Whatever else one may say about the state of affairs in India, there is one thing for which Indian policy makers deserve credit. No matter who is in power, the policies of State have a consistency about them, unlike in neighbouring Pakistan.
Take the case of Kashmir which has been in the throes of an uprising for more than seven years. The brutal policy pursued by his predecessor, P V Narasimha Rao, has now been taken up by H D Deve Gowda with equal vigour. In fact, he made a point of visiting Srinagar, Kashmir, on July 6 to show that ‘normalcy’ was being restored.
Speaking in his tortuous English, Deve Gowda told reporters in Srinagar, ‘The situation in Kashmir has shown vey much improvement and people here are anxious to participate in the democratic process.’ Who was Deve Gowda referring to when he said the ‘people here?’ He could not have meant the oppressed people of Kashmir. They had closed their businesses at the call of the mujahideen who have battled the hundreds of thousands of Indian occupation forces for more than seven years. The strike call was in protest over the Indian prime minister’s visit who is viewed as head of an alien country.
Indian officials have said that elections will be held in the troubled State in Septembcr or November. After an all-party meeting convened by Deve Gowda on July 8 to discuss the Kashmir issue Indrajit Gupta, the Indian home minister said, ‘I can’t say the exact date. It will be sometime in September or October.’
The reaction to Deve Gowda’ s visit and statements have revealed what was afoot. Saifuddin Soz, a member of the pro-Indian National Conference in the Valley, said ‘For the first time in many years we are hearing the right signals from New Delhi.’ Successive Indian governments have attempted to resurrect the National Conference headed by Farooq Abdullah to do India’s political bidding in Kashmir. Abdullah, the last chief minister of the State, fled when the latest uprising began.
Abdullah is universally despised in the Valley where the people view him as a traitor. A measure of the hatred for Abdullah can be gauged from the fact that his father’s grave has a round the clock guard for fear that people might rip it open. Shaikh Abdullah was at one time revered as the ‘lion of Kashmir.’ The people found out that the man they lionised was no more than a mouse and an Indian agent to boot!
Delhi has been anxious to hold elections in the State to create the impression that the situation is becoming normal. The first step in this strategy was to discredit the Kashmiris who had taken the political initiative out of the hands of Indian agents in the Valley. This was not easy but India has largely succeeded in this, thanks to the shortsightedness, and indeed, complete insincerity of the rulers in Pakistan with the Kashmiris’ cause.
The Kashmiris have struggled under the most difficult circumstances. Unlike the Afghans, the Kashmiris have struggled with limited quantities of light weapons. Even then, they have held one of the largest armies in the world to a standstill. Their limited resources, however, have been successfully exploited by India.
Aware that in such circumstances, groups vie for supremacy on the strength of numbers, India infiltrated hundreds, if not thousands of its agents into their ranks. For a few years, these people remained dormant. Now they have come out into the open. Groups such as those headed by Koka Parray and others of his ilk have caused considerable confusion and damage to their cause.
Koka Parray and his Indian-supported thugs have robbed people and raped women. The trust that the fighters had enjoyed with the Kashmiri masses has been considerably undermined. People are no longer able to distinguish a genuine fighter from a thug.
Having created disarray in the ranks of the Kashmiri fighters, India has moved to the next stage of its strategy. Aware that the game can only be won on the political front, Delhi is busy propping up Farooq Abdullah and other Indian agents. Abdullah, too, has played his cards well. He has tried to make political capital out of his party not participating in the May elections which sent members to the Indian parliament in Delhi.
Abdullah, however, is India’s man. He has been in close consultation with Delhi, irrespective of who is in power there. The Deve Gowda visit, his all-parties meeting on Kashmir and the announcement about elections are all part of this cynical game. Indian agents have already started drum beating about the new plan. ‘This is a great step forward towards achieving solution in Kashmir. This could also spell a political win for Deve Gowda,’ said commentator Kuldip Nayar who also runs a ‘human rights’ organisation in the Kashmir valley!
Deve Gowda’s United Front coalition government has said it is keen to grant more autonomy to Kashmir in order to bring back peace. ‘This offer is very powerful and is the only practical way for achieving peace in the valley,’ said Soz of the National Conference. More than 50,000 people did not give their lives so that India could restore the status quo in Kashmir.
India is able to play its dirty game because of the incompetence of the Pakistani rulers, lack of vision on the part of some of the Kashmiri leaders and the hatred the west has towards Islam. The road ahead for the people of Kashmir is not easy but if they pin their hopes on the US or Britain as some of their lobbying gurus in Washington and London are doing, then they will face even more hardships.
There is no substitute for armed struggle to achieve liberation. No occupying force has ever given up power voluntarily. Elections, alliances and limited autonomies are offered to those who have neither the vision nor the will to fight.
Muslimedia - April 1996-August 1996