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Capitulation in J&K

Capitulation in J&K

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: July 1, 2008

Congress bows before Islamic fanatics

It would be erroneous to believe that the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, so severely disturbed this past week by separatists on the rampage and their political patrons of various shades, will become 'normal' now that Governor NN Vohra has 'returned' the land which had been leased to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board. The PDP, which was looking for an excuse to break free of restraints that come with being in power, has walked out on its partner, the Congress. The All-Party Hurriyat Conference, which needed an issue to revert to true form, has achieved its objective. And, those elements of Kashmiri society who abhor the idea of any Hindu presence in the Valley and for whom the annual yatra to the Amarnath Shrine is akin to desecration of their "culture" are celebrating their victory over the 'secular' state. Meanwhile, the Congress has egg on its face, although it is reluctant to admit as much, instead choosing to blame former Governor SK Sinha! But such calumny cannot hide the truth. Let there be no mistake: What we have witnessed in Jammu & Kashmir is a pathetic and shameful capitulation, though not for the first time, by the Indian state before Muslim fanatics. For, contrary to what the PDP, the Hurriyat and assorted separatists have been alleging, there never was any alienation of land nor was there any proposal to erect permanent structures on the leased land. By forcing the Government to beat a retreat, those who had taken to the streets have sent out a clear, though chilling message: In 'secular' India, Hindu pilgrims have no right to basic facilities and amenities. This is in sharp contrast to the huge expense incurred by the Union Government and the State Governments to provide every possible facility both at home and in Saudi Arabia to Haj pilgrims. The 'Haj Houses' and 'Haj Terminals' -- permanent brick-and-mortar structures as compared to the pre-fabricated structures that were planned for yatris travelling to Amarnath -- are two examples of how tax payers are made to foot the bill of pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims. What if people were to find them unacceptable and a "threat to the environment"? Would the Government then demolish them? Must Islamic fanatics in Kashmir Valley be mollycoddled in so crass a manner?

There is no percentage in trying to rationalise either the protests or the Government's jelly-kneed response to pretend that last week's violence was no more than a proverbial storm in the tea cup. Nor shall any purpose be served by blaming those on the fringe of Kashmiri Muslim society, and claiming that 'Kashmiriyat' is all-embracing and does not discriminate between Muslims and Hindus. That's so much balderdash, and we all know it. The cleansing of Kashmir Valley, which began with jihadis forcing Kashmiri Pandits to flee their ancestral land, is an incomplete project -- the successful resistance to facilities for Hindu pilgrims highlights this point in the most lurid fashion. One way of dealing with Sunday's denouement is to treat the Islamic fanatics with contempt and the Congress with pity. The other way is to stand up and be counted: In secular and democratic India, of which Jammu & Kashmir is an inseparable part, pandering to the dark and menacing forces of Muslim separatism is unacceptable.

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