Rohingyas: Time for Saudi Arabia to give shelter to their Muslim brothers – Ravi Shankar

Rohingya refugee in Jammu

Ravi Shankar EttethIt is no longer a credible excuse to absolve the collective innocence of the Rohingyas, Syrians and Palestinians of the blood of innocents that stains the hands of their murderous children. The onus of preventing mass murder lies on the community as a whole. – Ravi Shankar 

We live in the Age of the Refugee. Political strife and sectarian violence have displaced millions of people, rendering them practically stateless. As of mid-2016, their number was 16.5 million, living in makeshift camps in horrendous conditions on the kindness of strangers. As India draws up plans to deport over 14,000 registered Rohingyas (the unofficial count is higher), a vast humanitarian crisis is in the making.

However, today, the civilised world faces a savage threat from refugees and immigrants who drive trucks into innocent crowds, rake nightclubs with automatic fire and stab shoppers. The Islamist narrative has polarised the world as terrorists create havoc in countries that welcomed them with dole and free housing at taxpayers’ expense, and ignoring the savage laws they brought from home in the name of “cultural sensitivity”. This weakness of conscience is what the IS exploited, by infiltrating the Syrian refugee wave with suicide bombers and killers who want nothing more than to destroy the very societies that welcomed them with open arms.

The Rohingyas are the refugees of the subcontinental moment. After a border attack by Rohingya terror group Harakah al-Yaqin, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi spoke out against their involvement with Islamic militants. The trend of radicalisation among young Rohingyas is real—Rohingya terror group Aqa Mul Mujahidin (AMM) is operating in Kashmir with Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. Agencies found that AMM fighters had received training in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Security men recently killed a Hafiz Saeed-sponsored Rohingya terrorist in the Valley. The war against Islamic militancy is being fought between religion and nationalism. Fundamentalists believe only in faith, not national or cultural identity.

India is home to millions of illegal immigrants. Like Bangladeshis, they are spread across the country. Decades of minority vote pandering has changed the demographic balance in many states. Once, anti-refugee feeling had economic reasons; today, it’s driven mostly by fear of an alien religion interfering in domestic culture and way of life.

The current global refugee crisis has been created by Islam’s internal war. It is responsible for the agony of millions of Muslims who have been killed, maimed and orphaned. The International Crisis Group, which works to resolve deadly conflicts, has identified links between Rohingyas and the Saudi-Pakistan terror nexus. It is true that only a few suicide bombers and terrorists have risen from refugee camps. But it is no longer a credible excuse to absolve the collective innocence of the Rohingyas, Syrians and Palestinians of the blood of innocents that stains the hands of their murderous children. The onus of preventing mass murder lies on the community as a whole. – The New Sunday Express, 10 September 2017

» Ravi Shankar is a columnist for The New Indian Express in New Delhi.

Rohingya refugees at prayer in Jammu
Rohingya refugee routes out of Burma

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J&K: Articles 370, 35A no longer valid – Vivek Gumaste

Kashmiri Stone Pelter

Vivek V. GumasteLet us be clear about one thing: the accession of J&K to India is full and final. It is non-negotiable, with or without Article 370, or its derivative Article 35A. These statutes came much later. Attempts to link any debate on Article 370 and Article 35A with the accession of India is a flawed, logically invalid argument. – Vivek Gumaste

The studied decision of the Supreme Court to expand the ambit of the petition challenging the validity of Article 35A of the Indian Constitution (that allows the state of Jammu and Kashmir to define state residency and its concomitant rights), by referring the matter to a three-judge bench in response to a plea by Attorney General K. K. Venugopal, that it warranted a “larger debate”, has stirred up a hornets’ nest and raised the hackles of Kashmiri political leaders.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah angrily retorted that “if there is debate on (the legality) of the Article, you will have to debate the accession itself”. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti averred that in such an event there will be “no one to shoulder the Indian flag in the Valley”.

But what exactly is the significance of Article 35A? How does it relate to the more well-known Article 370? What are the implications of this Article to the country as a whole? And does questioning its validity counteract the legitimacy of Kashmir’s accession to India?

These are the questions central to the brouhaha sparked by the Article 35A controversy.

First, to allay any misperceptions regarding Article 35A and its relationship to Kashmir’s accession, we need to refer back to history and recapitulate the events that led up to the formulation of Article 370.

On 26 October 1947, with marauding Pakistan tribesmen closing in on Srinagar, Maharaja Hari Singh (who till then had refused to accede to India or Pakistan) signed the instrument of accession to India, allowing Indian soldiers to enter and defend his kingdom. This instrument of accession was exactly the same document that all other states had ratified, as indicated by the political scientist M. K. Teng in his book, Kashmir: The Myth of Autonomy: “In 1947, when Jammu & Kashmir acceded to India, the ruler of the State, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the same standard form of the Instrument of Accession, which the other major Indian States signed… was not subject to any exceptions or pre-condition….” (pp VII).

By signing the “same standard form of the Instrument of Accession”, J&K came to be included in the First Schedule that lists the States and Union Territories subject to Article 1 of the Constitution, which defines the territorial composition of India. In other words: the basic structure of the relationship between India and J&K is similar to that of other states.

So, let us be clear about one thing: the accession of J&K to India is full and final. It is non-negotiable, with or without Article 370, or its derivative Article 35A. These statutes came much later. Attempts to link any debate on Article 370 and Article 35A with the accession of India is a flawed, logically invalid argument.

The original accession of J&K (like all other states and princely kingdoms) was based on the stipulation that only matters of Defence, External Affairs and Communications would be the preserve of the Government of India. While all other states decided to drop this restrictive covenant, and accept in toto the decisions of the Constituent Assembly, Jammu and Kashmir chose to differ, sticking to the original agreement instead, hence, Article 370, which outlines this special status.

Subsequently, several other provisions of the Indian Constitution were made applicable to J&K by an amendment inserted into the Constitution: a Presidential Order, i.e., The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954, issued by the President of India, “in exercise of the powers conferred by” Clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution, with the concurrence of the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Article 35A was one of these additional changes and allows the J&K legislature to define who is a permanent resident and consequently who is eligible to vote, work for the state government, own land, and college admissions. Article 35A spawned a set of laws that were discriminatory in nature. Non-permanent residents are denied all these rights listed above.

The petition challenging the validity of Article 35A filed by an NGO, We the Citizens, in 2014 objects to the Article both on procedural grounds (only the Parliament and not the President has the right to amend the Constitution) and constitutional validity.

Listed below are some of the practical implications of these discriminatory laws:

1. By denying Indians from other states to own property in J&K, these laws violate fundamental right to equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution that states: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

2. A Kashmiri woman marrying a non-permanent resident or outsider loses all succession rights, while a Kashmiri man does not. Char Wali Khanna, a Supreme Court lawyer and a native of Kashmir, in her petition against Article 35A (now tagged on to the original petition), states the rules restricted the basic right of a Kashmiri woman to marry a man of her choice, by not giving her children any right to property if the husband is not holding a Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC): a gender inequality not consistent with Article 15 that prohibits discrimination on basis of religion, caste, race or place of birth. 

3. Supreme Court lawyer and India’s Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, commenting on the plight of refugees who migrated to J&K during partition and who are now Indian citizens but not “state subjects”, states: “The effect of this is that these citizens of India are not entitled to the protection of Article 14 (equality), Article 15, Article 16 (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment and reservations), the fundamental rights under Article 19 including the right to free speech…”

4. Also, this gives rise to a Quixotic situation, wherein a Pakistani citizen can buy property in J&K, while a legitimate Indian citizen cannot; the J&K Constitution grants residency rights to Kashmiris living in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, overriding security concerns.

So, can a state which is an integral part of India enact laws that violate constitutionally sanctioned fundamental rights?

The answer is a big no.

That brings us to the ultimate question: Is the reversal of Article 370 (read Article 35A as well) legally and constitutionally impossible, as naysayers routinely claim. Jai Anant Dehadrai, a Supreme Court advocate, disagrees (TOI, 31 May 2014): “Equally ludicrous is another suggestion from Omar Abdullah, who argues that the original Constituent Assembly be resurrected to debate this issue…. The late professor M. P. Jain whose book is considered one of India’s foremost texts on Constitutional Law, makes it abundantly clear that since no such “Constituent Assembly” exists anymore, any limitation sought under Article 370(3) would cease to operate and the entire provision would be open to amendment under the regular route available to Parliament under Article 368.”

In conclusion, Article 370 (along with Article 35A) is an anachronistic decree that has outlived its utility, militates against India’s sovereignty, and discriminates against both Indians and Kashmiris by mutually excluding each other from syncretic growth. It is redundant, can be debated and constitutionally discarded.

It was envisioned as a “temporary provision” and that is how it should be treated. – Sunday Guardian, 13 August 2017

» Vivek Gumaste a US-based academic and political commentator.

Kashmiri youth in Srinagar

Kashmir Police

J&K’s Accession: An insider’s account – Punarvasu Parekh

Pandit Ram Chandra Kak & Maharaja Hari Singh
JournalistThe failure of the Indian state to find a solution to the J&K dispute is rooted in its refusal to face the facts. – Punarvasu Parekh

“What Sheikh Abdullah was really gambling for … was an independent principality whose continued existence would be guaranteed by the Indian armed forces and whose solvency was secured by the Indian treasury. There was, however, no idea of a quid pro quo from his side. He did not expect to be called to account either in respect of the internal administration of the state or the utilization of funds supplied to him by the government of India.”

How prophetic these words penned way back in 1955 have been! As Indian soldiers shed their blood to protect J&K from troublemakers of all sorts and as the Indian treasury bleeds to keep it solvent, only to be greeted by chants of “Azadi” from stone-pelting mobs and demand for “greater autonomy” from local sundries, we realize how farsighted the author was in warning us that “Sheikh Abdullah stood only for his own aggrandizement and had no affection for India and no use for her except to the extent she sub-served his ends.” The Abdullah tribe has multiplied several times since then, but its genes and DNAs remain unchanged.

The author Pandit Ram Chandra Kak was the prime minister of princely state of Jammu & Kashmir during the period leading up to the state’s accession to India in October 1947. He left behind a document that records the devious political games played to transfer authority over this Hindu-Buddhist kingdom to Muslims, specifically to Sheikh Abdullah.

Radha Rajan is the editor of Vigil OnlineUnsurprisingly, the document is barely known in “secular” India; its only known public copy is in UK. In a monumental piece of investigative journalism, Radha Rajan presents this document in full, along with her analysis of the communal political game played by Congress leadership in general and Nehru and Gandhi in particular, which has converted Kashmir into a festering sore in Indian polity.

Pandit Kak’s document traverses familiar ground, though it does highlight some less known facts. Its chief merit consists in providing a clear and consistent exposition of the dilemma faced by the State of J&K over accession to India on the eve of independence, by a perceptive patriotic powerful insider who was privy to overt happenings as well as covert machinations in the state, who was in the centre of the storm facing winds blowing from all directions. It tells us why things went the way they did and how India could have averted the current impasse. From the document, Pandit Kak emerges as a man of learning and character, a sterling patriot who had the courage to suffer for his convictions.

In her comments on the selected passages from the document, Radha Rajan shows that what happened in J&K was not accidental, but a logical culmination of the attitudes and policies consciously adopted by Gandhi, Nehru and Congress towards princely states, especially those with Hindu rulers.

The question of accession to India came up before J&K twice in less than a year, though in very different circumstances. Its decision on both the occasions was the same, but for different reasons. Then again, Prime Minister Kak and Maharaja Hari Singh concurred in their conclusion, but not for identical reasons.

Late in 1946, the state was sounded out by the Government of India on the accession to India after the Cabinet Mission had completed its consultations with Government of India and Indian leaders in Delhi. At that time, partition was not on the horizon except as a remote contingency and the accession was envisaged only to the newly-to-be-created Dominion of India.

Sheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru

Pandit Kak tells us that as regards welding India into a single unit, he was not opposed to accession pure and simple. But there was a problem: Sheikh Abdullah, Congress leaders’ (especially Nehru’s) complete identification with him and their refusal to see any other point of view than his.

Sheikh Abdullah started his political career in 1931 as one of the two protagonists of Muslim Conference, an unabashed self-professed communal body. Later he fell out with the other protagonist Ch. Ghulam Abbas and set up his own outfit National Conference. As Ghulam Abbas managed to get close to Jinnah and Muslim League, Sheikh Abdullah approached Pundit Nehru for support. This he received in ample measure and soon he found himself a leading luminary in Congress firmament and President of All India States’ Peoples Conference.

While paying lip service to Congress ideals, Abdullah never forgot his original aim and ambition: absolute control over the state. With the power and prestige of Congress behind him, he started resorting to coercion and bullying against those who disagreed with him, including dissident Muslim groups. Some residents of Srinagar were for years unable to visit other parts of the town for fear of harassment. A maulavi who favoured Muslim Conference was prevented from preaching at the mosque where he and his forefathers had preached for generations before. Hindus began to live in perpetual fear. During the so-called Quit Kashmir agitation in 1946, thousands-strong mobs would surround houses of respectable persons for hours together, terrorise inmates and hurl stones and filthy abuses not sparing women folk of the house. For this reason, he was arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to three years of imprisonment by the state administration.

This was the man backed to the hilt by Congress and its leaders right from the beginning. Nehru, Maulana Azad, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and others visited Kashmir and participated in deliberations and demonstrations of National Conference, which often culminated in violence. After Sheikh Abdullah’s arrest Pundit Nehru insisted on visiting Srinagar despite being told that his visit would be most undesirable in the prevailing circumstances. Nehru was detained in the Dak Bangalow at Muzaffarabad, provided all the facilities possible and the state arranged for his return to Delhi when he so decided. Indeed, after a meeting with Sardar Patel in Mumbai where Gandhi also was present, Pandit Kak facilitated Nehru’s visit to Srinagar in July 1946. Yet, it seems, Nehru never forgave Maharaja and Pandit Kak for his detention.

Against this background, it is not surprising that the decisive factor which influenced Pandit Kak in rejecting accession was the attitude of the Indian National Congress as regards the affairs of the state.

Radha Rajan points out that in the attitude of the Indian National Congress towards princely states, there was nothing peculiar to J&K. It is strange but true that Congress under Gandhi who reached out to the likes of Ali brothers, Muslim League, Jinnah and even Britishers nurtured undisguised hostility towards princely states and sought to undermine them on every conceivable occasion. J&K is the best example to show that this hostility has cost the country dearly.

The issue of accession came up again on the eve of independence when partition had been agreed upon and princely states, which were to regain sovereignty after the lapse of the British paramountcy, were advised to join either India or Pakistan.

J&K again found itself on the horns of a dilemma. It was Jinnah or Nehru-backed Abdullah. Lord Mountbatten told Pandit Kak “you must consider your geographical position, your political situation and composition of your population and then decide.” Pandit Kak rejoined “that means you advise us to accede to Pakistan. It is not possible for us to do that. And since that is so, we cannot accede to India.”

India was divided on communal lines and the only rational course of action for any state before deciding on accession was to ascertain whether its people would support the accession. And with 76 per cent Muslim population, J&K could not be sure of the support of its people if it acceded to India. Accession to India was also hobbled by Congress’s infatuation with Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh Abdullah was in prison at the time of independence. Top Congress leaders were insisting not merely that he be released forthwith, but also that a new constitution be drafted for the state with their advice and power transferred to Sheikh Abdullah. Accession to Pakistan was ruled out because Pandit Kak had no illusions about the nature of Islamic state that was coming up. In other words, Kashmir would not accede to Pakistan and could not accede to India.

Pandit Kak met Jinnah who advised him to join Pakistan and offered favourable terms. However, when Jinnah was told that J&K’s decision not to accede was final, he said so long as the state did not accede to India he would not mind if it did not accede to Pakistan. Of course, he had no intention of honouring this assurance. Less than ten weeks after its formation, Pakistan invaded J&K.

From Government of India side, V. P. Menon, secretary, Ministry of States, had a lengthy discussion with Pandit Kak in Delhi and it was decided that Menon would pay a visit to Srinagar after 15 August 1947 to discuss the future course of action. Pandit Kak, therefore, resolved that under the given circumstances, it would be ideal for all stakeholders if J&K became an independent state, maintaining good relations with India and Pakistan.

Maharaja Hari Singh came to the same conclusion, though for more grandiose, if irrational, reasons. He was dreaming not just of remaining independent, but also of ruling over a larger territory. Fuelling his ambitions was Swami Sant Dev, part of the assortment of swamis, gurus, astrologers and others claiming direct communion with the supernatural collected by Maharaja Hari Singh’s uncle and predecessor Maharaja Pratap Singh. Such was the influence acquired by the Swami on Maharaja that even Pundit Nehru paid him a visit when he came to Kashmir in 1946.

For all his supposed spirituality, the Swami did not neglect the mundane. He was keen to earn jobs, contracts and other favours for his large but non-descript followers and constantly made suggestions to the administration on behalf of his cronies. On most of the occasions, Pandit Kak found it hard to oblige him. The enraged Swami started looking for an opportunity to get rid of the “obstinate” prime minister.

The opportunity came when accession became a live issue. The Maharaja was convinced that after the departure of the British, with the potency of Swami’s supernatural powers, he would be able to extend his rule to new areas. In June 1947, he met with rulers of some adjoining princely states and planned a federation of J&K and some areas now in Himachal Pradesh. When Maharaja Hari Singh sought Pandit Kak’s opinion about his plan, the latter explained to him that it was a futile and impracticable idea; it was utterly unrealistic to imagine that forces which had compelled the British to leave India would allow the creation of a new empire in their midst.

Neither Maharaja nor Swami forgave Pandit Kak for this candid advice, the cold douche he administered to their towering aspirations. Machinations started to remove him from the office. Matters reached Sardar Patel who asked Pandit Kak to convey to the Maharaja that in those crucial days it was essential that the Maharaja and his Prime Minister pulled together, and if that was not possible the situation must be brought to an end immediately. In other words, Maharaja Hari Singh had to choose between swami and Kak. Inevitably, he chose the Swami.

From that point, it was a downhill journey. On 11 August 1947, Maharaja gave Pandit Kak “permission to retire.” It was followed by decapitation of the entire administration. Top officers including Chief Secretary, Chief of the Army Staff, the IGP, Governor of Kashmir, Director of Civil Supplies, the Chief Engineer and several other important officers were removed and replaced by people of little or no experience. Sheikh Abdullah was released in September and lost no time in spreading his tentacles. These developments disheartened and alarmed the citizenry. The result was that when Pakistan attacked the state around 22nd October, it was in no position to counter it. Its helplessness was aggravated by perfidy of the British officers and treachery of the Muslim soldiery.

Pandit Kak had to pay a heavy personal price for his love of truth and candour. Charges of trumpery were forged against him and he was denied permission to leave the state even though he feared for his safety. This enabled Sheikh Abdullah to have his revenge when he paraded Kak and his elder brother through the streets of Srinagar with their hands tied and residents asked to shower shit and filth on them. Kak was pressured to give statement against Maharaja Hari Singh rule. But he did not utter a single word against the Maharaja. Kak later migrated to Kasauli.

The Hindustan Times

With the benefit of hindsight, we can say that Pandit Kak’s idea of an independent state of J&K was not viable. Pakistan would not let it remain in peace. Given its location, onset of the Cold War and China’s ambitions, it would have been a hotbed of international intrigues and a constant source of anxiety to India.

Ideally, J&K should have been fully integrated into India, just like hundreds of other states, small and big. What we now have is a halfway house, an arrangement in which India has the worst of both the worlds. For all nationalist objectives, J&K is an alien state—the steadfast refusal of Sunni Kashmiri politicians to the return of Kashmiri Pundits, establishment of sainik colonies or even temporary facilities for Amarnath pilgrims should clinch the issue. However, India has all the obligations regarding its security and solvency.

Pandit Kak’s document tells us how we could have avoided landing in this position of no rights and all responsibilities. India could and should have insisted that accession of J&K to India would be on the same terms as that of any other state. There was no insurmountable reason why it should be on a different basis. There was no need for India either to accept Mountbatten’s suggestion to make accession conditional upon a plebiscite or transfer power to Sheikh Abdullah or agree to a separate constituent assembly for the state. The Indian army was fighting the state’s battle and the simplest thing was to set up a military administration as was done subsequently in Hyderabad. By the time the military operations ended, a lot of things would have become clear. Then again, there was no need to allow Sheikh Abdullah to oust Maharaja Hari Singh and elect a new Head of State when the issue was being debated in the UN Security Council.

The failure of the Indian state to find a solution to the J&K dispute is rooted in its refusal to face the facts. The two-nation theory was false and pernicious, but after conceding Pakistan Congress lost moral right to oppose it. The country was divided on communal lines and the logic of partition has to be accepted. The existence of a large Muslim population in India does not alter the reality that after the secession of the Muslim component, what remained was and is Hindu Rashtra.

How could India expect to retain the valley of Kashmir with a 95 per cent Muslim population contiguous to the entirely Muslim province of NWFP? Replying to this poser in 1950 by Gordon Walker, then secretary of state for commonwealth relations, Pandit Kak pointed out that it was wrong to assume that the status of the valley affects only its residents and therefore they alone could decide its future. From time immemorial, Kashmir has been cradle to a vital corpus of Hindu thought and rituals. For that reason all the Hindus in India and beyond have a stake in the fate of Kashmir. Kashmir has always been a part of the Hindu Holy Land (punyabhoomi) and the question of handing it over to those who are hell-bent on destroying its Hindu ethos does not arise.

To sum up, reading this book would be a sobering, painful experience for any patriotic Indian. It narrates a sordid tale of historical vicissitudes and human weaknesses from which no player emerges unscathed. But truth, however unpalatable, must be faced. For truth alone liberates from bondage of fear, from folly and its consequences. That is the significance of Radha Rajan’s book.

»  Punarvasu Parekh is an independent journalist in Mumbai.
» Radha Rajan is a political commentator and animal rights activist in Chennai. Pandit Kak’s original document (PDF) is available on Radha Rajan’s website Vigil Online.

Jammu and Kashmir: Dilemma of accession: A historical analysis and lesson by Radha Rajan and Krishen Kak

       Published by Voice of India, New Delhi.  Pages 140, Maps 2, Price Rs 300 

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Nationalism isn’t a dirty word – R. Hariharan

Independence Day in UP

Col. R. HariharanYou cannot confine nationalism to ideologies. To me, nationalism is beyond politics. It’s related to my identity, culture and traditions. – Col. R. Hariharan

I was astounded to see the caption in a recent TV debate: “Stone pelters versus Nationalists.” It is shocking to see, after decades of efforts to establish law and order in Kashmir, made with the blood and sweat of security forces and policemen, stone-pelters conditioning the national discourse on Jammu and Kashmir.

It hurts me to find Modiphobes using the word ‘nationalism,’ as though it is a dirty word, the source of all mischief. Because, I am a nationalist and I am not ashamed to say it loudly. Before self-styled neo-liberals jump to troll me, I say I am not going to allow anyone to typecast me as an admirer of Hindutva or gau rakshaks because I call myself a nationalist.

Equally, I am not prepared to allow the hijacking of nationalism by saffron, yellow or red or any other colour, because ‘nationalism’ is non-negotiable. To me you cannot confine nationalism to ideologies. To me, nationalism is beyond politics. It’s related to my identity, culture and traditions.

In this context, remember the words of a smuggler we engaged to ferry our source across Barak River into East Pakistan, on the eve of 1971 war.

When we asked him how much we should pay, he said: “Babu, I am a convicted smuggler. But I am not doing this for money. Remember, smugglers can be patriots because nationalism is in our blood. There is no price for it.”

To men in uniform it comes with the colour of their uniform and they are ready to pay the price with their lives. This is why my blood boils when I see people, sitting in cosy, air-conditioned comfort of TV studios, passing value judgement on a Major who adopted the expedience of using one of the stone-pelters as a human shield, to extricate polling officers and policemen from a mob trying to lynch them.

If Akshay Kumar in uniform had done it in a Bollywood movie the same critics would have applauded him.

But not in real life, when stone-pelters are exercising their “right to lynch” polling officers. Because they feel, nationalism is a sentiment, like any other. To me and millions of other countrymen who had worn the uniform, it is beyond sentiment. It is difficult to digest glib comments made by people, who do not bother to understand either the life and death situation the hapless Major faced or the nuances of operational leadership.

Improvisation is its watchword and goal orientation is the focus of operational leadership. Unless this is understood, it is difficult to grasp the plight of military men face, day in and day out, in fighting insurgents.

We should leave it to the army to decide the correctness of a military action. Army looks critically at every military action, to correct its methods and improve upon them. It swiftly punishes the guilty or the incompetent. And it does all this silently.

Military operations can be topics of parlour debates. But let us not attach labels like stone-pelters versus nationalists. I will not be surprised if some of the stone-pelters later on become netas. If that is the accepted national norm, so be it; but please leave the armed forces out of it. Leave to the army to deal​ with the aftermath of the ‘human shield’ action.

Don’t equate the Major’s conduct with stone-pelters. He was trying to save lives, while the lynch mob was baying for blood.

Indian army has the unviable record of fighting insurgents for over six decades, perhaps unparalleled in the annals of military history. It has sacrificed thousands of men in these operations. It is perhaps the biggest learning organization, which continuously hones its skills.

Let us not teach the army how to fight insurgents without​ getting rid of the way we reduce everything to ‘tu tu, mei mei‘ arguments fixated on our ideologies.

Even after 25 years of my retirement from the army, when I see an army man brought in a coffin wrapped in tricolor, it brings a lump in my throat, because he died to keep me and all others alive.

Once again I say I am a nationalist, like two million men in uniform, who do the thankless job of saving scores of lives, including the stone-pelters and armchair critics.

For the good of the country, have faith in the security forces and allow them to do the job. Let us not trivialise them.

Otherwise, withdraw the forces from Jammu and Kashmir. If you have the courage of conviction to face the mob trying to lynch you, then hold a political discourse. I am yet to see a single political party trying to evolve a national consensus on Jammu and Kashmir, because that is the way we do politics in this country—whipping the fall guys.

Please don’t do it with the armed forces, because when you are the fall guy, they may not be there to save you. – Hariharan’s Intelligence Blog, April 2017

» Col. R. Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, has rich experience in terrorism and insurgency operations.

Jihadis stomping a security man in Srinagar 2016

Kashmiri Stone Pelter

New Book: Jammu and Kashmir Dilemma of Accession: A Historical Analysis and Lesson – Radha Rajan

Jammu and Kashmir Dilemma of Accession: A historical analysis and lesson by Radha Rajan

Radha Rajan is the editor of Vigil OnlineJammu and Kashmir Dilemma of Accession: A Historical Analysis and Lesson authored by Radha Rajan analyses Prime Minister Pandit Ramchandra Kak‘s first-hand narrative of the tragic events which shook the Kingdom of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and the Tibets in the critical years of 1946-47 when Pandit Ramchandra Kak was Prime Minister of the kingdom.

Prime Minister Kak describes the role played by the Indian National Congress in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir from 1938 onwards and explains why the Kingdom could not accede to India in 1946 when the offer to accede was first made and again in 1947 when the Prime Minister came under pressure from several quarters to accede to Pakistan and to India. While V. P. Menon’s book for reasons unknown does not touch upon the critically important details which culminated in the tragedy of absolute power and total control over the entire kingdom being transferred to Sheikh Abdullah, it nevertheless provides critical insights and information which supplement Prime Minister Kak’s narrative; and read together, they provide all missing links in the official history of the tragedy.

Pandit Kak’s document is not available in India and while the original is with a family member, a copy of the original is housed in the India Office Library and Records, London. (A copy of the original is available on Radha Rajan’s website.)

Voice of India Publications through Radha Rajan’s book places this document for the first time since independence in the public domain in India.

ISBN 9789385485107, Voice of India, New Delhi,  Pages 140, Maps 2, Price Rs 300 

Order from Voice of India or Amazon

India must act if Pakistan makes Gilgit-Baltistan a province – G. D. Bakshi

Gilgit city with air strip is the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan, a Pakistan-occupied territory of India.Maj. Gen. G. D. BakshiShould Pakistan declare Gilgit-Baltistan a province, India must abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution. – Maj. Gen. G. D. Bakshi

Track two talks with Pakistan is fast becoming a profitable cottage industry in this country. This peace talks lobby felt that our surgical strike and fire assaults that had chastised Pakistan last year was just a brave flash in the pan and we could now return to the track two dialogue in a business-as-usual mould. It mattered little to them that Pakistan’s ISI had simply switched tactics and was now using Islamic State fronts, and local Maoists and criminals to sabotage our 1,20,000-km rail network.

In November last year, 150 Indians were killed and 200 wounded in a serious act of rail sabotage in Kanpur. This was virtually equivalent of another Mumbai 26/11. It was sought to be buried under the carpet. Three MPs recently reached Islamabad to signal all was well once more. Possibly Uncle Sam had given the nudge and nod, and the doves were straining to fly to Islamabad in droves. Setting the stage were activists such as Gurmehar Kaur who informed us with a flourish of cards that not Pakistan but war had killed her father. It was time to make peace and the only way to establish it was to gift the Valley to Pakistan on a platter! The Ramjas College fracas now makes much more sense in hindsight.

In 1998, Prime Minister Vajpayee and members of his Cabinet had ridden the peace bus to Lahore. It was a grand gesture like Neville Chamberlain’s (the British PM who had returned to England from Berlin crowing “Peace in our times”. A year later the Second World War had started). In our case, the Kargil War started just six months later in May 1999. Pakistanis have developed back-stabbing into a fine art. The Americans push us into peace talks and the Pakistanis enjoy humiliating us. Even as our Parliamentarians were popping the champagne in Islamabad, the Pakistani Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination grandly announced to Geo TV that a committee headed by Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Ajiz had recommended that Gilgit-Baltistan be incorporated as the fifth State of Pakistan (in addition to Punjab, Pashtunkhwa, Sindh and POK).

The Pak Constitution, he said, would be duly amended soon. It was a highly premeditated and outrageous provocation—a virtual slap in the face and a brazen attempt to turn de facto occupation of Indian territory into de jure ownership. Our Parliamentarians should have flown back the very next day to register our protest. All that we got were rather feeble and anaemic statements from our foreign ministry. It had the air of déjà vu. In the 1950s, China had simply gone ahead and built the Aksai-Chin highway through Indian territory. It took us nearly three years to even find out that such a road had been built in our area. In 2016, China announced the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor with great fanfare and has built the road alignments through Indian territory. Both China and Pakistan held Indian sovereignty over J&K in utter contempt. All we can manage in return is anaemic whimpers of futile protest.

Pakistan claims J&K is a disputed territory. Gilgit-Baltistan is part of J&K and Pakistan never tires of saying the case of J&K is before the UN Security Council. Yet it can unilaterally alter the status of Gilgit-Baltistan. Does it consider India such a weak and pusillanimous state? The onus of asserting and restoring our sovereignty over POK and Gilgit-Baltistan is squarely on India. China is using Pakistan to keep India bullied, cowed down and wholly preoccupied in South Asia. If things go on in this fashion, India will be left with little option but to deal militarily with a Pakistan, whose asymmetric adventurism and provocations scale new heights each passing month. – The New Indian Express, 26 March 2017

Karakoram Highway

Kashmiri Pandits: The ethnic cleansing we have forgotten – Vivek Gumaste

Kashmiri Pandit

Vivek V. GumasteKashmiri Pandits are the original inhabitants of Kashmir, with a culture and tradition that goes back 5,000 years. Close to 1 million Kashmiri Pandits inhabited the valley in the early 1900s and constituted 15% of the population. Today, no more than 3,000 remain. – Vivek Gumaste

To forget an evil is to condone the crime; to pardon an atrocity is to see it recur with dangerous consequences and to overlook a wrong is to alter the paradigm of justice.

The ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley is one of the greatest tragedies of our times; a gargantuan ethical infraction that defies imagination when one fathoms the magnitude of the atrocity and takes cognizance of its inherent diabolism. Unfortunately, however, this horrific event is gradually drifting away from public memory and is set to be interred beneath the tombstone of time.

Therefore, it is imperative that we wind the clock back to the dark day of 19 January 1990—the “Kristallnacht” of the Kashmiri Pandits; the day when law and order collapsed in Kashmir and humanity died a silent death under the watchful eyes of an entire nation.

Here I reproduce two excerpts that capture the barbaric, perverted savagery of the perpetrators as well as the helpless vulnerability of the Kashmiri Pandit.

Kashmir Pundits (1895)Col Tej Kumar Tikoo, in his book Kashmir: Its Aborigines and Their Exodus (Lancer Publishers. 2012) writes: “As the night fell, the microscopic community became panic-stricken when the Valley began reverberating with the war-cries of Islamists…. These exhortations urged the faithful to give a final push to the Kafir in order to ring in the true Islamic order. These slogans were mixed with precise and unambiguous threats to Pandits. They were presented with three choices—Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive (“Convert to Islam, leave the place, or perish”).

“The Pandits could see the writing on the wall. If they were lucky enough to see the night through…. Broadcasting vicious Jihadi sermons and revolutionary songs, interspersed with blood curdling shouts and shrieks, threatening Kashmiri Pandits with dire consequences, became a routine mantra of the Muslims of the Valley, to force them to flee from Kashmir…”

Kanchan Gupta corroborates these happenings (19/01/90: When Kashmiri Pandits fled Islamic terror. Rediff. 19 January 2005): “As evening falls, the exhortations become louder and shriller. Three taped slogans are repeatedly played the whole night from mosques: Kashmir mei agar rehna hai, Allah-O-Akbar kehna hai (“If you want to stay in Kashmir, you have to say Allah-O-Akbar.”); Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa (“What do we want here? Rule of Shariah.”); Asi gachchi Pakistan, Batao roas te Batanev san (“We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men.”)

Kashmiri Pandit Woman (1900)This reiteration of medieval bestiality made a mockery of the principles enshrined in our Constitution, reduced secularism to mere words on a paper document and highlighted the plight of the minority Hindu in a Muslim majority region.

Kashmiri Pandits are the original inhabitants of Kashmir, with a culture and tradition that goes back 5,000 years. Close to 1 million Kashmiri Pandits inhabited the valley in the early 1900s and constituted 15% of the population. Today, no more than 3,000 remain, making up barely 0.15 % of the population.

Since the separatist movement began, at least 1,000 Pandits have been killed, roughly 16,000 homes have been burnt and 350,000 have been displaced: these figures sum up the enormity of this human calamity.

Close to 1 million Kashmiri Pandits inhabited the valley in the early 1900s and constituted 15% of the population. Today, no more than 3,000 remain, making up barely 0.15 % of the population.

While it is easy to blame militants, it cannot absolve us of our responsibility. There was a total failure, at every level of the defence mechanisms that define a civilised nation: society, government and the press—all abrogated their responsibility and failed the Kashmiri Hindu.

But what happened in Kashmir could not have occurred without the tacit compliance of Kashmir’s majority Muslim community and so, despite their protestations, they must share the brunt of this charge.

In moral terms, the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits is so humongous that it reduces to irrelevance the validity of the separatist movement or the so-called atrocities of the Indian Army.

On 19 January 2017, 27 years after that fateful night, in an act of remorse, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly passed a unanimous resolution for the return of the Pandits. Only when this is translated into practical reality and the Pandits are rehabilitated with dignity and security, will we be able to wipe away this seemingly indelible stain on the fabric of our secular democracy. – Sunday Guardian, 5 February 2017

»  Vivek Gumaste is a New York based academic and political commentator.

Kashmiri Pandit protest in New Delhi in August 2016