Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Secularism is mauled in Kashmir

Secularism is mauled in Kashmir

Author: Editorial
Publication: Free Press Journal
Date: July 1, 2008

How distorted is our theory and practice of secularism has yet again been revealed in Kashmir. Here an innocuous move to allot a temporary piece of land for the safety and convenience of tens of thousands of pilgrims from all parts of the country and abroad was seized upon by pro-Pakistani elements and their local agents and sympathizers to humiliate the entire majority community. It was as if some high-ups in the Jammu and Kashmir Government had deliberately hatched a conspiracy to show Hindus their true place in the State, nay, all over India. For, the shoddy manner in which the allocation of a barren piece of land abutting the Amarnath shrine, which occupies for the believers among all the holy Dhams of Hindus the highest place, was first made and then cancelled under pressure from the anti-India elements cannot but generate a feeling that Hindus are second-rate citizens in their own country. Lest anyone misconstrue the import of above remark, let us amplify why we feel the feelings of alienation among the Hindus are bound to be aggravated by the Amarnath controversy. One would do well to remember that the holy cave is open for a few weeks in July and August. And that it is a most arduous task to regulate the flow of pilgrims, young and old, ablebodied and frail and weak, rich and poor, to the sanctum sanctorum in the normal circumstances. Besides, since the start of the secessionist\terrorist violence, the security of pilgrims has become a bigger headache. For though the Pakfunded `jehadis' perpetrate violence against innocence in the name of their religion, they see nothing wrong in attacking innocent and unarmed pilgrims on a trek for `self-nirvana' and salvation as per the rites of their own faith.

On several occasions in the past, pilgrims have been waylaid and killed by the `jehadis'. Another factor necessitating the provision of basic amenities in temporary structures was the erratic weather. With temperatures often touching zero degree Celsius, and avalanches and snow storms being the norm even during the yatra weeks, it was only logical that temporary shelters on land close to the shrine be erected for such contingencies. Most remarkably, the allocation of 100 acres of land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board was to be temporary. Another important point to be kept in mind is that the Board is not headed by private persons. And certainly not by saffron-robed Hindu sants and sadhus. It is headed by the J and K Governor in his official capacity. And the Governor's Secretary, always a senior government official, is exofficio the secretary of the Board.

Given the above facts, any right-thinking Indian would find it astonishing that the matter was allowed to blow into a huge controversy which threatened the stability of the ruling Congress-People's Democratic Party coalition in J and K.

Clearly, those who had pandered to the pro-Pakistani elements all along in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country had yet again succumbed to the same pressures. The summary removal of the Secretary to the State Governor and the rescinding of the order temporarily placing 100 acres of forest land at the disposal of the shrine underlined all that was wrong in our practice of secularism. If keeping religion out of the affairs of the State constitutes the core of secularism, one is afraid the agitators on the streets in Kashmir who held the entire state to ransom for more than a week were the worst offenders against secularism. Also the reversal of the allocation was purely motivated by non-secular principles. Indeed, the decision would play smack into the hands of the Pakistani `jehadis' and their friends and allies in the Valley.

However the bigger surprise was that the Congress Chief Minister Azad had surrendered to the `jehadis'. Even if this was meant to save his Ministry, he ought to have been mindful of the violence such capitulation did to the very idea of secularism. Without doubt, there will be repercussions of this surrender before `jehadi secularism'in the rest of the country. It is notable that even the National Conference of Farooq and Omer Abdullah was against the allocation of land to the shrine. They too were concerned about safeguarding the `demographic character'of Kashmir, a sin originally committed by the first Congress Government in New Delhi. Since then the party has continued to go down that dangerous road, much to the detriment of the broader national cause.

Incidentally, temporary structures for pilgrims to various places of worship are routinely erected by the State authorities be it Ajmer Sharief in Rajasthan or Haridwar in Uttaranchal.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements