The Kautilyan Perspective
Islamic Fanaticism—Not Economic Backwardness
By U. Mahesh Prabhu
It's almost a month since Jammu began, what seems to be, an insuppressible agitation against the Governor and the pro-partisan and Muslim-appeasing politicians on their refusal to re-allot the land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) for providing facilities to Hindu pilgrims visiting Amaranth. The depth of resentment is evident looking at an incident which occurred on July 22, when Kuldeep Raj Dogra, in his mid-30s, while participating in a hunger strike at Jammu's Parade ground, consumed poison, stood up, read a passionate, self-written patriotic poem, faltered, and then… fell dead. Since then the situation has gone haywire, well beyond the control of the administration. But what made the people of Jammu, mostly peace-loving, to turn so aggressive? Is there a logical explanation for this?
Owing to our aimless and weak policies, Kashmiri youth have, with open support from Pakistan, taken up the sword for Islamic Jihad. The programme of Islamisation in Kashmir, which has been on for the past several years, is being given final shape - now. The mass exodus of Kashmiri Pundits has left the Valley devoid of Hindus. Conspiracies for removing all the Indian symbols in Kashmir are being hatched. Temples have been destroyed. The ancient names of towns and roads have been changed and Muslim names have been given to them. 'Assalam valekun' has replaced 'namaskar' on Srinagar Doordarshan. Watches follow Pakistani time zones. People take pride in burning the Constitution of India and the Indian flag. Sanskrit words are being deleted from the Kashmiri language and are, instead, being replaced by Arabic words. The first phase of total independence for Kashmir was to oust Hindus from the Valley. Success has been achieved in this respect. The second phase was to destabilize and paralyze the state administration in which also success has been realized. Now guerrilla attacks on the Army are being embarked on to accomplish the third phase.
The 'intellectuals' deserve pity, for they evade reality by putting on the mask of so called 'secularism' , when they term the grave situation in Kashmir a result of 'economic backwardness and political suffocation' . If only they stop playing in their make-believe world and start searching for realism, will the real face of the problem become crystal clear. There is neither poverty nor political discrimination in Kashmir. The entire trouble is the product of religious fanaticism.
The reality is that after independence, our rulers, in the intoxication of appeasement, gave more political and economic facilities to Kashmir than to any other state in the country. Not only this, they made available all facilities and amenities to the Kashmir valley at the cost of the rights of the people of the two other regions of the state—Jammu and Ladakh. Under the umbrella of Article 370, whatever maximum political and economic facilities were made available to Kashmir strengthened and deepened religious fundamentalism of Kashmiri youths.
Ignoring the population ratio, the assembly seats in the Valley are more than what it is in Jammu region. There is a majority of Kashmiris in the Government services and hitherto, only a Kashmiri Muslim has been the Chief Minister of the State. The representation of ministers from the Valley is greater than others, in the council of ministers. Despite the fact that Kashmir has been considered the centre of political activities, the talk of political suffocation being the root cause of the current problem is, as Narendra Sehgal puts in his book 'Converted Kashmir', 'bankruptcy of wisdom'.
As far as the area is concerned, Kashmir Valley is one-eighth the total area of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. But a major share of the State's revenue and Central Assistance is being spent on Kashmir. Ninety-five per cent of the budget of the Tourism Department is spent on Kashmir. The headquarters of all the 11 State Corporations are in Srinagar. Between 33 and 35 per cent of senior Government officers and secretaries, are from Kashmir. It is so because the population of Muslims is more in Kashmir. The height of discrimination became evident when veterinary hospital and college, dental care centre, and artificial limb centre, which were allotted for Jammu, were set up in Kashmir even before the current SASB land row.
All major industries including cement factory, HMT watch factory, telephone industrial unit, television unit, Government process, textiles industry, and the like are being developed in Kashmir. Medical college, engineering college, agricultural university, and other educational institutions are in Kashmir.
A major portion of the state budget is being spent on Kashmir. Of 2,876 villages in Kashmir 2,086 have been connected with main roads. More than 70 per cent seats in Srinagar Medical College are given to Muslim students.
As a result of liberal financial assistance from the center and on account of petro-dollars from the Arab world, people of Kashmir have become prosperous and richer than people in the rest of India. Even the Government figures reveal that the per capita income in Kashmir is among the highest in the country.
Yet who can convince our so-called, 'intellectuals' and politicians, that in comparison to Kashmir there is major economic backwardness in Jammu and Ladakh regions. As far as political rights are concerned, these two regions live in suffocation. Had political injustice and economic backwardness been the cause for terrorism, Jammu and Ladakh regions should have witnessed it much before it took roots in Kashmir.
Those who in their mental exercise try to trace the genesis of the problem to economic backwardness should stop such exercises when then Governor, Jagmohan's suggestion for absorbing Kashmiri youths in a separate battalion of BSF and for appointing 5,000 educated youths as Government teachers was turned down on the plea that "we do not want it, we want an independent Islamic republic." Experience has made it clear that the more money Government of India spends in Kashmir, the more religious fanaticism and exploitation thrives.
A former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Junejo, has told the National Assembly, while speaking on the Kashmir issue, that the riches of Kashmiri Muslims would be helpful for Pakistan. This fact now stands established that the pace of Islamisation increased because of wealth in Kashmir. It is because of riches that a mosque on the pattern of Mecca was built in Srinagar.
Fundamentalists from outside the state have been posted to top posts in Government institutions. In place of Sanskritised Kashmiri language, Persianised Urdu has been made the official language. Money has played an important role in destroying fully the old links with India and the result is that nobody talks about renowned Kashyap Rishi, Avantivarman, Lalitaditya, and Kalhana. Mohammed Iqbal of Pakistan is considered a great philosopher there.
India is now considered a foreign nation in Kashmir! The Indian Army has to listen to insulting slogans like 'Indian dogs, go back.' The suspected leaders like Mufti Syed and Dr. Farooq, and his son Omar, Abdullah keep on shedding crocodile tears over the 'dreadful situation in Kashmir' when in the initial stages they too had favored Islamisation and even today support the demand for separate political existence of the Valley.
What people in Jammu are stating through their protests is 'enough is enough; this ought to stop. We shall not tolerate anymore. We shall fight with our lives, for Kashmir is also ours.' The current surge of the protests is no less than a Hindu Intifada. And I wonder if all this would stop without availing justice.
For those who want to blame Hindus in Jammu for the unrest let me assert that there is not an iota of truth in it. The basis of the Kashmir problem is neither economic backwardness nor political suffocation of Muslims in the Valley. Its roots are in the froth of religious fanaticism which is being nourished both by India, through Muslim appeasement, and Pakistan, by harboring terrorists. This has to stop.
Author is Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, London – UK.