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Kashmiris realize the wisdom of being with Indian Union

Kashmiris realize the wisdom of being with Indian Union

Author: M. V. Kamath
Publication: Free Press Journal
Date: January 22, 2009

Trickling reports from Kashmir go to suggest that the people are beginning to realise that between azaadi and economic development, the latter is wiser choice, and India is a better bet.

When some forty hectares of useless and inhabitable forest land was given for temporary use to people engaged in the centuries-old Amarnath Yatra in Kashmir, the reaction of the jihadi-inspired Kashmiris was vulgar, ungracious, unbelievable and downright sickening. There were huge demonstrations in Srinagar. Charges were made that Hindu pilgrims will stay put permanently in the temporary tents set up for them and thereby disturb the demographic character of the area. This and many such white lies were openly propagated.

The Kashmir Muslims chose to forget how thousands of Kashmir Pundit families had been deprived of their homes and driven out of Kashmir, their own homeland, to live in utter poverty in Jammu and far away places. It didn't matter to the Muslims if over 10,000 forest trees were ruthlessly chopped down to make way for the Mughal Road or vast acres of land were left fallow. But helping Hindu pilgrims was another matter. And the effete UPA Government could do nothing.. An anarchical agitation began in Srinagar with the Mufti, the Hurriyat and Omar Abdullah uniting to deprive Hindu pilgrims some basic necessities.

It is hard to imagine a more uncivilised and barbaric behaviour. That the concept of Kashmir as the land of Shiva was a fact of life, long before Islam was even formulated, did not matter to the Sunni & Wahabi Muslims in the Valley. Hating Hindus was all. The point was further stressed that Kashmir was being treated unfairly by the Union Government, another major lie that stands exposed as the truth becomes known. The plain fact is that Jammu & Kashmir is being treated like a spoilt child, getting from the Union Government much more what than it deserves. As Prof. R. Vaidhyanathan, a distinguished economist recently exposed (External India, Oct.08) socio-economic and financial indicators reveal that J & K is one of the leading states in India belonging to top ten percentiles among them.

Forget the fact that Hindus constitute 32 percent of the State's population but have never had a Chief Minister. In many fields the Union Government has been more than fair to J & K which the Muslim population of the state has never had the decency to acknowledge.

In any indicator, J & K stands either in the top rung states in India where social development is concerned, or is in the middle. Thus, per capita consumption of electricity at 759 Kw (2006-2007) is much higher than in U.P.., Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and West Bengal.

Per capita central assistance at Rs 2860 (in 2000) is much higher than in all states whereas Kashmir's own contribution to central revenues is abysmally low. Statewise per capita availability of milk (2005-2006) at 353 gms per day is much higher in Kashmir than in most of the other states with an allIndia average of 241 gms per day.

The distribution of households in terms of ownership at 94 per cent is one of the highest in India. Some 75 percent of households have drinking water close by and what is more important 53 per cent of houses have water taps a luxury. How many homes elsewhere in India can boast of such amenities? Among the 1.6 million households in J & K 37 per cent avail of banking services,65 percent have radios and transistors and 41 per cent have television sets. The rest of Indians cannot own land in J & K, but everybody is silent as regards properties owned in the rest of India by Kashmiri politicians like Omar Abdullah, Mufti Saeed, Mehboob Begum, Mirwaiz, Geelani apart from professed terrorists. Nobody is supposed to raise such inconvenient questions. But is it possible at this moment in time that Kashmiris are beginning to see the light?

Terrorists had long warned Kashmiris not to participate in the elections that took place in November-December 2008. But this year the Kashmiris seem to have decided to vote anyway, despite terrorist threats. The voter turn out has been, to say the least, much higher than what it was in 2002.

To cite examples, of voting patterns in six districts: In Ganderbal district in 2002 the voting was 35.21%; this year it is 60.02. In Kangan the last time the percentage was 52.03 but this year it is 60.02. In 2002 hardly 27.01% turned out in Rajauri to vote. This year the voter turn-out has been an impressive 67%. Six years ago, 57.86% came out to vote in Nowshera. This year the percentage has risen to 70. Much the same kind of change is noticeable in Barhal and Kalakote, current voting figures rising to 70 plus whereas in 2002 the percentage figures varied between 48 and 57.

What has happened to Kashmiris since the Amarnath Yatra imbroglio? Why have voters decided to go against the dictates of the terrorists to boycott the elections? Have they realised that their behaviour in the past only brought them disgrace? Is Kashmiriyat coming back into its own? Have Kashmiris realised that compared to the socio-economic conditions prevailing in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), they are much better off? Even more importantly have they at last realised that no matter how much Pakistan tries to destroy India through a thousand cuts, India will remain unbeatable and will rise like the phoenix. Just as likely have Kashmiris come to realise that Pakistani patronage, overt and covert, may slowly decline considering what heavy pressure Islamabad and the ISI are now under following the jihadi terrorists' attack on Mumbai.

If that pressure is sustained as it is likely to, Pakistan will truly be in dire straits. The United States, for example, has told Pakistan that if it does not stop terrorist activities with a firmer hand, it will have to forego aid. And without aid Pakistan faces a total collapse and even a break-up. And then of what earthly use will Pakistan be to Kashmir? For that matter, Kashmiris may even find that azaadi is a chimera that would demand a heavy price from Kashmiris themselves from outside forces.

Trickling reports from Kashmir go to suggest that the people are beginning to realise that between azaadi and economic development, the latter is wiser choice, and India is a better bet. It may be too early at this point to come to any definite conclusions about Kashmiri intentions, but the voting pattern in the just-concluded elections must be seen as carrying a message. All that one can do at this stage is to keep ones fingers crossed. Wisdom dictates that optimism must be carefully calibrated to changing patterns of political behaviour.

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