Is it just about land and fruit in Kashmir? (News Analysis)

August 17th, 2008 - 6:06 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine
By F. Ahmed
Srinagar, Aug 17 (IANS) As the situation seems to get out of control in the Kashmir Valley with thousands resurrecting the secessionist campaign, both the Amarnath shrine board land row and the problem of fruit transportation have been relegated to the backburner. “It is no longer the issue of land in the Jammu region or that of fruit transportation in the Valley,” Aijay Hussain, a local journalist, told IANS.

“The dangerous dimensions taken by the agitations in the Jammu region and the Valley plainly indicate the Jammuites want secession from the Valley and the Valley wants secession from the rest of the country,” said Hussain.

The ongoing massive protests here and the urge to cross the Line of Control (LOC) serve only to prove the moot point that Kashmir is back to the upsurge of the 1990s.

What the authorities here want to underplay as “sporadic incidents of violence” are in fact the indicators of a complete misreading of the situation that is not controlled by either the separatist leaders or the mainstream politicians.

“Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Syed Ali Geelani, two iconic leaders of the separatist movement in Kashmir, were taken out by crowds to lead the funeral procession of the slain Hurriyat leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz.

“The huge crowds defied both the restrictions imposed by the authorities and also the appeals by the separatist leaders to remain peaceful,” said a seasoned political observer who declined to be named because of the sensitive situation where any statement could be misread.

Kashmir hasn’t witnessed such mass frenzy and anger after early 1990s and the mistrust between Jammu and the Valley serves only to exacerbate an already volatile situation.

“They continued curfew in Jammu for days and only four people died there in firing by the security forces. In just two days more than 17 people have been killed here by the security forces and dozens injured with bullets who are now admitted in various hospitals. Do you call this even handed treatment?” asked Muzaffar Ahmad, a college teacher here.

The fact that the Jammu-Srinagar highway remained under blockade by the protesters for several days before the army was called out to secure it, helps inflammatory arguments put forth by Kashmiris.

“There is a bandh called by the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) in force outside the Valley today. What does this mean? I don’t think it would be easy for anybody to reinstill the previous confidence between the two regions of the state.

“Let us not indulge in self-deceit, Jammu wants to break from the Valley and the people here want to break from the rest of the country. If journalists do not give the real picture they would only be cheating themselves and those who read them,” Showkat Ahmad, 34, a trader in the Zaina Kadal old city area of summer capital Srinagar, told IANS.

Tempers right now are highly inflamed all over the Valley and instead of dousing the flames almost all mainstream politicians are trying to look for their pound of political flesh.

Mehbooba Mufti, the president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) whose ministers signed and approved the land transfer order to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), later withdrew from the coalition government seeking the revocation of an order the PDP had been a party to.

The PDP ironically chose to join the march to Muzaffarabad stating that it was their party that had first championed the cause of opening the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road as a trade route between the two parts of divided Kashmir.

The state’s largest political party, the National Conference (NC), also used doublespeak to keep its political constituencies intact, both in the Valley and the Jammu region.

NC patron and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah first said the land should be restored to the SASB and after noticing its fallout in the Valley, claimed he had been misquoted by the media.

The Congress party is totally out of sync with the ground situation even though its leader and former chief minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, is talking of working out a solution that would be acceptable to both the Valley and the Jammu region.

“Azad is speaking as if he never ruled the state to have been able to think and implement such a solution if he had one in mind,” said Bashir Ahmad, 51, a doctor here.

“Har Shak Pe Ullu Betha Hai/ Anjum-e-Gulistan Kya Hoga” (There is a howling owl on every branch, God knows what will happen to the Garden),” said Sankarshan Thakur, a senior journalist who has been keeping a close eye on the Kashmir situation since the beginning of the separatist campaign here.

When asked how things could be brought under control and who could be the players to do that, Naseer Ahmad, the bureau chief a TV channel said philosophically: “Jinhay Jirm-e-Ishq Pe Naaz Tha/Woh Gunehgar Chaley Gaye” (Those who sacrificed themselves for the ‘crime’ of sanity and love have since been frustrated).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in National |