Jammu & Kashmir, history: 1989-
(→1990: Role of government servants in the separatist movement)
(→Kashmiri Pandits affected by militancy)
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Over the past three decades, members of the community have asked for a separate homeland, jobs and cash relief. In 2020, the NDA government said it had created 3,000 state government jobs for Kashmiri migrants (the planned number was 6,000 in 2016). Multiple governments have changed, packages announced (ranging from Rs 2,589 crore to Rs 1,618 crore) but not much seems to have changed in terms of Kashmiri Pandits feeling like they could return.
Over the past three decades, members of the community have asked for a separate homeland, jobs and cash relief. In 2020, the NDA government said it had created 3,000 state government jobs for Kashmiri migrants (the planned number was 6,000 in 2016). Multiple governments have changed, packages announced (ranging from Rs 2,589 crore to Rs 1,618 crore) but not much seems to have changed in terms of Kashmiri Pandits feeling like they could return.
[[Category:History|J JAMMU & KASHMIR, HISTORY: 1989-JAMMU & KASHMIR, HISTORY: 1989-JAMMU & KASHMIR, HISTORY: 1989-
[[Category:History|J JAMMU & KASHMIR, HISTORY: 1989-JAMMU & KASHMIR, HISTORY: 1989-JAMMU & KASHMIR, HISTORY: 1989-
Revision as of 06:25, 13 May 2022
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Governor's/ President’s rule
Governor's rule was imposed for the first time on March 26, 1977 during the tenure of Governor L K Jha after state Congress -- then headed by Sayeed -- withdrew support to the minority Government of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah of National Conference. Sheikh had come to the power following an accord with then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1975.
The Governor's rule lasted for 105 days and ended as the National Conference founder returned to power in the Assembly polls.
Governor's rule was imposed for the second time in March 1986 after state Congress -- again headed by Sayeed -- withdrew support to the minority Government of Ghulam Mohammad Shah.
Shah became the Chief Minister after he led a rebellion with National Conference against his brother-in-law and then incumbent Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah in 1984.
This 246-day spell ended after Farooq Abdullah entered into an accord of his own with the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi
The third time Governor's rule was imposed in January 1990 when Farooq Abdullah resigned as the chief minister over the appointment of Jagmohan as the Governor following eruption of militancy in the state.
Sayeed was the Union Home Minister at that time and had brushed aside Farooq Abdullah's opposition to Jagmohan's appointment. This was the longest spell of Governor's Rule -- six years and 264 days -- which ended in October 1996 after National Conference returned to power in Assembly elections held after a gap of nine-and-a-half years.
Six years later, Governor's rule had to be imposed in the state for the fourth time in October 2002 after caretaker Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah refused to continue in the office in the wake of his party's defeat in the assembly elections that year. The 2002 Assembly polls threw up a hung assembly with no party in a position to form a Government on its own.
Sayeed, whose regional PDP had won 16 seats, negotiated an alliance with the Congress and dozen-odd independents to form the Government, ending the 15-day direct Central rule on March 1, when Sayeed was sworn in as the Chief Minister.
It was the shortest spell of Governor's rule -- 15 days -- as the PDP and Congress with support of 12 independents formed a government on November 2. Mufti Sayeed's death was the cause for the next promulgation of the Governor's rule on January 8, 2016 after allies-- PDP and BJP-- deferred the Government formation process till the end of the four-day mourning period.
Invoking Section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, Vohra promulgated Governor's rule after approval by President Pranab Mukherjee.
It was the seventh time Governor's rule was promulgated in the State since Independence, the first being in March 1977. The central rule came to an end after Mehbooba Mufti was sworn in as the Chief Minister on April 4, 2016.
June 20, 2018: It was for the fourth time that the state will be placed under central rule during N N Vohra's tenure as Governor. Vohra, a former civil servant, became the Governor on June 25, 2008.
The BJP pulled out of its alliance with the PDP, saying it has become impossible to continue in the Government in view of the growing radicalism and terrorism in the state.
Ironically, late PDP chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the father of incumbent Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and her predecessor, was an important player in the political developments of the State that led to the imposition of central rule on the previous seven occasions.
Late 1989- early 1990: A militant movement begins
The ideology behind the uprising
[In May 2017, Hizbul Mujahideen leader Zakir Musa] asserted that his outfit was clear in its motives of "fighting to impose a Shariat in Kashmir and not resolving the Kashmir issue by calling it a political struggle".
Zakir [added]: "I am warning all those hypocrite Hurriyat leaders. They must not interfere in our Islamic struggle. If they do, we will cut their heads and hang them in Lal Chowk".
"Those leaders should know that the struggle is for Islam, for Shariat," he was heard saying in [an] over five-minute audio clip. IANS [could] not confirm the authenticity of the audio clip.
Urging the people of Kashmir to unite against the Hurriyat's "hycocrisy", Zakir says: "We all should love our religion and we should realise that we are fighting for Islam. If the Hurriyat leaders think it is not so, then why have we been hearing the slogan 'Azaadi ka matlab kya? - La ilaha il Allah' [‘Pakistan say rishta kya? La ilaha il Allah']’ , why have they (Hurriyat groups) been using mosques in their politics?" [Additional input from Nadeem Nadu, Journalist, on whatsapp, 12 May 2017]
The Hizbul Mujahideen has been waging a silent battle to upstage the Hurriyat Conference since the 2016 uprising. [In May 2017], the militant outfit also released a statement asking women protesters to not come on the roads to protest.
Hizbul Mujahideen [leader] Zakir Bhat succeeded Burhan Wani after his killing in an encounter [in 2016].
In a strongly worded audio message to separatists shared on social media, Zakir Bhat, aka Moosa, said: " Hum kufr ko chhod kar pehley aap ko latkayeingey. Lal Chowk mein inkey galey kateingey ! (Before we kill the disbelievers [kufr literally means ‘infidel’], we'll hang you... your heads will be chopped at Lal Chowk)."
Zakir insisted that the 27-year-old armed movement in Kashmir was an Islamic struggle, not a political fight, and also warned separatists not to meddle in the setting up a caliphate in J&K along the lines of the rule established by [Daesh/ the] Islamic State.
He warned them against using mosques and other Islamic symbols and slogans if they believed that Kashmir was a political struggle.
Hurriyat's Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik stress on resolution of the Kashmir issue+ by seeking the right to "self-determination".
The Mirwaiz, who is the custodian of the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, demands the implementation of UN resolutions of 1947 regarding Kashmir every Friday.
Geelani, on the other hand, roots for Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. Addressing them, Zakir said, "You are our big problem... if you have to run this dirty politics, run it in your homes... if we have to implement the shariat, we have to implement it on ourselves."
Zakir, a native of violence-infested Tral in Pulwama district, was studying to be an engineer in a Chandigarh college before picking up arms in July 2016.
"I am not an ulema (sic), but scholars here are corrupt... fearful of crossing limits that they may be imprisoned. That is why we have to come forward," Zakir said, quoting a verse from the Quran. "They are actually political leaders and they can't be our leaders," Zakir said. "Our fight is purely for the sake of Islam, and we shall implement the shariat in Kashmir, insha-Allah," he said.
Influencing the mind: 1989-2017
The Valley has been succumbing to a hardline Wahhabi Islam, which is displacing or co-opting the more syncretic schools
Last month, in a south Kashmir mosque, Mufti Shabir Ahmad Qasmi fiercely defended former Hizbul commander Zakir Musa's call for Islamic jihad. For the first time, a cleric, using his religious pedestal, was exhorting believers to support Kashmir's most wanted terrorist, who had recently aligned ideologically with al-Qaida. The mufti's speech was widely circulated on online messaging platforms in the Valley .
Kashmir's mosques have always been used for religio-political ends, and for separatism since 1989 when the militancy broke out. But the character of the mosque has changed dramatically in the last decade.
HanafiBarelvi Islam, the traditionally moderate school followed by the majority in Kashmir, is being replaced by the radical Ahl-e-Hadith, the local moniker for Saudi-imported Salafism or Wahhabism. Though many Hanafi clerics like Moulana Abdul Rashid Dawoodi are resisting their Wahhabi competitors, “the attendance in annual fairs of all major Sufi shrines has been decreasing,“ said Muzamil, a Sufi practitioner. Of the roughly six million Muslims in the Valley , the once-marginal Ahl-e-Hadith now has over a million followers, claimed its general secretary , Dr Abdul Latif.
Arab-funded Wahhabism finds convergence with already-established conservative strains of Islam, such as the Deobandi and Jamat-e-Islami movements in Kashmir. The mufti who made a plea for Musa is a Deobandi from a Jamati household. Such religious intersections are not limited to fundamentalists. Last year, Sarjan Barkati, a selfproclaimed Sufi, earned epithets like `Pied Piper of Kashmir' and `Freedom Chacha' for mobilising people and glorifying the Hizbul commander Burhan Wani who had wanted to establish an Islamic Caliphate. These mutations from moderate to radical have been happening insidiously and manifested themselves in the mob that lynched deputy SP Ayub Pandith on Shab-e-Qadr.
The coalescing of all the schools of Sunni Islamic thought in Kashmir is result of a “common broad-based platform, Ittehaad-e-Millat, created to resolve differences“ not only among the puritanical groups but also with syncretic Barelvi outfits, said Jamat-i-Islami Amir chief Ghulam Mohammad Bhat. IeM was actively involved in organising protest rallies in favour of Wani last year. Way before Wani was killed, the signs of Wahhabised radicalisation had already begun to emerge. Maulana Mushtaq Ahmad Veeri, for example, was already popular in south Kashmir by 2015 for sermons in which he praised the IS and Caliph Al Baghdadi. “It was only a matter of time before the youth started waving IS flags while pelting stones, or Wani or Musa declared jihad for the Caliphate.Ironically, many moderate Kashmiri Muslims claim that IS has been created by the US and Israel to malign Muslims,“said a student of religion from Bijbehara.
Official sources said that there are over 7,500 mosques and seminaries in Kashmir, of which over 6,000 are Hanafi and around 200 are syncretic Sufi shrines.Ahl-e-Hadith, Deoband and Jamat put together have just over 1,000 mosques and charity based seminaries, of which Ahle-Hadith has the largest number. “ Ahl-eHadith mosques are popular for their modern furnishing and facilities,“ said Shahnawaz, a Barelvi follower in Anantnag, adding that the organisation also funds several orphanages, clinics and medical diagnostic centres.
Sources said Ahl-e-Hadith mosques and seminaries have doubled in the last 27 years. FCRA annual reports show that top donors to India among the Salafist Islam practising states are the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Although it is not clear who the top donor and recipient in J&K is, the state has received between 10 and 100 crores as foreign funds each year in the last decade.
Ahl-e-Hadith played a role in the separatist movement as a part of the joint Hurriyat Conference until it was split in 2003. The organisation is known to share a relationship with Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen, which is closely associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba. The TuM is a part of the PoK-based United Jihad Council headed by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Syed Salahuddin, who in 2014, had declared support for al-Qaida's entry into Kashmir.
However, security officials believe that the influence of Wahhabi discourse through the Internet, social media and messaging platforms is far more dangerous than the mosques and literature.“Kashmir has around 2.8 million mobile internet users. Even if there is one Salafist preacher glorifying Burhan Wani or Zakir Musa and the clip is circulated over smartphones, it has a dangerous multiplying effect over a huge population,“ a senior police official said.
Mobile data usage, officials claim, is higher in Kashmir than other parts of the country because of lack of other sources of entertainment. Cinemas, bars and discotheques were shut in Kashmir in the early 1990s when militant groups issued diktats against all things “un-Islamic“.
1990: The situation in April
The militant-fundamentalist sway over the Kashmir valley is complete, and the country's administrative control has been almost totally nullified. The situation is critical, and the time for soft options over.
Islam ki buniyad pe yeh mulk bana hai, ayega is mulk mein Islam ka dastoor, is mulk mein toofan ayega (The hurricane of Islam will blow through this land). -Refrain from an underground cassette
Kashmir is at war with India. It is a declared war with open moral, financial, and logistical support from Pakistan.
Its first phase is over. And the brutal reality to which the country must awake is that the initial round has already been won by the militants. The enormity of the situation - with the latent challenges it poses for the continued existence of the rest of India as a secular state - does not seem to have dawned fully on New Delhi or even on the rest of the nation.
And notwithstanding the predictable knee-jerk cries of repression and "reign of terror against the state administration by liberal groups like the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the stark truth is that the Indian state is barely fighting back.
The reins of the reign of terror are squarely in the hands of the separatists. Through kidnappings, bombings, assassinations, religious blandishments and press censorship - aided not least of all by the virtual abdication of governance by the Farooq Abdullah government during the last two years - the secessionists have virtually achieved the administrative and psychological severance of the valley from India. And their tentacles are now spreading into Doda, Kistwar, Rajauri and Poonch.
In a cartographic and military sense, Kashmir remains with India. There's Ladakh in the north. Jammu in the south. And the Indian Army all along the actual line of control. But within this circumference now lies an island, a virulently non-Indian entity called Kashmir easily vulnerable to Pakistani manipulation.
In Kashmir nobody, either out of fear or out of the total alienation that pervades the region, now talks for India or even a settlement with the Centre. That part is over. Done with. The movement has now arrived at a different crossroads. The debate is now whether they choose independence or Pakistan.
The 'Indian dogs', as it were, have mostly gone home. From Srinagar, Baramula, Tral, Pulwama, Anantnag, Kupward, Handwara, Bandipore. Businessmen, bankers, retired servicemen, hoteliers, tour operators. And Kashmiri pundits. Those who remain are men in uniform, or the Indian officials sitting as soft targets for terrorist hit lists in Srinagar's Raj Bhawan, or the mini winter secretariat. Lonely outposts of the Indian Union.
In what is surely one of the greatest refugee migrations in recent Indian history, some 90,000 Kashmiri pundits and other members of the minority community of a total of about 1,40,000 (4 per cent of the population) living in the valley have fled their homes leaving property worth crores behind. Rows of large houses in Munshibagh and Rawalpura are deserted.
And now, the 30,000-odd Sikh shopkeepers and farmers of Tral, Sopore and Baramula have begun to cry for protection if they, too, are not to migrate. Some have already started moving out.
Securitymen keep vigil on the empty boulevard along Srinagar's Dal Lake, that was once the hub of the valley's throbbing tourist activity and traffic
The few local papers that circulate under terrorist benevolence regularly attribute the migration to exaggerated Indian propaganda. The educated elite - yesterday's moderates, today's separatists - tell the eager ideologues of the puce just what they want to hear: that their movement is secular and the fleeing Hindus are just puppets of BJP propaganda. But to a family taking flight from its roots, property, value system and the familiarity of everyday existence, this is just so much nonsense.
Ask Mrs Dar, a doctor whose family has lived in downtown Srinagar for generations. She fled under fundamentalist threats a month ago to Jammu with her family. She and her sisters returned last fortnight - the men were too scared to accompany them - disguised under burkhas and fell at the feet of a government official begging help to recover their belongings from the house they hurriedly padlocked before fleeing.
Or a retired subedar major whose tenant, K. Kaul, is mercilessly gunned down on April 5 in Karan Nagar. The subedar receives a death threat shortly afterwards while he is at work. He does not even go back to his house. His daughters rent a truck within a few hours and load it with their belongings. They pick him up at an appointed place and drive straight to a refugee camp in Jammu.
That same day Subedar Bhushan Lal bursts into the room of a commanding officer inside the cantonment in Srinagar, breaks down and cries like a baby. He was on leave to see his family in Big Behara, a 45-minute drive from Srinagar, but has been hounded out by gangs of roving militants.
He, too, begs for protection for his mother and two daughters whom he left behind in Bij Behara when he fled in the early hours of the morning. All he wants is that they be safely escorted out. They will never go back. It doesn't matter that he is leaving behind his life savings - a small orchard and a house he had managed to build.
They are not fleeing for nothing. Kashmir has seen upheavals in 1953 and in 1964. There was no mass migration. This was largely because the separatist forces had identifiable leaders who espoused secularism and there were few, if any, terrorist assassinations of innocents.
But today, the movement is dominated by the money provided by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and the muscle power of the pro-Pakistan, fundamentalist Jamaat-i-Islami and its Hizbul Mujaheddin and Allah Tiger terror groups. The Jamaat is supposed to be strong in Baramula and Sopore and the "secular" Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front in Srinagar and Anantnag. But this is now merely semantics.
For what once used to be a mass movement for the preservation of ethnic identity, of Kashmiriyat, of which Article 370 was supposed to be the symbolic guardian, has been consumed by a fundamentalist fury that gives the movement sustenance and spiritual guidance. The liberal spirit of sufism that had so infused the valley has now been exorcised.
The movement is now largely conducted from the mosques from where thousands of loudspeakers preach jehad in a terrifying cacophony. And the fundamentalist cultural aggression has spread into everyday life. People must sport beards and wear the traditional Kashmiri garb. Wristwatches, as in Pakistan, must be worn on the right hand and the time set back a half-hour to correspond with that of Pakistan.
Cinema halls, beauty and video parlours, symbols of Indian "decadence" have remained closed for six months. Friday, not Sunday, is now observed as the day of rest. Indian newspapers are not circulated any more. In Kupwara, street dogs were affixed with discs around their necks with the inscription, "Indian dogs," and in Khak, nearby, effigies of Indian soldiers are hung from trees. In nearby Sopore, militants impose their own road tax on civilian vehicles.
Almost everywhere in the valley, Indian institutions have been rendered redundant. In Srinagar, the Bank of Baroda has closed down, many of its officers have fled. The Canara Bank has virtually no staff to handle payments. And the militants have even knocked down the signboard of the State Bank of India near Srinagar's Batwara Chowk.
The banking system is virtually shut down. At the post offices tens of thousands of letters are piled up with no one to deliver them. Lawyers have boycotted the courts.
And Muslim government servants now in the winter capital of Jammu have threatened to strike unless moved back to Srinagar. Conversely, minority community officials are balking at having to go to Srinagar when the capital shifts there in summer.
Agriculture continues, with paddy cultivation in full swing, but trade and commerce are at a standstill. The transport, sheet metal, machine tool and lumber industries have ceased to function.
The hotels lie empty. The once proud Oberoi Palace has lost half its executive staff. And Mercury Travels Manager, Raj Awasthi, for the first time closed shop and left Srinagar, bags, baggage and all signalling the end of the tourist season even before it started. The house boats and shikaras bob aimlessly on the waters of the Dal and Nagin lakes like so much driftwood.
Life is one curfew after another with periods of relaxation. When it is relaxed people mill furtively in the streets for a little bit of shopping. Cigarettes are scarce, meat rarely available, fresh vegetables a treat if one can find them. Even though the people have begun to feel the pinch, there's still enough to eat. Every September, the Kashmiri begins stocking up on rice and dried tomatoes and other provisions.
These will last until May when there are fresh earnings through tourism, carpet weaving and casual labour. But even though this prospect looks bleak the people take heart from regularly beamed Pakistani propaganda that Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was recently shown supporting a thousand-year struggle to "liberate" Kashmir, will raise crores of rupees in relief money.
During curfew relaxation, life appears superficially normal. But life is not normal even in the sanctuary of the army cantonment. Army schools have been closed down and parents given transfer certificates for their children: And the corps commander has declared downtown areas oat of bounds for army personnel and their families.
It is during curfew relaxation that the gunmen strike. The strategy is simple. Fire, or hurl bombs at security personnel, assassinate a soft target and duck. Force the security forces to return the fire in which innocent civilians are often killed, fuelling further anti-Indian sentiments.
According to government estimates, anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 automatic weapons, mostly Chinese-made AK-47s, have been smuggled into the valley. The number of trained insurgents is about 600.
But with a network of sympathisers now spreading into virtually every village in the valley with sophisticated information cells', they spell a formidable problem for the roughly 20,000 men of the paramilitary and police forces deployed mostly in large towns.
Among of, biggest challenges for the security forces is that the activists, both armed and unarmed, include PWD workers, irrigation engineers, schoolteachers, storeowners, doctors, lawyers, former MLAs and, most important, members of the Jammu & Kashmir Police who have been active in recruiting terrorists, arranging border crossings, and even driving their vehicles.
Separatist targets are not just anybody found sympathetic to India but, increasingly, Indian Army installations. The subversive arsenal now includes antitank mines, rocket launchers and remote detonation devices. In several places army communication channels have been sabotaged. Civilian personnel working at army installations in Kupwara have received death threats.
How did the situation take such a precipitous turn for the worse? The answer is, it was not sudden. As the official record has shown, Governor Jagmohan was near prophetic in his warnings to Rajiv Gandhi during 1988-89 that the Farooq Abdullah government had collapsed even while it was in power and that separatist militancy, no matter what its immediate roots, was exploding. The warnings were ignored.
It is possible to pinpoint some events that helped fuel the insurgency. First, at a time when militancy was peaking, Farooq's government released 70 of the most experienced, Pakistani-trained terrorists whose detention had been confirmed by the Advisory Board headed by the chief justice of the state high court (see box). Even though they were on parole, they are now untraceable.
The separatists saw this as an important victory. Their morale got a major boost when the V.P. Singh Government agreed to free 5 hardcore detenus in exchange for the release of Dr Rubaiya Sayeed. The files show that the decision to release the terrorists was taken by the Farooq government not after negotiations with the terrorists but on the very day of her kidnapping.
Districts of south Kashmir have been the main centres of secessionist activity
Softliners in the Government had hoped that this would bring some of the extremists to the bargaining table. But the action achieved just the opposite. It swung the power pendulum away from the Government and squarely into the separatist camp. So far as the separatists were concerned they had won the first phase of their battle against India. There was nothing to negotiate. And they escalated their terror.
The crisis flared out of hand with the appointment of Jagmohan, not because the governor was unwilling to act. but because New Delhi seemed to have no clear direction in its Kashmir policy and tied the new administration's hands following the January 21 clashes in which securitymen killed violent pro-Pakistani demonstrators. The Government has appeared to falter, and that has given heart to the terrorists.
From the secessionists' viewpoint, the insurgency has the Indian Government exactly where it wants it - divided in dealing with the problem.
There are now three centres of power dealing with Kashmir: Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, a man with very little credibility in his home state, who veers between a hardline law-and-order approach and reviving the Assembly as a stopgap measure; Kashmir Affairs Minister George Fernandes - a novice as far as the intricacies of Kashmir politics are concerned - who believes that the Centre should deal with the militants as well as with some National Conference leaders; and Governor Jagmohan who is asking for a free hand to restore the state's administrative apparatus. The Mufti and Fernandes do not get along, and Fernandes goes about openly snubbing Jagmohan.
For the first time, 'wanted' lists are being circulated
When he visits the valley, ostensibly to contact the underground, Raj Bhawan is informed neither of his movements nor of whom he talks to. And some of his actions have effectively served to reverse the tough decisions taken by the Jagmohan administration.
For example, on April 2, after the state administration opposed a mass rally for the burial of Ashfaq Majid, a slain terrorist, Fernandes negotiated with a team of self-proclaimed representatives of the extremists and allowed a procession that swelled into a crowd of three lakh at which several of the most wanted militants were given a pulpit. Fernandes also met controversial government officials - like the jail superintendent sacked by the governor.
The Centre sees this as a carrot-and-stick policy of keeping all channels open. But it is creating an impossible situation for the state administrators who believe that when lobbyists can bypass the system and seek audiences with Fernandes or appeal to the Mufti who has his own political interests in the state, it will be hard to crack down on corrupt officials and collaborators.
Even finding a quick political fix in today's situation is a pipe dream. The National Conference, whose members have defected in droves is a spent force. Its MPs dare not enter the valley without massive security escort. And the grave of its founding father, Sheikh Abdullah, is guarded round the clock by two security companies because the militants have threatened to defile it. Even Maulvi Farooq lives in a fortress which he insists should be guarded by not state police but Central security forces.
Militants openly issue calls to boycott Fernandes when he comes to the valley. And those with whom he has attempted contact - lawyer Mian Qayyoom, Imam Gul Baxi of Batamaloo, G. N. Hagroo, a civil rights activist, and journalist Sanaullah Butt - are hardly pro-Indian. Qayyoom says Kashmir cannot be held captive to the Simla agreement; his demand is nothing short of independence. And it is unclear whom these people represent.
The bottom line of the militants is secession. And the bottom line of the Indian Government cannot go outside the Constitution. The two positions are irreconcilable. The time for theorising, post-mortems and historical regurgitations is over. New Delhi's writ in the valley runs from Raj Bhawan through Gupkar Road to the nearby winter secretariat. Two hundred yards on each side is terrorist territory. Consider, for example, just one fact. When the administration wanted to relax curfew from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. the militants imposed their own curfew. Not a soul came out into the streets.
The bulk of the people follow whatever institution wields the big stick. Today, that stick is in the hands of the militants. The primary task before the Government is to re-establish its writ and show that it has the political will to do so. To demonstrate that the country will not compromise an inch of its territory. It was the absence of this message during the Farooq regime, and a lack of clarity of purpose under V.P. Singh's Government that has hobbled the state administration and given a certain strategic advantage to the secessionists.
Confusion and delay in regaining India's lost administrative turf in Kashmir will simply give Pakistan and the militants the most precious resource they can ask for - time. Their strategy is to wear New Delhi down to such an extent that the cost of maintaining Kashmir will become an impossible burden; or to keep a ready-made Pakistan inside India to be used by Pakistan to create constant problems.
The view from New Delhi is that in the long run, time is on its own side because in the peaks and valleys that characterise terrorism all over the world, the fundamentalists, when they realise that they can't really break loose of India's grip, when they begin suffering economically, will wear down and seek a solution with the Centre. But this is precisely the kind of thinking that led to escalating violence in Punjab.
In Kashmir the wait-and-wear-down attitude, considering how perilous the situation already is because of years of fence-sitting, is bound to make the problem even more intractable. The longer, for example, that security forces wait for orders to hit known training centres inside the valley's villages - so far more or less out of bounds - the more powerful will terrorist cadres become.
Of the nearly 90,000 refugees who have fled the Kashmir valley, many have come to Delhi
They will have more time to .import more deadly weapons (they now have Stinger missiles as well), increase their finances, recruit cadres, mobilise international opinion, and increase their base and morale.
The longer the wait, the greater the forces and firepower of the secessionists, the more deadly and bloody any future confrontation. This would not only cause unpredictable international repercussions but also dangerously affect the mood of India's 98 million Muslims - as Operation Bluestar did in the case of Sikhs in India - who so far have remained unsympathetic to the fundamentalist cause in Kashmir.
Right now, much can be achieved through low-level, sustained pressure. Last week, the governor began by sacking 75 government servants involved in subversive activities, mounting weapons searches, raids on training camps, indefinite curfews, and arresting over 200 people trying to cross the border. He also refused to compromise with the kidnappers of the vice-chancellor of Kashmir University. For the time being, it seems, New Delhi is backing stern measures to stop the drift.
But the task ahead is Herculean. Lost ground will have to be recovered inch by inch even in the face of hostile international opinion, and pressure from internal political lobbies. Government offices, banks, transport, hotels, post offices will have to be opened, forcibly if necessary even if it means handing them to security forces or government officials from outside as in Assam in 1983.
Subedar Bhushan Lal abandons his home in Kashmir
And New Delhi must also realise that indirectly its coffers are funding the separatist movement, through the subsidised petrol and the telephone networks with which the subversives communicate. The question to be asked is whether the state should continue to provide those who have declared war against it the wherewithal for mobility and communications.
Should it continue to keep on its payroll government servants who refuse allegiance to the Constitution? Should it continue to supply electricity to mosques that use loudspeakers to preach jehad against the state? These are the hard decisions to be made if India's writ is to run again in the valley.
In Kashmir - where the Centre has invested some Rs 70,000 crore in subsidies, what to say of the blood of Indian soldiers in two wars - the nation faces what is perhaps the gravest challenge to the ideas on which its integrity is moored. There are no soft options left. And temporary reverses must not be allowed to reverse the process of a sustained reclamation. The country can no longer afford to behave like a tenant put on notice to vacate somebody else's property.
TERRORISTS RELEASED BY FAROOQ ABDULLAH GOVERNMENT
Between July and December 1989, 70 hardcore terrorists were released by the Farooq Abdullah government. Below is a partial list. All detentions had been confirmed by the Advisory Body headed by the chief justice of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court.
Mohammed Afzal Sheikh of Trehgam
Crossed over to Pakistani territory. Stayed in the home of his brother-in-law, Mohammed Wani, in POK at Athmuqam. Went to Peshawar for training. Met Javed Maqbool Butt and Showkat Maqbool Butt, sons of the hanged JKLF leader Maqbool Butt, with the help of JKLF Chairman Amanullah Khan, in Muzaffarabad. Took oath of allegiance to POK, with a thumb impression using his blood. Was responsible for bomb blast damaging two buses.
Rafiq Ahmed Ahangar
Went to Pakistan on August 22,1988 via Leepa. Trained in handling explosives. Involved in several bombings.
Mohammad Ayub Najar
Arrested following crossfiring incident near Jamia Masjid on August 25,1989. Was detained under Public Safety Act. On December 8, 1989, the day of the kidnapping of Dr Rubaiya Sayeed, it was decided in the office chamber of agriculture minister, Mohammed Shafi, that he would be released with 45 others.
Farooq Ahmed Ganai
Went to Pakistan under the code name of Khalid. Took courses in creating internal disturbances. Mission was to target army, police, the CRPF and BSF, and assassinate dignitaries. Met Amanullah Khan in the house of Raja Muzaffar Khan at Muzaffarabad. Involved in bombings, arson and looting.
Ghulam Mohammed Gujri
Entered Pakistan in August 1988 via Bungna Bala, Kupwara district, for sophisticated arms training. Crossed with help of two POK guides, stayed for the night in the house of one Ghulam Mohammed Wani, originally a resident of Kupwara but settled in Pakistan at Athmuqam (POK). This house was being used as a transit camp for the trainees. He was issued one Kalashnikov gun, two magazines, 200 rounds of ammunition, and detonators. Arrested following involvement in a bombing.
Farooq Ahmed Malik
Entered Pakistan with the help of Abdul Ahad Waza via Rashanpur for arms and explosives training. Met Amanullah Khan. Arrested after bomb blast in Telegraph Office, Srinagar.
Nazir Ahmed Sheikh
Entered Pakistan for arms training. Was taken to the house of Raja Muzaffar Khan. Met Amanullah Khan. On return, was arrested for role in Anantnag bombing.
Ghulam Mohi-Ud-Din Teli
Hardcore Jamaat-e-lslami. Key co-conspirator in an espionage ring. Under his guidance, two Handwara residents went to Pakistan to be trained to spy on Indian Army. Information passed to Pakistani intelligence.
Riyaz Ahmed Lone
Trained in Pakistan. Involved in several bombings.
Farooq Ahmed Thakur
Arrested following a Shootout with security forces near Jamia Masjid on August 25, 1989. Considerable amount of arms and ammunition recovered from him.
1990: Rajiv, Benazir were ready to resolve Kashmir dispute
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated while campaigning for the Congress party candidate in Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991
The Pakistan People's Party co-chairman further said that no other government except PPP took up this issue with India
Zardari said Musharraf's (India friendly) plan on the Kashmir issue was rejected by other generals
Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto were ready to resolve the Kashmir issue amicably but the Indian leader was assassinated during the election campaign, Pakistan's former president Asif Ali Zardari has claimed.
Zardari also revealed that former dictator Gen (retd.) Pervez Musharraf had come up with a plan on Kashmir issue but other generals could not agree to it.
"BB (Benazir Bhutto) sahiba had spoken to Rajiv Gandhi in 1990 who agreed to resolve the Kashmir issue amicably. Rajiv told Benazir that during the last 10 years no one including Gen Zia from Pakistan spoke with us on this issue," Zardari said at a Kashmir rally here last evening.
"He (Rajiv) admitted that Kashmir was an important issue and should be resolved. Rajiv said he would take up this issue with Pakistan after coming to power but he was assassinated (in 1991)," the former president added.
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated while campaigning for the Congress party candidate in Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991.
The Pakistan People's Party co-chairman further said that no other government except PPP took up this issue with India.
After Benazir, it was PPP's previous government (2008-13) that had taken up the Kashmir issue with the then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Zardari said Musharraf's (India friendly) plan on the Kashmir issue was rejected by other generals.
"I have a copy of that secret plan of Musharraf on Kashmir. When Musharraf presented that plan before other generals they left the room," he said.
He said ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif cannot talk on the Kashmir issue even in his Muzafarabad (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) rally as he is a friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"A friend of Modi cannot talk on Kashmir. Sharif was rightly ousted from the prime minister house for betraying Kashmiris," he said.
1990: Role of government servants in the separatist movement
When Naeem Akhtar and 4 others were dismissed for being ‘threat to India’s security, sovereignty and integrity’
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, _Published in STATE TIMES, Oct 21, 2016
With the volcanic eruption of armed insurgency, coupled with a separatist political movement, the administrative machinery was falling brick by brick January through March in 1990. Hundreds of thousands—and once a full million—of the Kashmiris used to march to the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan at Sonwar, demanding separation from India and implementation of the UN resolutions on Plebiscite.
Suddenly the separatist movement received a shot in the arm when [six] senior IAS officers, including the stalwarts Hindal Haider Tayyabji, Ashok Jaitly, M.L, Kaul and Mohammad Shafi Pandit, signed and issued an appeal to the UN [Indpaedia believes that it was addressed to the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir and was also signed by Sheikh Ghulam Rasool and Sushma Chaudhary] to intervene and stop human rights abuse by security forces in the Valley. Historic political developments took place when Vishwanath Pratap Singh was Prime Minister, Mufti Mohammad Union Home Minister and Jammu and Kashmir was under Governor’s, followed by President’s rule, in 1990. Many of Kashmir’s bureaucrats besides civil and Police officers became part and parcel of the secessionist movement.
Deputy Commissioner Excise Naeem Akhtar’s official residence at Government Quarter No: J-22 became the postal address of the movement as almost all the separatist politicians had been detained and lodged in different jails outside the Valley. Trade unions merged into a coordination committee which chose former Chief Engineer of Power Development Department Abdul Hamid Matoo as its President and Muzaffar Ahmad Khan as General Secretary.
Senior KAS officers like Muzaffar Ahmad Khan, then RTO Kashmir and General Manager with J&K Bank, Abdul Rashid Mubarki, additional Secretary Khizar Mohammad Wani and other prominent faces of the Kashmir Administrative Service came to be seen as the “real representatives of the Kashmir cause and sentiment”.
In months of the IAS officers’ memorandum, around 250 J&K officers, many of them between the ranks of Deputy Secretary to Commissioner-Secretary, issued another passionate appeal to the ‘Citizens of the World’. Believed to have been drafted by Akhtar in his Queen’s English, it called for Plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir under the UN resolution — euphemism for Kashmir’s secession from India and accession to Pakistan. The Kashmiris named it ‘Azadi’. It created ripples in India and abroad.
Governor Girish Chander Saxena declared five senior and influential officers — Abdul Hamid Matoo, Naeem Akhar, A.R. Mubarki, Abdul Salam Bhat and Muzaffar Ahmad Khan — as threat to the State’s security, sovereignty and integrity and ordered their dismissal from service. Within an hour, the dismissed officers and their colleagues, holding key positions in the Government, held a meeting at Akhtar’s official residence in Jawahar Nagar. The coordination committee called for an indefinite strike, making a host of demands. Not one was conceded by Saxena’s government.
The 72-day-long employees’ strike, that started on September 15, 1990, crippled the services in Kashmir. On behalf of Governor Saxena, Advisor (Home) Mehmood Ahmad Zaki (who later retired as GOC of Srinagar-based 15 Corps of Army) and Additional Chief Secretary Home Mehmood-ur-Rehman called on senior IAS officer Sheikh Ghulam Rasool (then Financial Commissioner Revenue, who was emerging as potential contender for the coveted position of Chief Secretary) and asked him to use his good offices to resolve the crisis.
There was no breakthrough till VP Singh’s regime ended and Chander Shekhar took over as Prime Minister on November 10. Governor Saxena and Chief Secretary R.K. Takkar did strongly refuse to revoke the five officers’ dismissal and their reinstatement.
President of the coordination committee Matoo had earlier played a key role in persuading the legendary Policeman and retired Director General of Police Ghulam Hassan Shah against accepting Jagmohan’s offer of appointment as Advisor to Governor. Shah did not join Jagmohan’s government even as the order of his appointment was reportedly issued after seeking his consent. Matoo’s daughter was married to Shah’s son.
One day in October, days before the annual Durbar Move, Sheikh Ghulam Rasool called over 50 officers to his Sonwar residence and urged them to bring home to Matoo, Naeem and others that shutting down entire services and systems could lead to miseries of the common people and poor employees, making it hard for them to sustain the agitation. Even the pharmacies and ration depots had not been exempted from the strike.
It was decided in the meeting that three officers — Ghulam Abbas (DC Srinagar), Aijaz Ahmad Malik (PCCF) and Ghulam Ahmad Lone (Law Secretary) — would meet the employees coordination committee members at Matoo’s residence near Al-Farooq Masjid in Jawahar Nagar.
On their return from Matoo’s house, the three senior officers narrated to Sheikh Ghulam Rasool that the coordination committee members were “extremely discourteous and rude”. “Sir, they treated us as traitors of the Kashmir cause and agents of the Government of India. They alleged that we are hobnobbing with Governor to fail the freedom struggle. Naeem said what nonsense of ration are you talking about. Kashmiris want freedom”, one of the them told Rasool.
“Sir we made it clear to them that Abbas Sahab is here in his personal capacity, not as DC Srinagar, so are two of us. We conveyed to them Zaki Sahab’s and Rehman Sahab’s assurance that they would be reinstated immediately after they call off the strike. But they didn’t relent. They addressed us as if they were the Governors and Chief Ministers and we were the class 4th employees”, another officer told Rasool.
Commissioner Secretary ARI & Training Nazir Ahmad Kamili told Rasool that he and some other officers had also received threats on phone. “They posed as militants but we are sure they were our own colleagues trying to intimidate us”, Kamili said.
The matter didn’t end there. Matoo and his team in their speeches at Srinagar Municipality and other places alleged that some officers were out on the mission of failing the employees’ strike and the freedom struggle. Then only functional newspaper, late Mohammad Yousuf Qadri’s Afaaq, carried a story on such whispers. It was decided in Rasool’s meeting with the officers that three officers would go to editor of Afaaq and publish a statement about their failure to convince the coordination committee members on suspending the strike. “If all of them want to carry on, we will say that we too are with it”, said Sheikh and others.
A group of three officers was deputed to Qadri Sahab. They boarded the red-cross marked vehicle of Director Health Services and handed over their “clarification” to the editor’s son, Jeelani Qadiri, at his office near Abi Guzar. Jeelani agreed to publish but told the officers that he would need his father’s approval as it was a “sensitive matter”. Soon the trio arrived at the editor’s home in Balgarden.
Director Health Services Dr Muzaffar-uz-Zamaan Drabu, who lived in Karan Nagar neighbourhood, went in to meet Qadiri Sahab who obliged the officer. While he was still with Qadiri Sahab, some residents gathered around the vehicle and asked its driver about the officers meeting the editor. As he narrated everything with naiveté and honesty, the small group of residents began saying loudly that someone should make an announcement on the mosque’s PAS that the “traitors” were meeting Qadri Sahab. Someone was heard saying that they should set the vehicle on fire and beat up the “traitors”. Law Secretary Lone, who was inside the vehicle, turned pale.
However, as the motley gathering of the residents witnessed Dr Drabu emerging out of the editor’s home, they saluted him. He made it clear to them that none of the officers was working against the interests of the Kashmiris or the employees’ strike.
Immediately after VP Singh’s and Mufti Sayeed’s government at the Centre ended and Chander Shekhar took over as Prime Minister, senior National Conference leaders Dr Farooq Abdullah and Prof Saifuddin Soz persuaded him to withdraw the dismissal of the five Kashmiri officers as a “goodwill gesture”. They assured the new PM that it could initiate a process of resolving the crisis by understanding and dialogue. On November 26 the employees’ strike was called off as Saxena, on PM’s instruction, revoked the dismissal orders.
Among the reinstated officers and bureaucrats, Abdul Salam Bhat later functioned as DC in Udhampur and Srinagar, Muzaffar Khan headed several departments including Handicrafts and Estates before his retirement. Naeem Akhtar functioned as Secretary Tourism before holding a tenure as Secretary to Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed. For some time, when R.K. Jerath was on leave, Akhatr also held charge of the key portfolio of General Administration Department. Ultimately, in 2013 he became PDP’s Member in Legislative Council and in 2015 Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed inducted him as Minister of Education. He retained his berth and portfolio in Mehbooba Mufti’s Cabinet in 2016.
Kashmiri Pandits affected by militancy
1990: Killing and mass migration
Lead illustration: Sajeev Kumarapuram
The brief history is this. Jammu and Kashmir had an assembly election in 1987. An alliance of Congress and National Conference won, Farooq Abdullah was chief minister and there were allegations that the polls had been rigged. Armed insurgency by Kashmiri nationalists gained momentum. By 1989, the peace had been broken.
That year, BJP’s Tikka Lai Taploo, was murdered — the first Kashmiri Pandit to be fatally targeted. Two months later, retired sessions judge Neel Kanth Ganju, who had sentenced separatist Maqbool Butt to death, was shot dead. In February 1990, Doordarshan’s Kashmir chief Lassa Koul was killed. Kashmiri Hindus were afraid for their lives, and started leaving the Kashmir Valley.
These are the only parts of the history on which there is a broad consensus. For everything else — the scale of violence, and if Hindus and Muslims were both subjected to terror — the debate over what happened has been raging for 30 years.
Srinagar, October 2021. Kashmiri Pandits stage a candle light protest against the killing of 3, including prominent entrepreneur M L Bindroo, by militants
What is genocide and was this one?
Intent lies at the core of the definition of genocide. The United Nations codified genocide as a crime in 1948, in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
It says genocide can be any of five acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” The five acts are:
Killing members of the group
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
There's near-certainty that the first three acts were committed. Where available official records and popular narratives start diverging are the scale of violence and the fallout.
In 2011, when the Union ministry of home affairs was asked how many Kashmiri Pandits had been killed because of “terrorist activities in the Kashmir Valley”, Jitendra Singh had replied that “219 Kashmiri Pandits were killed in the state since 1989.” The same number was provided in the Rajya Sabha a year before that. The unofficial numbers have varied. In 2011, a Kashmiri Pandit organisation, Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, said their survey indicates at least 399 died and “ the total number will be around 650.”
The estimate is closer to what an R S S publication soon after the Kashmiri Pandit migration had claimed in 1991. Published by the R S S affiliate Suruchi Sansthan in Delhi, the book Genocide of Hindus in Kashmir said, “In less than two years more than 600 members of this community have been brutally murdered.”
About a decade on, in 2003, terrorists killed 24 Kashmiri Pandits at Nadimarg in Pulwama. India said the LeT was involved.
Was only one community being targeted? Official figures include Muslims, too. Many of the pre-1990s killings were attributed to the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), the militant organisation most active (or visible) in Kashmir at the time. One of the first people in the crossfire between the state and the militants was Mohammed Yusuf Halwai, a National Conference representative, on August 21 1989, a month before Taploo was killed. JKLF had placed a placard on Halwai’s body, claiming responsibility for his death.
Militant attacks continued to be reported in Kashmir over the 1990s. In 1995, houses of 139 migrants and 27 temples were burnt during the Charar-i-Sharif standoff in which alleged Hizbul Mujahideen militants took shelter inside the shrine. Also destroyed was the 15th-century Sufi shrine, which both Hindus and Muslims visited. A year later, in 1996, a gathering of about 7,000 Muslim worshippers in Baramulla was attacked with hand grenades. Three died.
The only "official data" on how many people from other communities died because of militancy in Kashmir comes from an RTI response by the Srinagar Police Headquarters. That said the number of Kashmiri Pandits who were “killed by terrorists since inception of militancy 1990” was 89 and the number of people of other faiths was 1,635.
How many Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave?
The migration numbers have changed a lot over time, even in official records, presumably because they are constantly updated. In the years right after Kashmiri Pandits started leaving, the government put out an estimate of 50,000 families who had left Kashmir because of militancy. The 2022 estimate is actually lower — at 44,684. The number of migrant people, according to the Union ministry of home affairs in 2022, is a little over 1.5 lakh.
But there are two things to pay attention to. That data show the number of Kashmiri migrant families — across all religious communities. So, even when questions are asked about “Kashmiri Pandits,” governments reply with answers about “Kashmiri migrants”. In 2010, the home ministry had stated in Lok Sabha that their figures for “displaced” families, 59,542, included Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims. A community-wise breakup for all families was not officially available for a long time. Then, the NDA government shared the 2002 numbers for those who had moved from Kashmir to Jammu.
And in 2021, the NDA government replied in the Rajya Sabha that of the 44,167 Kashmiri migrant families, 39,782 were Hindu migrant families — meaning there were 4,385 families of other faiths. The other important qualifier is that Kashmiri Pandits are a Brahmin group within the larger one of Kashmiri Hindus. This distinction was made by the Jammu and Kashmir high court in September 2021: “ In the absence of a specific definition of the term ‘Kashmiri Pandit family,’ the only way to find out the true meaning of the term is to apply the common parlance principle. There is no denying the fact that in common parlance, Kashmiri Pandit is a community of Kashmiri-speaking Brahmins living in the Valley for generations and are distinctly identified by their dress, customs, and traditions, etc. ‘Kashmiri Pandits’ is a separately identifiable community distinct from other Hindus residing in the Valley like Rajputs, Brahmins other than Kashmiri Pandits, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and many others."
So, how many Kashmiri Pandits actually left? It’s hard to say. The figure 3.5 lakh has often been cited. But the actual number is likely to have been under 2 lakh. Why? Because the combined Hindu population in the Kashmir Valley districts in the 1981 Census was 1,25,042. As political scientist Sumantra Bose wrote in his book on Kashmir in 1996, “It is simply impossible for a community numbering fewer than 140,000 to generate 260,000 or 350,000 refugees from Islamic terror.”
As for their property left behind, the government passed the Jammu & Kashmir Kashmiri Migrants Immovable Properties (Preservation, Protection and Restraint of Distress Sales) Act in 1997. In 2000, a decade after the exodus, the NDA government said in Parliament that half the houses were intact and 618 of the nearly 17,000 were illegally occupied.
Does Kashmir not have Hindus anymore?
Most migrants who left Kashmir in the 1990s went to Jammu. The other place that received many Kashmiri migrant families was Delhi (though its numbers remain unchanged, possibly because they have just not been updated).
The extent of migration cannot be gauged from the data for the ertwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. The change, then, has to be seen at the district level — both before and after the migration. Between 1971 and 1981, the Hindu share of population had gone down in all Kashmir districts except one, Badgam. At the same time, it went up in most Jammu districts — barring Poonch.
The massive shift is evident when the 1981 numbers are placed next to the 2001 Census data. Share of Hindu population in the Kashmir valley had a huge drop.
It would have helped to look at the actual numbers and not just population shares. But the 2001 Census did not put out the Hindu population figures only in the Jammu districts. The ones for Kashmir districts, however, are available.
By the 2011 Census, two Kashmir districts actually recorded higher Hindu population shares than in 1981 — Baramula went from 2.1% in 1981 to 3.04% in 2011, and Kupwara from 2.14% to 4.27%. And Pulwama’s Hindu population share was about the same (2.5% in 1981 and 2.47% in 2011).
Over the past three decades, members of the community have asked for a separate homeland, jobs and cash relief. In 2020, the NDA government said it had created 3,000 state government jobs for Kashmiri migrants (the planned number was 6,000 in 2016). Multiple governments have changed, packages announced (ranging from Rs 2,589 crore to Rs 1,618 crore) but not much seems to have changed in terms of Kashmiri Pandits feeling like they could return.
Official figures, released in 2022
MHA: 64,827 Pandit families forced to flee Valley in 1990s
Pakistan-sponsored terrorism forced 64,827 Kashmiri Pandit families to leave the Valley in the early 1990s and settle in Jammu, Delhi and other parts of the country, government has said.
MHA’s annual report for 2020-21 also said 14,091 civilians and 5,356 security force personnel lost their lives to militancy in J&K between the 1990s, when militancy reared its head in the Valley, and 2020.
Besides Kashmiri Pandits, militancy forced some Sikh and Muslim families too to flee. Records with the Jammu & Kashmir relief and migrant commissioner said 43,618 registered Kashmiri migrant families were settled in Jammu, 19,338 families in Delhi and NCR, and 1,995 families in other states.AGENCIES
All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC)/ 1993-
Hurriyat: Its History, Role and Relevance
New Delhi has now twice made high-level dialogue with Islamabad conditional upon Pakistan not talking to the separatists. Who are the Hurriyat? What is their politics? Do they speak for the people of the Valley?
While the reason for the cancellation of talks between the National Security Advisers (NSAs) of India and Pakistan was New Delhi’s insistence on keeping Kashmir off the table and discussing only terrorism, the decision to disallow a customary meeting between Kashmiri separatist leaders and Pakistani officials in New Delhi ahead of the bilateral became a key chapter in the fiasco.
The Pak High Commission had invited both factions of the Hurriyat, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, and Shabir Shah for a meeting with Pak NSA Sartaj Aziz. New Delhi’s new red line, excluding the Kashmir issue and terming the separatist leadership as the “third party”, and Islamabad’s refusal to accept these conditions, has refocussed attention on the Hurriyat, the political platform of the separatist movement for more than two decades now.
This is the second time that talks have been called off over the issue of Pak officials meeting Kashmiri separatist leaders. New Delhi had called off a Foreign Secretary-level engagement for this reason last year.
Birth of the Hurriyat
The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) was formed on July 31, 1993, as a political platform of the separatist movement. It was an extension of the conglomerate of parties that had come together to contest Assembly polls against a National Conference-Congress alliance in 1987 — an election that was widely alleged to have been rigged. The conglomerate of disparate ideologies was held together by their common position that Jammu & Kashmir was “under occupation of India”, and the collective demand that “the wishes and aspirations of the people of the state should be ascertained for a final resolution of the dispute”.
At a time when militancy was at its peak, this conglomerate represented the political face of the militant movement, and claimed to “represent the wishes and aspirations of the people”. It had brought together two separate, but strong ideologies: those who sought J&K’s independence from both India and Pakistan, and those who wanted J&K to become part of Pakistan. Most of the groups that were part of the Hurriyat had their militant wings, or were linked to a militant outfit.
Before the formation of the APHC, there was another political platform — the Tehreek-i-Hurriyat Kashmir (THK). It was headed by the advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom, and consisted of 10 groups: the Jamat-e-Islami, JKLF, Muslim Conference, Islamic Students’ League, Mahaz-e-Azadi, Muslim Khawateen Markaz, Kashmir Bar Association, Ittehadul Muslimeen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat and Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadees. But this first separatist political platform did not have much influence.
On December 27, 1992, the 19-year-old Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who had taken over as chairman of J&K Awami Action Committee (J&KAAC) and become the head priest of Kashmir after the assassination of his father Mirwaiz Farooq, called a meeting of religious, social and political organisations at Mirwaiz Manzil. The aim of this meeting was to lay the foundation of a broad alliance of parties that were opposed to “Indian rule” in J&K. Seven months later, the APHC was born, with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq as its first chairman.
The APHC executive council had seven members from seven executive parties: Syed Ali Shah Geelani of Jamat-e-Islami, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of Awami Action Committee, Sheikh Abdul Aziz of People’s League, Moulvi Abbas Ansari of Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat of Muslim Conference, Yasin Malik of JKLF, and Abdul Gani Lone of People’s Conference.
Of these leaders, Sheikh Aziz was killed in police firing near Sheri in Baramulla in August 2008. Abdul Gani Lone was killed by militants in May 2002.
The Hurriyat also had a 21-member working committee. This included the seven members of the executive council, plus two members from each of the seven parties.
There was also a general council, with more than 23 members, including traders’ bodies, employee unions, and social organisations. The membership of the executive council couldn’t be increased as per the APHC constitution, but the general council could accommodate more members. The Hurriyat had observer status at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The Battle Within
Because the Hurriyat was such a mixed bag of ideologies and personalities, infighting was a near permanent feature. Disagreements often came out in the open.
In September 2003, the Hurriyat split on the questions of its future strategies, the role of militancy in the separatist movement, and dialogue. The Syed Ali Shah Geelani-led group was firm that talks with New Delhi could take place only after the central government accepted that J&K was in dispute, while the group led by Mirwaiz wanted talks.
Geelani hasn’t departed from his stance that “the struggle will continue till complete freedom” or a “referendum in accordance with UN resolutions”. The Mirwaiz group backed former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s four-point formula that envisaged suzerainty and a joint mechanism between the two parts of J&K, without changing any existing boundaries. The Mirwaiz group also entered into a dialogue directly with New Delhi during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure, and held talks with the then Deputy PM, L K Advani, in 2004.
The leaders of the Mirwaiz faction, along with Yasin Malik (who was no longer a part of Hurriyat by then), visited Pakistan through the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road in June 2005 to hold talks with various Muzaffarabad-based Kashmiri separatist leaders and the Pakistan establishment. This visit was facilitated by the Vajpayee government, which had come up with Srinagar-Delhi, Delhi-Islamabad and Srinagar-Islamabad tracks as part of its Kashmir peace process.
Though there were stark ideological differences within the two factions of the Hurriyat, the trigger for the split came on the question of fielding proxy candidates by a Hurriyat constituent, People’s Conference, in the 2002 Assembly polls. Geelani vehemently criticised the decision, and sought the eviction of the party led by Abdul Gani Lone’s sons, Bilal Lone and Sajjad Lone.
On September 7, 2003, the Geelani faction removed the then Hurriyat chairman, Abbas Ansari, and replaced him with Masarat Alam as interim chief. They also suspended the seven-member executive council, and set up a five-member committee to review the Hurriyat constitution.
Geelani also left the Jamaat-e-Islami, and formed his own party, the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir, in August 2004.
The Mirwaiz faction split in 2014, when four of its leaders — Democratic Freedom Party president Shabir Ahmad Shah, National Front chairman Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Mahaz-e-Azadi chief Mohammad Azam Inqlabi and Islamic Political Party chief Mohammad Yousuf Naqash — left.
The Hurriyat Constitution
The APHC constitution, describes it as a union of political, social and religious parties of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, set up to:
- Wage a peaceful struggle to secure for the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the UN charter and the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, the exercise of the right to self-determination, which shall include the right to independence.
- Make endeavours for an alternative negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute amongst all the three parties to the dispute — India, Pakistan and people of the Jammu and Kashmir — under the auspices of the UN or any other friendly country, provided that such settlement reflects the will of the people.
- Project the ongoing struggle in the state before nations and governments of the world in its proper perspective, as being a “struggle directed against the forcible and fraudulent occupation of the state by India”.
Relevance of Separatists
The separatist leadership across the ideological divide represents a major political constituency in J&K, which will likely remain relevant for as long as the issue is not resolved. This political reality on the ground can be understood by looking at the public political agendas of the two major pro-India political groups — the ruling People’s Democratic Party and the opposition National Conference. These two parties share the support of the largest chunk of the electorate that takes part in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. While the NC seeks autonomy and a return to the 1953 position where New Delhi had authority only over Defence, Communications and Foreign Affairs, the PDP’s declared political agenda has been self-rule, wherein they seek autonomy, plus a joint mechanism between two parts of J&K to turn the region into a fusion of India and Pakistan.
These political agendas, which are widely publicised during election campaigns, border on separatist politics. There is, in fact, very little difference between the larger political framework for the resolution of the Kashmir issue that is publicly envisaged by the Mirwaiz faction and the PDP. The difference is that the Mirwaiz group has not agreed to join the electoral battle prior to a solution.
It is obvious that if the two major pro-India political groups seek votes for an agenda that seeks different degrees of separation from the Indian Union, the separatist political discourse remains relevant. Besides, there is an inherent flaw in an assessment that seeks to judge the relevance of separatist leaders by the same yardstick that is applied to leaders participating in electoral politics.
The separatists are relevant because of a sentiment, which is not voted on in any election. The other reason why they remain relevant is their utility to the state at times of crises. When Kashmir was up in arms during the public agitations from 2008-10, New Delhi sent high-level delegations to speak to the separatists in a bid to calm tempers.
The fact that Pakistan considers the separatists as representatives of the people is also an important reason to think of them as relevant on the ground.
New Delhi drew the red line on Islamabad talking to the Hurriyat in August 2014, and reiterated its position this month. However, Pakistani officials have been talking to the separatists around the time of India-Pak dialogues for 20 years now MAY 1995: Pakistan’s President Farooq Ahmad Leghari met separatist leaders in New Delhi when he came to attend the SAARC meeting. It was Leghari who began the tradition of meeting the separatists.
JULY 2001: General Pervez Musharraf met separatist leaders in New Delhi before the Agra summit with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
APRIL 2005: President Pervez Musharraf again met separatist leaders from Kashmir in New Delhi
APRIL 2007: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz met separatist leaders at Pakistan House on his visit to New Delhi. Aziz visited India as head of SAARC, and also had a separate meeting with Prime minister Manmohan Singh.
JULY 2011: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar met delegations led by Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq at the Pakistan High Commission. Khar was on a visit to New Delhi to meet her Indian counterpart S M Krishna
NOVEMBER 2013: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz met with Kashmiri separatist leaders at the Pakistan High Commission
The Hurriyat Top Three
Syed Ali Shah Geelani
Veteran hardliner faces challenge from a harder line
The octogenarian Geelani is the most prominent public face of the separatist struggle in Kashmir. Geelani was a primary school teacher employed by the J&K education department when he became a member of Jamat-e-Islami in 1959. Thirteen years later, he contested the 1972 Assembly elections from his home constituency Sopore, and won. He was re-elected to the Assembly in 1977 as a Jamat-e-Islami candidate.
In 1987, Geelani was instrumental in bringing together the Jamat-e-Islami and several other social and religious outfits in the Muslim United Front, which fought the elections. It is widely believed that the elections were massively rigged and triggered armed militancy in Kashmir, Geelani managed to win for the third time.
After the armed resistance began in 1989, Geelani resigned from the Assembly and took a lead role in separatist politics. When the Hurriyat was formed, he became its member, and later its chairman.
In 2002, when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed became Chief Minister, Geelani was in jail. On his release, he accused People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone of fielding proxy candidates in the Assembly elections, and called for his expulsion from the Hurriyat. When the Hurriyat didn’t accept his demand, Geelani broke away and formed his own faction. A few months later, he divorced the Jamaat-e-Islami, his organisation for 45 years, to form the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.
Though an ardent supporter of Pakistan, Geelani vehemently opposed President Musharraf’s four-point formula for resolution of the Kashmir issue, calling it “surrender”. At that time, the Mirwaiz faction was favoured by both India and Pakistan, who gave it the central role in Kashmir. By 2008, however, the Hurriyat moderates were marginalised, as they failed to deliver on the ground.
A heart patient who lives on a pacemaker and a malignant kidney, Geelani started to re-emerge as an important leader in 2008, when he launched an agitation opposing the transfer of government land to the Amarnath shrine board. The agitation was repeated in 2010.
Geelani’s strength is seen in his successful mix of a “consistent and uncompromising political stance on Kashmir” and organised street resistance. With his Jamaat background, religion is an important part of Geelani’s worldview and politics. He also enjoys substantial influence over the militant movement.
For the first time in decades, it now seems Geelani’s authority has come into question from the new breed of militants with more hardline views. Geelani has been publicly critical of the ISIS and its methods, and has questioned the wisdom behind a group of Kashmiri youths raising Daesh flags during protests in Srinagar. Geelani had earlier opposed the entry of al-Qaeda into Kashmir.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
Chief cleric of Kashmir prefers negotiations
Kashmir’s head priest carries a great deal of weight on his young shoulders. The head preacher of Jamia Masjid, Srinagar, Umar was anointed the head of the Awami Action Committee (AAC), a constituent of the Hurriyat, at just 17, after the assassination of his father, Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq, in May 1991. Considered a moderate, Umar favours resolution of the Kashmir issue through peaceful negotiations. Though he has never denounced the armed struggle, he maintains a safe distance from militant groups. Though the AAC was once considered pro-Pakistan, Umar has preferred to remain non-committal on whether he supports accession to Pakistan or independence.
Militant commander turned non-violent activist
From a top commander and pioneer of the militant movement in Kashmir, Yasin Malik has come a long way. He gave up arms and decided to follow the path of non-violence as the only means of struggle.
Yasin Malik was one among the several Kashmiri youth who crossed to Pakistan in the late 80s for arms training. In fact, he was one among four area commanders, the others being Hamid Sheikh, Ashfaq Ajid and Javid Mir. The ‘HAJY’ group, as it was known, was allegedly tortured in police custody for its support to Muslim United Front (MUF) candidate Mohammad Yousuf Shah in the 1987 elections. Mohammad Yousuf Shah, of course, is now better known as Syed Salahuddin, chief of the Hizbul Mujahideen. Malik’s stint as a militant was short-lived — in 1991, he was arrested and jailed for three-and-a-half years.
After his release on May 17, 1994, Malik changed his ways and became an ardent advocate of non-violence. He is now in favour of a negotiated settlement of the Kashmir issue, but not until Kashmiris get a place on the Indo-Pak bilateral table.
Syed Ata Hasnain | After the attack on the Amarnath Yatra: Why Meghnad Desai is both right and wrong on Kashmir | Jul 20 2017 | The Times of India (Delhi)
The writer commanded the 15 Corps in Jammu & Kashmir
1994 and 1996 were political high water marks with the Joint Resolution of Parliament and the first elections after 1989, respectively. 1997 was the humanitarian landmark with the adoption of Operation Sadbhavana and the Supreme Court's issue of guidelines to the army on operations under AFSPA.
2002 saw the adoption of the healing touch policy of the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in conjunction with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's philosophical and humanitarian approach. 2611 saw the re-adoption of a hard line by Pakistan, leading to the paralysis in the streets till 2010. 2011-13 saw the conscious calibration of the balance of hard and soft power through the Hearts Doctrine which created hope and attempted restoration of dignity to the conflict stricken people, incidentally by the army itself; a situation not politically exploited.
There was nothing militaristic about 2014-16 either; it was a situation of political uncertainty.No doubt violence increased, but not so dangerously until July 8, 2016, when Burhan Wani was killed and the current impasse came to be.
The  attack on the Amarnath Yatra after 15 years of peace may actually prove to be another landmark in the history of J&K since 1989
Jamaat i Islami
Influence increased with the rise of the PDP
More than two months after the Pulwama suicide attack, a young PhD student was among six militants arrested for the March 31 abortive terror strike on a CRPF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. Hilal Mantoo was a member of Jamiat-ul-Tulba (JuT), student wing of pro-Pakistan religious organisation Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) which was banned after the Pulwama attack.
Mantoo’s political affiliation surprised few in Kashmir. “It is a given that every native militant would have either a direct or an indirect link with Jamaat. Terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen, after all, is the armed wing of Jamaat even though it has never officially admitted this. Slain Hizb commander Burhan Wani was also raised in a Jamaat household,” a senior Kashmiri police officer told TOI. Officially, JeI has only 5,600 members, 2,500 of them coming from Baramulla district. It is regarded mostly a south Kashmir network, but its influence in the Valley, with a population of around seven million Kashmiri Muslims, is wide and deep. “Jamaat believes in the rule of Sharia and Kashmir’s right to be part of Pakistan. It has shaped the separatist narrative and radicalised youth to the extent that they are readily available cadres for militant organisations today,” a CPM activist in Anantnag told TOI.
Kashmir’s JeI was established by Sa’aduddin and Maulana Ahrar a year after Maulana Maududi founded Jamaat-e-Islami in Lahore in 1941. Historically, Kashmir’s JeI has been aligned with Pakistan’s JeI. According to Pakistani journalist Arif Jamal, the bond between the two Jamaat groups strengthened in 1983 after secret meetings in Kashmir, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In his book, Shadow War, Jamal mentions that at the behest of Pakistan’s military dictator Zia ul Haq, JeI amir (chief) of Pakistan occupied Kashmir Maulana Abdul Bari reached out to JeI Kashmir’s founding amir Sa’aduddin for his support to wage a proxy war against India.
The outcome of this strategic partnership led to the formation of Muslim United Front (MUF), an umbrella group of Kashmiri Islamists including Jamaat who fought the 1987 assembly elections on the plank of secession from India. Only five independents backed by MUF won out of the total 44 contested seats in that election but the vote share of Jamaat rose to 31.9% in 1987 from a mere 6.6% in the previous polls. This coincided with NC’s vote share declining to 49% from 59%. However, MUF alleged rigging and the controversial election became the raison d’être for Kashmiri Islamists and separatists to take up arms against India in 1988-89. “Jamaat grew steadily despite repression perpetrated against it by Sheikh Abdullah and his NC. But it became powerful because Hizbul decimated the pro-independence militant group JKLF,” a JKLF activist in downtown Srinagar said.
Jamaat ‘rukun’ (members elected after a rigorous process) work quietly and through a broad network of its 350 mosques, 400 schools and 1,000 seminaries across the strife-torn state. “Hundreds of Jamaat members and supporters are employed by almost every government institution,” a civil servant in Jammu & Kashmir secretariat said.
Local politicians say Jamaat became more powerful after PDP led by the Muftis came into existence. “PDP pandered to Jamaat and Hizbul to fight polls. From symbolism like Mehbooba wearing green scarves and abaya to the ‘healing touch policy’ for militants, PDP did everything to get Jamaat’s vote share,” an NC politician in Srinagar said.
Some PDP members privately admit that the politics of reaching out to Jamaat turned out to be a pyrrhic victory. “In the last 20 years, PDP tried to mainstream Jamaat but the reverse happened. JeI infiltrated into the entire state machinery and made it impossible for PDP to function as a mainstream party when it ruled J&K in alliance with BJP. Often requests came from JeI to drop cases against militants, their ground workers and stonepelters,” a PDP leader in Anantnag said.
“After the PDP-led government fell, the Modi government intensified the crackdown against Hurriyat and Jamaat,” a former PDP worker from Tral said. Out of JeI’s 600 office bearers, around 500 were “bound down” and then released. The remaining 100 were arrested under UAPA law and PSA, a senior police officer said. Though most have been released on bail, some remain in police or judicial custody. “Yet, they remain operational on the ground,” he said.
However, most people in Kashmir’s security establishment believe that the crackdown will decrease Jamaat’s sphere of influence and erode Hizbul’s strength. “There have hardly been any protests against the arrests of Jamaat members,” a Kashmiri IPS officer said.
Strategic Tunnels in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh-HP, 2010-2020.
2014-July 2016: Lions in hibernation wake up, Burhan becomes icon
By Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, The Times of India, Jul 30 2016
Mehbooba Mufti's inheritance of loss: How Burhan Wani grew to iconic status in the Valley
Burhan Wani, the 23-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen militant cutting his teeth with India's glamorous social media, achieved what only the charismatic Sheikh Abdullah had to his credit in Kashmir's history a sizeable swarm of people at his funeral prayers, anything between the army's drone figure of 15,000 and some journalists' 2,00,000. Over a million had joined the Sheikh's in 1982 by far the largest. Many of the 48 youths killed in the clashes triggered by the July 8 encounter died on the day of the funeral.
Funerals of even the iconic militants and separatists have been invariably ignored as their charm faded out the same day .Some pulled a thousand, someone even five or ten thousand. In 20 years, Kashmir has witnessed two massive funerals: around 20,000 attended Mustafa Khan's during Farooq Abdullah's regime in Tangmarg and around 30,000 Badshah Khan's in Kulgam when Mufti Sayeed was chief minister.
It didn't take Kashmiris long to forget even top separatist leaders Abdul Gani Lone and Sheikh Abdul Aziz one shot dead by gunmen in Srinagar in 2002 and another killed in security forces' firing in Baramulla in 2008. Masarat Alam, unparalleled protagonist of the 2010 street turbulence faded into oblivion within days of his arrest. More significantly, nobody died for high profile separatist Afzal Guru whose execution in 2013 was “murder of an innocent“ for the average Kashmiri.
So what made Burhan a legend whose death triggered a chain of clashes and left around 50 people dead, hundreds injured and a bustling tourist season that has already suffered losses of hundreds of crores of rupees punctured?
Mufti M. Saeed After the Sheikh's dismissal in 1953 and his successor Farooq Abdullah's in 1984, no J&K politician has embarrassed New Delhi beyond a point. Mufti alone, who cultivated Congress and floated his own PDP to neutralise Sheikh's National Conference (NC), took liberties. His detractors insist he had Delhi's “licence“ that eventually made him the only Muslim home minister.
His brief tenure as Union home minister witnessed a fringe insurgency explode with the release of JKLF militants in exchange for his kidnapped daughter Rubaiya in 1989, followed by Kashmiri Pandits' mass migration in 1990. His outcry over the Ghulam Nabi Azad government's allotment of land to a Hindu shrine board divided people irretrievably on regional and communal lines in 2008, when secessionism had ebbed and the Valley was blooming with tranquillity .
With a mission to demolish Abdullah's NC, Mufti and daughter Mehbooba left no stone unturned to discredit and demonise `India' its body politic, democracy , systems and institutions. With both UPA's and NDA's unfettered permission, he laid the `road to Rawalpindi'. It won him a chunk of votes and helped him become chief minister twice, but at a price Delhi will have to pay for ages.
For over a decade Mufti and his party only whetted the sense of victimhood and betrayal in the Valley which, in the process, grew rabidly anti-Indian some of them ferociously Islamist.Omar Abdullah's deficits of domicile, language and culture forced him to toe Mufti's line and both, in competition, began discrediting “Indians“.
At the end of the day , nobody in Kashmir respects or loves India. Anybody perceived to be soft on India runs huge risks, such as those meted out to the residents of Kokernag after the July 8 encounter. Their houses were torched and orchards destroyed. The government remained a mute spectator.
The irony is that Kashmir was pushed back to the abyss when complaints of rape, custodial killings and fake encounters against the security forces had dipped to the lowest level of 25 years and India's best held assembly elections had happened in J&K in 2014.Nobody knew Burhan who was then three years into militancy.
But Mufti didn't wait much to ride the tiger. He freed Masarat and permitted him to hold a massive pro-Pakistan demonstration in front of J&K police headquarters. It woke up all the lions in hibernation. Within days a young school dropout emerged as an icon of jihad for Kashmir's Generation Next.
Meanwhile, Mufti's ally continued to stoke fires. A frenzied group of cow vigilantes killed a Kashmiri Muslim trucker in Udhampur. BJP leaders and friends filed petitions to terminate the state's flag and special position. The tinderbox needed just a matchstick that came in handy with Burhan's death.
The writer is a senior journalist
My Dear Insha,
I was there when they carried you in with a bloodied face. Surgeons who cleaned your terrible wounds at Srinagar's Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital said, "her face was like a sieve that had been used to filter blood". Earlier that July morning, you had sat terrified, huddled with other relatives in a first-floor room in your father's modest, two-storied home in Shopian's Sewdow village. Your parents believed you'd be safe from the fury on the street down below where police and paramilitary soldiers battled a mob of angry youngsters-some among them as young as 11, some of them your own classmates-protesting the killing of the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. But clearly, there was no place safe from the violence outside, the gunshots, the exploding canisters of teargas and fiery slogans. Suddenly, a window close to where you sat shattered. "I heard Insha wail and saw blood flowing from her face?her eyes. She fell down on the floor," Afroza Malik, your mother, said recalling her worst nightmare-become-real. Your eyes, face and torso were riddled with pellets from a pump-action shotgun fired, inexplicably, at the first-floor window. The good doctors, first at the SMHS Hospital in Srinagar and later at the nation's best, Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences, kept you alive, helping you battle a series of complications including a brief brain infection from the lead pellets embedded inside your skull. The physical pain you still suffer will ebb with time. But the doctors have said they can do nothing that would help return your eyesight: "Nothing short of a miracle from God himself can give Insha Malik her beautiful eyes back," they said, evidently burdened by the pain of the terrible truth-that you will never again be able to see the beautiful Valley that is your home.
"It's a fate worse than death. Worse than an AK-47 bullet through the skull," said a surgeon responsible for admitting young and older victims of this latest cycle of strife, one that completely changed life as we had known it until July 8 in the Kashmir Valley. Seventy-five people, many of them teenagers like you, have been killed (local media reports claim 97 dead). Thousands more have sustained injuries, including scores, who like you, have been wholly or partially blinded by pellet guns. The doctors at the SMHS Hospital talk of Omar Nazir, a diminutive 12-year-old school-going son of a daily wage worker of Pulwama called Nazir Ahmad. Unmoving on his hospital bed, he too had lost both his eyes. Tamanna Ashiq, just eight years old, was perhaps more fortunate. Struck similarly in the face by a deadly volley of shotgun pellets when she peered out the window of her village home to watch a protest demonstration on July 9, a day after Burhan's killing. A pellet lodged deep inside her right eye destroyed the retina but the schoolgirl still has one good eye.
Nudged equally by the curfew ordered by the Mehbooba Mufti government and an unremitting calendar of hartals called by Syed Ali Shah Geelani as well as the Hurriyat hardliners, trouble persisted right until the Durbar (state government) packed its bags and shifted shop to Jammu for the winter in early November. In October, 12-year-old Junaid Akhoon of Saidpora in downtown Srinagar died. He fell to a hail of pellets fired by security personnel intent on dispersing a small crowd of protesters. Young Junaid's killing; the four-year-old girl with her legs and abdomen riddled by what she believes were "firecrackers"; the loss of Omar Nazir and Tamanna Ashiq's young eyes; and your own completely undeserved fate, Insha, are a distressing reminder of how children have fallen victim to the cycle of violent strife that simply won't leave the Kashmir Valley.
Strife that is driven by a dangerously swelling sense of alienation and resentment that rankles every Kashmiri today-a feeling engendered by the mainstream Kashmiri political leadership and Delhi's collective failure to resolve the Kashmir issue. An anger that is preyed upon and fanned by obdurate Hurriyat hardliners like Geelani, who give little thought to the people they profess to speak for; who think little of paralysing the lives and livelihoods of an entire population; men who, for close to six long months, condemned Kashmir to a life of unending darkness; men who think nothing of shutting down schools and denying children the simple pleasure of stepping out of their homes to play.
Children like you, Insha, and in fact close to 40 per cent of all Kashmiris-born after 1989-have no notion of what it is to live in peace. You have no experience of life without the discomforting presence of khaki uniforms, camouflaged fatigues, jackboots and Kalashnikovs.
You cannot see it, but this is the greatest wound.
Yours in empathy,
(To all the children of Kashmir who lost their innocence, blinded and bruised in the summer of 2016)
2015-2018: BJP- PDP’s coalition government
BJP Hopes To Repair Image, Get Free Hand In Terror Fight
Wary of rising unease in its support base in Jammu and other parts of the country, BJP sought to refurbish its ‘Hindutva’ credentials by snapping ties with ally PDP to counter the perception that it had compromised its ideological commitment to unifying J&K with the mainland.
The alliance with PDP, seen to pursue a ‘soft separatism’ political line, was always at odds with the BJP’s ‘nationalist’ stance and its advocacy of scrapping Article 370 and amending laws like Article 35A that accord special privileges to state residents.
More immediately, BJP pointed to support to separatist sentiments as PDP sought to push a soft approach to stone-pelters and began to act against security forces by looking to file FIRs against officers, as was alleged in the Shopian firing case. The move to file FIRs, which left the scope to name officers, and brinkmanship over the Kathua gang-rape case, where it was suggested PDP could quit the alliance if BJP ministers present at a rally in support of the accused were not acted upon deepened the divisions.
Differences over how to approach security ops took a toll on the alliance as the Centre’s ‘strike hard’ policy was seen by PDP as adversely impacting its south Kashmir base. Even in the Shujaat Bukhari case, it was felt police was being held back from conducting searches and NIA cases against separatists did not go down well with PDP either.
There is an expectation that governor’s rule will allow the Centre to take tough measures against terrorism with the state police completely in sync. A senior party leader argued the perception was gaining ground that BJP was being held to ransom by its ally. Some also felt the death of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed robbed the state of a leader who could have reduced the Kashmir-Jammu divide.
Mehbooba Mufti’s attempt to balance her political constituency with the challenge of terrorism and radicalism and the costs this was imposing on BJP found mention even in the recent dinner hosted by PM Narendra Modi for senior R-S-S functionaries and party general secretaries in charge of organisation.
After the Centre’s decision not to extend the Ramzan truce, political circles were abuzz about Mehbooba quitting the alliance but BJP acted fast, looking to get back to the policy of ‘zero tolerance’ against terrorism. The alliance, BJP leaders said, was a bid to carry out a risky experiment, which did not work out.
“It wasn’t possible to continue in view of the general polls approaching. Breaking the alliance will send a positive message about the party that it didn’t compromise with national security,” said a senior party leader.
2018, June: BJP- PDP alliance falls apart
PDP And BJP Were An Odd Couple To Begin With, And The Alliance In J&K Collapsed Under The Weight Of Their Inherent Differences, Made Worse By The Failure Of The Ramzan Ceasefire And The Killing Of An Editor Amid Escalating Violence
In Pre-Emptive Strike, BJP Brings Down Mehbooba, Goes For Governor’s Rule
Jammu and Kashmir is set for governor’s rule as the PDPBJP coalition, divided over tackling violence in the Kashmir Valley and catering to sharply conflicting political constituencies, came crashing on Tuesday with BJP yanking the rug from under its coalition partner.
Despite a steady deterioration in relations, BJP’s decision to quit the alliance came as a surprise and was seen in some quarters as intended to pre-empt a precipitate move by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, possibly by September-October.
The dramatic decision has cleared the way for BJP to sharpen its ‘tough-on-security’ plank ahead of three state polls scheduled later this year and next year’s Lok Sabha contest. “Two issues were the basis of the coalition. One was to do all we could to restore peace and secondly to ensure equitable development of all three regions in the state. This has not happened, and in fact, the violence in the Valley has increased and this makes it difficult to continue,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told reporters, adding that Mehbooba discriminated against (Hindu-majority) Jammu and (Buddhist-dominated) Ladakh regions.
He specifically mentioned the recent killing of Shujaat Bukhari, a prominent editor who had attracted the anger of Pakistan-backed terrorists and hardliners by supporting the Ramzan ceasefire, saying his murder in the heart of Srinagar in broad daylight signalled the Mehbooba government’s failure, impelling BJP to pull the plug on the first woman CM of J&K.
Madhav’s stress on PDP’s alleged failings on countering separatism and radicalism and lack of attention to Jammu and Ladkah is clearly intended to refurbish its ‘Hindutva’ credentials, particularly at the national level where the party’s constituency was ill at ease with the arrangement.
Why BJP pulled out of alliance with PDP in J&K
BJP pulled out of the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, leading to the governor’s rule in the troubled state. Here are six reasons why BJP pulled the plug in the state.
1. Both PDP and BJP were looking for an exit to shore up credentials among respective constituencies. BJP moved pre-emptively to seize political high ground.
2. Gulf between the partners had widened. Disagreements rose over security strategy after Burhan Wani’s killing. PDP wanted a softer approach towards stone-pelters + and militants, mindful of massive resentment in Valley.
3. Mehbooba Mufti’s moves mollifying her supporters in the Valley by raising the ante on Kathua gang rape and Army/security forces’ operations further annoyed BJP’s constituency.
4. BJP went along with PDP’s demand for a ceasefire during Ramzan + . This was not reciprocated by Pakistan-backed terror groups or separatists, and dented BJP’s image nationally.
5. The ‘pre-emptive’ strike against Mehbooba Mufti is aimed at repairing the damage. BJP was keen to pull out earlier but waited until Tuesday so that state elections don’t have to be held before 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
6. The killing of journalist Shujaat Bukhari + provided the impetus for Centre to take control. BJP will revive its hardline nationalist theme, starting with S P Mookerjee’s death anniversary on June 23.
The Ramzan truce helped, but not enough
The 31-day Ramzan truce in J&K saw a 265% spike in terror-related incidents and 80% rise in killings of security forces compared with the preceding 31-day period but did provide respite by bringing down stone-pelting incidents by 40% and the killings of civilians in terror and law and order-related incidents.
According to official figures, terror incidents in J&K shot up from 20 between April 15 and May 16 to 73 during May 17-June 16. However, there was no let-up in the crackdown on terrorism with 22 terrorists killed during the ceasefire compared with 14 in the 31 days preceding the truce. Most of the terrorists killed were foreign fighters.
Security personnel killed in terror incidents went up from five in the pre-ceasefire period to nine during the truce. During the truce, 14 security personnel were injured in law and order incidents and 52 in terror attacks.
Five civilians were killed during the ceasefire compared to the preceding 31 days, when 12 died. As for stone pelting, there were 107 cases during the truce, and 258 from April 15 to May 16.
“The suspension of operations… did provide relief to civilians as stone-pelting incidents declined and so did casualties among security forces and civilians in law and order incidents. However, there was a sharp rise in terror-related incidents as Pakistan-backed terrorists tried their best to sabotage the truce, even launching spectacular attacks like the killing of journalist Shujaat Bukhari and soldier Aurangzeb in the final days,” said a home ministry official.
“The failure of the Hurriyat to seize the opportunity and reciprocate our Ramzan initiative only emboldened the terrorists. By killing Bukhari, a clear message was sent by Pakistan’s ISI and separatist hardliners based in J&K that anybody supporting peace would meet with the same fate,” the official added.
Fallout of alliance with BJP on PDP
Nineteen years after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti floated the Peoples Democratic Party in 1999, the regional party is staring at one of its worst crises.
In 2015, when PDP joined hands with BJP — a very unlikely alliance — to form the government, for many there was reason for optimism. Especially in PDP, comprising mostly the Jamat-e-Islami, the pro-Pakistan socio-political group whose armed wing is Hizbul Mujahideen.
“Our hope was BJP, like in its previous avatar under PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, would initiate dialogue with separatists and Pakistan to resolve the longstanding conflict,” a PDP member told TOI.
When Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter in 2016, “the PDP lost lot of ground in its bastion, south Kashmir, the hotbed of the new militancy that was born through the violent years of 2008 to 2010,” Shahnawaz, a PDP activist in Anantnag, said. The entire valley erupted in protests, with over 80 people killed in clashes and some even blinded by pellets, which further added to the growing anger against PDP.
“The lynching of several Muslims over the suspicions of beef made BJP extremely unpopular in Kashmir too. By continuing its alliance with BJP, PDP lost my vote,” Ishrat, a student in Kulgam, said.
PDP’s base eroded further when BJP refused to hold talks with separatists and instead sent NIA after them to crack down on terror funding.
Polarised views, polarised thinking and rumours
1994/ Innocent tailor; 2016/ The girl who was not molested
[Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, In Kashmir’s polarised polity, it’s all down to who you believe in the battle of narratives, April 21, 2016, The Times of India]
When, in 1994, a sizeable crowd dragged a youthful tailor out of his home in the congested Nawab Bazar neighbourhood in downtown Srinagar and stoned him to death for the ‘rape’ of a three-and-a-half-year-old girl, an investigation by Kashmir Times established that the accused had not even touched the tiny tot. It was probably the first Taliban-type execution in Kashmir. The tailor’s body was thrown into the Jhelum.
This does not suggest that every rumour or outcry in the Valley is unfounded. It does, however, underscore the need of a credible investigation into the street allegation of a 16-year-old girl student’s molestation by a soldier in Handwara. Unfortunately, neither the media today nor any magistrate – police itself has become a party after releasing the girl’s video – retains credibility.
If an enquiry finds the soldier guilty, it will vindicate the pro-separatist civil society. Army will dismiss it as ‘a conspiracy to deprecate the security forces’. Contrarily, if an enquiry gives a clean chit to the anonymous soldier civil society, including mainstream politicians thriving on pseudo-separatist tirades, would call it ‘a fudged one to protect the forces and denigrate the Kashmiris’. The accusation, though debunked by the girl in disputed conditions, has already claimed five civilian lives in Kupwara district.
The world witnessed how an outcry of ‘rape and murder’ of two young women in Shopian set the Valley on fire in 2009. Even CBI – whose investigations in the infamous Pathribal fake encounter and Srinagar sex scam had been widely appreciated – failed to find takers for its conclusion in this case. It established that neither rape nor murder had happened. Exhumation of the unmarried girl’s body, followed by a thorough examination by a team of doctors and forensic experts from AIIMS and FSL, found her hymen and septum intact. But by then, Shopian had taken its toll.
Police have not been able to investigate even 2% of the over 60,000 militancy-related FIRs filed in the last 25 years. Allegations of sexual abuse and rape against non-state actors have often gone unnoticed, unreported and unquestioned. When the father of 2009 IAS topper Shah Faesal counselled a non-Kashmiri guerrilla against shaking his hand forcibly with a neighbour’s daughter, it proved to be the last day of the poor teacher’s life.
Security forces too enjoyed considerable impunity as few of them were punished over a delinquency or crime. From Kunan-Poshpora (1991) to Handwara (2016), the army has faced allegations of rape and molestation scores of times. Enjoying immunity under AFSPA, it has not been held accountable. Even the first – and till date the last – investigation by the Press Council of India (in the Kunan-Poshpora case) was not acceptable to civil society in the Valley as it exonerated the army and was conducted by a journalist known for his linkage to the then army chief’s father.
As the army provided institutional support to the accused even in cases like Pathribal, the Valley’s intelligentsia and civil society which was already tilted towards the separatists and militants, found it convenient to compromise neutrality and professionalism. When over 20 non-Kashmiri students were injured in the police lathi charge at NIT Srinagar, neither the agencies nor newspapers in Srinagar carried a line of reporting till it exploded in New Delhi.
People have little hesitation to admit that many of the journalists, human rights activists, judges and lawyers, even police officers, are obsessively inclined to one side and selectively pick up on matters that have potential to malign the Indian state, its systems, institutions and icons.
Now the battle lines are drawn. Rumour and perception have taken precedence over news. In the battle of narratives, which gets intensified by New Delhi’s licence to competitive separatism and an unbridled social media, the Valley would support the Handwara ‘victim’ only if she complains against the soldier. And the rest of India will be on her side only if she omits the soldier and proceeds against the two Kashmiri youths who created the scene.
Unscrupulous players have turned the teenager into a political football to strengthen their narrative. Nobody seems to care for her safety, dignity and future.
Aug- Oct 2016: 20 educational institutes destroyed
20 Institutes Wrecked In Last 3 Mths [Aug- Oct 2016]
Almost like Taliban's offensive against education in Pakistan and Afghanistan, terror groups in Kashmir are destroying schools and ensuring their continued shutdown. According to official figures, seventeen government schools and three private schools have been wrecked in the last three months of unrest.
The schools in Valley have remained shut since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. Officials said that around two million students have been prevented from going to schools across the Kashmir Valley . The students of border areas like Gurez, Tangdhar and Uri in Kashmir, and Jammu and Ladakh regions have been attending schools without disruption though. Separatist influence is limited to the Valley.
Pakistan-sponsored stone-pelting brigades set two more government schools on fire on Tuesday , one at Noorbagh area of Srinagar city and a higher secondary at Aishmuqam in Anantnag district.The closure of schools and colleges has also been enforced by the diktats issued by the separatist conglomerate Hurriyat and militant outfits.
Lashkar-e-Taiba issued a warning to J&K education minister Naeem Akhtar on September 27 for trying to resume schools and colleges in the Valley. Lashkar spokesman Abdullah Ghaznavi quoted LeT operation chief Mehmood Shah and said, “...Kashmiris are educated enough to decide what is good or bad for them. If Naeem Akhtar does not budge, we will initiate action against him.“ Later, in an open letter, Akhtar asked pro-Pakistan separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to allow educational institutions to run. But his plea had no effect on separatists or terror groups.
Hundreds of parents have sent their wards to Jammu and Delhi for studies after they lost three months of schooling.
Report of High Commissioner for Human Rights
(The writer is a former ambassador to the UN in Geneva and vice-president of Human Rights Council).
The report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Kashmir deserves attention, coming as it does from the office that claims the “unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights”. This is an exaggerated interpretation of the mandate of the office as given by the UN General Assembly in 1993, when it was established. Protecting human rights is the duty of the country concerned, though some western countries claim greater say in the affairs of others. The tendentious report, which has a major factual error, only serves to highlight the inherent weaknesses of the office and the people running it.
Human rights are a tool in international relations used by countries to point fingers at others and avoid scrutiny of their own record. The extreme politicisation of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva led to the body being abolished in 2006 and replaced by the Human Rights Council. But the changes were cosmetic. The Council does not even have its own secretariat. The high commissioner’s office, which services it, treats itself as an autonomous body. And with good reason. The high commissioner is not elected by the Council but is appointed by the UN secretary-general.
First, the factual error in the report. It says that India is a state party to the international conventions against torture and enforced disappearance. A check on its own website would have confirmed to the office that India has not ratified either. Pakistan has ratified the convention against torture, but that is another story.
Now to the glaring biases in the report. It refers to LeT, JeM and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen as “armed groups” even though they are listed as terrorist organisations by the Security Council. This will be music to Pakistan’s ears. Little wonder it has welcomed the report.
Human rights bodies undermine their own credibility when they ignore the violence of terrorists and focus exclusively on the responsibilities of government security forces.
The high commissioner’s office does not state why it selected Kashmir’s human rights situation for the report. It does not cite any resolution of the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council or the Security Council as the mandate for it, only its founding resolution. Why does the high commissioner, Zeid Raad Al Hussein of Jordan, then pick on it for a special report? Does he have the same obsession with Kashmir as the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, where Pakistan has been insisting on it year after year?
The report claims that it also covers the situation in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and states that “human rights violations in this area are of a different calibre and magnitude and of a more structural nature”. It even concedes that people in the Pakistan-occupied part do not have the rights available to citizens of Pakistan and their independence is illusory. But twothirds of the report deals with the Indian part.
The report repeats allegations and statistics from various motivated sources on the number of people killed by Indian security forces and those missing. It dwells at length on the provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act but ignores the fact that most countries protect their armed forces with similar laws.
The high commissioner’s obsession with Kashmir is also evident from the coverage given to the Kashmir dispute in the report.
But how independent is the office? A look at its budget reveals that it has little financial independence. Only 40% of its funding comes from the UN. The remaining money is given by member states, mainly western, who decide where it is to be spent. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Russia are the only non-western countries among the top 20 donors. Half the office staff is drawn from western countries. The report does not state which countries have funded it.
The report may be used by some political parties and NGOs in India to embarrass the government. They would do well to remember that Pakistan had joined hands with the OIC during Narasimha Rao’s time to do the same in the Commission on Human Rights. But we should not let our political differences give an opportunity to selfappointed international custodians of human rights to interfere in our inter nal affairs.
Nov: Assembly is dissolved when PDP, NC, Cong combine stakes claim
The announcement of grand alliance of the PDP, NC and Congress literally forced Governor Satya Pal Malik to dissolve the assembly, paving way for early elections in the state.
In fast-paced developments, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday evening wrote a letter to the Governor to stake claim to form the government in alliance with the NC and Congress in the state.
To counter Mehbooba Mufti, People's Conference's Sajad Lone just moments later also staked claim to form the government in the state.
But within an hour, the Governor issued a notification dissolving the state assembly.
Both the PDP and NC were demanding dissolution of the assembly for the last five months, however, the Governor had refused to act till now.
Taking a dig at Governor, NC chief Omar Abdullah took to Twitter and said: "JKNC has been pressing for assembly dissolution for 5 months now. It can’t be a coincidence that within minutes of Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba letter staking claim the order to dissolve the assembly suddenly appears."
However, the dissolution of the assembly is still being considered to be a victory of the two main regional parties - PDP and NC - in the state as both are willing to hold fresh polls.
PDP chief also took to Twitter and said she had never thought that the idea of a grand coalition would give such "jitters" and would help in achieving the "seemingly impossible".
Both the PDP and NC don't have much to lose as it will stop the alleged "horse-trading" of their party members by the BJP-backed People's Conference.
Talking to TOI, a PDP leader on condition of anonymity said, "This was part of the plan that worked. We wanted to pressurise the Governor to dissolve the assembly. The BJP and PC were trying to break our party and now everything is over. MLAs can't do anything."
But, for the BJP and PC, assembly dissolution has come as a major setback as they have been trying hard to come up with a third front in the state.
After the BJP broke the alliance with PDP in June, at least 3 of its members rebelled against the leadership and sided with Sajad Lone, and more members were likely to desert the party. Even the NC had accused the BJP of horse-trading to form the government.
After the June 19 pull-out, Lone is understood to have been approaching disgruntled PDP leaders for forming an alliance with the BJP, the sources said. The PC has only two MLAs.
The PC chief was also successful in breaking away NC's chief spokesman Junaid Mattu, who contested the urban local body elections and became the mayor of Srinagar.
However, even with the support of the BJP, Lone could not gather the numbers till now to stake the claim to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir.
The PDP had 28 MLAs, followed by NC's 15 and and the Congress' 12. The BJP was the second largest party in the state with 25 members.
A first in 30 years: No bandh on home minister visit
For the first time in three decades of terrorism in Kashmir, separatist groups refrained from giving calls for a shutdown on the visit of Union home minister to the Valley.
Amit Shah who arrived in the summer capital, in his debut visit as union home minister, chaired several meetings related to security and development projects. He is scheduled to co-chair the unified headquarters meeting with J&K governor Satya Pal Malik tomorrow. Shah is also scheduled to meet the state party leaders, delegations of civil society and Panchayat members besides paying obeisance at the Amarnathji Shrine. At a high-level security meeting, Shah asked all the agencies to continue with their tough approach against militants and rioters. He asked the security chiefs to cover all sensitive and vulnerable areas including infiltration points to obviate all types of risks to the Amarnath pilgrimage.
Interestingly, neither factions of the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq called for a shutdown on Wednesday. None of the separatists issued any statements either. Over the last three decades, separatist groups have been notorious for shutting down the valley each time a representative of the Central government visits.
The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) a combined group of Geelani, Mirwaiz and JKLF chairman Yasin Malik who is now arrested, had called for a complete shutdown on February 3 against PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the Valley. The joint platform had also called for a strike on September 10, 2017 when the then home minister Rajnath Singh visited Kashmir.
All the separatist groups remained conspicuous by their silence.
UN, US & China rebuff Pakistan, deal it big diplomatic blow
UN, US & China rebuff Pakistan, deal it big diplomatic blow
NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON: Pakistan was on Friday rebuffed on all fronts in its effort to seek international mediation and intervention in its campaign against New Delhi’s move to turn Article 370 into a dead letter and bifurcate Jammu & Kashmir into two Union territories. While the biggest setback for Islamabad on Thursday came in the form of a United Nations’ virtual rejection of its August 6 appeal , it was no less of a jolt for Pakistan that it got a tepid response from China — its all-weather ally — on its lobbying on the Kashmir front.
Some deft diplomatic moves by India ensured that the UN Security Council refused to “take cognisance” of Pakistan’s letter to its president, asking for intervention after India’s Kashmir move. In a letter on August 6 addressed to UNSC president and Polish diplomat Joanna Wronecka and UN General Assembly president Maria-Fernanda Espinosa Garces, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi sought their intervention to “ensure that India returns to full compliance of all UN resolutions by reversing all steps that interfere with the settlement of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute”.
The crux of the Pakistani argument was that India had carried out an “unofficial annexation” of J&K, which was a “material change of the situation” and a contravention of UNSC Resolution 48 of 1948. India informed the UN that Article 370 was incorporated into the Indian Constitution in 1954, six years after the UNSC resolution and was revoked in 2019. Both happened after the UNSC resolution, so if the first did not signal a “material change”, neither could the second.
The UNSC president dropped Pakistan’s request and refused to answer questions on it. “The Secretary-General also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Simla Agreement which states that the final status of Jammu & Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the UN Charter,” the UN said.
Although Pakistan tried to spin the statement as referring to “Indian-administered Kashmir”, the UN’s view of J&K is of an undivided state, including parts occupied by Pakistan. According to a UN spokesman, Secretary-Gene- ral Antonio Gutteres called on “all parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kas- hmir”, a formulation that wo- uld also include changes Islamabad has effected on POK.
Guterres urged all parties to “exercise restraint”, his spokesman said, adding, over the past few days, the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) “has observed an increase in military activity” along the LoC.
Pakistan also got no comfort in Washington, where a State Department spokesperson said there was no change in the US policy on Kashmir, which calls for direct, bilateral talks. The US also doubled do- wn on endorsing its strategic ties with India by announcing that deputy secretary of State Sullivan will travel to New Delhi and Thimphu “to advance the US partnership with two nations that are critical to preserving the rules-based order in the #IndoPacific region”.
Beijing too denied any support to Islamabad and told Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who air-dashed there to seek its support on Kashmir, that it regarded both India and Pakistan as “friendly neighbours” and wants them to resolve the issue through UN resolutions and the Simla agreement.
Qureshi had held talks with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi during which he said he believed “China will stand up for justice on the Kashmir issue”, a statement issued by the Chinese foreign ministry said. “It should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UNSC resolutions and bilateral agreement,” Wang said.
(With PTI inputs from Beijing)
Independents trounce BJP in BDC polls
Independent candidates swept the first-ever Block Development Council (BDC) polls in J&K, winning 217 of the 307 blocks for which elections were held on Thursday and the results declared late in the evening.
BJP, which expected a cakewalk with major political parties boycotting the polls amid detention of their leaders following defanging of Article 370, came a distant second with 81 blocks. NC, PDP and CPM did not take part in the elections.
PM Modi tweeted: “This (peaceful poll) shows the people’s unwavering faith in democracy and the importance they accord to grassroots level governance.”
2014-19: Pakistan vis-à-vis Caliphate
Pro-Pak and pro-Caliphate groups fight for Kashmir's 'jihadi' space
NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: In a ‘martyrs’ graveyard in Eidgah area of Downtown, two tombstones—one that of Srinagar’s chief cleric Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq and the other of his assassin, Mohammad Abdullah Bangroo, stand out. The Mirwaiz was a separatist seeking Kashmir’s ‘independence’ from India and Bangroo, a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, fighting for Kashmir’s accession with Pakistan.
That Bangroo was buried next to the Mirwaiz, almost a month after his assassination in May 1990 and both designated as ‘martyrs’, not only captured the struggle between pro-independence and pro-Pakistan forces at the very outset of the violent conflict in Kashmir, but underlined the fact that the latter had won.
29 years later, a new strife to occupy the militant space in Kashmir is going on now between the pro-Pakistan and the pro-Caliphate terror outfits. Last month, an Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) terrorist was killed by Hizbul Mujahideen following which ISJK declared that Pakistan-backed terror groups in Kashmir were “traitors” to the cause of Islamic jihad. Just two days ago, al-Qaida’s global chief Ayman al-Zawahiri announced that ‘jihad’ in Kashmir was for Caliphate and needed to be freed from the clutches of Pakistan’s ISI and army.
“In the 90s, hundreds of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (pro-azadi) militants got killed by tip-off provided by Hizbul Mujahideen. Today, the affiliates of ISIS and al-Qaida in Kashmir, ISJK or Wilayah-al-Hind and Ansar Ghazwat ul-Hind (AGuH) are now vying for the same space which once was a turf war between pro-azadi and pro-Pakistan groups,” a senior police officer who did not want to be quoted told TOI.
This new war began in 2014 when masked youth in Downtown first began waving pro-Caliphate Islamic State flags. The trend had started soon after the ISIS assumed prominence with its use of social media technology to run their propaganda videos of seizing key cities in Iraq and Syria and executing people gruesomely in public.
“That the idea of Islamic State had captured the imagination of the militant youth in Kashmir became evident when the commander of pro-Pakistan terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, Burhan Wani, began using social media on the lines of the ISIS and also declared that he was fighting for the establishment of Caliphate,” a counter-insurgency official said.
Why Wani chose to shift his goal from Pakistan to Caliphate wasn’t clear at the time but when the floodgates of violence opened after his killing by the Indian security forces in 2016, “it indicated that he represented popular sentiment among the militant youth in Kashmir,” a political activist in Bijbehera told TOI.
The ideological shift, according to many police officers in Kashmir, had happened way before Wani was killed. “That is why Wani’s successor Zakir Musa parted ways with Hizbul Mujahideen and affiliated with al-Qaida and set up its provincial branch, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind in 2017,” a counter-insurgency expert said.
This coincided with black ISIS shrouds replacing Pakistani green flags which had been used as cerements to wrap slain terrorists in their funerals. “At one point, the tussle became so intense that the green shroud of a slain terrorist was removed and replaced by the black, right at the funeral procession,” another official said.
While mainstream politicians in Kashmir at the time rubbished ISIS flag waving and draping as “juvenile rage attempted at teasing India,” pro-independence separatists and pro-Pakistan terror groups alleged that it was “all stage-managed by Indian intelligence agencies to malign their movement.” The entire separatist bandwagon even called Zakir Musa an Indian agent, an Army officer said.
According to Musa fans in Kashmir on social media, it was only after Indian security forces killed Musa and al-Qaida released audio recordings of Musa’s phone conversations with a Pakistani terrorist Abu Dujana, conspiracy theories about his ideological commitment subsided. In his long discussion with Dujana, Musa settled the ideological battle for all his supporters. “The fight in Kashmir is for Islamic Caliphate and not Kashmiri nationalism or Pakistani nation. I will prove it with my ‘shahadat’ (martyrdom),” Musa told Dujana.
A section of Kashmir’s intellectual class believes that this shift from “freedom for Kashmir to the movement for Pakistan and now to jihad for Caliphate had been inevitable” for a very long time. “Militancy in Kashmir began with the slogan of ‘Islam khatarey mein’ (Islam in danger) and the rhetoric about separate Muslim identity, the genesis of which is the creation of Pakistan. The pro-Pakistan terror groups and even Jamaat believes in Sharia and jihad for Caliphate. They are just strategic about it,” a scholar of Islamic University said.
However, the security establishment in Kashmir believes the transformation is an outcome of the tremendous challenge Pakistan is facing due to its own economic crisis and the pressure from the global terror-funding watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF). “They have a resource crunch and they are being forced to shut down some of their cross-border terror infrastructure. ISIS and al-Qaida, many believe are defeated but they are not. They are alive and thriving by entering newer domains and can activate themselves through their global network as and when they need to,” a counter-terrorism analyst said.
A section of counter-terror grid suspects that Pakistan has been strategically holding back pro-Pakistan groups and making way for pan-Islamist terror groups in Kashmir so as to project that it has taken effective steps to end cross-border terror and has nothing to do with Kashmir’s home-grown jihadi movement.
Constitutional, territorial changes
J&K ceases to be a state; 2 UTs come into being
This is for the first time that a state is converted into two UTs even though there are numerous examples of a UT becoming a full state or a state bifurcating into two states
The new lieutenant governors of the two UTs — G C Murmu in J&K and R K Mathur in Ladakh — will be sworn in at separate ceremonies in Srinagar and Leh, respectively
The total number of states in the country will now be reduced to 28 while the number of UTs will go up to nine
NEW DELHI: At the stroke of midnight, Jammu & Kashmir ceased to be a state of the Union, making way for two new Union territories of J&K and Ladakh.
This marks an important milestone in the history of J&K and, especially, Kashmir Valley’s tense ties with the rest of the country, and culminates the process which started on August 5 with the landmark announcement for emasculation of Article 370 as well as end of statehood for J&K.
This also put to an end to J&K’s flag and constitution, symbols of the state’s special status. With October 31 fixed as the appointed day for reorganisation of J&K, the new lieutenant governors of the two UTs — GC Murmu in J&K and RK Mathur in Ladakh — will be sworn in at separate ceremonies in Srinagar and Leh, respectively.
The creation of the UTs of J&K and Ladakh coincides with the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, credited with the merger of over 560 states with the Indian Union and who has been promoted by the Modi government as the embodiment of national unity and muscular nationalism.
The change in the status of J&K from a state to a UT comes even as there is a fresh spate of targeted attacks in the Valley against non-Kashmiris and “outsiders”, while communication curbs remain in force amid strong indications, sources in the security establishment said, of desperate efforts by Pakistan to incite trouble.
Parliament’s decision of August 5 marked a dramatic turn in the history of the sensitive region, a counter-punch to a defiant clamour for enhanced autonomy and a brutal Pakistan-backed terror campaign. It came against the backdrop of a popular push in the rest of the country for a tough response to terrorism and separatists.
It also represented a powerful break from the way the Centre had dealt with the border state. The old approach sought to blend toughness towards terrorists with promises to enhance autonomy and talks with Pakistan, which made no secret of its determination to grab the Muslim-majority province.
The Modi government changed the terms of engagement with both the separatists and Pakistan. The conversion of the state into two UTs means that politicians in the Valley can, at most, hope for restoration of statehood. The August decision also means that Pakistan will have to try hard to re-establish its locus on J&K as and when the two sides decide to resume negotiations. The steps taken since — the communications lockdown, the defiance of global liberal sensitivities as well as the attempt this week to tap into the growing influence of right-wing globally — represents the resolve to brazen out any unhappiness in global capitals.
The central government has justified its decision to make Article 370 a dead letter in J&K, blaming it for rising violence and militancy in the Valley as unemployed youth are forced to pick up the gun and for denying the people of the state benefits of many central legislations and benefits like SC/ST reservation, right to education, right to information etc.
The decision to end special status for J&K marked fulfilment of BJP’s long-standing agenda and its 2014 poll manifesto promise, and conforms to the “nationalist” view that it would complete J&K’s integration with the Indian Union. This is over 70 years after the then ruler of the princely state of J&K, Maharaja Hari Singh, executed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947, making it part of the Union of India.
This is the first time that a state is being bifurcated into two UTs. In the past, there have been instances of a UT becoming a full state or a state being reorganised into two states.
The total number of states in the country will now be reduced to 28 while the number of UTs will go up to nine.
According to the J&K Reorganisation Act, the UT of J&K will have a legislature, like Puducherry, while Ladakh will be a UT without legislature, like Chandigarh, and both the UTs will be headed by two separate lieutenant governors.
The Centre will be in direct control of police and law & order in J&K from Thursday while land will be under the elected government. The UT of Ladakh will be under the direct control of the central government which will administer the high altitude region through the LG.
For employees of the state government, including police personnel, the change means a jump in salaries and perks as they, thanks to their new status as central employees, become eligible for pay scales fixed for central employees by the Pay Commission.
August 5: J&K bifurcated, downgraded to UT; Art 370 recast
KASHMIR IS NOW UNION’S TERRITORY
In Historic Move Within 100 Days Of Modi-2, Govt Bifurcates State Into 2 UTs, Defangs Article 370 & Scraps 35A J&K To Lose Special Status, Centre To Directly Rule Ladakh
In a historic decision, the Modi government changed the terms of engagement with Jammu and Kashmir by doing away with the special status the state enjoyed under Article 370, scrapping Article 35A and splitting the sensitive border state into two UTs of J&K and Ladakh.
The proposed J&K UT will, like Delhi and Puducherry, have a legislature while the one designed for Ladakh, like Chandigarh, will not have one. Ladakh has an executive council, which itself is the result of a long battle for UT status that began close to three decades ago, and this will continue.
The decisions were ratified by Rajya Sabha by two-thirds majority, and will sail through BJP-dominated Lok Sabha, putting an end to the state of J&K as it has existed as an administrative unit and radically transforming its relationship with the Centre. With the Valley under a communication blackout, it will be a few days before the repercussions on the ground can be assessed.
The government pushed through big changes by getting Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu to relax rules on the time needed before a bill is tabled. This allowed home minister Amit Shah to set the ball rolling on Monday morning. Never before have such momentous legislative changes come about in the space of a day. Though main opposition Congress and some other parties objected, several non-NDA and non-UPA parties broke ranks and supported the bill, sensing popular support for the move. During the debate in Rajya Sabha, Shah said statehood could be restored to J&K once normalcy was established: a goal which, he admitted, might not be achieved soon. This is the first instance since the linguistic reorganisation of states in 1956 when a state has been turned into a UT.
The move, a gamble to many, can have repercussions far beyond J&K by impacting political fault lines. It privileges right-wing views of national unity over Nehruvian ideals of diversity and, thus, marks a significant movement away from the ‘Idea of India’ attributed to the first PM. Article 370 remains, but will for all practical purposes be a dead letter; no longer the bulwark against extension of the Constitution in its entirety to the state. It was the mother provision for Article 35A, inserted in the Constitution by a presidential order of 1954, which gave J&K residents a host of exemptions from central laws.
Few expected decisive strike leveraging Art 370
The Political Class Had Braced Itself For Repeal Of Article 35A
Article 35A blocked enforcement of the fundamental right to equality guaranteed to all citizens, including ownership of land, equal employment opportunity and equal inheritance rights.
In any case, with J&K being reduced to a couple of UTs, from now on, it is the Centre’s writ which will reign supreme.
The decisive strike, within 100 days of PM Narendra Modi’s reelection and coming against the backdrop of a massive deployment of security forces to deal with possible protests and any attempts by Pakistan to fan trouble, surpassed estimates of what the government was up to. The political class had braced itself for repeal of Article 35A but few, even in BJP, expected the audacious move to end J&K’s special status by neutering Article 370 and bifurcating and downgrading the state.
The revocation of Article 35A was achieved by a Presidential Order (read a decision of the cabinet). While this, authorities insisted, would have been enough, the government got the monumental decision fortified by getting Rajya Sabha to approve it. Rajya Sabha also passed a separate bill to split the state into two UTs.
The emasculation of Article 370 by removal of Article 35A, which guaranteed special status for J&K, marks a repudiation of the argument, held by many in the Valley and most political parties, that repeal of the twin provisions will undermine J&K’s integration with India in 1947.
Article 370, which was supposed to be a temporary provision, placed serious restrictions, though increasingly only in theory, on the Centre’s jurisdiction over the state over matters other than defence, foreign affairs, currency and communication. Article 35A barred non-permanent citizens from acquiring land in the state to protect its existing demography and, for that purpose, even disinherited women of the state who chose to marry outside.
BJP opposed Article 370 right since its inception on the ground that it encouraged secessionism and encouraged Pakistan’s design to wrest it by using its proxies. The defiance differentiated it not just from its opponents but also from its allies. It repeated, like every time, the promise to junk both Articles 370 and 35A in its manifesto for the 2019 elections.
The route taken by the government, where it achieved its purpose of virtually scrapping Article 370 was no less a surprise. The strategem took the opposition unawares. Congress called it a “mischief ” and warned that it would fail judicial scrutiny, leading Shah to assert that its method was legally kosher.
The change in the terms of business with Kashmir will reinforce Modi-Shah’s image as bold leaders and burnish their “nationalist” credentials. Extracted in exchange for accession to India at the time of independence, “separate status” for J&K has often been cited as nonnegotiable. Though debatable, the political class acquiesced into it. It was also cited by Pakistan to question J&K’s merger with India.
The changes and their implications
Special status of J&K revoked. President Kovind issues presidential order, exercising his power under Clause 1 of Article 370, to make all provisions of the Constitution effectively applicable to J&K. Rather than abrogating or repealing Article 370, govt has essentially read down its provisions. Article 35A scrapped
Union home minister Amit Shah introduces a Bill to abolish J&K as a state of the Indian Union and replace it with two separate Union Territories — the UT of Jammu & Kashmir with a legislature, and the UT of Ladakh
The constituent assembly referred to in Article 370, whose sanction is essential for any constitutional changes regarding the state, has been replaced by the “legislative assembly” of the state. In the absence of the assembly, the governor’s consent is considered to fulfil the requirement
WHAT IT MEANS
J&K will now have no separate flag or Constitution. Tenure of assembly will be for 5 years, not 6; Indian Penal Code will replace Ranbir Penal Code
People from other states are now eligible to purchase land and properties. Non-permanent residents can permanently settle in state
Outsiders can now be employed in state govt and companies and be eligible for scholarships in state-run educational institutions
RTI Act will be applicable in J&K
IDEA BOLSTERED BY JAGMOHAN’S BOOK
BJP and Sangh parivar had never subscribed to the belief that Article 370 was immutable. In his book, ‘My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir’, former J&K governor Jagmohan had advocated Article 370’s effective dilution through extension of provisions of the Constitution. This reinforced the belief of decision-makers
The core group of PM Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Union home secy Rajiv Gauba, Army chief General Bipin Rawat, J&K chief secy BVR Subrahmanyam, and chiefs of intel agencies conceptualised the plan and paved the way for its implementation
The vote on triple talaq bill showed that political-ideological barriers in Rajya Sabha had been breached; non-NDA, non-UPA parties could support govt
FIRST TIME A STATE HAS BECOME A UT
There have been earlier instances of a category C state (as former chief commissioners’ territories were classified at the time of adoption of the Constitution) becoming a UT. But this is the first time after the 1956 states’ reorganisation that a full-fledged state has been relegated to a UT (or two)
Mission Kashmir was secret even to top officials
Mission Kashmir remained secret even to top officials
Soon after the inauguration of the second Modi government, a senior functionary received an innocuous query about the type of paper used for presidential orders.
This was much before speculation started swirling about the government’s plans for J&K, and so he could not have seen it as a prelude to the landmark decision to do away with the “special status” for J&K which had been kept a tightly guarded secret. While the Modi government had made up its mind to get rid of Article 35A, the actual plan remained a secret even to senior members of the government.
The idea of reducing Article 370 to a lifeless form had been discussed among senior members towards the closing phase of the first Modi government, especially in the light of advocacy of that route by Jagmohan, former Union minister who had an eventful tenure as J&K governor, in the revised version of his book “My Frozen Turbulence”.
With Amit Shah as his home minister, Modi quickly took off from where he had left, entrusting the task to national security advisor A K Doval , an old Kashmir hand, and a select set of bureaucrats including home secretary Rajeev Gauba and chief secretary of J&K, B V R Subramanyam.
Working under Shah’s direct superintendence, the group collaborated with Army chief General Bipin Rawat and heads of paramilitary forces to put up thousands of additional boots on the ground to cope with possible law and order challenges. The renewed threat from Pakistan, which saw the anxiety of US to pull its troops out of Afghanistan as an opening to revive its efforts to disrupt peace, came in handy as it helped camouflage the real purpose of the deployment of troops.
While reworking the rules for J&K was kept under wraps even from key ministries, the only possible giveaway may have been the query over the paper that may be needed to end the special status enjoyed by the state.
J&K children can now enjoy all rights: NCPCR
The country’s child rights body welcomed the Centre’s move to scrap Article 370, saying it would allow children of the state to enjoy right to education and get protection under various provisions of the law. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights welcomed the move, saying it would now allow children of the state to enjoy basic rights to education and get protection under various provisions of the law. NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said right to protection of children of Jammu and Kashmir will also get ensured through Juvenile Justice Act. PTI
Why was the state kept in the dark?
Why was the state kept in the dark while making such a major change?
Right or wrong, the move is one for the history books because of the manner in which the central government repealed Article 370 and bifurcated the state into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. Naturally, it evoked huge uproar and outcry from the opposition.
The procedure adopted by the central government is extremely curious and circumspect. Rumour mills were abuzz since deployment of heavy paramilitary forces across the state. On the intervening night of August 4-5, Section 144 CrPC was enforced across the state. All ex-CMs were placed under house arrest. Neither the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019 nor the Reorganisation Bill figured on Monday’s list of business of Rajya Sabha. They were added only after the House was in session. What was the compelling reason for adopting such a clandestinely hurried approach?
The wording of Article 370 (3) is important as it reads: “Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this Article, the President may, by public notification, declare that this Article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may specify: Provided that the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the state referred to in clause (2) shall be necessary before the President issues such a notification.”
Let us analyse the facts. Governor’s rule in J&K was imposed initially on June 20, 2018. Section 92 of the Constitution of J&K does not permit its continuance beyond six months. Thus, President’s rule was imposed on December 20, 2018. It was extended for a period of six more months from July 3, 2019.
With no elected government and the state governed by President’s rule, the natural question that arises is whether such a decision is the product of a democratic exercise? Monday’s events set a bad precedent, and herald a situation where President’s rule may be used to reorganise any state in future.
In fact, the notification itself may be subjected to judicial scrutiny in view of J&K HC’s 2015 ruling which said: “It (Article 370) is beyond amendment, repeal or abrogation, in as much as the Constituent Assembly of the state before its dissolution did not recommend its amendment or repeal.”
The wording of the presidential order makes the situation even more anomalous as it says: “In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution, the President, with the concurrence of the state government of J&K, is pleased to make the following order…”
The presidential order supersedes the earlier order of 1954, and makes redundant Article 35A, which imposes restrictions on non-residents of the state. Can it be said that concurrence of the state government has been taken in the absence of an elected government and when President’s rule is in vogue?
To my mind, the proviso to Article 370 was purposefully inserted keeping in mind India’s original commitment to the people of the Valley — we will give you a right to choose your own path and no unilateral decision would be taken.
Speaking from my experience as a Kashmiri Pandit and as former advocate general of Madhya Pradesh, I can only say that by this move, we have missed out on the opportunity to initiate a landmark and historic consultative process. Over the last few days, ever since the troop movement started, we Pandits have had to endure sleepless nights.
Even as advocate general of MP, when the state was being bifurcated into MP and Chhattisgarh, we were sensitive to the fact that such a reorganisation would have a far-reaching effect and could not have been effective without consultation with all stakeholders.
In contrast, not a single stakeholder has been taken into confidence. Imposing repeal of Article 370 on the state when its people haven’t been heard and their leaders kept under house arrest is not a wise move and will invariably lead to conflict and strife, which the Valley can ill afford. As a Kashmiri Pandit, I am fearful as to whether we will be truly accepted if we decide to relocate back.
Only time will tell whether it sparks a conundrum or allows all communities, including Kashmiri Pandits, to live in harmony and peace. But the larger question remains unanswered — Why was this done behind the back of the people, and by not allowing them to have a say on their own future? Is this the new benchmark of democracy that we are shifting towards? If it is, then we are indeed headed for trouble.
2019, Aug 5-Nov 19
The state of public life in Kashmir, especially Srinagar: 2019, Aug 5-Nov 19
2019-21: ‘outsiders’ who acquired land in J&K
Only two people from outside Jammu & Kashmir have purchased a property each there in the two years since the nullification of Article 370 that took away the erstwhile state’s special status, the home ministry informed the Lok Sabha.
Junior minister (home) Nityanand Rai, who made the statement in reply to a question from Lok Sabha MPs, said no instance of legitimate buyers facing any impediment in buying properties in the Union territory had been reported so far.
While no details were provided about the location of the properties or the “outsiders” who had acquired them under the new rules applicable to J&K, sources in Srinagar said both were in Jammu division. One of the names doing the rounds apparently runs a company with interests in real estate and liquor.
Sources said several four and five-star hotels in J&K Bank’s list of loan defaulters could now be potentially auctioned off to outsiders as commercial properties under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act of 2002.
Prior to the nullification of Article 370, outsiders weren’t allowed to buy land in J&K. Even women from Kashmir who married outsiders would lose their right to property. The laws have subsequently been revised but according to a J&K government spokesperson, caveats on transfer of agricultural land would save 90% of them from being sold to outsiders.
Abrogation of Article 370
Persons arrested/ detained: Aug 2019- Mar 2020
About 400 Held Under PSA In J&K, Says Govt
As many as 7,357 people in Jammu & Kashmir — including stone-pelters, miscreants, over ground workers and separatists — were taken into preventive custody since abrogation of Article 370 in the erstwhile state on August 5, 2019, the home ministry told Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Of these, 451 people are still under preventive detention, including 396 under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act, it said.
In reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, junior home minister G Kishan Reddy said the Jammu & Kashmir government had justified the detentions and said they were done to prevent commission of offences involving breach of peace and tranquillity or activities prejudicial to the security of the state and for maintenance of public order. The detentions, he said, were made under Section 107 of the Criminal Procedure Code and PSA.
In reply to a different question, the junior home minister said no sedition case had been filed against any person in the Union Territory Jammu & Kashmir for using social media platforms since its formation on October 31, 2019.
He added that directions for regulation of telecom services were being issued by the competent authority in the government of Jammu & Kashmir in accordance with provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the rules made there under as also the principles laid down in the apex court judgment on January 10 which emphasised the principle of proportionality, nature of urgency, goal intended to be achieved, assessing the existence of any alternate mechanism, necessity of the measure intending at imposing restrictions, the measure being least restrictive, exploring available alternatives etc.
New domicile rules
In a major decision, the Centre notified changes in domicile rules for the Union Territory of J&K providing that anyone residing in J&K for 15 years or more will be eligible for government jobs, immediately raising the hackles of Kashmir parties like the National Conference and PDP, which said it added insult to injury and is akin to rubbing salt into wounds.
The domicile rights are also extended to all migrants who have been registered by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner in the erstwhile state whose status changed when its special status under Article 370 was rescinded on August 5 last year. The new rules, notified in the gazette and made applicable from Tuesday, provides that anyone who has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10th or 12th exams in J&K is eligible for domicile certificate.
Anyone who has studied for seven years and appeared in Class 10th or 12th exams in J&K is eligible for domicile certificate and such people can obtain a domicile certificate from the tehsildar of their area of residence.
The change in rules, though only for lower-end government jobs, is politically significant as state government employment was previously in accordance with the definition of permanent residents, seen as central to the Article 370 scheme. In conjunction, Article 35A had also operated to ensure that categories such as women who marry outside the state were not eligible for domicile benefits.
The current notification does not include land ownership but will be seen as the thin end of the wedge by Kashmir parties with even the newly formed Apni Party voicing opposition. The rules have been changed with regard to appointment in government services by amending the J&K Civil Services (Decentralisation and Recruitment) Act.
Ex-J&K CMs stripped of lifetime privileges
In a major setback to surviving former chief ministers of the erstwhile state of J&K, who held the post after 1984, the Centre stripped them of lifetime privileges like rent-free accommodation, free medical care, pension, Z-plus security for them and their families, and other facilities, including one personnel assistant, one special assistant and two peons. The former CMs who will be affected by this development are Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Ghulam Nabi Azad, reports Saleem Pandit. When Farooq was CM in 1996, he had amended the State Legislature Members’ Pension Act, 1984, allowing former CMs to enjoy these privileges and benefits. The former CMs will, however, continue to get all the benefits of ex-MLAs. Through a presidential order, the Centre has now scrapped the amendments made to the Act, using J&K Reorganization (Adaptation of State Laws) Order-2020.
Geelani leaves Hurriyat Conference
In a move that left Kashmir’s separatist conglomerate in disarray, pro-Pakistan hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani quit his faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and named Abdullah Geelani as his successor amid speculation he was doing ISI’s bidding. The Rawalpindi-based Abdullah Geelani is the younger brother of the late SAR Geelani, former DU professor who was acquitted in the Parliament attack case.
Officially, the 91-year-old cited disenchantment with the way fellow constituents of the group responded to the nullification of Article 370 as the primary reason for his decision. He also alleged lack of accountability within Hurriyat and a rebellion brewing in the ranks.
‘Successor to Geelani said to be close to ISI’
A Hurriyat spokesman said Shah Geelani had written to all eight constituents of the group, outlining the reasons for his quitting, including allegations of lack of accountability within Hurriyat colleagues based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. “Activities of these representatives are limited to seeking access to ministries in POK. Some members were expelled while others started holding their own meetings. These activities were endorsed by you (constituents) by holding a meeting here to ratify their decisions,” he wrote. Sources said Abdullah Geelani being chosen to run the Hurriyat from Rawalpindi effectively means sidelining the separatist cabal in the Valley. Abdullah Geelani is the brother of SAR Geelani, the former DU professor who was acquitted in the 2001 Parliament attack case. “Abdullah is known to be close to ISI,” an insider said.
The exit of the ailing, 90-year-old separatist hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani from the Hurriyat Conference completes his sidelining by those very Pakistanbased masters who used him for the past several years to stoke the fires of militancy and violence in Jammu & Kashmir.
Sources in the security establishment said Geelani’s dissociation with the Hurriyat reeked of Pakistan’s and particularly ISI’s “use and throw” policy, given that the politician who could mobilise endless hartals and violent protests in his heyday was now left to fend for himself after he riled them with his attempts to assert his supremacy through his chosen representative for the Hurriyat’s PoK chapter, Abdullah Gilani, and prop up his sons as heirs to his legacy. The rumblings within the Hurriyat Conference led by Shah Geelani have been going on for the past 4-6 months. Geelani, a source said, realised that time was not on his side and was keen to push his sons in the succession battle. In fact, he ensured that Abdullah Gilani, his trusted aide and a good friend of his son Nayeem Geelani, was appointed as convenor of the Hurriyat chapter in PoK.
An IPS officer said this was with an eye on creating acceptance for his son, purportedly Nayeem, as the heir to his legacy. However, Pakistan-based agencies were not happy with the plan and are believed to have tied up with other Hurriyat functionaries in Kashmir as well as PoK to first sideline and then oust Abdullah Gilani recently by replacing him with their “own man” Hussain Mohammad Khateeb.
Hurriyat's mission has failed
J&K DGP Dilbagh Singh said former Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani had admitted in a letter sent by him to all constituents of the separatist outfit that the “path chosen by him was wrong and people were using it for personal gains, while the mission they were pursuing has failed.”
Singh said, “Geelani’s letter is an eye-opener. He admitted that they (Hurriyat Conference and its factions) have miserably failed in their mission and the Kashmir issue is being used by people for their personal gain. He also confessed that his path was wrong, and they were propagating negative thinking.”
The DGP said, the aged politician, in his letter, had “cried hoarse” over how people sitting across the LoC were luring Kashmiri youths towards narcotics. Geelani had also stated that “Kashmir’s freedom struggle was reduced to mere drug abuse and serving Pakistan’s interests.”
Major changes in domicile rules
The J&K government issued a notification specifying the conditions for obtaining domicile certificates necessary for applying for government jobs and other privileges in the Union Territory, with some amendments in the Jammu & Kashmir Civil Services (Decentralisation and Recruitment) Act, 2010. As a result of the new rules, West Pakistan refugees, children of women married outside J&K and ‘safai karamcharis’ will now be eligible for domicile certificate.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, government spokesperson Rohit Kansal said, according to the new rules all those holding permanent resident certificates of the erstwhile J&K state will be eligible to get domicile certificates from the designated authority. “Permanent residents of the erstwhile state of J&K in whose favour permanent resident certificates have been issued by the competent authority before 31.10.2019 shall be eligible for receiving their domicile certificates on the basis of PRCs alone and no other document shall be required for such residents,” Kansal said.
He added, “There may be bonafide migrants and bonafide displaced persons who have migrated but have not registered with the relief department. In order to facilitate such persons, the relief department shall be making a special limited provision to apply before the Relief & Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrant) for registration for the purpose of issuance of a domicile certificate only, with any one of the many documents such as 1951/1988 electoral roll, proof of employment, ownership of property, proof of registration in other states/UTs as a migrant or a displaced person or any other documentation which would have made him/her eligible for grant of PRC before 06-08-2019.”
Operation Gulmarg/ 21-22 Oct
AMSTERDAM: The darkest day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir was the intervening night of October 21-22, 1947, when Operation Gulmarg was launched in a bid to seize and destroy the territory, and 73 years have gone by, but Pakistan's template has remained the same, according to a European think tank.
European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), in a commentary, recalled the horrors of the tribal invasion that left between 35,000 and 40,000 dead, besides, a grim mark on the fate of J-K. "The day marked the first and most critical step in the erosion of the Kashmiri identity with the state and its people being torn apart by an UN-drawn LoC (Line of Control) that divides the erstwhile princely state and its inhabitants," EFSAS said. According to the think tank, the Operation Gulmarg had been conceived as early as August 1947 under the command of Major General Akbar Khan (who recently spoke about this in a book).
Washington DC-based political and strategic analyst Shuja Nawaz has listed 22 Pashtun tribes that were involved in the invasion.
Besides General Khan, the other prominent person who planned and led the operation was Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, a close aid of Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Shaukat, later in a book, The Nation that Lost its Soul, accepted that he had been appointed supervisor of the Kashmir operation, adding that Rs 300,000 were given from the Pakistani treasury by then finance minister Ghulam Muhammad for this operation.
"Major General Akbar Khan fixed October 22, 1947, as the date on which the attack on J-K would be launched. All lashkars were asked to converge at Abbottabad near the border with J-K by October 18. They were moved in civilian buses and trucks that had been commandeered for this purpose... under the cover of night," the EFSAS said.
According to the European think-tank, "Pakistan has perpetuated the myth that the tribal raiders were liberators and came to Kashmir to fulfill their religious obligation of jihad because Muslims were being killed in Jammu in communal riots. However, the reality was that it was not as if Muslims had been spared (by them)."
The intruders massacred about 11,000 residents of Baramulla on October 26, 1947, alone, and destroyed the Mohra power station that supplied electricity to Srinagar.
Sheikh Abdullah, the first Prime Minister of J-K, described the invasion at the UN in 1948, saying: "The raiders came to our land, massacred thousands of people -- mostly Hindus and Sikhs, but Muslims, too -- abducted thousands of girls, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims alike, looted our property and almost reached the gates of our summer capital, Srinagar".
As a result of the trampling of lives running in thousands, Maharaja Hari Singh appealed to India in a letter dated October 26, 1947, "With the conditions obtaining at present in my state and to the great emergency of the situation as it exists, I have no option but to ask for help from the Indian Dominion. Naturally, they cannot send the help asked for without my state acceding to the Domination of India. I have accordingly decided to do so and I attach the Instrument of Accession for acceptance by your government."
"The other alternative is to leave my state and my people to diabolical killers and beasts. On the basis of this, no civilised government can exist or be maintained. The alternative I will never allow to happen as long as I am the ruler of the state and I have a life to defend my country".
In conclusion, the EFSAS called out those who tend to go for the Pakistani propaganda and its concern about the welfare of the Muslims in J-K: "They must not forget the policy adopted by Islamabad in October 1947, attempting to grab the territory by force, which dealt the greatest blow possible to the existence of J-K."
"The planners and perpetrators of the tribal invasion were, and remain, without doubt the foremost enemies of the Kashmiri people. The day the invasion began on October 22, 1947, has to be the darkest day in the history of the J-K," the European think tank said.
Pakistani MBBS seats scandal
Seats Sold For ₹10-20L To Kids Of Cops, Netas
Over two decades, Hurriyat members and other separatists earned a fortune by facilitating medical and engineering seats to wards of influential families of J&K, including kids of cops and politicians, as well as accommodating their own kin in colleges in Pakistan and PoK. The train of students going to Pakistan interestingly enough failed to attract any action from successive Indian governments since the quotas were first set up in 2000. The seats were ostensibly meant for Kashmiri children whose parents or bread–earner were killed in the conflict in J&K. What came to pass was separatists selling seats designated for orphans between Rs 10 lakh to 20 lakh each. The separatists preferred students from Sopore and Baramulla areas besides other parts of north Kashmir, a Hurriyat insider said. Though fees are charged, students are provided 100% scholarship, free accommodation and a per diem.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s differences with Ghulam Mohammad Safi over alleged corruption brought the can of worms out in the public. While four of the siblings of Safi are either doctors or engineers, one daughter is a journalist in Islamabad. Geelani refused to hand over leadership of the PoK chapter of his Hurriyat faction to Safi. Interestingly, police officers, bureaucrats and mainstream politicos also managed MBBS seats for their wards through Hurriyat leaders. The daughter of a police officer who was in former CM Mehbooba Mufti’s security is understood to a beneficiary.
The girl is currently at the Peoples University of Medical and Health Sciences for Women in Sindh in Pakistan. Likewise, a daughter of another retired DSP and a former deputy commissioner’s daughter were given MBBS seats in lieu of money, the Hurriyat source said.
Hurriyat patron Syed Geelani Ali Geelani’s aides like Ghulam Mohammad Sofi alias Safi in Islamabad in Pakistan would operate through Geelani’s jailed private secretary Ayaz Akbar. Mirwaiz Umar’s representative Fayaz Naqshbandi besides Prof Abdul Gani Bhat are also understood to have been involved.
Jailed separatist Shabir Shah’s representative in Islamabad was one Mehmood Sagar, originally a Kashmiri dry fruit shopkeeper of Saribala in Srinagar, as also one Bashir Ahmad Wani. The representatives or the conduits would arrange seats and money was received by the Hurriyat and separatist leaders here in Kashmir, the Hurriyat insider said.
Importantly, while Geelani’s Hurriyat faction has 22 constituents, Mirwaiz- headed Hurriyat is a conglomerate of 27 smaller separatist groups. Both the groups are involved in monetary transfers, according to the insider.
Syed Ali Geelani’s resignation from the Hurriyat faction on June 29 exposed the scandal when he cited sale of Pakistani medical seats by his constituent outfit leaders as one of the main reasons of his quitting the amalgam.
As in 2021
Here’s a ready reckoner on what delimitation means, how it’s conducted and where the process stands in J&K right now:
The J&K assembly was dissolved in November 2018, and the state was under President’s rule until August 2019. It was then divided into two UTs — one with a promised legislature (J&K) and the other without (Ladakh).
In January 2020, the Union government initiated the process of delimitation of assembly constituencies in J&K, which took place last in 1995.
What does delimitation mean? According to the ministry of external affairs, delimitation is the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body. Under Article 82 of the Constitution, the Parliament by law enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census. This is to ensure that each seat has approximately an equal number of voters.
“The main purpose of undertaking the delimitation exercise is to rationalise the structure and composition of the electoral constituencies, on the principle of ‘One vote and one value’,” explained the ministry. It is also aimed at a fair division of geographical areas so that no political party has an edge over the others in an election.
This laborious task is carried out by the Delimitation Commission. Such panels have been constituted multiple times in India — the first one in 1952, then in 1963, 1973, 2002 and 2020.
The exercise may also lead to changes in the size of the legislative assembly of each state as well as the number of Lok Sabha seats it bags. Interestingly, this has largely remained unchanged since the delimitation exercise post Census 1971 courtesy successive embargos on the delimitation exercise. For instance, the 84th Amendment to the Constitution in 2002 put a freeze on delimitation of constituencies until the first Census after 2026.
However, in March 2020, half a year after the revocation of Article 370, the Union government constituted the Delimitation Commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai to carry out the exercise in J&K, as well as in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. These were all regions where delimitation had been deferred when the exercise was carried out in the remaining states and UTs between 2002 and 2008.
What makes the ongoing delimitation exercise in J&K unique? As mentioned earlier, the exercise in J&K is underway even as delimitation has been frozen in the rest of India till 2031 — or perhaps even later since the 2021 Census has been delayed indefinitely on account of the pandemic.
The Delimitation Commission has been mandated to divide the UT in accordance with not only the Delimitation Act of 2002, but also provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act (JKRA), which was passed by Parliament in August 2019, and includes specific sections to increase assembly seats to provide reserved seats for Scheduled Tribes.
Previously, the delimitation exercise for assembly constituencies in the former state was under the purview of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and its Representation of the People Act, 1957. Due to this, the state was able to carry out delimitation for its legislative assembly in 1995, despite the freeze at the time for the rest of India. The ongoing delimitation exercise in J&K is the first one in over two decades. JKRA specifies that the delimitation exercise in the UT will be based on Census 2011 population figures. But in the rest of the country it has been pegged to the Census 2001 figures.
JKRA also infringed upon the role of the Delimitation Commision by increasing the number of seats in the J&K legislative assembly from 107 to 114, including 24 vacant seats currently falling under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. In other words, the effective strength of the Assembly will increase from 83 — not including the four seats from Ladakh, which is now a separate UT without a legislature — to 90. So the main task left to the Desai-led commission now is to figure out the number of assembly constituencies into which J&K will be divided, the extent of these constituencies and the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
What is the status of the exercise in J&K? The Delimitation Commission is currently seeking inputs from district officials on any demographic and geographical inconsistencies in the delimitation process.
In early June, it sent out letters to administration heads of all the 20 districts in the UT, asking for information on 18 parameters, including topographic information, demographic patterns and administrative challenges of respective districts. This information is crucial to the commission as the updated nomadic headcount of the districts will be required for delineating reserved constituencies.
According to sources, although the district heads have already sent in their provisional data, the full data is unlikely to be compiled before end-July.
The panel has reportedly also asked the deputy commissioners (DCs) for their suggestions to make existing constituencies more "geographically compact". Having received the inputs, the Delimitation Commission has reportedly decided to hold a virtual meeting with the DCs soon to take the matter forward. In addition, a second meeting with associate members — MPs of all six Lok Sabha constituencies — is likely to be convened by the commission in near future.
Once the draft delimitation map is ready, it will be placed in public domain for objections, followed by public hearings before the plan is finalised. Finally, the Election Commission will need to conduct a special summary revision of electoral rolls in J&K before polls can be scheduled.
What about opposition from regional parties? Leading regional parties in J&K like the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have in the past vehemently opposed the delimitation exercise but are now showing signs of thaw, if only to ensure all decision-making is not in the hands of the BJP. In February, when the Delimitation Commission held its first meeting to seek views on the process, only two of the five associated members — Union minister Jitendra Singh and BJP leader and MP from Jammu, Jugal Kishore Sharma — turned up. The other three members — all NC MPs including party president Farooq Abdullah — said they would not be participating in proceedings as the party had challenged JKRA in the Supreme Court and the matter was still pending.
But recently Abdullah changed his stance saying that his party was not against the delimitation process in J&K, but “the method adopted for the same was not in consonance with the procedure”.
All eyes are now on the June 24 meet, which could shed light on the road ahead.
Sources: Election Commission of India, Ministry of External Affairs, PTI
What does the draft delimitation report say?
The latest Delimitation Commission, headed by retired SC judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, was set up in March 2020 to identify Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. (The northeastern states had been excluded in the last round because only the Election Commission, and not the Delimitation Commission, can conduct the exercise under Section 8A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950.)
On December 20, the commission met associate members of the panel (nominated by Lok Sabha and assembly speakers, but with no voting rights) and shared a draft of the recommendations. It has proposed that six seats be added in Jammu — one each in Kishtwar, Samba, Kathua, Doda, Rajouri and Udhampur/Reasi districts — and just one in Kashmir — for Kupwara. With this, the number of seats in Jammu go from 37 to 43 and those in Kashmir to 47. Nine of the 90 seats will be Scheduled Tribe-reserved seats and seven as Scheduled Caste-reserved seats.
What is the controversy over?
Delimitation, or drawing up of boundaries for electoral contests, is done on the basis of population. Opposition MPs from Kashmir have said the logic of proportion has not been followed and is, instead, heavily skewed in BJP’s interests.
If constituency X has 100 people and constituency Y has 500, someone contesting an election from Y would face a disadvantage. Then, if district A has historically voted for party X, divvying it up into more constituencies would mean an unfair advantage for party X.
Finally, if the constituencies that have historically voted for opposition party Y are splintered strategically to dilute the party’s support base, that would not allow a fair contest either. What the delimitation exercise has to try and even out are these disparities.
Is the division of seats justified?
Overall, Jammu and Kashmir has added more people every decade than the national average.
But Kashmir has more people than Jammu at the moment, going by the 2011 Census which is the basis for the present delimitation exercise. Kashmir has three districts with more than 10 lakh people. Jammu has one. If the proposal were to go through, Jammu would have 9.1 seats for every 10 that Kashmir has while it has 7.8 people for every 10 that Kashmir has.
One of the explanations offered for Jammu getting more new seats is that the area is larger (26,000 sq km, against Kashmir's 16,000 sq km). But even if that were taken into account, Kashmir's population density is much higher.
The Muslim-majority territory already has more voters.
But the seven new seats are not in areas with the highest population or with more voters. Four districts in the Union Territory are Hindu-majority. Three of them got new seats.
In the last election Jammu and Kashmir had, in 2014, BJP won 25 seats — all in Jammu. Of those, 13 are in six districts where new seats will be added. That could help the BJP. Consider a scenario in which district X had two seats. BJP won both and has cultivated a support base. When those two seats are carved out into three, BJP wins an extra seat with no change in vote bank. The constituencies in the seventh district which will get another seat, Kupwara, had an evenly spread out mandate in 2014 — two for PDP, two for J&K People’s Conference and one went to an Independent. No one party can, therefore, be expected to accrue the benefit of an additional seat.
2001 data for India & 2011 for J&K: Why?
Article 82 of the Indian Constitution says there will be a “readjustment” of constituency divisions after each Census. That is when the Parliament passes a Delimitation Act and the Centre forms a Delimitation Commission. On paper. Actually, India has done this four times — in 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002.
Having sheer numbers as the deciding factor meant states had no incentive to enforce population control. More people meant more seats. So, in 1976, the number of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies were frozen by a constitutional amendment (the 42nd) — it would be no more than 550. There was no reorganisation in 1981 and 1991. In 2001, another amendment, the 84th, extended the freeze from 2000 to the first Census after 2026 — which would mean the one in 2031.
The Delimitation Act 2002 lifted this freeze but there was a controversy over which Census figures were to be taken into account. That of 2001 was eventually to be used.
In 2019, The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act said the next delimitation in the territory would take the 2011 Census data into account: “Until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, it shall not be necessary to readjust the division of successor Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir into Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies and any reference to the ‘latest census figures’ in this Part shall be construed as a reference to the 2011 census figures.”
How is the panel explaining the breakdown?
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, through which the state became a Union Territory and lost its special status, had said a new delimitation exercise would raise the number of assembly seats from 107 to 114. This would include the 24 seats in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. So, the effective seat count now, at 90, is what the Act had laid out, the panel said in a statement.
Reserving some seats for Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste communities is also what the Act had promised. The state of Jammu and Kashmir did not reserve seats in the assembly when Section 370 was in place.
The commission also put down its recommendations to administrative and population changes since the last delimitation, which was in 1995 and based on the 1981 Census (11 seats had been added at the time, five in Jammu and four in Kashmir). The number of districts has gone up from 12 to 20, the number of tehsils from 52 to 207 and population density ranges from “29 persons per sq km in Kishtwar to 3,436 persons per sq km in Srinagar”. The panel said it tried to stick to the provisions of the Delimitation Act and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 to make the constituencies “geographically compact areas”.
All this considered, the panel divided all 20 districts into three categories — A, with difficult hilly terrain, B, with hill and flat areas, and C, with flat areas. It took the average population for each constituency and then, with a margin of 10%, recommended allocation of each constituency to a district.
Jammu & Kashmir, history: 1989-