Saturday, October 24, 2020
 News Details
Kashmiris Want Chinese Rule? But, No ‘Ghar Wapsi’
Straight Talk

K. B. Jandial

Dr. Farooq Abdullah is charming, warm, emotional, eloquent, outspoken & influential Kashmiri leader whose unpredictability is the flip side of his multifaceted personality. Despite his commitment to Indian nation and the Constitution whose oath he had taken several times and would do it again if needed, he can be expected to speak out anything-from one extreme to another. A few such comments that stoked controversies are listed here but he always managed its fallout: ‘go across the border & get training in arms handling’ (asked NC workers BBC interview); ‘bomb terrorist camps in PoK’ (repeatedly demanded as CM); ‘stone pelters are sacrificing lives for Kashmir resolution’ (5th April, 2016 in an election rally); ‘I ask these Hurriyat leaders to unite. We are standing by your side at this hour’ and to party workers ‘Don't stay behind in this struggle of Kashmir’ (at Sheikh Abdullah’s mausoleum on 5th December, 2017. And the latest one is “Kashmiris want China to rule them rather India”.

Farooq’s observation in a chat with well-known anti-Modi journalist Karan Thapar for WIRE has disappointed, albeit, shocked his fans across the country. Coming during the Indo-China standoff at Ladakh border when anti-China sentiments are its peak, it is the politically incorrect statement even though Karan was putting words in his mouth in the interview that is damaging for India.

The low-lying pro-separatist elements were trying for last three four months to create a narrative that ‘Kashmiris would like Chinese PLA to march to Kashmir and take over’. And Farooq lent his powerful voice to it in a dramatic manner even when his son, Omar had actually snubbed such elements on 17th June, 2020 in a tweet "Those Kashmiris tempted to look towards China as some sort of saviour need only google the plight of Uighur Muslims. Be careful what you wish for..."

It was Omar’s sensible advice even though like his father, he too was detained for eight months and must have been equally angry with Modi Govt and could have said something in similar tone. But he advised these day- dreamers to see how China has been treating Muslims in its country. He obviously referred to China's treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority, living mostly in Xinjiang region. US media organisation PBS had reported "at least one million” Uighurs have been held in 85 concentration camps in Xinjiang since 2017. The local government in Xingjiang passed a law in 2017 prohibiting men from growing long beards and women from wearing veils.

Did Dr. Farooq deliberately air sentiments of some people having separatist tendencies just to embarrass the Centre, but he forgot that Modi Govt doesn’t bother such outbursts; more so coming from a mainstream Kashmiri leader who had all through enjoyed the status and privileges of a Union Minister, Chief Minister and MP. Dreams of Kashmir baney ga Pakistan could not be fulfilled in last thirty years of militancy, let them now have dream of Kashmir ab baney ga China. This too would remain a dream.

Abdullah’s anger stems from his 8-month house arrest. But still, is it fair for a MP who at time chants “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” to project Chinese rule for Kashmiris which violates the oath taken by him as Member of Parliament, CM & Minister in Union Cabinet in UPA Govt?

Farooq Abdullah’s statement was ill-timed, coming on the eve of 75th session of the UN Security Council where Pakistan, as usual parroted its annual rhetoric, unsuccessfully again tried to bring Kashmir on the table. If anyone in Kashmir including Farooq Abdullah (appears doubtful) is enamoured of Chinese rule, they are welcome to migrate to China. But there would be no ‘Ghar Wapsi’. How can Dr. Farooq overlook India’s renewed military strength and political will that has stood firmly against Chineseaggressive overtures and attempts to change the LAC. If they had martyred our 20 bravehearts at Galwan height of 15th June, the casualties inflected on PLA are more than hundred.

Knowing that India is not buckling under China’s attempted incursions on East Ladakh borders and instead occupying many strategic heights, perhaps for the first time, was his interview designed to send a signal that he has potential to damage India’s cause on Kashmir internationally & nationally or to pressurize the Centre to engage his party in dialogue or political deal? Whatever be the reasons, political gossips say that his son, Omar is angry with his father on this interview with Karan.

Why should Dr. Abdullah be sore over PM Modi for not sharing about the proposed “abrogation” of Article 370 with him and his colleagues during their meeting on eve of scrapping of J&K special status? Well, which leader, much less the PM, would have shared critical move of such sensitive matter with anyone, much less the strongest defender of Article 370.

The debate is both political and legal. On Farooq’s political outbursts, his talking for only Kashmiri Muslims and not for people of J&K is most striking thing. His nod (“no doubt about that”) to Karan’s suggestive comment that “Kashmiris look upon people south of the Banihal line as, not just different, as alien”? is highly disappointing. It means that the entire population of Jammu division is alien for Kashmiris (or may be for Farooq Sahib). Thus, he has become a Muslim leader espousing the sentiments of those Kashmiris who have separatist tendencies all through. Better, if he reverts back NC to Muslim Conference and sadly undo what his illustrious father did in 1931.

On what basis he called people of Jammu as alien? Even if he prefers to call J&K a Muslim majority State repeatedly and still remains secular, but how can he forget that Jammu, which despite suffering discrimination, gave shelter to every displaced persons including Kashmiri Muslims who felt much more safe and happier in Jammu as it is an oasis of peace, amity and harmony.

The reason for no public protest on his arrest is not “soldiers standing at every street” but the indifference of Kashmiris towards all leaders. How can he conveniently forget similar deployment in 2011 (Omar’s time) and 2016 (Mehbooba’s time) but still stone pelting and other violent protests couldn’t be stopped that led to over hundred causalities each in both traumatic years besides gruesome pallet wounds. Post Article 370 situation was more explosive than these turmoil but there were very few stone pelting incidents which were handled tactfully without any casualty. But yes, freedom of almost all political leaders was curtailed; legally or illegally, but Kashmir was saved from possible bloodshed.

With withdrawal of many troops and CSF, their deployment has thinned. But where are lakhs of protesters to hit the roads (as he claimed)? On this issue too, Omar was more truthful when after release he too was confronted with same question. He attributed it to “protest fatigue” and even shared that many of the people felt that “acha hua yeh sab jail main gay”. In political life, ups and downs come but truthfulness is still the better option.

It is self-eulogizing permanent parroting of Kashmiri leaders that they ‘obliged’ India by acceding Muslim majority State of J&K and impliedly expected perpetual ‘muaabza’ in whatever form. Dr. Farooq too used it in his interview. It was the ruler of the princely state who had to decide to which Dominion he would join and Maharaja Hari Singh did what required legally. Yes, Sheikh Abdullah too supported it.

As he couldn’t tolerate Jinnah’s arrogance, his going to Pakistan was out of question. Moreover, he had strong relationship with Pt Nehru and often referred to ideological affinity with Congress. He had even defended accession in UNO. So, Farooq was wrong to claim that, “We went against the current” merely because J&K was Muslim majority State. He forgot that his father in his inaugural address to J&K Constituent Assembly had ruled out religion as the basis of a State or relationship but now, his son is repenting of not going to an Islamic country.

It is convenient for Kashmiri leadership to remember Vajpayee’s famous quote of “Insaniyat, jamhooriyat, and Kashmiriyat”. Does any of these three fit in Kashmir or Kashmiris? When the local terrorists started selective killing of KPs, where was the Insaniyat? It was Jammu that extended shelter to Kashmiri migrants. Does it behoove NC to talk about jamhooriyat when it trampled democracy right from 1952 when 73 NC candidates for 75-member J&K Constituent Assembly were declared elected unopposed by forcibly not allowing anybody else to stand or rejecting their papers. Was it a shinning spirit of democracy that in later years, MLAs in Kashmir were nick-named as Khaliq MLAs? Everyone knows why. Then 1987 rigging is always remembered for giving birth to militancy in late 1989. And Kashmiriyat? Less said the better. Was it a glorious principle of Kashmiriyat to resist resettlement of KPs in separate and safe colonies or colony for local ex-servicemen?

Like all Kashmiri leaders, Dr. Farooq too referred to loss of the trust. Which trust? Sir Gopalaswami Ayyangar, member of the 7-member Constitution Drafting Committee & former PM of J&K princely State of Maharaja Hari Singh had drafted Article 370 in consultation with the Sheikh. Going by the debates in the national Constituent Assembly and its placement in the chapter of “Temporary, Transitional & Special provisions” and provision for its abrogation, only confirmed that Article was a temporary provision which was attempted to be made a permanent by default. While Article 370 allowed extension of other Constitutional provisions under a prescribed procedure but Kashmiri leadership used it to block progressive amendments into the Constitution to the disadvantage of the people. As per the text, the State Constituent Assembly was to ‘recommend’ changes in Article 370 which it didn’t do and the leadership tried to make it a permanent provision. Discrimination to womenfolk, West Pakistani Refugees, Dalits and Gorkhas was made perpetual.

Kashmiri leadership willfully exploited provisions of Article 370 to show J&K as separate political entity where Indian laws are not applicable; and projected it as a separate ‘quom’. That made Kashmir a fertile land for promoting anti-India sentiments that helped Pakistan to launch ‘jihad’. It suited Kashmiri leadership as well, to convince Delhi to maintain status quo on Kashmir that gave lot of leverage to them. This status quo has been removed that made even Pakistan & its mentor China shaky because it has potential of ending uncertainty on Kashmir.

Mehbooba, on May 19, 2016, rightly said at a public function at Anantnag that accession of Kashmir with India was the best thing ever happened to Kashmiri Muslims. Her political somersault to “Kashmir mein Trianga ko koi kanda dene wall koi nehi mile ga” is the outcome of different situation. In the context of Indian democracy, her release, even if lodged in her residence, has become overdue, even though Syed Ali Shah Geelani and some others had remained under house arrest for years together under Omar & Mehbooba rules as well. But even in worst scenario, Indian rule is still thousand times better than Chinese. Their concentration camps are not as comfortable as luxurious Gupkar Road sub-jails.

(Author is a retired IAS officer) feedback: [email protected]

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