Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who is the State subject in Jammu and Kashmir?

Who is the State subject in Jammu and Kashmir?

 
There three definitions ate for State subjects under two notifications issued by Maharaja in 1927 on January 31 and April 20. The terms and subjects are:
 
First: “All persons born and residing within the State before the commencement of the reign of late Maharaja Gulab Singh and also the persons who settled therein before the commencement of Samvat year 1942 and have since been permanently residing therein.”
 
2nd: “All persons other than those belonging to Class I who settled within the state before the close of Samvat year 1968, and have since permanently resided and acquired immovable property therein.

3rd: All persons other than those belonging to Class I and II permanently residing within the State, who have acquired under a rayatnama any immovable property therein or who may hereafter acquire such property under an ijazatnama and may execute a rayatnama after ten years’ continuous residence therein.

This notification is to be read subject to the provision contained in Part III of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, section 6 of which is reproduced below:-

Permanent residents—(1) Every person who is, or deemed to be, a citizen of India under the provisions of the Constitution of India shall be a permanent resident of the State, if on the fourteenth day of May, 1954—

(a) He was a state subject of class I or of CLASS II ; or
(b) Having lawful acquired immovable property in the State, he has been ordinarily resident in the State for not less than ten years prior to that date.

(2) Any person who, before the fourteenth day of May, 1954 was a State Subject of Class I or of Class II and who having migrated after the first day of March 1947, to the territory now included in Pakistan, return to the State under a permit for resettlement in the State or for permanent return issued by or under the authority of any law made by the State Legislature shall on such return be a permanent resident of the State.

(3) In this section, the expression “ State Subject of class I or Class II” shall have the same meaning as in the State Notification No. 1-L/84 Dated 20th April, 1927, read with State Notification No. 13-L dated 27th June, 1932.

Jammu Province call for delimitation in JK Seeks Equal Number Of Seats For Jammu, Valley

Jammu Province call for delimitation in JK
Seeks Equal Number Of Seats For Jammu, Valley

present composition of Assembly comprising of 111 members with 24 seats reserved for POK (AJK), is highly biased against Jammu region, which was allocated only 37 seats as against 46 seats for Kashmir region.”
 




Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Srinagar, Feb 18: The Panthers Party MLA and former minister Harsh Dev Singh has sent a Private Member’s bill to the Assembly for constitution of Delimitation Commission and for holding fresh delimitation of Assembly constituencies.

In the bill Singh has sought amendments in Sections 47 and 48 of the Constitution of J&K so as to undertake fresh delimitation on the basis of criteria laid down in the Representation of People’s Act (RPA). Singh claims that “present composition of Assembly comprising of 111 members with 24 seats reserved for POK (AJK), was highly biased against Jammu region, which was allocated only 37 seats as against 46 seats for Kashmir region.”

He argues that the parameters laid down in the Section 4 of RPA for allocation of seats included population, geographical compactness, nature of terrain, facilities of communication and like considerations. He said that prescribed parameters weighted heavily in favour of Jammu region except the population factor which too was debatable in view of 2001 census figures for Kashmir having been fudged and manipulated. Singh has however proposed in the Bill that even if concession for higher population is given to Kashmir region, the other factors weigh heavily for increase of seats for Jammu region.

LEGAL POSITION

Constitutionally, the delimitation can’t be taken up in the state without an amendment in the state constitution. In April 2002, the National Conference government had brought a bill to halt the delimitation process till 2026. The amendment says that the delimitation can be undertaken only after 2026.

Interestingly, the bill was passed unanimously and the governor gave his assent on April 23, 2002. The BJP had five members in the assembly and Panthers Party one at that time. “They didn’t raise any voice against the bill and allowed it to pass unanimously. That means they were supporting the bill,” said a senior NC leader. The amendment was brought in section 47, sub-section 3 with its proviso saying explicitly it shall not be necessary to readjust the seats till 2026. The amendment has been brought into the RPA as well which governs the election process in the state.

Constitutional experts say if any government wanted delimitation, it has to bring in a constitution amendment bill and in case it was not passed, the government has to resign.

In 2007, the then chief minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, had convened a meeting of all parties to seek consensus for delimitation. He had reportedly said that his government could go for delimitation by an executive order. However, he was reminded that he had to bring in a constitution amendment bill for the purpose and if the bill fails to get through with 2/3 majority he has to resign.

Analysts argue that delimitation is not done on the basis of voter population but on various factors, including the overall population of the area. Section 47 (1) of the state constitution says, “The legislative assembly shall consist of one hundred and eleven members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the state.” And its section (2) says, “For the purpose of sub-section (i) the state shall be divided into single member territorial constituencies by such authority and in such manner as the legislature may by law determine.”

 
VOTER POPULATION

In the proposed bill, Singh has not mentioned the voter population this time. Earlier both the BJP and Panthers Party would call for delimitation citing the voter population as reason. This time Kashmiris came forward to register themselves as voters, though not in large numbers. It brought substantial change and punctured the voter argument of Jammu.

The recent revision of electoral rolls in Jammu and Kashmir revealed that Kashmir valley has more voter population than the other regions. As per the recent revision carried out by the Election Commission of India in January-February last year, voter population of the Valley is 32,60,663. The total electoral population of the Valley as per 2006 revision was 31,55,890.

Sources said if the Valley shows interest in completing the formalities its voter population would be far higher than what it is presently. In Leh and Kargil districts of Ladakh the number of electors as per 2008 revision is 1,52,513 with Leh having 74,396 electors and Kargil 78,117.

In Jammu division, electors as per 2008 revision are 30,84,417. According to 2006 revision the total electors in Jammu division were 29,88,876.


SINGH’ SOLUTION

Harsh Dev Singh has proposed in the bill an increase in the Assembly seats from existing 111 to 140. The 140 seats are proposed to be equally allocated between Jammu and Kashmir regions, with 52 seats for Jammu region, 52 seats for Kashmir region, 6 seats for Ladakh region and 30 seats for AJK.

He says out of 30 seats for AJK 8 seats could be assigned to AJK migrants who are already domiciled in this part of state.

FLAWED SOLUTION

Politicians of Jammu and Kashmir argue these demands are coming from areas and districts already enjoying the “administrative empowerment” and giving them more seats in the assembly would “dis-empower Kashmiris in particular, and Muslims in general, from a little political empowerment they have in the Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir.”

The veracity of the population figures reflected in the censuses in the past has also been questioned. “Even as the population of Kashmir valley is decidedly higher, the figures reflected in various censuses are far less than what these actually are,” said a PDP leader. First of all delimitation is not possible at all this time, a top government official said. Besides, he said, migration didn’t take place only in Jammu. “Enlisting migrants from across as voters is dangerous. It didn’t happen in Bengal, it didn’t happen in Assam and it did happen even in Punjab, the state that was directly hit by partition. And it shouldn’t happen in the state,” he said.

PDP’S POSITION

The PDP president Mehbooba Mufti told Greater Kashmir that her party has firm stand on the issue and whenever the bill would be brought ‘we will stick to our stand.’

Elaborating, she said first of all the delimitation of the constituencies wouldn’t take place till 2026. She however said that coalition government had decided that if ever the need arises the seats should be increased on the existing position by 20 percent. “Our stand is clear on it and everyone knows that,” she said.

The PDP general secretary Nizamudin Bhat said, “If the objective of bill is to maintain demographic, regional balance, we will debate it. In no way we will allow a debate if the design is to overawe the majority community or create impression that there is a regional imbalance.”

NC’S POSITION

The National Conference is keeping its cards closed. “Let us see when the bill would be tabled in the House,” said senior leader and minister Ali Muhammad Sagar. He however said it was NC that brought the bill to halt delimitation till 2026.


Roshni or Darkness Roshni, The Biggest Ever Land Scandal? From Sheikh’s land-to-tiller to Azad’s Raj Tilak

Roshni or Darkness
Roshni, The Biggest Ever Land Scandal?
From Sheikh’s land-to-tiller to Azad’s Raj Tilak


 
Saturday, April 18, 2009


Srinagar, Apr 15: Though the Ghulam Nabi Azad led coalition government had compared Roshni (light) Act with the land reforms of Sheikh Abdullah, it is turning out to be the biggest ever land scandal of the State.

The Congress-PDP government had earlier claimed that Roshni scheme would generate Rs 25000 crores. Later it said Rs 6000 crores would be generated, however so far 1,77,395 kanals of State land has been given to the occupiers in Jammu and the State has realized only Rs 15.47 crores. In Kashmir division, 31,103 kanals have been given and the State has realized Rs 39.64 crores.

The then Leader of Opposition, present Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, had spoken against the amendments brought by Azad government in the Act conceived by him to generate money for utilizing State’s water resources. He had ridiculed Azad’s comparison of Roshni Act with the land reforms.

Sheikh, Rather had said, snatched land from land-grabbers and gave that to tillers free of cost. “Here you are giving property rights to land-grabbers who have occupied Nazool land in cities and Khalisa land in villages,” he had said. “Only rich, elite and land-grabbers had the audacity to grab the State land and now have a benevolent government who gave them its rights,” Rather had said. He had cautioned that the State wouldn’t get any money out of the amendments. His fears proved right.

LAND TO TILLER

On October 17, 1950, Sheikh Abdullah declared policy of liquidating the big landed estates and transferring land to tiller by enacting Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, the land of these people was reduced to only 182 kanals.

Former editor of the Asian Age, M.J Akbar, describes the reforms in these words. “The century of Dogra rule has seen usurpation of nearly all the land in the valley by ruling class, with the result most of the 2,200,000 acres of cultivable Kashmiri land belonged to either to the Maharaja directly or to his Jagirdars and small class of landlords called Chakdars.” To put it more starkly, he says “the owners were Jammu Hindus, the tillers Kashmiri Muslims.”

Historian and politician Muhammad Yousuf Taing says till the land to tiller law of 1950 came into force, even the daughters of poor peasants were treated as part of the estate on which the landlords enjoyed absolute rights. He says the sweeping land reforms under the Big Landed Estates Abolition Act passed on July 13, 1950, changed the complexion of Kashmiri society. He said that Kashmiri Pandits who were close to tyrannical regime had not got any land outside the Kashmir valley.

In 1950 when the constituent assembly of the Jammu Kashmir was constituted, it had to decide four points including whether compensation should be given to those landlords who have lost their land through the land abolition act. On November 5, 1951 the then Revenue Minister Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg refused to give compensation to landlords.

RAJ TILAK

He argued in the Constituent Assembly that the Maharaja Hari Singh on ascending the throne in 1924-25 issued a Royal Proclamation called the Raj Tilak Boon. On the basis of this declaration, Maharaja permitted the landlords to annex Village Common Lands (Shamilat) with their holdings. These Shamilat came into possession of landlords apart from cultivated land they already possessed. And with this the landholder who had 1000 kanals got further 1000 kanals of land grants on the basis of Raj Tilk Boon. And those who had 2000 kanals got 2000 kanals of Shamilat.

Beg told the Constituent Assembly that the deceit and frauds took place while these orders were operated so much that land of pity land holders were also grabbed by influential elements. In Kashmir 160,000 acres and in Jammu 310,000 acres were given away by Maharaja by Raj Tilak Boon.”

The land reforms empowered 87 per cent people in Jammu and Kashmir State. Landlords were given right over only 180 kanals of land and later when Agrarian Reforms Act was enacted, it was slashed to 100 kanals,” he said.

The widow of Dewan Jawalla Sahai, who had given substantial money to Maharaja Gulab Singh when he purchased Jammu & Kashmir from the British for Rs 75 lakhs, owned 120,000 kanals of land in south Kashmir. In Kulgam Tehsil it was difficult for people to bury their dead as almost all land had proprietorship of the widow.


From Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 100 for 100 kanals

The National Conference government had conceived the Roshni Act to generate Rs 25000 crore for development of power projects in the state sector of Jammu and Kashmir. Senior officials in the Power Development Corporation said that when National Conference government started Baglihar project it had no money. The then chief minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, pursued the policy of “beg, borrow or steal” to realize the objective.

Realizing money constraints to exploit water resources, the then Finance minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, came up with the idea of Roshni Act. It took five years for the government to come up with the legislation. Till then it had lost seven power projects to the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation including Pakaldul. The projects would now be developed by Chenab Projects Ltd, a joint venture company of NHPC and the JKSPDC.

The NC government had got the concurrence of internationally reputed agencies for funding. The agencies had given detailed project reports to JKSPDC and had agreed to provide 85 per cent financial assistance to the state government in developing these projects. However the centre government sabotaged it by not giving counter guarantees to the State Government forcing the State to hand over seven projects to the NHPC, a government of India corporation.

In 2001, Abdul Rahim Rather came up with the legislation to create separate power fund for the state. The state government presuming it would generate Rs 25000 crore enacted the law, the J&K State Land (Vesting of Ownership Rights to the Occupants) Act 2001.

The Act was named as Roshni Act so that whatsoever revenue was generated by it, it will be used in power sector. The government had kept January 1990 as cut-of date and described as state land the land as “illegally occupied” after 1990.

According to the law any occupant of the state land shall apply to the territorial Tehsildar for having such land vested / transferred to him under the provisions of the Act.

The concerned Tehsildar after holding an enquiry and verifying the contents of application would send a report to District Commissioner of the area with his recommendations. The District Commissioner would subsequently make further enquiry and forward the application along with his report to the committee which is required to pass appropriate order for disposal of land and also determine the price to be deposited by the applicant (occupant) for vesting of such state land.

The provisions of the Act, shall however, not apply to such land as is earmarked for a specific purpose in any master plan etc. Soon the National Conference lost power and the PDP-led coalition took over. In May 2004, Muzaffer Hussain Baig framed the rules. In November 2005, the Azad government took over and brought amendments in the law marring the whole scheme. It fixed the cut of date as 2004. Azad didn’t stop there.

For residential use authorized occupants (where lease had been granted) were asked to pay 25 per cent of the total value for upto 2 kanals. In 3 to 10 kanals, 40 per cent and for more than 10 kanals full value of the land has to be paid or as determined by committee.

For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 35 per cent of total value has to be paid for 2 kanals or as determined by committee. For 3 to 10 kanals, 50 per cent of the total value and for more than 10 kanals occupants either have to surrender beyond ten kanals or pay full value which will be determined by the committee.

For unauthorized occupants who are in possession of upto 2 kanals (where no lease has been granted or allotment made) price has been fixed 40 per cent of the total value. For 3 to 10 kanals, 50 per cent of the total cost has been fixed.

In commercial area authorized occupants (where lease has not expired) will have to pay 30 per cent of the total value. For authorized over stayed occupants (where lease has expired) they will have to pay 45 per cent of the total value. And for unauthorized occupants (where no lease was granted) 60 per cent of the total value has been fixed.

The land which has been used for, what government says, institutional use like educational, religious, charitable, social institution and political parties recognized by election commission of India, rate list is: An authorized occupant (where lease has not expired), price has been fixed 15 per cent of total value. For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 25 per cent has been fixed and for unauthorized occupants (where no lease has been granted) it is 50 per cent of total value.

The final blow was agriculture land. For agriculture land upto 100 kanals token money of Rs 100 has to be paid for maintenance of records. An authorized occupant (where lease has not expired), price has been fixed 15 per cent of total value. For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 25 per cent has been fixed and for unauthorized occupants (where no lease has been granted) it is 50 per cent of total value.

Land Mafia

With the government of Jammu and Kashmir vesting ownership rights of thousands of kanals of state land to illegal occupiers, it is gradually losing the land, considered to be the biggest asset.
Sources said there was no provision of compensation for land acquired for implementation of scores of centrally-sponsored schemes like construction of roads, health care units and construction of drinking water tanks across the state. “But now with no land available, the government has no money to provide compensation to acquire land,” said an official of Revenue Department. “The government could have easily bartered the land. Now in absence of money, it would face severe problems in implementing the schemes.”

Sources say the government claim that farming community got the benefit of the schemes is full of contradictions. On February 9, 2007, when Ghulam Nabi Azad introduced the scheme in the Assembly he described it as a “revolutionary step” and stated that the farmers would be empowered by the Act as thousands of kanals having market rate of Rs 15000 crores would go to farmers. The Government had claimed that it would benefit 19 lakh cultivators but the State has only 16 lakh cultivators and only 16 percent of them have occupied the state land, mostly in Jammu. In Jammu district, the committee headed by the divisional commissioner gave away ownership rights on 42914.18 kanals while in Srinagar on 429.61 kanals. Sources in the Revenue Department said that major revenue came from Srinagar and Jammu cities with Jammu realizing Rs 15.47 crores against 1.77 lakh kanals and Kashmir division Rs 39 crores against over 31000 kanals. Sources said the government has been lenient in Jammu district and most of the beneficiaries were land mafia, politicians and senior officials.

However the first ever case filed in Srinagar by the Vigilance Organisation for transfer of state land under Roshni Act is a classic example of how the revenue records have been fudged and the Act misused. Last month the VO filed cases against top officials of the Government for transferring State land under Roshni Act to the big businessmen in Gulmarg.

The VO sources describe vesting ownership rights of land in Gulmarg as violation of all laws and say Roshni Act doesn’t apply in Gulmarg. The vigilance case is based on the argument that the State land even under occupation can’t be transferred to the occupant in the areas specified by the government for some purpose and the areas which come under the Master Plan.

Gulmarg has a master plan of 1966. Sources in the vigilance said that some five to six applicants have paid Rs 10 crores to the State government for the transfer of the State land in Srinagar and Gulmarg. The revenue officials, sources said, interestingly have not followed the law but violated the law by transferring the title of that land to the accused under the Roshni Act which doesn’t come under the purview of the Act. “In Jammu district the fraud might be at bigger scale. This is tip of iceberg. The Revenue department has to answer many things,” sources in the VO said.

As many as 80,420 cases are pending under the Act and the Government has not fixed any final date for disposal of the held-up cases. However NC-led government is indecisive to take action. The Chief Minister Omer Abdullah agrees that there has been large scale illegal transfer under the Act. However he didn’t comment when asked whether government would turn down the 80,000 more applications pending with the Revenue Department.

Sources said under threat was the land that belongs to the departments including Forest, Tourism and Irrigation. There are thousands of kanals of land in Srinagar city that belongs to the Tourism Department and Srinagar Municipal Corporation. Fearing huge land grab under Roshni Act by land mafia in Srinagar, the SMC has this month written to the Revenue department that the land including Kah Charai, Nazool, Panchayat should be identified. Interestingly the SMC so far has not conducted any such survey.

BAR LINKS K-ISSUE WITH SEAT DELIMITATION

BAR LINKS K-ISSUE WITH SEAT DELIMITATION


 
Monday, May 11, 2009


Srinagar, May 10: On Monday the Jammu Kashmir High Court would hear a petition of a rare nature. The petition, actually related to increase in number of assembly seats in Jammu division, is likely to stir a discussion on Kashmir dispute, UN Resolutions on Kashmir, and Instrument of Accession.

After government turned down a bill seeking increase in the number of assembly by setting up fresh delimitation of the constituencies in Jammu division, the president of Panthers Party Bhim Singh filed a petition. Among other points Bhim said in the petition that Jammu has a larger geographical area than Kashmir and hence it should have more seats. He had alleged discrimination with Jammu.

But Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association challenged Bhim’s petition, terming it an ‘attempt to capture political power purely by increase of legislative assembly seats in Jammu province.” A division Bench comprising the Chief Justice, justice Bahrain Gosh and Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir heard petitioner Bhim Singh and Jammu Bar in Jammu High Court. The Bench would now hear the Bar in Srinagar.

The Bar has framed a four-point response-- state disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir, question the petition itself, discuss the issue of discrimination raised in the petition, and elaborate the “politics behind the petition.”

The Bar has annexed documents of Treaty of Amritsar, UN Resolutions, agreements between India and Pakistan, and other documents with its response. The Bar’s objections present historical background of Kashmir dispute and how the State of Jammu and Kashmir has evolved in past 200 years. The Bar has quoted the various Security Council resolutions stating the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir would be made in accordance with the will expressed through democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite under UNO.

“Everything said and done, the Indian government maintains that it has legal possession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir by virtue of the instrument of Accession and Pakistani position is based on the contention that the so called accession of the State Jammu and Kashmir was fraud and therefore there was no basis whatsoever for India’s contention,” the Bar said.

The Bar’s objections say Bhim Singh’s petition and other statements have to be viewed in historical perspective. “The writ petition brings to fore intra regional issues and seeks to project them under the cover of constitutionalism and discrimination,” the Bar said. It described constitution of two commissions headed by two retired judges as fall out of discrimination bogey raised by Jammu people. Bar described the writ petition as an attempt to vest political power with Jammu people and repeat the times of Dogra rulers.

The Bar said the writ petitioner has not refrained from making political statements in the writ petition. “Because under the cover of PIL it seeks to espouse altogether different issue and seeks a judicial finding on those issues,” the Bar said. Bar said whether the people of Jammu have been discriminated or not in the sharing the states resources is a matter that should not come up in the present proceedings. The Bar said that intra-regional issues raised in the petition should be dismissed with costs, as they have been sharpened and projected in a way to cause an upset in the State.

The Bar said the delimitation commission can’t be constituted for increasing the number of legislative assembly seats, nor it can be constituted for the purpose of re-adjustment of boundaries of assembly constituencies, or for rotation of reserved legislative assembly constituencies. The Bar has elaborated that it is Muslims of the state who are being discriminated.

On May 11, 2009

The High Court on Monday heard the delimitation case with the High Court Bar Association arguing the petition filed by the Panthers Party president Bhim Singh was neither maintainable nor in the public interest but an attempt “to concentrate political power in a particular section of a particular region of the state.”

Senior counsel Z A Shah, pleading the case on behalf of the Bar before a division bench comprising the Chief Justice Barin Gosh and Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir said the petition has been filed by a political party apparently to safeguard interests of a particular section in Jammu division. Shah termed the petition an attempt to drag the court in inter-regional issues.

Shah said the Bar firmly stood by the integrity of the State, and believes no region should be discriminated against. Rubbishing the points of discrimination raised by Singh in his petition, Shah said a different picture would emerge if the issue of regional discrimination is touched.

Shah then explained peculiar nature of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Constitution of the Jammu and Kashmir, Article 370 and its applicability, Indian Constitution and its applicability to Jammu and Kashmir, and international dimensions of the issue.

Zafar quoted the Article 253 of the Constitution of India which says the consent of the J&K state has to be obtained in the event of its final disposition. “Therefore this is implicit recognition of the UN resolutions and the international dimension of the issue,” Zafar said, adding the disposition of the State has not taken place so far. Zafar submitted this aspect should be taken into consideration, and to maintain integrity of the state the Court should uphold the amendment that has postponed fresh delimitation of assembly constituencies till 2026.

Replying to the Bhim Singh’s contention in the petition that suspending delimitation till 2026 was against democracy, Zafar said it has to be seen what kind of democracy the J&K has enjoyed, and whether it could be termed as the democracy that is in vogue in other places.

Shah cited the amendment passed by Parliament that fixed the number of parliamentary seats for J&K at 6, doing away with the criterion of population ratio. He said the State government passed a similar amendment freezing delimitation till 2026. Shah asked can the president be accused of discrimination vis-à-vis the Parliament amendment.

Shah would argue the case further on Thursday.

Earlier, when the case came up for hearing, the Chief Justice Barin Gosh observed the Court would like to hear legal instead of political arguments; hear whether the amendment was destroying basic structure of the democracy or not.

“If it does affect the democracy then it has to be explained how, and if it doesn’t that too has to be elaborated,” the Chief Justice observed, adding the Court has not taken any of the points alleged in the petition into consideration except to see whether the amendment (that delimitation is postponed till 2026) was in accordance with the constitution or not.

In April 2002, the National Conference government had brought a constitutional amendment in the assembly that explicitly says it was not necessary to readjust the assembly seats till 2026.

The Panthers Party president Bhim Singh filed petition in the Supreme Court against the amendment, but withdrew it after he was told to approach an appropriate forum. Then he filed a petition in the High Court, claiming “present composition of Assembly comprising 111 members with 24 seats reserved for PaK (AJK), was highly biased against Jammu region, which was allocated only 37 seats against 46 seats for Kashmir region.” Bhim Singh and the Jammu Bar argued the case before the Bench in April 2009.

Advocate G.A Lone who requested the bench that case should be heard at heard Srinagar as well was the first to argue today. He said postponing the delimitation doesn’t affect the voting rights.

Former advocate general of the State Altaf Hussain Naik said the delimitation commission of the State has no powers to increase or decrease the Assembly seats. He said the power to increase or decrease the seats lies with the legislature that has suspended this provision for some period. “By doing so it has not taken away any democratic right from anyone,” he said.

The senior counsel Syed Tasaduq Hussain said that a writ petition could be filed only by a “natural person.” He quoted the US Supreme Court judgments and the rules of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and said that the no political party was the “natural person.” He said the petition was against the rules and not maintainable.

The advocate general of the State Ishaq Qadri, who was present in the Court throughout the day, had argued the case of State in Jammu before the Bench in April 2009. He had said the petition was not public interest litigation.

At Last Kashmir Dispute Echoes in HC

May 14, 2009.

Srinagar, May 14: Kashmir dispute has been discussed in some of the top forums of the world-- United Nations, European Parliament, and other such bodies. But rarely has it reverberated in highest judicial body of the state, the High Court. Today was one such rare occasion. The High Court Bar Association, presenting its arguments in delimitation case, told the court that Jammu and Kashmir was never part of India, and plebiscite in accordance with the United Nations resolutions is yet to take place in JK.

The Bar termed the demand for fresh delimitation, as sought by the petitioner Bhim Singh of Panthers Party, a “move by the government of India to change status quo of JK through its stooge governments in JK and to avoid final settlement of Kashmir dispute according to UN resolutions.”
Mian Abdul Qayoom, president of the Bar, quoting judgments of the Supreme Court argued that postponing delimitation till 2026 was not violation of democratic rights, as it doesn’t affect elections. He said the Delimitation Commission constituted in 1981 submitted its report in 1995 and till then three elections were held in the state without delimitation of assembly constituencies.

Qayoom said the state legislature passed amendments in Section 47 of the State’s constitution and the People’s Representation Act in 2002, and Bhim Singh was party to these amendments. “But in 2007 all of a sudden Singh filed petition to challenge the amendments ostensibly to garner support and popularity in a section of people in Jammu,” Qayoom said, terming the petition malafide and politically motivated.

Qayoom then quoted resolutions of the UN passed on 17 January 1948, 20 January 1948, 21 April 1948 and several other UN resolutions on Kashmir. He said convening of the Constituent Assembly by the National Conference on October 1950 was the “biggest fraud played on people of Jammu and Kashmir.” The NC had convened the constituent assembly to determine the “future shape and affiliations of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.”

He said the Security Council resolutions explicitly say that the decisions of the constituent assembly would have no bearing on the Kashmir dispute.

He then quoted Article 253 of Constitution of India which says consent of the J&K government has to be obtained in event of its final disposition. “Therefore this is implicit recognition of the UN resolutions and the international dimension of the issue,” Qayoom said, adding the final settlement of the State is yet to take place.

Qayoom argued the government of Jammu Kashmir doesn’t mean the government of JK in its present form that is being formed through “farcical election process” to carry “administrative work.” He said JK government in its’ present form has to conduct day to day business and it can’t decision to determine the future of people of Jammu and Kashmir. “The Article 253 indicates about a separate government to be specially created to look how the plebiscite would be conducted in JK under UN,” he said.

He said the constituent assembly of J&K ratified the accession “when Sheikh Abdullah, who sold Kashmir to India, was in jail,” and “another stooge Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad, the then prime minister, was in charge.” This and various agreements between India and Pakistan on Kashmir indicate that Kashmir was disputed territory and people have not been given up on their right to exercise the plebiscite, he argued.

He said the present state of J&K was disturbing where “draconian acts” like Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Disturbed Areas Act were in force. He said there was no democracy in the State and elections were being held in one part and curfew was clamped in rest.

Referring to the discrimination part agitated by Bhim Singh in his petition, Qayoom took back the Court to the Treaty of Amritsar of 1846 when Kashmiris were sold along with land, animals to Dogra Maharaja. He said the rule of Dogra Maharajas was tyrannical. He said Kashmiris have been ousted from bureaucracy and police, and now by seeking readjustment of seats an attempt was being made to gain political power to change the status quo of JK to stall its final settlement. This time, Qayoom argued, Bar has sided with government only to maintain the status quo and prayed that the status quo shouldn’t be disturbed.

The petitioner Bhim Singh, Bar president said, describes in the petition that he speaks on behalf of people of JK. “He represents, if at all he really represents, only a certain section in Jammu,” He concluded his argument by asking for dismissal of the petition.

In April 2002, the National Conference government had brought a constitutional amendment in section 47 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and in the Peoples Representation Act that explicitly says it was not necessary to readjust the assembly seats till 2026.

The Panthers Party president Bhim Singh filed petition in the Supreme Court against the amendment, but withdrew it after he was told to approach an appropriate forum. Then he filed a petition in the High Court, claiming “present composition of Assembly comprising 111 members with 24 seats reserved for PaK (AJK), was highly biased against Jammu region, which was allocated only 37 seats against 46 seats for Kashmir region.”

Earlier the division bench comprising Chief Justice, Justice Barin Gosh and Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir heard senior counsel Z.A Shah who was speaking on behalf of the Bar on the issue.

On last hearing the Chief Justice Barin Gosh had observed the Court would like to hear whether the amendment was destroying basic structure of the democracy or not.

“If it does affect the democracy then it has to be explained how, and if it doesn’t that too has to be elaborated,” the Chief Justice had observed.

Today Z.A Shah answered the question through these arguments. He said a constituency is determined on the basis of population, not on the basis of electors. “It is possible that within a population the electors can be less or more as compared to the population of other constituencies. The amendment doesn’t destroy the identity of the constitution and it continues to be democratic,” he said. Shah said that the legislature has frozen the seats in the same manner as the constituent assembly had done in 1956 when the Constitution was adopted. “For readjustment of the constituencies census is necessary. The legislature has deferred the census till 2026 for the purpose of creation as well as re-adjustment of the constituencies. By doing so the legislature has not deprived any elector any electorate of his voting rights. No electorate has any right to choose any particular candidate, who may contest from some other constituency,” he said, adding that the electorate can choose candidates from the constituency where he is a registered voter.

Shah said the legislature couldn’t amend the constitution if the amendment touches the core of the constitution. The legislature can’t alter the constitution and replace the old constitution by a new one. “But the legislature can within the constitutional framework make changes according to the need,” he said. Shah said in JK creation and alteration of the legislative constituencies has nothing to do with the population. He said in case of parliamentary seats the population has not been taken into the account and the legislature has followed the same logic.

Shah described the petition as mixture of politics and said it was not maintainable. He said prayed for dismissal of the petition and said that constitutional amendment couldn’t be challenged through PILs. With this Bar concluded its arguments.

Bhim Singh, who was present in the Court, would respond to the objections raised by Bar on Friday morning before the Bench. On Friday the Bench heard Singh for some time and then asked him to come up with detailed response in Jammu on May 22. The Bench said that it would deliver the judgement on the case before the summer vacation.

Land, houses, loans, jobs, more relief... Parliamentary Panel Recommends Extensive Sops For Pandits

Land, houses, loans, jobs, more relief...
Parliamentary Panel Recommends Extensive Sops For Pandits


 
Saturday, May 30, 2009

Srinagar, May 28: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs that has tabled its report on Kashmiri migrants in the parliament has expressed concern over what it said “absence of comprehensive policy for rehabilitation” of Kashmiri pandits and recommended host of measures for the Pandit community.

The report tabled on February 13, 2009 has charged the centre and the State government of not adopting holistic approach to tackle the problems faced by the community. It has asked the centre government to issue directions to all States and the Union Territories to provide land to Kashmiri pandits for construction of houses under group housing schemes.

The committee said that the actual expenditure on account of implementation of rehabilitation programme for JK migrants during 2006-07 was only Rs 69.31 crores against the allocation of Rs 120 for 2007-2008. The report said that the government was not expeditiously implementing the schemes meant for the Kashmiri migrants.

The report that has used “Kashmiri displaced persons” for Kashmiri pandit migrants and has objected to the word “migrant” used in the context of Kashmiri pandits. It said the using suffix of the migrant for Kashmiri displaced persons was not appropriate. “Because,” the report argues, “the affected persons have been forced to give up their homes and hearths against their own will due to the mayhem caused by the militants.”

The report, copy of which is with the Greater Kashmir, however has different views about the return of Kashmiri pandits to the valley. “The committee is of the view that those persons cannot wait endlessly for normalcy to return to the valley and there is no harm if some such people prefer to settle outside the valley. The committee desires that the government should consider this aspect and announce suitable and appropriate policy measures,” the report said. The report said that Ministry of Home Affairs should explore all avenues to provide employment to Kashmiri pandits under the Prime Minister’s reconstruction package announced in 2004.

The report has opined that the Ministry of Home Affairs should play proactive role to force the State government to formulate the rehabilitation schemes for Kashmiri pandits. The committee has recommended that all the houses of Kashmiri pandits lying in “dilapidated condition” should be rebuilt by the government or a liberal grant be offered to owners of the properties to rebuild them.

“The committee understands that the purpose of monthly allowance given to Kashmiri displaced persons is to ensure that difficulties and hardships faced by them are minimized. But keeping in view of requirement for decent living the committee recommends that the government should consider to increase monthly sustenance from Rs 1000 per head to a reasonable amount,” the report said.

The Committee has recommended host of other measures:

That there should be budgetary provision for Kashmiri Pandits who are residing in valley for fulfilling their genuine needs of housing, employment and self-employment.

That there should be directions from the centre government to all the State governments and union territories to provide relief and rehabilitation to Kashmiri pandits living in their states and UTs.

That immediate employment of 1000 persons and constructions of two room flats at existing places of dwelling in Jammu should be implemented for Kashmiri pandits without delay. That the relief of Kashmiri pandits living outside the camps be enhanced to commensurate with the cost of living index.



1947: A story of theft of Gilgit manuscripts By Tariq Ali Mir

1947: A story of theft of Gilgit manuscripts
By Tariq Ali Mir

 
Monday, June 1, 2009

In the SPS Museum two empty engraved boxes await the return of their once prized possession: the Gilgit manuscripts, which were shifted to New Delhi in 1947 during Indo-Pak war for ‘safety’ reasons but were never returned to the state afterwards.

Heritage experts in Kashmir say that there is a worldwide movement seeking return of artifacts to their original places, but the display of Gilgit manuscripts in National Archives was a “brazen display of official theft of the state’s heritage.”

Found by a shepherd in 1931 the 5th century Gilgit manuscripts were placed in the newly established SPS Museum on the orders of Maharaja Hari Singh. The then chief secretary of the Hari Singh, Ramchandra Kak, one of the earliest proponents of an Independent Kashmir, had invited renowned research scholars including Dr. Anil Ankishan Dutta. Dutta was a senior professor at the renowned Fort William College in imperial Calcutta and an international expert on ancient languages of India. Other scholars came from Japan, USA and England.

The manuscript is the story of one of the first resistance movements launched by the native Kashmiri Nagas against the onslaught of Buddhist rulers.


The team from Calcutta was led by Dr. Shyama Prasad Mokerjee, who was vice chancellor of Calcutta University at that time. Gilgit manuscript is the proof of separate Kashmiri identity.

The manuscript is Kashmir’s link to central Asian republics where similar manuscripts have been found. However, it is the only manuscript written in Sanskrit and Pali.

The manuscript traces the historical and cultural links of Kashmir and Gilgit. It has an engraving of a Chinar tree, which proves that Chinar is native tree and not imported from Persia as is widely believed.

Muhammad Yousuf Taing, who was the former Director of Archives department, says, “I have been a witness to how a part of Kashmiri history, the manuscript, was taken away from us by Delhi.” He said in 1947 when India and Pakistan fought first war over Kashmir, Jawarharlal Nehru requested Sheikh Abdullah that manuscripts be flown to Delhi for “temporary safe keeping.” Sheikh agreed and a special plane was flown in from Delhi to transport the manuscript to National Archives Delhi.

Taing says that this shows the importance of the manuscript. “Even in war a prime minister remembered the manuscripts. What other proof do we need to highlight their importance?”

After the ceasefire was announced, Sheikh asked Nehru to return the manuscript, but the reply from Delhi was that “Director General of Archives was out of country.” And when the DG returned, Nehru had imprisoned Sheikh for “conspiracy against India.”

In 1977 Sheikh as chief minister again asked then Prime Minster Indira Gandhi to return them. “I reminded Sheikh about Gilgit manuscripts and he was surprised that the Manuscripts had not been returned and immediately he faxed Indira Gandhi asking for their return.” But the manuscripts were not returned.

“But after that they flatly refused to return them, saying ‘they are part of the National Archives’,” Taing said.


(Tariq Ali Mir is Srinagar based journalist covering culture and heritage)

Story of water resources of JK NHPC to add 2800 MW Energy In 5 Years JKPDC Struggling With 3

Story of water resources of JK 
NHPC to add 2800 MW Energy In 5 Years
JKPDC Struggling With 3

 
Srinagar, June 19: While the government of India subsidiary, National Hydro-electric Power Corporation is commissioning around 3,000 megawatt capacity power projects in Jammu and Kashmir during the next five years, the state’s own Power Development Corporation has just 3.61 megawatts capacity power projects in the pipeline for the period.

The NHPC has already three power projects - Salal (690 mw), Uri (480 mw) and Dulhasti (390 mw) operational in Jammu and Kashmir and has laid its hands on another seven projects in the state. These include Uri-II (280 mw), Kishenganga (330 mw), Bursar (1020 mw), Pakal Dul (1000 mw), Sewa-II (120 mw), Nimo Bazgo (30 mw) and Chutak (18 mw) with a cumulative installed capacity of 2800 megawatts.

Paradoxically, in the state sector, only four projects--Pahalgam-III (1.50 mw), Machil (0.35 mw), Sanjak (1.26 mw) and Baderwah-III (0.50 mw)–with a cumulative installed capacity of 3.61 mw are expected to become operational during the next five years. Although the state government had set the deadline of 2008-09 for commissioning of these projects, the PDC seems to be nowhere near the deadline.

Curiously, even the preliminary work on some major projects in the state sector--New Ganderbal (93 mw), Kiru (600 mw), Kawar (520 mw), Ratle (690 mw), Kirthai-I (240 mw), Parnai (37.5 mw) and Swalakote-I and II (1200 mw) – has not been started over several decades past. At a meeting of the JKPDC’s board of directors chaired by the chief minister on May 26, 2009, the officials proposed revising the execution period of these projects. The chief minister, according to sources, has set 2013 as the fresh deadline for New Ganderbal, Kirthai-I, Ratle and Parnai, 2016 for Kirthai-II. In addition, three power projects are being jointly executed by JKPDC and NHPC, to be completed by 2014.

According to experts associated with the state’s power sector, there is no clear-cut policy or roadmap with the government on utilizing the state’s abundant water resources for power generation. “The state government has been reworking the deadlines on power projects for the past three decades,” said an official who has worked JKPDC.

According to insiders, New Ganderbal, Kiru, Kawar, Ratle and some other power projects were identified and declared viable in early 80s. “Even DPRs have been prepared for most projects but except for reworking their completion time, the successive regimes have not moved beyond the paperwork,” sources said.

Sources said, when the New Ganderbal project was conceived its estimated cost was worked out at Rs 200 crore. “Today the cost of the project stands at a whopping Rs 748 crore but not even a single step has been taken to start the work,” sources said.

Sources said the state government had approached the Asian Development Bank for funding the project and in 2007 its team had even visited the project site. But nobody knows what happened to the proposal.

Other projects have also met with the same fate. The cost of Kirthai, Kiru, Kawar Ratle has escalated by two to three times to Rs 1510 crore, Rs 2381.90 crore, Rs 3386.12 crore and Rs 805.4 crore respectively even though the projects are yet to take off for execution.

Besides, the court has stayed the work on Swalakote-I and II (1200 mw) projects. The project cost has already escalated to Rs 7000 crore.

Farah Pandith- Kashmir gives US its Muslim face

Farah Pandith- Kashmir gives US its Muslim face

 
Friday, June 26, 2009

Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has appointed Farah Pandith to serve as special representative to Muslim communities, in charge of a new office that is responsible for outreach with Muslims around the world.

According to a notice published by the State Department June 23, Special Representative Pandith and her staff will carry out Clinton’s efforts to “engage with Muslims around the world on a people-to-people and organizational level.”

Pandith previously was an adviser on Muslim engagement at the State Department, serving as a senior adviser to the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. She has also served on the National Security Council as the coordinator for U.S. policy on outreach to Muslims, and worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development on assistance projects for Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories.

Pandith, who is Muslim, immigrated to the United States with her parents from Srinagar, Kashmir. She told the Italian press agency Adnkronos in 2007 that she sees her personal experience as an illustration of how Muslim immigrants to the United States can successfully integrate themselves into American society.

She said that along with the importance of education, “I also learned … to balance pride in my cultural heritage with a deep attachment to the values of America."

In his June 4 speech in Cairo to Muslims around the world, President Obama said he was seeking “a new beginning” between the United States and Muslims “based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and … based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.”

The United States and Islam share common principles of justice, progress, tolerance and “the dignity of all human beings,” Obama said. He also urged Americans and Muslims to commit themselves to a “sustained effort to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.” (See “Obama Calls for a New Beginning with Muslims Around the World.”)

JKPDC-NHPC MoU--govt takes decisions on Chenab waters

JKPDC-NHPC MoU--govt takes decisions on Chenab waters
 

Srinagar, June 30: Despite stiff opposition by various political parties and trade bodies, the State Government Monday ratified the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of India subsidiary, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) for construction of three hydro power projects on Chenab river, in a joint venture with Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation (JKPDC).

The state cabinet has not made any amendments to the controversial draft MoU framed during the governor’s rule last year for construction of three projects including, Pakal Dul (1000 mw), Kiru (600 mw) and Kawar (520 mw). The joint venture company, Chenab Valley Power Development Corporation (CVPDC), was created last year to harness the water resources of the Chenab basin for power generation.

Sources told Greater Kashmir that as per the MOU drafted in December 2008, and later given nod by the state cabinet during its meeting on June 13 this year, NHPC would have the share of not less than 49 percent while JKPDC’s share would not more than 49 percent in the joint venture. National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) would hold two percent share holding in the JV.

According to sources, the state cabinet in its order No 168 of June 13 gave nod to the MoU and the same was conveyed to a team of officials from NHPC by the JKPDC authorities on Monday.

Confirming the ratification of MoU, commissioner secretary Power Development Department (PDD), Sandeep K Naik told Greater Kashmir that they have conveyed the cabinet decision to NHPC. “The NHPC authorities were asked to start work on the projects,” he said.

Ruing the government’s decision of not bringing any change in the controversial MoU, the officials in the PDC said it means the share of NHPC in the JVC would never fall below 51 per cent and could go even above 51 percent while in case of JKSPDC it could be anywhere between 1 to 49 percent depending on the availability of resources with the JK government and in any case it can’t go beyond 49 percent.

“It gives an excuse to state government to sell its share to NHPC in case of non-availability of resources at any time. Instead the government should have sought an amendment in the MoU seeking inclusion of the term not less than 49 percent for JKSPDC as well,” said a PDC Official.

Under the agreement, the JKSPDC and NHPC have got the rights to purchase share holding of the other partner. “Not less than 49 percent provision would have bound the government to maintain its share holding,” the official said.

However, Nayak told Greater Kashmir that they have taken the matter with the joint venture committee of the NHPC and have sought parity in the share holding.

“We have put forth our viewpoint before the committee to review the agreement so as to bring parity in share holding between the two corporations,” he said.

However, the trading bodies are not ready to buy the government version. President, Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir, Shakeel Qalandar described it as “jugglery of words”.

“The MoU is anti-state and we had sought its scrapping last year,” Qalandar said, adding the government could have done away with the disparity in the MoU had it been serious on the issue.

Coming up at an estimated cost of Rs 5511.83 crore within next six years, 1000 mw Pakal Dul power project is located on river Marusudar in Doda district. The 600-mw Kiru project is planned at 25 kms upstream of Dulhasti hydro power project as run of the river scheme on Chenab and is located in Kishtwar. Its estimated cost is Rs 2381.92 crore and is to be commissioned in five years.

The Kawar project is planned as a run of river scheme near Padyarna village in Kishtwar district. Its installed capacity is 520 mw and is estimated to cost Rs 3386.11 crores.

A Journey Through Lesser Known Kashmir by Naseer A Ganai

A Journey Through Lesser Known Kashmir
by Naseer A Ganai

 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009
courtesy: courtesy: http://kashmirreporter.blogspot.com/


Gurez (LoC): “Please stop to have a sanga view” reads a board near Razdhan Pass about 11,762 feet up in the greater Himalays. The beauty of the area is so breathtaking that a caravan of jeeps carrying journalists, travel operators and tourism department officials, who were on way to Gurez to attend Gurez Festival, stopped here without even looking at the board. “It is so close to nature,” said a Polish photographer, and with it she started capturing the landscape in her camera.

Others too were mesmerized. From Sanga the entire Bandipora, including Wullar Lake, is visible. Labourers who work with Border Road Organisation here say that at times cloud hang so close above the earth’s surface that “they could be touched”.

Nearly 200 meters from Sanga is Peerbaba shrine managed by Army. All visitors have to report to Traffic Check Point Peerbaba before proceeding forward. But the caravan was allowed to proceed without the searches to which they are accustomed in the city and towns and villages of Kashmir. Still it stopped to see “Sarva Dharma Sthal” (all religions place). Outside the shrine there are bathrooms constructed by various regiments by Army and donated to the shrine. Scribbled in white stone in Hindi and English is a biographical note on Peerbaba just outside the main shrine. It says Baba had come to this place from Mansar Pakistan. He was known as Nanga Baba as he didn’t wear clothes even in winters when temperature here goes several degrees below zero degrees Celsius, and “subscribed to no religion”. He died after the partition and days after his death one person known as Malik, a resident of Bandipora, dreamt that baba had died. So he went up to Razdhan to bring his body to Bandipora. Heavy rains and snow failed him in his endeavor forcing him to bury the Baba at Razdhan. Inside the shrine there is Mausoleum of Baba and symbols of all faiths. Mostly army men visit the place to pay obeisance. This is perhaps only shrine in Jammu and Kashmir, which is under the direct control of Army.

Road to Gurez

The road to Gurez from Razdhan gives you back ache; it is riddled with bumps and potholes. And there is a lingering danger of slides. This only lifeline to Gurez is so fragile that it can’t stand a slight snowfall. It remains cut off from the Valley and the rest of the world for six months in a year. And in summer the condition of the road is such that this 86 kms stretch from Sunerwani in Bandipora to Gurez takes at least four hours to cover by a Sumo. This road was jeep track managed Military Engineering Service of army. Later, officials here said, the road was constructed on the orders of former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi. The officials of the Roads and Building Department say that if the road comes under their jurisdiction, they would keep it open for round the year. “Three places, Dragbal, Zadkhusan and Kanzalwan are prone to slides and to manage this 30 kms stretch PWD needs men and machinery which it has in abundance to keep this road open,” said Muhammad Dilwar Khan, an official of Roads and Building. Presently road is under the control of Beacon. From Razdhan to Kanzalwan there is omnipresence of outside the State labourers who work the beacon project. “We work with Sarkar,” said a labourer. Asked what is Sarkar, he pointed towards an official of Beacon project.

Gurez festival

The travel is back breaking. But once you reach near Gurez valley cold breeze, high peaks, view of Neelam, irrigated plots, log houses and smiling faces of Dards work as a balm. “I have been to every part of the Jammu and Kashmir, but this is different. Foreigners would love to visit here,” said Nasir Shah, a tour operator. And on Saturday, July 14 when two day Gurez Festival was inaugurated, the president of tour operators Akram Siah promised Minister for Tourism Dilwar Mir that they will bring some 40 foreign tourists here next month. Siah, however, had some apprehensions, which he didn’t hesitate to express. Directly addressing Brigadier Roy, who was present in the function, he appealed that foreign tourists should be spared the hassle of security checks.

Explaining later, he said foreigners are not afraid of difficult terrain but they should not be subjected to security hassles. This area, he said, has everything for adventure tourists and if tourism is allowed here it will bring revolution. “There is everything in this area for foreigners: meadows, mountains for rock climbing, water for rafting and then you can also go for trekking; it has no parallel,” he said.

The minister was prompt to respond. “The government has plan for the development of this area. Nearly Rs 5 crore will be spend on the infrastructure development of Gurez,” promised Dilawar Mir. The words of the minister didn’t only get applause from the locals who had come from different villages to Dawar, Tehsil headquarter of Gurez but local MLA of the area was ecstatic. He stood up and shouted “Dilwar Mir Zindabad.” Minister earlier said that the festival could take place because of the efforts of Nazir Gurezi. “He has converted my office into his own office,” the Minister said.

Perhaps it is the first time that the National Conference MLA has been seen shouting slogans in favour of Peoples Democratic Party Minister. Political analysts in Srinagar might conclude that Gurezi may join PDP, but people are unfazed. “So what. No matter what party he joins he should do something for this constituency,” says Amir Lone, 60, of Churvan village. Churvan is last hamlet on this side of the border. He says since Gurezi became MLA, the area has seen some activity and the ministers are visiting oftener. A young schoolteacher sitting next to him however had a different take on the issue. He was not against Gurezi but said the area will only develop once the politicians here start fighting election on Ladakh pattern. “We should send MLA from this constituency unopposed. This would help the MLA to always support the ruling party and there chances of his becoming a Minister as well. And once MLA from this area becomes the Minister he could do more for the area,” he said. Lone appreciated the teacher for his wisdom.

The people here belong to Dard tribe and take pride in their history and culture. But years of isolation, closure of Gilgit route in 1947, and exodus of highly educated people has changed the things. The tourism Minister was quick to realize the gravity of situation. “You have great culture so it is frustrating that you people are deserting your log-houses and giving up your culture,” said Dilwar Mir, who was perturbed on seeing some concrete construction in the area.

Mir argues that log-houses and culture of Dards including Shina, the Dardic language, which only the 30,000 people of this area could speak and understand, could be added attraction to tourists. “Concrete buildings are not compatible with the landscape,” he said. The joint director Tourism Department Sarwat Hafeez says there should be total ban on concrete construction in the area. For it tourism department has made some plans. “We will construct hutments here on the pattern of log-houses,” says Director Tourism Farooq Shah. He said foreign tourists look for local touch and we will do our best provide the same to them. Locals in the evening asked Shah to provide helicopter facility to the area. “There should be two sorties at least once in a week. This is terrible place when people in winter suffer from aliments here. There is no health care facility available and helicopter sorties would bring some relief to us,” pleaded a delegation of local respectable to Shah. Shah promised he will take up the matter with the government. “Please do something in this regard. The closure of road is killing us,” said an aged person before leaving the meeting hall.

Others asked that Gurez Festival should be organized every year now. “This was part of our culture in years gone-by. Its’ revival will help in great deal to revive our culture,” said Abdul Aziz, a political leader. Aziz proudly says that Dards are first Aryan race to accept Islam and “we came from ruling clan.” He says Yousuf Shah Chak, the last Chak ruler of Jammu and Kashmir was a Dard. There is a small stream, which immerses into the Neelam near a mountain named Habba Khatoon Mountain. Residents said Yousuf Shah Chak had moved from this area and when he was incarcerated by Mughal emperor Akbar, Haba Khatoon came here to look for him. “She went to the peak of the mountain to search for Yousuf. Hence the name Habba Khatoon Mountain,” said Abdul Aziz.

Road to Gilgit

From Churvan, Dodigai village in Gilgit can be seen clearly. Amir Lone says after it there is another village called Zeyan. “I only remember these two villages of Pakistan,” he says. He says before partition, this was the route used by the traders and army of Dogra Maharaja. However after the partition this route of commerce was closed. The residents long for opening of the road. “There are various check points on various borders. If they are not opening the road at least they should open the check points so that we can cross over to see our relatives,” said a villager.

Road to Drass

Whether Gilgit road will be opened or not, but the government of India would soon throw Gurez-Drass road open for the traffic. Officials here said this strategically important road linking Gurez to Drass was constructed after the Kargil war. “Initially when the construction was taken up 1995 the plan was for 59 kms to connect Chakwali in Teilal with Dawar,” said an official. However after 1999 the government changed the plan and included 37 kms from Chakwali to Drass in the construction. The road constructed by 56 RCC Gref will be thrown open in August-September this year, officials said. This is route which will provide alternate road to the Ladakh area. They said the road has been constructed through forest and wildlife areas and both the departments have given permission to the construction company for the construction of the road. The travelers can travel to Kargil from this route and then return to Srinagar from Zojila.

Separatist politics

Residents here say that this is only border area where people didn’t join militancy. However, this doesn’t mean that they have no interest in politics. They remember names of all the pro-freedom or separatist leaders but say that they have not seen any leader visiting the area. “I don’t know why they didn’t come here. In fact I don’t know any who had even tried to visit here,” said a resident. Despite it residents discusses politics at length and ask why there are so many factions in the separatist politics when the goal is same? That’s why the pro-freedom leaders didn’t visit border areas. That’s why border areas were always ignored. Any answers?

Banning the inter-district recruitments

Banning the inter-district recruitments


Srinagar, Oct 10: Despite the seething anger in Kashmir and parts of Jammu region over the dominance of candidates from some particular districts in the selections made by the Services Selection Board and the Service Commission, the National Conference-Congress coalition is unlikely to bring an ordinance banning the inter-district and inter-divisional recruitments.

According to sources, the government is treading a cautious path on the issue in view of the ‘stiff opposition’ from Jammu, Kathua, Samba and Udhampur-based Congress and BJP legislators to any move aimed at altering the present recruitment system which is heavily tilted in their favour. It is trying hard to enlist the support of Congress legislators so that the bill aimed at banning inter-district recruitments is passed in the next session of the legislature. However, till then, it cannot halt the prevailing drift.

The bill brought by the Congress-PDP coalition earlier was referred to a Joint Select Committee. After a review by the House panel, it was moved for passage during the recent session. However, the government was forced to put the bill to the back burner following overt and covert resistance by the more vocal Jammu lobby.

The practice of allowing candidates to apply for district cadre posts other than in their native districts started in 2004 following the Supreme Court direction that the district cadre posts should not be exclusively reserved for candidates of the concerned districts. The state High Court also quashed some selections on the ground that residence in a district was not a requirement under the rules.

The issue of banning the inter-district recruitments was initially raised in the house in 2006 by the Panthers Party MLAs Balwant Singh Mankotia and Harsh Dev Singh and some BJP and Congress members. Piloting it, Harsh Dev Singh had cited the recruitment in Udhampur district saying that candidates from other districts had usurped the rights of candidates of his district. The members had asked the government to bring a bill to halt the inter-district recruitments.

The then chief minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, had assured the members of undoing the wrong. Subsequently, the then Congress-led government introduced the ‘J&K Civil Service Decentralization and Recruitment Bill’ proposing ban on inter-district and inter-division recruitment. The bill sought to reserve the district and division cadre posts for the candidates of the respective districts and divisions, to ensure that job rights of the local youth were not usurped by the applicants from other districts or division. However, it was referred to the Joint Select Committee headed by present finance minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, for review.

In its recommendation, the Committee said, “a person should be deemed to be a resident of a particular district or division if he/she has lived in the district or the division, as the case may be, for not less than 15 years before the date of applying for the particular post and is actually residing in the said area at the time of filing the application.” Further, it said, “the person should not be disentitled from claiming the residence in a particular district or division only on the ground that his/her father/mother or the person on whom he/she is dependent is living in a place outside the district or division, as the case may be, due to certain reasons.”

However, when the present law minister, Ali Muhammad Sagar, tabled the Committee’s report in the Assembly, the House was polarized on regional lines. Even within Congress, the PHE minister, Taj Mohiuddin, supported it and the health minister, Sham Lal Sharma, opposed it. The ruling National Conference and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party supported the ban on inter-district recruitments. Five MLAs from Kupwara even threatened to commit suicide in case the bill was not passed. However, buckling under the Congress pressure, the government sought more time.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, senior PDP leader and former law minister, Muzaffar Husain Baig, said the government should bring an ordinance if there was consensus in the ruling coalition and it was sincere and serious over the issue. He said there should be no hesitation in bringing the ordinance to do away with the prevailing method which is disturbingly discriminatory against the candidates from Kashmir valley and parts of Jammu region as was evident in some recent selections and recruitments.

However, because of the coalition compulsions, the National Conference has preferred stoic silence on the highly sensitive issue. “It is a very sensitive issue and I don’t want to comment on it,” said a senior NC leader and minister pleading not to be named for obvious political reasons.

The Congress MLA from Gandhinagar and revenue minister, Raman Bhalla, said the issue would be sorted out by the coalition partners in the Coordination Committee. He refused to divulge any information about the difference in the Congress over the issue. During the recent session of the legislature, Bhalla had taken a tough stand and openly said that the bill would not be allowed to go through.

Senior Congress leader and PHE minister, Taj Mohiuddin, said the government has failed to stop inter-district recruitments. “Even conducting the examinations for various posts on the same day couldn’t help, compelling the government to bring a bill to address the unrest among the educated youth at district and divisional levels,” he said, hoping the bill would be passed in the next assembly session in pursuance of the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee.

The Panthers Party MLA, Balwant Singh Mankotia, said his party had not changed its stance on the issue. “There should be total ban in the open merit category while as SCs, STs and other reserved categories could be exempted from the ban,” he said even while Taj said the Select Committee had recommended embargo on inter-district recruitments in all categories, adding that its recommendations needed to be implemented in letter and spirit.

The practice of opening up district cadre posts to candidates from all the districts has hit the Kashmir valley the most, as more than half of the vacancies against valley districts and divisional cadre are routinely being made from Jammu region, while hardly anyone from Kashmir is selected against district or divisional posts in Jammu region.

As per official figures, out of 3,689 divisional and district cadre selections made by SSB under the fast-track mode in the Kashmir, candidates from Jammu region walked away with around 800 posts while, on the contrary, just two candidates from the valley got selected in over 3,000 district/divisional cadre selections made in Jammu region.

Farooq hits left, right and centre Reveals identity of Kashmir's corrupt

Farooq hits left, right and centre
Reveals identity of Kashmir's corrupt


Wednesday, October 14, 2009



Srinagar, Oct 13: The Minister of New and Renewable Energy Dr Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday hit hard at New Delhi accused it of not being serious in result oriented dialogue, charged some journalists of Kashmir of being conduits of agencies, described politicians and bureaucrats of the State as corrupt and said security forces were interested in status quo.

While addressing All India Editors Conference Dr Abdullah described the journalists as trouble mongers and accused “some of them of creating turmoil.” “Let us call a spade a spade. I don’t believe in hiding behind the bush,” Dr Abdullah said.

He said the media blows up a small incident in Kupwara or any other place in a way which gives impression as if whole State was under fire. “I tell you there is tremendous vested interest in Kashmir. There are paid lobbies. Some are being paid by friends from across the border. They want to make Kashmir Pakistan. But it would never become Pakistan. Those who were trying to take Kashmir in that direction would change themselves, but Kashmir wouldn’t become part of Pakistan,” he said.

Then he changed the direction and targeted New Delhi. He ridiculed it and its dialogue process. That too in presence of two cabinet Ministers of Government of India, the Minister for Broadcasting and Information Ambika Soni and the Minister for Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid. Omer Abdullah, the chief minister was visibly perturbed by the speech.

Dr Abdullah said New Delhi doesn’t know what “the hell dialogue is all about.” “The audience responded with laughter. “They (New Delhi) go on dialoging and dialoging without drawing anything concrete out of it,” he said. He said people ask what has happened to the Committees and their recommendations and there are answers. “It is here government of India loses its face,” he said.

He asked New Delhi to explain what stops it from moving forward in the dialogue. He cited example of Justice Sagir committee on central state relations and asked what has happened to it. “How long you would make us wait for these decisions,” Dr Abdullah said. He asked New Delhi to settle the problem with Pakistan. “You should talk to Pakistan and find a solution to Kashmir problem,” he said.

Dr Abdullah then came back to the State politics and explained the Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni and others how Doordarshan Kendra runs in the State. “We launched Kashur channel with grand ceremony in Lalit (grand place) hotel. We thought this channel would bring political messages through its programmes. But it was marred by corruption. The level of corruption was such that even politicians were making serials for it,” he said and audience was in raptures. The Director Doordarshan Rafiq Masoodi, who was on front row, preferred to leave the hall only to return at the fag end of Dr Abdullah’s speech.

Dr Abdullah said there was corruption everywhere in the State. “There is corruption in politicians, in bureaucrats, security forces and they don’t want any settlement between India and Pakistan,” he said.

He had many examples to cite.

“When I was chief minister, the then defence minister George Fernandes was in Srinagar. He wanted to see a militant and a journalist took him along to see militants,” he said adding the militants were toning to a radio station from across the border.

“The radio station was spilling venom and lies and it was inciting people across the border. It was saying Islam is in danger. George told me the Government has jammed its signals. I went inside my home and got a transistor and toned to the station. Its voice was clear. This is your jamming, I told George,” Farooq said.

Responding to speech of Ambika Soni, who described 400 newspapers in Kashmir as positive sign, Dr Abdullah described these 400 newspapers as freeloaders. He said they were coming out with the newspapers for advertisements. He asked Ambika Soni to check these free loaders. “Take off these free loaders,” he said. He said some people have already started process to pull down the present government. “They are writing complaints and complaints. And once you will investigate where from these complaints come, you would never find the complainant” he said.



Roshni or darkness? by Naseer A Ganai

Roshni or darkness?
by Naseer A Ganai

 
Now State won’t get Rs 25000 crore: Govt
It won’t get even Rs 6000 crore: Opp
Naseer A Ganai

courtesy: http://kashmirreporter.blogspot.com/2006/04/roshni-or-darkness.html

Srinagar, Apr 13: A widow of Dewan Jawalla Sahai, who had given substantial money to Maharaja Gulab Singh when he purchased Kashmir from British through Amritsar treaty for Rs 75 lakh, owned 120,000 kanals of land in Islamabad, Kulgam, Awantipora and other areas. In Kulgam Tehsil it was difficult for people to bury their dead as almost all land had proprietorship of the widow. Raja of Chenani alone owned 310,000 kanals of land.

And when on October 17, 1950, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah declared policy of liquidating the big landed estates and transferring land to tiller by enacting Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, the land of these people was reduced to only 182 kanals.

Now 60 years down the line, when chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad describes Jammu and Kashmir State Lands(vesting of ownership to occupants) Amendment Act, 2006, commonly known as Roshni act, as landmark legislation and compares it with the land to tiller, many people scoff at the claim.

Former Minister Muhammad Shafi Uri describes land to tiller reforms as revolutionary step, which empowered 87 per cent people in the Jammu and Kashmir State.

“Landlords were given right over only 180 kanals of land and later when Agrarian Reforms Act was enacted, it was slashed to 100 kanals,” he said.

He said comparing Roshni Act with the Land to Tiller was an insult to the land reforms of Sheikh Abdullah. He said land to tiller transferred 2.5 lakh acres to the tillers and it was given to them without any compensation. Also, he said with it 2.35 lakhs acres got transferred to the State which was later given to tillers. He said Sheikh empowered common people and took away land from those who had grabbed it from the common people. “Here, through this Roshni Act you are empowering land grabbers allowing them to have thousands of Kanals of land they have occupied illegally in and around Tawai and other areas of the State,” he said. He said it does not require any investigation that who will be its beneficiary. “Only rich, elite and land grabbers who had audacity to grab the land and now have benevolent government who gave them its rights,” he said.

Former Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather who had conceptualized the Roshni scheme has also tough words for amendments made to the Act. He said the way present government brought legislation has marred the whole scheme. Elaborating, he said, when National Conference brought the law it described vacant land as a state land and had also included illegally occupied land as vacant land. “But present government amended clause c of the Act and agreed to give propriety rights to land grabbers who had illegally occupied the land,” he said.

He said the Act was named as Roshni Act so that whatsoever revenue will come out of it will be used in power sector. “That clause has been also omitted,” Rather said. Now, he said, no one knows where will the money go, if at all something will come. He said when NC brought legislation it had kept January 1990 as cut of date and has described any land state land, which was vacant. It has also described illegally occupied land occupied after 1990 as State land keeping so many factors in consideration, he said.

“Here they have kept everything open. Even now anyone can occupy State land and later get its property rights. No record has been taken away from possession of Patwaris. Thus, anyone can make entry and in villages where you have to pay only Rs 100 for property rights, anyone could induce revenue officials. This will breed corruption and more corruption and State will suffer immensely,” he said. He said land reforms of Sheikh Abdullah usurped land from land grabbers and gave that to tillers free of cost. “Here you are giving property rights to land grabbers who have occupied Nazool land in cities and Khalisa land in villages. Earlier government had claimed it would get Rs 25000 crores out of the Roshni Act but now it has other opinion.

The Congress Minister Taj Mohideen, who in legislative assembly strongly defended the Act, continues to describe it one of the landmark legislation of the State.

“We have given Rs 20,000 crores worth of land free of cost to people,” he said. He however said now the State government will get only Rs 6000 crore out it as for villages registration has been fixed Rs 100 only. He said it was only upto 2004, after it no occupation will be considered legal. Asked about allegations that land grabbers have empowered by this legislation, he said in Sheikh Abdullah time the landlords too had property rights and later it was transferred to tillers. “Here we also gave land free of cost to villagers,” he said.

But Rather disagrees. “One wonders where from government get it. They have neither fixed zones, nor they have determined the prices. The State has thrown away its land,” he said.

Now the question is how much of the State land has been occupied over the years. Figures vary and there seems to be no actual data on ground. Rather says Revenue officials told him that 11 lakhs kanals of the State land has been occupied illegally. Sources in Revenue Department said that total illegally encroached land was 20 lakh kanals in the State as reported by Deputy Commissioners. Sources said boundaries have not been defined making everything ambiguous. The Commissioner Secretary Revenue Masood Samoon too seems to be groping in dark. He says he don’t know how much land has been encroached upon over the years. “Exact figures are not lying with me. I have to cross check it first,” said the official.









In box
Raj Tilak Boon

On November 5, 1951 the then Revenue Minister Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg said compensation should be given to landlords. His argument was: “Maharaja Hari Singh on ascending the throne in 1924-25 issued a Royal Proclamation called the Raj Tilak Boon. On the basis of this declaration Maharaja permitted the landlords to annex Village Common Lands (Shamilat) with their holdings. These Shamilat came into possession of landlords apart from cultivated land they already possessed. And with this the landholder who had 1000 kanals got further 1000 kanals of land grants on the basis of Raj Tilk Boon. And those who had 2000 kanals got 2000 kanals of Shamilat.

Under Royal proclamations Hari Singh allowed landlords to usurp forest, and Shamilat (village common lands) land and with it landlords who had one thousand kanals got 4000 kanals more in Jammu and in Kashmir they got 8000 kanals more. Deceit and frauds also took place while these orders were operated so much that land of pity land holders were also grabbed by influential elements with their lands. In Kashmir 160,000 acres and in Jammu 310,000 acres were given away by Maharaja by way Raj Tilak Boon.”





Fixation of prices under Roshni Act

For residential use authorized occupants (where lease has been granted) will have to pay 25 per cent of the total value for upto 2 kanals.

In 3 to 10 kanals, 40 per cent and for more than 10 kanals full value of the land has to be paid or as determined by committee.

For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 35 per cent of total value has to be paid for 2 kanals or as determined by committee. For 3 to 10 Kanals, 50 per cent of the total value and for more than 10 kanals occupants either have to surrender beyond ten kanals or pay full value which will be determined by the committee.

For unauthorized occupants who are in possession upto 2 kanals (where no lease has been granted or allotment made) price has been fixed 40 per cent of the total value. For 3 to 10 kanals, 50 per cent of the total cost has been fixed.

Commercial area

In commercial area authorized occupants (where lease has not expired) will have to pay 30 per cent of the total value. For authorized over stayed occupants (where lease has expired) they will have to pay 45 per cent of the total value. And for unauthorized occupants (where no lease was granted) 60 per cent of the total value has been fixed.

Political Institutions
The land which has been used for what government says institutional use, like educational, religious, charitable, social and political parties recognized by election commission of India, rate list is:

An authorized occupant (where lease has not expired), price has been fixed 15 per cent of total value. For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 25 per cent has been fixed and for unauthorized over stayed occupants (where no lease has been granted) it is 50 per cent of total value.

Agriculture Land

For agriculture land upto 100 kanals token money of Rs 100 has to be paid for maintenance of records.

Religious purposes

An authorized occupant (where lease has not expired), price has been fixed 15 per cent of total value. For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 25 per cent has been fixed and for unauthorized over stayed occupants (where no lease has been granted) it is 50 per cent of total value.

Interview of Syed Ali Shah Geelani to Arab News

Interview of Syed Ali Shah Geelani to Arab News 

Wednesday, 18 August 2010 10:36 administrator

courtesy: http://globalnewsnetworks.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=125%3Ainterview-of-syed-ali-shah-geelani-to-arab-news&catid=59%3Ainterviews&Itemid=75

ALKHOBAR: A key leader of Kashmir's growing anti-India movement says New Delhi's offer of talks is meaningless. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the octogenarian leader whose call for unarmed protests has galvanized thousands of activists to take to the streets in Indian-administered Kashmir, said he had heard of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's offer of talks during his speech at Delhi's historic Red Fort on Aug. 15.

"Yes, Singh did say that New Delhi is ready for talks but in the same breath, he insisted that Kashmir was an integral part of India," said Geelani in an interview with Arab News by telephone from Srinagar on Tuesday. "There lies the whole problem ... If India refuses to consider Kashmir a disputed territory, then what is the point of holding talks?"

Geelani heads his own faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. He was written off as a spent force by India after the recent assembly elections that saw a huge turnout of Kashmiris. The result was seen as a vote for India. It was seen as a vote against separatists. Geelani says that was never the case. People took part in the election to put into place a local administration to take care of their day-to-day civic needs.

Today, Geelani is the one who commands complete respect from the Kashmiris. He is the undisputed leader of the insurgency at the moment. India has consistently tried to court him but he has refused to take the bait and insists that a plebiscite as demanded by UN resolutions is the only answer to the problem. It is interesting to note that Geelani has not always been a separatist leader. He was a member of the Kashmir Assembly for 15 years. "We adopted the democratic process but India paid no attention to solving this dispute. It continued to indulge in political machinations. It bought some people; it suppressed some and killed others. That is when I lost faith in India. India is still resorting to the same methods."

Following are excerpts from the interview:

Q: What is the situation in Kashmir?

A: We have called for a complete strike in the valley and everybody is paying heed to our call. Everything has come to a standstill. The state government has imposed curfew in many areas. I just came back home after spending two days in hospital. (He coughs intermittently during the talk; his son tells us that he was complaining of breathlessness and therefore had to be hospitalized and put on oxygen.) The whole city is deserted. In every nook and cranny there are Indian troops. The Central Reserve Police Forces are everywhere. Nobody is being allowed to come out onto the streets.

Q: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has extended what is being described as an olive branch to the separatists. He has offered to hold talks with you. Are you ready for talks?

A: Yes, he did say that New Delhi was ready for talks but in the same breath he insisted that Kashmir was an integral part of India. There lies the whole problem ... If India refuses to consider Kashmir a disputed territory then what is the point of holding talks? We agree that meaningful dialogue is one way of settling this issue but the most important requirement is for India to agree that Kashmir is indeed a disputed territory as accepted by the United Nations. Our case is very well documented in the world body. Kashmiris are asking for self determination. They are asking for freedom. They are asking India to honor its promise of holding a plebiscite. Naked military force will not extinguish the flame of freedom. Dialogue at the point of a gun has not resulted in anything, either in the past nor will it result in anything in the future.

Q: During the recent assembly elections, which were held a few months ago, there was an unprecedented and spontaneous turnout of Kashmiris. This led everyone to believe that Kashmiris have full faith in Indian democracy. The peaceful elections were seen as a blow to pro-independence people such as yourself. What led to the turning of the tide against Indian rule?

A: I am an eyewitness to the campaigning that took place in the run-up to the last assembly elections in which the Indian federal minister's Farooq Abdullah's National Conference party emerged victorious. Those who took part in the election process and those who cast their votes told us unambiguously and in public that they favored independence. "We are taking part in the electoral process to put in place the local administration. This has got to be set up in order to meet our day-to-day needs. We need roads, we need water, we need electricity," that is what the people told us. "Our votes should in no way mean that we are endorsing India's military rule over Kashmir. We were and we are with the pro-independence movement." However, India interpreted the writing on the wall in a different way. They thought the huge participation of Kashmiris in the assembly elections had driven a last nail in our coffin. Now you see and hear the people's voice in the streets of Kashmir. "Go back India," that is what they are shouting.

Q: How is this pro-independence movement different from the one in the late 1980s? That led to heavy bloodshed on both sides and ultimately resulted in nothing but misery for the Kashmiris.

A: In 1988, our youngsters were sick and tired of Indian atrocities. They were forced to take up the gun. They had no other choice. Delhi had closed the doors on all possible democratic and peaceful ways to solve the dispute. That was an armed struggle and the goal was to achieve freedom and a life of dignity. Since India believed only in showing off its military strength, our youngsters thought Delhi would only understand the same language. We supported the armed struggle because it was for a just cause. This time, however, they have not taken up the gun. This movement for freedom is completely peaceful from our side. This is a mass movement which is being led by our youngsters. They are not ordinary youngsters. They are educated young people. They are not asking for jobs. They are not asking for roads or water or electricity. They are just demanding one thing: Go, India, Go Back. They reject Indian rule. They are simply demanding freedom. They want to throw off the yoke of Indian rule. In return they are facing the full might of the Indian military state.

I call this the worst example of state terrorism. The Indian troops create havoc during night raids. They break into homes at will. Pick up anybody they like. Rape our women. Our unarmed people are conducting peaceful demonstrations but they are being met with live bullets pumped straight into their chests. So far nearly 60 of our youngsters have attained martyrdom. Nobody has a stick in his hand. Nobody is carrying a gun. Nobody has got tear-gas shells. This is a completely peaceful struggle for freedom and independence. So this is the basic difference between the movement of 1988 and 2010. It was an armed struggle then, now it is totally peaceful. We have vowed not to pick up a gun against India.

Q: What led to this rethinking? Was it because the separatists paid a heavy price in blood in the late 1980s and early 1990s?

A: Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything. All armed struggles, whether they were just or otherwise were linked to terrorism. Our struggle too was bracketed with terrorism. Pakistan, which supported us, too, possibly at the instructions of the United States, clubbed our struggle with terrorism. That led to a rethinking in our ranks. In the initial days of this pro-independence movement, we took a conscious decision not to take up arms because we were afraid that our pious struggle would again be dubbed as terrorism by India and the outside world. So we opted for the path of peaceful struggle, which is what we are leading now. We want to run India out of excuses. Because the struggle in 1988 was armed, India justified the disproportionate use of military force. Now nobody can dare call us terrorists. This struggle has been on for the last two months. You will appreciate the fact that not one man in uniform has been killed at the hands of our men. We lost 60 people. They include women, children and the elderly. This is carnage and the world's so-called largest democracy is committing this carnage.

Q: There were reports in the Kashmiri media that you were not happy with the Organization of the Islamic Countries (OIC)?

A: They only pass resolutions. They are a group of 57 mostly Muslim countries. They should have some weight on the world stage. Some of these countries are economic heavyweights and oil producing countries. We expect them to pay special attention to what is happening in Kashmir. We are bound to them because of our common religion. They should exert pressure on India to stop the killing of Kashmiris. Can they not tell Delhi to stop violating the dignity of our women and children? Are we not their Islamic brothers? Just because these countries have huge economic interests with India, should that mean a carte blanche for India to do what it likes with Kashmiri Muslims? They should have the courage to ask this question of India. The OIC should play its role. It should immediately convene an extraordinary summit to discuss Kashmir. It is clearly mentioned in the Holy Qur'an to come to the aid of oppressed people. The sad reality is nobody is paying attention to our miseries. The world is silent.

Q: Pakistan was your greatest supporter. Are you in touch with the pro-freedom groups in Pakistan or the Pakistani leadership itself?

A: Pakistan is neck deep in trouble. The devastating floods have wreaked havoc in that country. And you know what happened in Karachi a few days ago. A member of the state legislature was killed and then in revenge killings, 80 people lost their lives. It seems the Dark Ages (jahaliya) have come back to haunt us. Pakistan is caught up in its own domestic problems. We are not in touch with them nor do we have any communication with them.

Q: Going back to India's offer of dialogue. You have rejected it. How do you think this deadlock can be broken?

A: There can be a way out only if India accepts publicly that Kashmir is a disputed territory. India should withdraw the occupation forces. The draconian laws that are in force should be declared null and void. These black laws are being used to stifle our voice. They have filled their jails with our people using brute force. My colleagues are all locked up. I am under house arrest most of the time. They don't allow me to meet my own people, to interact with them.

Q: State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has appealed to the separatists to call off their protests. Will you heed his call?

A: The police and military apparatus are under his command. They take orders from him. He should ask them to stop firing on unarmed civilians. He should ask them to stop killing innocent people. Stop arresting the people. Stop caning peaceful demonstrators. We are not the ones indulging in violence. It is his men. Why is he requesting us to do something that is not is our hands? The Indian prime minister said the same things. "Abjure violence," he told us. These are plain lies. Not a single policeman or military man has lost his life because of our protests. It is the Indian state that is using brute force to suppress the spontaneous reaction of our people. India and its leaders are too well known for indulging in the politics of lies and deceit.

Q: It was the general belief that with the Congress party in power, Kashmiris would feel comfortable. Manmohan Singh is described as a respectable and reasonable man and a good prime minister.

A: This is just wishful thinking. They are all the followers of the politics of Chanakya. To expect politics of principle and reason from them is to live in a fool's paradise. India believes in the policy of expansionism. They are drunk on power, and they are doing exactly what Ghenghis Khan and Hulagu did in their times and what Hitler and Mussolini did in theirs.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 August 2010 10:38


Jammu Kashmir & Laddakh

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