Some time back, I had written an article about the problems of delimitation which many consider a panacea for all ills plaguing J&K. I had then suggested a better way out: the trifurcation of the state into three parts—Jammu, Ladakh & Kashmir. I had also suggested how trifurcation could be a far quicker and simpler process than delimitation.
Imagine my surprise and delight, when on 5 August 2019, my wish came true. Almost. Article 35A was overwritten and Article 370 totally rendered useless. And, J&K was re-organised into two Union Territories; one of Ladakh without state assembly and another of Jammu and Kashmir with a state assembly.
Why UT? Because this allows the central government to micromanage things in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir directly. Till things improve. And control the bureaucracy and the police like they do in Delhi.
Remember, without the police or the IAS directly under the boots of the Abdullahs or the Muftis, their capacity to make money or create mischief will be severely limited. And, if any officer still misbehaves, he can always be sent to the kalapani, I mean, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands which is another UT.
RIP Jammu and Kashmir cadre then!
Ladakh, or at least Leh, is dancing with joy as this is what they had been demanding for so long.
Kashmiris will never be happy regardless of what you do or you don’t.
But what about the Jammu wallas? Why are they being forced to walk with the Kashmir albatross still around their necks? When is their demand for separate statehood going to be realised?
To me, it looks like that the Government is keeping J&K together for the time being because they wish to give delimitation a fair chance to succeed. So, 114 seats are allotted to the state assembly of J&K including 24 seats for POK. That leaves 90 seats, which if allotted in favour of Jammu and Kashmir regions in the ratio of 50:40 based on the 2011 Census, may work in the favour of a Jammu-dominated state government headed by a Jammu CM.
And if that experiment fails, you can always make Jammu into another state, and let Kashmir continue as a UT till they come to their senses.
What should then be the correct order of doing things?
In my humble opinion, these should be:
- Extend every Central Act to the UTs of J&K and Ladakh that is extended to all other states by deleting the lines that mention its inapplicability to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Eliminate all references to “state subject” from every rule, regulation, and provision that will now operate in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh.
- Re-possess every inch of government land that has illegally or unjustifiably been occupied by the Abdullahs, Muftis, or any such family under the notorious “Roshni” or any such Act. This will immediately free up land parcels that can then be readied for investors whenever they decide to come to J&K.
- Establish safe enclaves throughout Kashmir with world-class infrastructure for resettling Kashmiri Pandits (and Jammu Dogras, West Pakistan refugees, and other brave Indians who wish to settle there). To start with, these should cover the whole of the LOC, up to may be 20 kilometres inside Kashmir, so that infiltration from Pakistan too is nipped in the bud right at the LOC. The facilities in these enclaves should be of such a standard that the left-out areas of Kashmir clamour to get themselves included in such enclaves. In due course, these enclaves should enlarge to encompass the whole of Kashmir Valley. The villages inside these enclaves may be allowed to remain where they are after being thoroughly sanitised and de-radicalised.
- Crack down on all illegal mosques and madrasas and de-radicalise their curricula. There are excellent deradicalization models working in Maharashtra and other states that J&K could do well to learn from.
- Invite scholars and investors to start centres and museums that preserve and highlight the Kashmiri pre-Islamic heritage of Shaivism and Buddhism.
- Make a ropeway on the Baltal route to the holy cave of Shri Amarnathji so that year-round traffic of tourists/pilgrims is made possible, as it happens in Vaishno Devi or Gulmarg.
- Invite investors who make use of Kashmir’s inherent strengths in tourism, horticulture, floriculture, and handicrafts to make world-class companies.
- Use Mr. Modi’s excellent rapport with the Chinese to open the Mansarovar route through Leh. Currently pilgrims wishing to go to Kailash-Mansarovar have to cross the Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand after trekking over a treacherous terrain for almost a month. This restricts the yatra to only the young and the physically fit. Compared to that, there is no trek at all if you go to Kailash-Mansarovar from Leh. So, a pilgrim can take a flight from Delhi and reach Leh in an hour. Then acclimatise for two days enjoying the sights and sounds and cuisine of Leh. And then take a vehicle, cross Demchok in Nyoma area and reach Kailash-Mansarovar in just two days. And technically, they can go on this route all-around the year, because there are no avalanches on the way. There is no snow either as it is all a cold, arid desert.
So far so good. But what happens now to the law and order situation in Kashmir?
Kashmiri separatists and leaders like Mehbooba Mufti won’t know what to do except mouth ad nauseam their broken records of Azaadi and Pakistan se Rishta kya? They have already threatened rivers of blood flowing on the streets of Kashmir. Or something like that.
Should we be scared of the possibility of such large-scale violence in Kashmir? To this, listen to what our fictional PM had to say to the J&K Governor in my book “Kashmir Is Free”.
“Kashmiris will be violent Monaliji … that’s a given, whether or not we do anything. But as a responsible government, we can’t keep the people of Jammu and Ladakh a hostage of the so-called Kashmiri sentiments, anymore.”
I wish Narendra Modi listens to this fictional PM Chiman Bhai Patel and seize this moment with both his hands.
And doesn’t let go till this festering sore is eliminated from the political landscape of India.