hindus and the other minorities in the State. No effort has been made in India to give expression to the stark facts that the people who have led the resistance to the Muslim Jehad have a more crucial role to play in the settlement of the Kashmir dispute than the chief of the United Jehad Council and the Hurriyat leaders and that the people who have fought for the unity of the Jammu and Kashmir and India have a prior right to determine the basic structure of a settlement about its future.

It is not a well known fact that the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Buddhists, alongwith the Hindus and Sikhs uprooted from the occupied territories of Azad Kashmir and the West Punjab, who took refuge in the State in 1947; constitute around 42 percent of the population of the State. The Hindus constitute a majority of the population in the Jammu province and the Buddhists form a majority of the population of Ladakh. In the Kashmir province, where the Muslims constitute a majority, the Hindus constitute 8.6 percent of the population of the province. They constitute 4.4 percent of the population of the whole State. Relatively the strength of the Hindu minority in Kashmir, compares well with the population of the minorities in the other States of India, including the Muslims.

The Hindus, Sikhs and the Buddhists have always been in the forefront of the resistance against the Muslim Jehad and the Muslim separatist movements which have ravaged the State for the last five decades. They fought against the invasion of the State in 1947, shoulder to shoulder with the State troops and the Indian army. to defend the State. More than thirty eight thousand Hindus and Sikhs paid their lives for India as the invading armies of Pakistan spread in the State. An unknown number of Buddhists laid down their lives in the defence of Ladakh after the invading armies overran Baltistan. The Muslim officers and ranks of the State army deserted, killed their Hindu comrades in arms and joined the invading forces. After the disintegration of the National Conference and the dismissal of the Interim Government in 1953, the Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists formed the main flanks of resistance against the virulent secessionist movement led by the Plebiscite Front. In 1990, the Hindus bore the first assault of the Muslim Jehad. Ever since, they have been in the forefront of the resistance against the subversive war Pakistan and the Jehadi war groups have been waging in the state. Thousands of Hindus have been massacred during the last seventeen years. A million of them have been uprooted from their homes in the Kashmir province and the Muslim majority districts of the Jammu province.

The Jehadi war groups and terrorist regimes, waging Jehad against India for the liberation of the Jammu and Kashmir, which claim to represent the people of the state do not represent the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Buddhists. Nor do the militant flanks, which are fighting for an independent Muslim Kashmir, represent the Hindus of the State. The assortment of militant organisation and Muslim separatist groups combined in Hurriyat Conference, the moderate as well as extremist, the former seeking a "United States of Jammu and Kashmir" and the latter fighting for the unification of the State with Pakistan represent the Hindus. It must be mentioned that the proponents of "autonomy", "self-rule", "joint control" etc. also do not represent the Hindus and the other minorities.

The Indian state has an obligation to ascertain, who among the Muslims in the State are committed to support the Jehad for the unification of the State with Pakistan and who among them are committed to support independence, "autonomy", self-rule" and joint control under a condominium". But it cannot treat Jammu and Kashmir as a "no-man's land", which, it has a right to handover to Pakistan or the Jehadi war groups, under the cover of "self-rule" "joint control". The Hindus, the Buddhists and the Sikhs did not give a mandate to the Indian State when they paid with the lives of thousands of their brethren the price for the accession of the State to India, to convert it into a Muslim state on the territories of India. Any compromise by the Government of India, which consigns four million Hindus, Sikhs and the Buddhists to the slavery of a Muslim state, whatever its form, will be a betrayal with the people of India.

The Hindus and the other minorities—the Sikhs and the Buddhists, do not support any separatist, secessionist or Jehadi claim to a separate freedom for the Muslims of the State. No government of India can visualise the future of the Jammu and Kashmir state in the faultiness of the Indian struggle for freedom. Any attempt to do so will lead this country to a second partition and perhaps, open the way for the dismemberment of the Indian nation.

The ongoing peace-process will not succeed so long the interests and aspirations of the Hindus and the other minorities  in the State are not taken into account in reaching a fair and lasting settlement on the future of Jammu and Kashmir. So long the negotiations for a peaceful settlement on Kashmir, whether they are held at the level of the composite dialogue between Indian and Pakistan, or held between the people of the State and the Government of India, continue to be Muslim centric and their broad agenda is set by Pakistan and the Muslim Jehad, India will run the risk of sinking into an internecine conflict such as she faced in 1947. The Muslim movement for the de-Sanskritisation of India, which commenced in 1947, and has been going on ever since, must be brought to close before the civilisational conflict which it has given rise to flares up into a civilisation war.

A settlement on Jammu and Kashmir based upon the recognition of the precedence of the Muslim majority of its population, in any form it is given shape, will spell doom for the four million Hindus, Sikhs and the Buddhist.

Autonomy envisaged by Article 370, and the exclusion of the State from the Indian political organisation, "self-rule" within an Indo-Pakistan condominium, or the reorganisation of the Muslim majority regions of the State into an independent or a semi-independent political organisation, are aimed to open fresh ground for the Muslim Jehad to achieve its political objectives. A Muslim State of Jammu and Kashmir with "soft" or "irrelevant" borders, is bound to shift the Line of Control eastwards, to the Chenab watershed, which will uproot millions of Hindus and Sikhs from their homes and hearths.

The Muslim Jehad has already uprooted more them half a million Hindus from the Kashmir province. It has uprooted a quarter a million of Hindus from the Muslim majority districts of the Jammu province. More than a million Hindus and Sikhs uprooted from the occupied territories of Pak-occupied Kashmir and West Punjab, live in the State as Sharnathis, still awaiting their resettlement.

The Islamic Jehad has its own dynamics. The Indian attempt to delink theological imperatives of Jehad, to seek a national expression for the Muslim struggle for a separate freedom in Jammu and Kashmir, is based upon the misreading of the history. The readiness of the Indian Government to buy peace with Pakistan on the condition that it accepts the legitimacy of the Muslim claim to a separate freedom  may well lead India to its distintegration. The belief that a Muslim State of Jammu and Kashmir forms a gradient of Indian secularism will damage social stability.

Any final settlement of the dispute our Kashmir is a national decision which is bound to have an effect on the future of the Hindus and other minorities of the State. No electoral majority has a right to subject any minority community in India to the servitude of the majority it represents. In Jammu and Kashmir as well, no electoral majority, national or regional, has a right to subject the Hindus, the Buddhists and the Sikhs to the servitude of a political and social order which draws its sanction from the sectarian, fundamentalists imperatives.

-To be continued

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

 

 

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