Tuesday, June 19, 2018
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Joys and sorrows of JK people

By Amit Kushari IAS

Before partition of the Indian sub continent in 1947, the state of Jammu and Kashmir, located in the northern most corner, adjoining Central Asia and Tibet had a population which was 80 percent Muslim. Now the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir has 68 percent Muslim population—–the rest 32 percent are mainly Hindus Buddhists and Sikhs. Hindus are dominant in the Jammu region, Buddhists in Ladakh and Muslims are dominant in Kashmir( almost 99 percent after the exodus of the Pundits who were nearly 5 percent of the population prior to the exodus). Each of these religious and ethnic groups of J&K have their own cups of joys and sorrows—their own shares of good or bad luck.

First let me discuss the good and bad luck of the non Muslims. I consider them extremely lucky since by a chain of events in 1947-48 God allowed them to remain with India. Had there been no Maharaja in Jammu and Kashmir and had it been a part of British India, the entire State of J&K from Gilgit to Lakhanpur would have automatically merged with Pakistan. Only the Maharaja saved them by signing on the accession treaty. In the normal course they would have faced a disaster. Everyone knows that most Muslim nations, particularly Pakistan, donot have an admirable track record of protecting minorities. Most of the Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs, Sindhi and Baluchi Hindus, Bengali Hindus had to seek shelter in India in millions. Even the Kashmiri Hindus were thrown out from their homes but luckily for them, they got 43 years time and half of their state was still available for their re location. The Jammu Hindus were very lucky that they did not have to relocate themselves after the huge upheaval in the sub continent. For this great favour they have to thank God first and then the Maharaja. The Hindus and Sikhs of POK were both lucky as well as unlucky. Unlucky, because they had to leave their hearths and homes, and lucky because they had Jammu next door to settle down again. The major sorrow for the Jammuites is that they have very little political and bureaucratic clout. That they have very little clout is apparent from the fact that the State Civil Service is called Kashmir Administrative Service and not JK Administrative Service, All India Radio Jammu is called Radio Kashmir, no Hindu or Sikh was ever allowed to head the State Government, of the 87 Assembly constituencies, the Hindus are in an important position in less than 30 constituencies. The Muslims dominate 57 out of 87 constituencies and naturally the State Government will always remain under the thumbs of Muslim oriented parties like NC or PDP. The Hurriyat Conference does not participate in elections. Had they participated, they would have also been dominant in the Government even if they had been parrots of our enemy. In such a scenario, it is but natural that Jammu ministers and bureaucrats, specially if they are non Muslims, do not get their rightful share in Government and in portfolios.

The coveted portfolios, like Home, Planning, Finance, Agriculture etc are usually not earmarked for them. Exceptions, of course, were sometimes there. Mr. Devi Das Thakur had been Finance Minister in Sheikh Abdullah’s cabinet. Even as Deputy Chief Minister from Congress party, Mangat Ram Sharma was allotted only Industries and Transport which were considered relatively unimportant. Sri Sharma had told me privately, after the allotment of portfolios, “Humein mehkumey kuchh naram miley hain.” He was a bit disappointed. Even the present Deputy Chief Minister, from Jammu BJP, does not have A-plus category departments ( probably Housing and Power). I don’t know about his satisfaction or dissatisfaction because when I knew him he was a Reader in the University.

Now let us discuss the fate of the Muslims in J&K. In the normal circumstances they should have been in the grips of Muslim army dictators of Pakistan. They would have not known the flavours of democracy and secularism and an impartial Supreme Court. They would have been deprived of human rights like the people of Balochistan /Sindh. It is God’s mercy on them that India took them under its own benevolent democratic umbrella. (“Bharat ne in becharon ko apne panah mein liya.”) Unfortunately they do not realise God’s kindness towards them and they cannot integrate themselves with India mentally. They feel that it is their misfortune that destiny has thrown them on the wrong side of the international border. The recent expressions of religious bigotry by a large number of Hindus in northern and western India has unnerved them. Immature statements of our army generals and the Defence Minister have rather frightened them. They feel that the Indian armed forces are terrorising them…… their freedom fighters ( whom Indians call terrorists) are being brutally massacred. That is their cup of sorrow.
How much of that is genuine and how much of that is unjustified, only history will determine, because Pakistan and India have not yet arrived at an amicable settlement on this issue. We can only pray that all misunderstandings are removed and the Kashmiris can live with dignity and honour within the framework of India. Indo-Pak talks must go on continuously without any third party interference. My personal opinion is that the cup of sorrow for the Muslims of J&K will be emptied if India recognises POK as a part of Pakistan, Pakistan recognises Ladakh and Jammu as an integral part of India, and India recognises Kashmir valley as an autonomous region under her own benevolent umbrella.

(Amit Kushari (IAS, Retd.) is former Financial Commissioner, J&K. Feedback at [email protected] or contact at 09748635185)

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