(By Abdul Majid Zargar) Aug 23: If the Muslim Junior Home Minster of a Muslim Majority State, otherwise supposed to be under a thick cover of security, says that he was chased by a fifteen thousand strong armed mob and had to take shelter in a Government Dak Bunglow to escape a bid on his life or ordinary citizens are raped, killed & burnt alive or dragged from Police Stations and murdered in broad daylight, there is something seriously wrong with the whole system.
We will have to ponder at this question in the context of recent communal clashes in Kishtwar. While the Central Govt. has admitted that Bajrang Dal, a blackshirt member of the fascist Sangh Parivar, instigated & organized the clashes, the question is – how come these tyrannous organizations have travelled so far in J&K to make inroads in as serene & tranquil a place as Kishtwar?
Probably a look at the case history of our patient State will answer some facets of the broader question. In 1947 when Abdullah supported an accession with India,the Praja Parishad and its RSS brigade wanted an Independent J&K under Maharaj’s dispensation. In fact, on August 15, 1947, pro-Maharaja organizations like Hindu Sabha, Praja Parishad and RSS hoisted Maharaja’s flags (state flags) in Jammu . They did not hoist Indian National Congress flags. And the banners in their areas of influence in Jammu read- “Sovereign Independent Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Baltistan under Maharaja Hari Singh”. In other words the parties supporting Maharaja, particularly the Hindu Sabha headed by Pandit Prem Nath Dogra & RSS were favoring independent Jammu and Kashmir under Dogra Dynastic rule and not an accession with India. Obviously these parties wanted J&K to continue as a Hindu State under a Dogra ruler than decide its own future in consonance with the principles of partition.
Another item on the agenda of these fascist organizations was to change the demographic character of Jammu Province which was achieved by them with military precision. Five lac Muslims in Jammu province were systematically annihilated by these evil forces fully armed by State under the direct supervision & control Of Maharaja Hari Singh and his State Forces aided & abetted by State’s top Executives like Prime Minster Mehr Chand Mahajan & Jammu Governor Chet Ram Chopra to convert it from a 61% Muslim Majority province to 38% Muslim Minority area. Hindu fanatics from neighboring areas like Madhopur & Gurdaspur belt joined this pogrom which even Mahtama Gandhi has acknowledged in his regular public discourses. And after achieving this nefarious objective, these wicked forces foisted a communal identity on Jammu making it a laboratory for experimentation of Hindutva policies which is continuing till date.
Though a part of the Muslim annihilation pogrom took place under the very nose of Sheikh Abdullah, during his tenure as chief Emergency administrator, he dithered in taking action against those responsible. While the reasons for his abdication of authority is a matter of separate debate, the inertia continued even after he became Prime Minster in March 1948, though comparable precedents in the form of State action against Nizam’s Razakars (Nizam’s private Militia) on similar grounds were available in abundance. If Abdullah wanted to buy peace with these forces, he was badly mistaken, as they soon organized themselves under Sham Prasad Mukerjee and started an agitation- which culminated in his overthrow & arrest. The culture of impunity, as we witness today, actually started from that point of time and is a direct outcome of the State’s inaction against those responsible for genocide of innocent Muslims.
When we look at the recent incidents at Kishtwar and the earlier one in Rajouri (When Tagodia instigated a riot) and also the communal flare-up in Jammu during Amarnath Land row in the light of these historical facts, we observe a continuing similarity in pattern. In the specific context of Kishtwar, firstly it is the State which, during Governor’s rule in 1995, armed communal fanatics under the name & style of Village defense Committees. They have been licensed to harass, kill & rape with impunity guaranteed. That criminal fanatics from neighboring areas join these armed goons was in evidence during all the above three incidents. Even economic boycott against Kashmir in 2008 was supervised by communal fanatics from Madhopur/Gurdaspur belt and among them was a sitting MLA from Punjab. Probably it goes to the credit of State Government that this time the borders at Lakhanpur were sealed to restrict their entry into State in hordes. But how far this was successful is another question. Thirdly and the most importantly is the lack of action against the culprits. During Amarnath land row we have witnessed States non-action against people who burnt properties of Muslims in Jammu, lynched Muslim policemen to death, harassed & injured scores of Kashmiri truck drivers (and even killed one) plying their vehicles on Jammu-Srinagar Highway. One of the members of the same evil brigade served a notice on Muslims to vacate Jammu but is still being treated as an honorable citizen of State. In Kishtwar a goon wearing the mask of secretary of a political party is on prowl to instigate riots and harass Muslims but is roaming free. The irony is that he is provided with State security funded by your & my tax money. There are countless other instances to prove State’s total non-action against these culprits- but suffice it to say that the culture of impunity for such elements continues-
So let the state, as a first step disband these so-called village defense committees and instill confidence among the people of all faiths in Kishtwar through normal policing. The next step should be to repeat the exercise in Pooch/Rajouri belt. Failing this it will be very difficult for J&K to survive as a composite State – and if that happens-it will also trigger balkanization of India itself-Let there be no doubt about it.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at firstname.lastname@example.org)
First published in GK.