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  Age Debate: The gateway to peace

Age Debate: The gateway to peace

Published : Sep 1, 2016, 6:53 am IST
Updated : Sep 1, 2016, 6:53 am IST

It is imperative to talk to separatists and take everyone else on board.

Ali Muhammad Sagar
 Ali Muhammad Sagar

It is imperative to talk to separatists and take everyone else on board. The kind of situation that is unfolding now or was seen earlier in 2008 and 2010 demand that we bite the bullet and do it now.

The problem of Kashmir is political in nature and is deeply rooted in history. Every now and then, we see the situation turning from bad to worse. Our youth are falling prey to violence on a daily basis. Our economy is ruined.

Both India and Pakistan must give serious thought to how they, as well as the people of J&K, can live in peace and harmony. The National Conference (NC) has made it clear, not only now but also when Omar Abdullah was chief minister and earlier under Farooq Abdullah that Kashmir ought to be resolved through talks and that both New Delhi and Islamabad should take the people of Kashmir into confidence to find a peaceful and lasting settlement.

There should be no doubt about separatists being a party. What are we witnessing and experiencing on the ground In the Assembly, I drew chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s attention towards how people in thousands turn up at the funerals of slain militants. About 30,000 to 40,000 people attend the funeral of an otherwise unknown militant.

The number was much higher in the case of Burhan Wani. We can’t turn a blind eye to it. People are emotionally involved. It is a question of their sentiments, wishes and aspirations. We need to address it coolly.

Taking an ostrich-like approach, and refusing to accept the ground realities won’t help. The government must open its doors to the separatists and not shy away from sitting with them across the negotiating table. You may have your own stand on Kashmir, but that shouldn’t stop you from talking to those who differ with it.

L.K. Advani as deputy prime minister said in Parliament that the government is willing to talk to the local Kashmiri militants for they are “our own boys, our own flesh”. In fact, talks did take place between home ministry officials and five top senior commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen during the earlier NDA rule. What is stopping you from talking to separatists now

The issue has been discussed extensively in Parliament recently, and many members, including Karan Singh, said New Delhi has to “bite the bullet”.

Now who to talk to That isn’t difficult to decide. Our party’s stance is: the autonomy resolution passed by the Assembly 16 years ago paves the way for solution, but our leadership has also said that if there is a better option available, we won’t have any objections.

(As told to Yusuf Jameel)

Ali Muhammad Sagar is the general secretary of the National Conference, and a former minister

$Talk to those calling the shots


Allowing democratic secular space to promote and perpetuate a regressive fascist political order is the ultimate crime against democracy as well as secularism. In the name of political process this crime has been committed with impunity in Jammu and Kashmir. We have now a situation in Kashmir where religious fascism is expressing itself boldly and brazenly.

What is now being recognised as the radicalisation of the polity is actually continuity. We have seen the progression of an exclusivist religion-based identity movement into an unabashed fascism. In fact, special status, greater autonomy, self-rule, independences, secession to Pakistan or building up of an Islamic caliphate now clearly appear to be stages of an evolving totalitarian religion-based fascist order.

The root cause theories of erosion of autonomy, rigging or bad governance have been actually concoctions of the Indian political class. This class indulged in concoctions to avoid contesting the religion-based identity politics in J&K. They did it so because of a belief that in a Hindu majority country only Hindu communalism has to be fought. They thought all minority communalism is merely a reaction and will be cured automatically if Hindu communalism is contained and defeated.

Thy forgot that J&K was the only Muslim-majority state in a Hindu-majority country. Its functioning as a healthy secular polity was no less critical than the functioning of the rest of India as a secular polity. It ended up creating a permanent Muslim sphere of interest in J&K. Instead of delegitimising the two-nation theory for all time to come after Partition, they helped to create a special state on the territory of India which was premised on the same principle as the creation of Pakistan.

A de facto Muslim state on the territory of India was bound to move towards religious fascism just like Pakistan. The genocide of Bengalis in undivided Pakistan was the expression of fascism. The genocide of Hindus of Kashmir in J&K is similar. The present unrest is an expression of a totalitarian stranglehold on the social milieu and political establishment. The unrest is fundamentally regressive in content. It has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with the destruction of freedom.

The separatism in Kashmir now needs to be exposed with all its regressive content. The political class must realise that it is not the number of people supporting a movement that makes it sacrosanct but its ideological content that makes it progressive and revolutionary.

Separatism in Kashmir will not be cured by a dialogue but by clear ideological contestation. Fascism is fascism, and it doesn’t matter how many people support it.

Dr Ajay Chrungoo is chairman of Panun Kashmir

$Fascism only grows by dialogue