JAMMU: Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain, a celebrated soldier, has given a new dimension to so-called Kashmir imbroglio, saying its solution will ultimately emerge from Jammu. This angle has perhaps been deliberately overlooked by defence experts and political analysts, who are so captivated by K-factor that they don’t want to look beyond a handful of vocal Kashmiris concentrated in and around three major towns of Anantnag, Srinagar and Baramulla. Nobody has ever even tried to know the religio-ethnic and geographical composition of the State, comprising three vital regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
Such is the level of mis-information about Kashmir that people beyond Lakhanpur perceive Jammu as part of the Valley, having linguistic, cultural and ethnic similarity. Little do they know that Jammu is culturally and linguistically more affiliated to Punjab? There is nothing common between the people of Jammu and the Valley, between Paharis and the Kashmiris of the Valley, between the people of Poonch-Rajouri and the people of the mainland Valley. Ladakh is altogether a different entity. Similarly, the people of Pak-occupied-Kashmir are culturally and linguistically more close to Jammu than the Valley.
The fact that the ongoing unrest and the secessionist movement are essentially confined to few parts of the Valley is little known to people across the country and beyond its boundaries. Cleverly and strategically, the Hurriyat Conference, a stooge created by Pakistan in early nineties in the wake of unleashing terror movement, has never been missing the mention of Jammu and Kashmir as a political problem because legally the entire state had acceded to domain of India through Instrument of Accession in 1947. Therefore, espousing the cause of Kashmir alone will technically weaken their cause in view of the UN Security Council Resolution, which in any case has lost its relevance. That the Hurriyat Conference has not been able to have its full-fledged units in Ladakh, the so-called Chenab Valley comprising Muslim dominated Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts or Pir-Panjal, comprising Poonch and Rajouri districts, again having Muslim majority.
In such a backdrop and historical reality, the observations of Gen Ata Hasnain assume significance and deserve attention of the patriotic forces, which have thus far underestimated their strength. Except for isolated cases of terror violence in the beginning of Pak sponsored terrorism, the entire Jammu and Ladakh regions have all along remained peaceful, normal and patriotic but this fact has never come to fore because of Kashmir phobia plaguing policy planners in New Delhi. Never ever has any attempt been made to showcase the urges and aspirations of the people of Jammu, who are perhaps ultra-nationalists because of the Pakistan onslaught and trampling of Indian ethos by pampered Kashmir leadership? This has been done deliberately to placate vocal Kashmiris, who don’t even enjoy the support of Shias, Paharis, Kashmiri Hindus, Sikhs and a considerable section of Sunni Muslims in the Valley itself.
Lt Gen S. K Sinha, who remained Governor of Jammu and Kashmir between 2003 and 2008, has candidly mentioned in one of his write ups that separatism or terrorism has largely remained confined to a section of people in Jammu and Kashmir. He writes, “It is not generally known that separatism or terrorism in Kashmir is largely confined to Kashmiri speaking Sunni Muslims (30 per cent), who are a minority in the state, occupying only 10 per cent of land space in Kashmir. The remaining 70 per cent of the population is Shia Muslims, Gujjars, Bakkerwals, Paharis, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists making a total of about 70 per cent…There is no harm in having talks with the half-a-dozen separatist leaders from the five out of 24 districts in the state who have hardly any support beyond the Valley floor in the state. They cannot claim to be the sole spokesmen of the people of the state like Jinnah’s claim in 1947 to be the sole spokesman of Muslims of India”.
In 2010, a survey for BBC by a British academician unfolded striking results. Robert Bradnock interviewed more than 3,700 people in Kashmir and Pakistani-occupied-Kashmir to assess their views on various issues. His survey revealed that on an average 44 per cent of people in Pakistani-occupied-Kashmir favoured independence, compared to only 43 per cent in Kashmir, which failed to carry an overall majority on either side.
Dr Bradnock told the BBC that support for the so-called Azadi in the predominantly Hindu Jammu division to the south is under one per cent. This makes Jammu, as also Ladakh, a game changer. Besides, as Gen Hasnain said at a seminar , organized by Jammu Citizens’ Forum in the Temple City that the people of Jammu know Kashmiris better than any other part of the country. Therefore, their role in resolving the so-called Kashmir imbroglio remains crucial.
Having said that the onus lies on New Delhi, which is suffering from Kashmir phobia, to realize the strength of Jammu and Ladakh and bring fore their aspirations to expose separatist elements in Kashmir and Pakistan internationally.
The policy planners in the national capital are besieged of Kashmir phobia to such an extent that they keep parroting that Mahatma Gandhi had seen ray of hope (with regard to secularism) emanating from Kashmir, forgetting that how even the miniscule minority was hounded out from the Valley in 1990. Unless this powerful lobby in New Delhi frees itself from Kashmir syndrome, the problem in the Valley will continue to fester.
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