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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Amarnath Yatra & Kashmir: Communalizing the Composite Culture

After a long time when things were fast returning to normal in Kashmir, the controversy over the land granted to Amarnath Shrine Board, ignited passions in the state.

It's tough to write on Kashmir especially when you are far away from the place. But it's quite easy to see how non-issues become issues and how things get communalised in our country.

One may feel surprised at the scale of protests against the land transfer in the Valley. Naturally, a temporary settlement for the pilgrims can't alter the demography of Kashmir. Yes I also felt the same initially.

But Kashmiris have never trusted Delhi ever since the days of Sheikh Abdullah whose government was dismissed and he was sent to jail where he was kept behind bars for over a decade. And there is a history of 'betrayals' thereafter with the dismissal of elected governments and all other issues we are aware of.

The Kashmiri anger, however misplaced it may be or it may seem, stems out of their suspicion of New Delhi, but is unfortunately viewed as a conflict between Hindus and Muslims, which it is certainly not.

In a country where lawlessness has become a norm (just recall the images of Gujjars on rampage in Rajasthan recently), the Kashmiri anger can also be seen with the same prism, rather than looking at it from a communal angle.

Personally, I would like the Board to get the land. And that there should be all possible facilities for the pilgrims who brave tough conditions to reach the shrine. And most of us feel the same but not by letting the 'separatists' and 'saffronites' take adantage of the existing crisis which both want to exacerbate.

But it's so easy to communalize things. And it's not so simple either: The yatra was initially of a fortnight but Retd General GK Sinha, during his stint as Governor took a confrontational stand and forced the state government to extend it.

As Indian Express writes, 'The Governor pushed his own ideas'. His Principal Secretary Arun Kumar directly wrote to Forest Secretary Sonali Kumar, who was his wife, and manged to get 4,000 kanals of forestland transferred to the Shrine Board. The suspicion was raised then also and the order was struck down then.

But a few months back, Sinha again sought forestland for setting up an independent development authority and though government didn't agree the land was handed over to shrine board. So there was a backdrop. For decades the land was used for the same purpose and why was the need for sudden transfer of it?

Now, the separatists sensed an opportunity. Hurriyat that had become irrelevant also got an issue. Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and their sister organisations were quick to add fuel to fire.

Alas, we have not just inherited the British policy of divide and rule, we have mastered it to perfection. With polls drawing nearer, every party had a stake except Congress that had botched it up.

The BJP just loved it. 'Afzal and Amarnath', they will be our main issues in the election, declared the party leaders, unabashedly. With LK Advani, the old warhorse with a a record of communal and divisive politics, at the helm, it wasn't unexpected.

And with protests intensifying in the valley, the Hindutva hardliners who have no concern with the state, either with Kashmiri Pundits or Muslims, declared that 'food and other supplies to valley will be cut', without realising that this will cause a further backlash. And this is what the hardliners in Kashmir would like to hear from their counterparts in the Sangh Parivar, so as to alienate the Kashmiri Muslims. Pravin Togadia also jumps the gun.

By pitting Hindus against Muslims, Jammu against Valley and Kashmir against Rest of India, they are doing great disservice to the nation. It is either the Kashmiri Pundit who has suffered in exile or the local Muslims who lost lives in the violence all these years. It has taken a long time for Kashmir to come out of blood and gore.

And it's no war. It's an issue that can be resolved but raising rhetoric to this level is simply unjustifiable. It's the duty of government to provide the best possible facilities to the pilgrims. But the BJP gets an opportunity to buttress its charges of appeasement by comparing the Yatra with Haj.

I too would like to hear saner, secular and more moderate Muslim voices emerging from Kashmir. But then the Saffron organisations also need to tone down their feverish jingoistic pitch.

In a hard-hitting editorial on Monday, Indian Express writes: However, short-sighted as the local political leadership has been, the central responsibility rests with the outgoing governor, S.K. Sinha, and those who sent him to Kashmir in the first place after he had amply proved in Assam that he was capable of making sensitive situations worse through irresponsible and ill-informed public assertions as well as partisan political interference...

As far as Haj is concerned, you can read my post written on this blog when I had welcomed the court order that had asked government to stop the subsidy. The BJP should end its hypocrisy. It should have taken a decision when it was in the power at the centre on the issue. At least, this time it should do away with it, if it gets to form the government.

Today people may mock at Kashmiriyat and claim that it never existed but they can't erase the fact that the Amarnath shrine was discovered by a Muslim and the Yatra symbolised the bond between both communities. And in the violence, it is always the Kashmiri Hindu and Muslim who has been the loser, not an outsider.

No wonder, the protests and politics of hate eclipsed the stories of ordinary Muslims taking care of stranded pilgrims and holding makeshift kitchens for them. See the report in Daily India and an Indian Express report.

Meanwhile, read Praveen Swami's article 'Piety, paranoia and Kashmir's politics of hate' published on The Hindu's editorial page.


Sanjay said...

why don't you write the way the issue of transfer of land to Shrine Board was taken by Kashmiri Leaders. Isn't It communal.Why they don't speak when forest land was transferred to Baba Gulam Badhshah University,Islamic University,for Kashmir Muslim in Jammu.The Indian government gives Haj Subsidies and you Muslim can't tolerate the land given for pilgrimage for temporary structure.You talk about communal ism. Islamic terrorism's is no more a hidden fact.

indscribe said...

Why don't I write! At least, you have written...linking it to Haj subsidy and 'Terrorism'. Hope you will be lighter now.

BTW, you should have read the post properly. It's more politics and less of religious conflict.

And if Muslims start, they will also have Babri Masjid, riots, army's excesses etc etc

Any end to this!

Anser Azim said...

Follow the law of the land and the law of the state period. This issue has been communalized and Kashmir is back into the news after a relative calm and when normalcy was returning to the state. Sanjay: Its not an Islamic or Muslim issue. It is the issue of
Kashmir and its people, where incidently muslims are in majority and were ruled by minorities for a longer period of time. If I were there and had the power, I will give the land to the Amarnath board, knowing that how Hindus are sentimentally attached to that Shrine, whose caretaker to the best
of my knowledge is by the way a Muslim. But unfortunately there are other factors involved behind this land deal!!!I hope sanity prevails.

best wishes
anser azim, chicago

Vinay Yadav said...

hey "indscribe"
I really feel great after reading this article and completely agree with ur points .......Land should be transfer to SHINE without giving any chance to'separatists' and 'saffronites'
u present all issue in very unbiased way ...............I m going to subscribe ur blog so I can read u .......keep the good work

And One More request Plz don't loose ur patient while replying stupid people like (Sanjay 'fist comment)........

sumit kumar said...

I dont live in kashmir and dont know abt the attitude of the people and politicians there but there is certainly one thing that i didnt liked about this whole issue its that
y these people are talking about kashmiri nationalism
wat is this?
dont they belong to this country "INDIA" or " HINDUSTAN "or " BHARAT"
it should be indian nationalism then any thing else
why these people are breaking my country in states. i have seen this
many times local politicians are tearing our country they are dividing us on basis or religion and state hood if this will continus the day is not far when the our country we call india will shrink to delhi only
so my dear kashmir first try to be indian then kashmiri

dont learn from maharashtra or assam or bihar where the talk about rubbish
recently i read that someone is demanding a new state called gorkhapur it will not help the people its just benifit the politicans who will take the large amount of maney and fly away
so be aware of them
if u wanna learn learn it from delhi
have you ever heard delhites saying
that mumbias,nepalis,biharis,ups,rajasthanis should not come here live here or earn hear
so be a true indian first only then you can spread the message of love
best of luck
decision is yours

Vibhash Prakash Awasthi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
parul said...

who so ever this sanjay is really needs to know . that this shrine was found by a /'muslim guy" and every year his family is the first one to visit it also one tenth of the money collected is given to his family. we need to respect each other's religion and not become puppets in hands of these "separatists and saffronities" who do it for coming in power. m a migration stuck child and still i feel its not the people, as we r "indians" but these so called workers of parties trying to divide us

indscribe said...

Vibhash bhai,

I welcome criticism but there should also be an attempt to understand 'the other side'.

See I regularly get hate mails and comments full of gaali that have nothing to do with the subject of my blog.

Often these comments spoil the whole day. I mean you write a post that is about harmony and you get really nasty personal attacks, then it feels bad. And that's why comment moderation is enabled on this blog.

Vibhash Prakash Awasthi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
arpitpandya said...

None of u are correct.none of u must be aware of wat actualy triggered the shrine issue and who started it all...I wld onlu suggest that people must stop thinking only on the basis of media reports---go deeper boys and find the actual story

and Sanjay ...u hv hurt indscribe...dnt do that

indscribe said...

Vibhash Sahab,

...you took the trouble to go to the old posts. The post about Muslim cricketers in Indian team, was to counter the argument of discrimination and bias against Muslims.

The aim is to highlight that Muslims have tremndous opportunities and if anybody is talented, he can rise up.

But you still have objections on that. I wonder what to do. Its my blog, I think I should have the right to choose my topic....

Ye manzilen !! said...

We, the writers welcome any debate on any issue. Democracy can not function without it. I appreciate indscribe's efforts to take a position of the subject and present this thought....

It is up to us now to agree or disagree. BOTH WOULD BE COOL! Dont get personal baby boomers....it only shows the ugly side of us. We can do better than that...

It is easy to hide behind a pusdo name and get nasty...don't fall for that jahiliyat and u will be rewarded...

Anonymous said...

How it got started?
The former Governor of J&K state, Lt.Gen. Sinha,whosw insesitiveness
in the north eastled to many complications,caused the allotment of "forest lands " to SWASB for construction of hutments for yatries.This is counterto the Supreme court dicta.Hence, Sikhs and KashmiriMuslims objected to it on "ecological consideraytions".
The Huriyat attcked the Govt. thatit is marginalising the majority to appease the minority!
The Govt. revoked the order and had the lands transferred to Tourism Dept.
The Sangh Parivar twisted the issue, cmmunalised it and called for nation wide bandh, to gain political mileage.
Modi of Gujarat gave a cold shoulder to the VHP's call.That establishes the inner contradictions in the party which dreams of winning in the next elections!

Anonymous said...

I smiled when I read your article. You are such a hypocrite. But a hypocrite is hundred times better than a hardliner.

You try so hard to hide your hatred for the BJP by equalizing your article by benevolent thrashing of the PDP, hurriyat & other separatists, immediately protecting them by pointing out that 'Kashmiris have never trusted Delhi'. What an excuse!! I'll let it go at that for the time being.

You campare the Kashmiri protests with the gujjar agitation but you easily fail to mention that Kashmiris were holding Pakistani flags & that the gujjars on the other hand, as a community can sacrifice each & every member of there community to protect India.

You really believe that the agitation & protests all over India are being forced by the Hindu organisations? You are right but these protests are supported by a heavy majority of Hindus all over the world. The anger in Hindus is not because the land was not alloted/ transferred to them, its because we feel that if we are being fair to Muslims in India, they should also be fair to us. This is like a stab in the back by all the parties in Kashmir, except BJP.

You claim that this should not be taken in communal context but if this was a muslim pilgrimage and hindus would have prevented land transfer, a lot of suicide bombers in Pakistan & UK would have started there journey to this new target. And the muslim appeasing politicians in India would protest till eternity.

In Jaipur, Rajasthan, 2 years back the CM alloted land for Ajmer Kwaja Pilgrims. The hindus in the region protested violently but the CM DID NOT GIVE IN. & mind you this is a BJP ruled state.

However much we try to blame the Governor, the sole responsibilty of giving in to the separatists lies with CM AZAD, PDP & THE WEAK GOVERNMENT OF MANMOHAN SINGH. At time like these we wish BJP was in power.

And oh yes, the writer "Yeh Manzilein".....we dont need your reward. We reward YOU by visiting your blogs for the first time because of this controversy.

Anser Azim said...

Anonymous: Hypocrites used to have names. so the order is like this : Hardliner, hypocrite and then there is Mr. Anonymous (full of hate)!!
best wishes
anser azim

Anonymous said...

Amarnath Land Transfer Dispute-Impotent Facade of Secular India

The heated debates and discussions in relation to the recent disturbances in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is not being projected objectively by the media. They are relying on the words of shady ministers and other political power mongers in the state. Consequently, not only the main issue is being sidelined but these unscrupulous people are using it as a podium for their political aspirations and careers.

Read More: http://amarnathlandissuejammuandkashmir.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

secular...........India is a secular country....how many times we read these words in news papers, magzines,etc...but only in the context to appease muslims in country......its gud im really not against it muslims r as indian as hindus,,,but what my point is--------if sombody talks about muslim rights he is secular n if somebody talks about hindu rights he is not secular...............if in hindu majority nation we protect muslim rights.............then in muslim dominated kashmir y these ppl r creating a havoc when a small piece of land is transferred to hindus for two months a yr.............secular doesnt means protecting minors n ignoring majors...but these pseudo secular parties like congress can never understand this n they never even want to.

Anonymous said...

Biggest problem of kashmir started with throwing pandits out...by the sunni islami extremists.

Of Azaadi And Kashmiri And Other False Words


Anonymous said...

As somebody who has been to kashmir on amarnath yatra, the ARROGANCE of the kashmiri muslims is seen to be believed. they say, "hamara kashmir" as if we are usurpers. the writing on the wall, indian dogs out of kashmir. And they SHAMELESSLY go to other parts of the country for learning or trade. The attitude is the same. The "khunnas' in their eyes is to be seen to be believed. I have no political contacts even in my hometown. but believe me, I have half a mind to gather an army of goondas to thrash them and teach them some humility. What do you say on that?

indscribe said...

Anon: Many of my friends go to the yatra, never told me this. It depends on one's experiences.

Anyway. If it has happened, it's really bad, in fact, disgusting. I feel really sad, brother.