Ex-RAW chief’s home truths on Kashmir

Sultan M Hali

Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) is aflame since July 8, 2016. The lava of hate from the bursting volcano of IOK is now spreading from the urban centers to rural hamlets. Indian government has tried to brush the issue under the carpet claiming that Pakistan is fueling the flames.
Under the circumstances the interview of A S Dulat, former chief of India’s spy agency RAW published in the magazine, ‘The Wire’ of August 27, 2016 sheds some light on finding a solution. A.S. Dulat is relevant to the issue and helps in understanding the crisis in Kashmir and seeking possible solutions. Dulat, who also was director of the Intelligence Bureau, has served in Kashmir for a long time. His most important tenure was between 2001 and 2004, when he was the advisor on Jammu and Kashmir in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s office. Last year, his book Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, co-authored with senior journalist Aditya Sinha, created furor since he became one of the few members of the Indian security and intelligence community to advocate a reduced military presence in Kashmir and to argue the need for India to build confidence amongst Kashmiris through humanitarian measures.
Dulat, while emphasising that Pakistan’s role is not the only catalyst for the crisis, talks about the need for the Indian government to start talking to separatist leaders in the Hurriyat Conference, Pakistan, and other important political players. He talks about how Vajpayee’s and Narendra Modi’s strategies on Kashmir are poles apart and elaborates on why Kashmiris warmed to Vajpayee. He stresses that India should engage in principled dialogue with people in the Valley instead of taking a naïve, aggressive line. His condemnation of the Modi government for not talking to Hurriyat and for its high handedness in IOK is spot on. He rightly concludes that the Kashmiri uprising is 100% indigenous and Pakistan was taking advantage of the situation in IOK.
The analysis by Dulat is pragmatic since he points out that the problem has been there for a while. Under the surface, there has been a lot of anger, hatred and alienation. Never before has it seemed so much in the open. He states: “Now, you have slogans put up: ‘Indian Dogs Go Back!’ It’s bad and the common Kashmiri is suffering.” He relates all this, unfortunately, to the BJP-PDP alliance. In the 2014 elections, the result was such that this was the only alliance which could work. It was a natural alliance, and [PDP leader] Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, therefore, opted for it although he said; it is an alliance between the North Pole and the South Pole. Everyone hoped that it would bring Jammu and Kashmir together.
What has happened in reality is that it has torn Jammu and Kashmir apart because the Kashmiris have been very apprehensive that the BJP and the RSS are gradually sneaking into the Valley. They are very sensitive to that because with that comes fears of the repeal of Article 370, that there may be a change in the demographic pattern of Kashmir and so on. So as long as Mufti Sayeed was there, he muddled through. He was an unhappy man because Delhi didn’t understand what was happening. And so he died an unhappy man.
Modi has no option but resuming the dialogue process with Pakistan, starting where Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh left it. Modi’s diversionary tactics, drawing the attention off IOK and talking about Balochistan would not help as the problem lies in Kashmir and India will have to talk to Pakistan. Another news item reported in various news papers is the speech given by Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati in Azam Garh, Utter Pradesh. In her speech she has said that BJP may start a war with Pakistan and engineer Hindu-Muslim riots prior to the upcoming polls in utter Pradesh. She has predicted that BJP will use these tactics to divert attention from its failing government policies. Mayawati’s predictions merit attention because BJP is an irrational party, which comprises extremists, who can go to any extent to achieve their gains. Modi, who ignited Gujarat and is responsible for the slaughter of 2000 innocent Muslims in 2002, only because he was seeking re-elections in the province, can well take India to war so that the elections in UP may be won.
Modi’s speech on India’s Independence Day, in which he praised Baloch separatists and some disgruntled elements of Gilgit Baltistan, was a ploy to deflect the attention of ordinary Indians away from his pre elections (2014) promises of economic development and progress. Since Modi has failed to deliver on his promises of “shining India”, he finds it expedient to target Pakistan lest his own voters question him.
Modi’s outburst at the G-20 Summit, where he asked the world to target Pakistan as it was spreading terrorism was again a maneuver to draw world attention away from the Indian barbarism and horror it has wreaked on the inhabitants of IOK. Dulat and Mayawati’s prognosis depict the desperation of Modi, who can create havoc only to score points. The critical mass in IOK is close to detonation and can turn the whole region into ashes and dust. Modi and his hawks, smarting for a conflict with Pakistan only to relieve pressure on IOK, need to be brought into check. Back channel diplomacy may be used to convince India to resume dialogue. If provided with some face-saving gesture, India in its current predicament is likely to come to the negotiating table.
Modi has unleashed the extremist and intolerant Hindus, who have not spared the Indian minorities, killing and maiming them. Those targeted include low caste Hindu Dalit. Indian artistes, intellectuals and academics are so repulsed and disgusted by Modi’s barbarism that most of them have returned their national awards in a bid to stop Modi. Even international academics like Noam Chomsky et-al have expressed solidarity with residents of IOK. The world needs to take cognizance of the extremist policies of Hindus for even waging a limited war on Pakistan as an election stunt and massacring ordinary Kashmiris.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.

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