Srinagar: The unprecedented anti-India uprising in Kashmir finally animated India’s parliament on Wednesday, forcing a day-long debate on the issue and the ongoing unrest. Parliamentarians from various political parties who took part in the debate acknowledged some aspects of the realities surrounding the dispute over Kashmir and the prevailing conditions, but stopped short of questioning New Delhi’s stated position on the dispute which is what the uprising that was debated is all about. Speeches made by the parliamentarians ranged from expressing sympathy for Kashmiri people to cynicism, use of the language of power and compassion sans any ethical considerations. The debate in the end was all about debating the past and the present but without any agenda for changing anything. That is what happened in the end and nothing that would signal a departure from the past came about.
Here is what some of the parliamentarians said:
Royal (half) truth
Jammu and Kashmir has acceded to India for three subjects, defence, communication and foreign affairs but unlike other princely states, it did not merge with New Delhi, former governor and son of the state’s last king, who signed the instrument of accession, said Wednesday.
“I say, despite making some persons uncomfortable, we say Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, of course it is. The day my father signed the instrument of accession, it became an integral part of India. 27 October, I was in the room, in the house when my father signed the instrument of accession. However, please remember something more. My father acceded for only three subjects, defence, communication and foreign affairs. He signed the same instrument of accession which other princely states signed but all the princely states subsequently merged, Jammu and Kashmir didn’t merge,” Karan Singh, son of the last Dogra maharaja and senior Congress leader said.
“The relationship of J&K with rest of India is guided by Article 370 and state constitution that I signed into law. The factual position is that the J&K has been given a special position,” he said while participating in a debate in Rajya Sabha over the situation in Kashmir.
Singh also emphasised that Jammu and Kashmir was not an internal matter, he said India must not stop a dialogue with Pakistan and China.
“We insist Jammu and Kashmir is an internal affair, I agree, but let us not forget that 50 percent of the original state of Jammu and Kashmir is not under our control. There is a very major international aspect to it. There is Pakistan, there is China,” Karan Singh said, explaining how a major part of the state is administered by the two countries. He said that when his father Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession with India, Jammu and Kashmir was 84,000 square miles.
“Today, we have barely 42,000 square miles under our control. To say that we will not talk is not a mature response.
“When we say we do not need to talk to Pakistan, have we legitimised that?” he asked. “You got to keep the dialogue on.”
Expressing concern over the situation in the Kashmir Valley, he said use of the pellet guns should be stopped forthwith in the valley.
“These guns should be banned,” he said, urging India Home Minister Rajnath Singh to find out some other crowd control measures.
Karan Singh also urged the state government to be more proactive in restoring normalcy in the valley.
“There has been a breakdown of civil administration. Essential services have broken down,” he said, adding that there was a massive humanitarian problem which should also be looked into.
“We have to introspect why thousands of young people are embarked on a path which can only bring death and destruction.”
—Dr. Karan Singh (Congress leader)
What did PDP say!
“Our nation has to see what is the reason for a handful of people who are taking up arms. Resolving Kashmir issue is very small thing. We, Kashmiris, are very weak. There is no point going back into history to resolve it. People of Kashmir are being dubbed as anti-national but the J&K being the only Muslim-majority state long back rejected two-nation theory. We welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh statements.”
Why Kashmir is only remembered when it is burning. The longer we take to resolve this issue, the harder it will be. Kashmiri people are not for guns, they are for this country (but) they don’t trust us. Kashmiris say delegations come and go, but nothing is ever done for us.”
—Nazir Ahmad Laway (PDP)
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday parried details of the mayhem created by the government forces in Kashmir during the past 32 days to quell a massive public uprising and instead talked about the stockpile of essential commodities. He announced to convene all-party meeting in Delhi over the situation in Kashmir but categorically refused to talk to Pakistan over Kashmir. He blamed Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit for the current unrest in Kashmir.
Singh was speaking in Rajya Sabha at a special discussion on Kashmir, which was conducted on the insistence of opposition members who are in majority in the Indian Parliament’s upper house.
Singh said that the J&K government was doing its best to provide basic facilities amidst the violence created by some “vested interests and misguided elements”. He furnished details of the stockpile of essential commodities in the curfew-hit valley. “Have no hesitation in saying that whatever is happening in Kashmir is sponsored by Pakistan,” he said adding some Lashkar-e-Taiba militants were trying to threaten security personnel and their families in J&K.
Rejecting the possibility of holding talks with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, Singh said “there is no power in the world that can take Jammu and Kashmir away from us.” He said the Indian government was ready to talk to any groups in Kashmir.
“Two weeks ago, Nawaz Sharif said that he is waiting for Kashmir to be handed over to Pakistan, he even wrote to UN Secretary General regarding this. I want to assert that no power in the world can wrest Kashmir from us. And if at all they want to have a dialogue with us, then we are ready. But it will be about Pakistan occupied Kashmir, not Kashmir,” he said.
Singh appealed to the people of Kashmir to stop a few elements from anti-national sloganeering. “Anti-national slogans against the country won’t be tolerated on Indian soil, want to appeal people in Kashmir to stop such elements,” he said.
Singh informed the House that 400 ambulances are currently operational in Kashmir despite 100 of them being damaged in stone pelting by protesters.
“I’m not saying that people living in Kashmir are leading a normal life, but state government is trying its best to provide basic facilities,” said Singh.
On the use of pellet guns to quell protests, Singh reiterated that security forces in Kashmir have been told to exercise “as much restraint as they can”. “I am not trying to justify the use of non lethal weapon but it has been used before,” he said. So far 4,515 security personnel and 3,356 civilian have been injured during the protests in Kashmir, Singh said.
Singh said there was no question of handing over Kashmir to the Army saying the rumours were being spread “deliberately”.
He also promised to consider sending an all-party delegation to Kashmir. “Decision on sending all-party delegation to Kashmir will be taken after ground work is prepared in consultation with the chief minister,” he said. He said that Islam doesn’t permit to take life, destroy someone. He said as many as 4515 security personnel and 3,356 civilians injured in Kashmir.
—Rajnath Singh (Home Minister)
Divide and rule
Kashmir stands as a unique example of defiance of the two-nation theory, and in doing so, it inspired the entire nation.
The state’s Constitution itself says that it is an integral part of India. Yet, we debate what model to follow. We all are worried about Jammu and Kashmir. Time has arrived to rise above political lines. Most of the children who got killed in Kashmir were the children of the poorest of the poor. And those who have led those children to join the so-called jihad, their own children are tucked away safely in India’s metros and abroad. If jihad can lead to jannat, then why not send your own kids to jannat first? Can you have kashmiriyat without the presence of Kashmiri Pandits? The stakeholders are also Kashmiri Pandits, refugees, Sikhs, Ladakh and Jammu.
—Dr Jitendra Singh, Mos, PMO
Much ado out of power
Leader of Opposition and former J&K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad slammed PM Modi for not speaking out on the Kashmir issue in the Parliament. Initiating the debate on Kashmir in Rajya Sabha Azad said, “The Prime Minister is so close, yet so far. He comes to the complex everyday at 10 am. His room is barely a minute from both the Houses… earlier PMs would rush to the House if there was a pressing discussion on any issue, but this prime minister has not attended.” Azad spelled out the situation in Kashmir and blamed the PDP-BJP alliance for the present unrest.
He mocked at PM Modi for invoking Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Kashmriyat, jamhooriyat and insaniyat doctrine on Kashmir. “These words suited a person like Vajpayee who had the character. They don’t suit to be uttered by a person like Modi,” Azad said.
He said the home minister should make it clear if an all-party meeting will be sent to visit Kashmir.
If the PM felt the pain of the people in Kashmir, he would have made a stamens in the House and not from Madhya Pradesh.
Dil se jab dard niklega, toh iski awaz Kashmir tak pohochegi. Jab tak hum jabaan se kehnge, ye yaha ki chaar diwaron mae gayab hojaegi. (When the leaders feel the pain of Kashmir, only then will help reach Kashmir. Until then, these voices will be lost within the four walls of Parliament.) There has to be some coherence, integration, love and affection between the federal and state government.
—Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress)
Left to ruling Right
If there is a trust deficit (in Kashmir), you have to create an atmosphere of trust. I urge the government to discuss this issue (Kashmir unrest) with open mind, listen to all ideas; confidence building is required. Problem can be solved only if you initiate this political dialogue on the central issue, of promises made to Kashmiri people.
On 19 November 2000, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared Ramzan Ceasefire and a dialogue with the representatives of the Hizbul Mujahideen. What efforts are being taken to address the anti-government feeling among Kashmiris.
How are you going to implement that? I have been urging the government that this only can come through in an atmosphere of trust. I want the government to seriously ponder because the point is to solve problem in Kashmir, which is actually a wound for all of us.
—Sitaram Yechury (CPIM)
The government must review AFSPA to prevent further alienation of the Kashmiris. Along with that there is a need for the Prime Minister to speak on the Kashmir issue in the Parliament.
Kashmiris do not trust the central government. I think it’s time to stop using pellet guns and excess power. AFSPA should be reviewed. P Chidambaram had himself said that people find the presence of security and overbearing and insulting. I am telling the government to take upon the misadventure of imposing president’s rule in Kashmir as Subramanian Swamy insists. Let’s not further alienate them. And when we say we’re all one, they should also feel that they are all one.
—D Raja (CPI)
At the end of the 6-hour debate in Rajya Sabha, the House unanimously adopted a resolution, saying: “This House expresses its serious concern over the prolonged turbulence, violence and curfew in the Kashmir valley.”
In reality their (leftists like Yechury) intervention does more harm to the cause than good. Because, howsoever their hearts might pound against atrocities they simply cannot assemble the courage to call Kashmir what it is in plain words and confront the reality of an illegal occupation
—Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
Indian Home Minister gets transformed into civil supplies minister of Kashmir enumerates tons of rice & sugar supplied in Kashmir
Unless there is an acknowledgement among all political parties in India that Kashmir is a dispute and not an internal issue and has to be addressed accordingly there is very little chance of the situation improving or real peace returning to the valley.