Dr Sudershan Kumar
The Centre and State Governments’ initiative to promulgate an ordinance advocating death sentence for the rape of minor girls in the wake of outrage over Kathua incident is undoubtedly a welcome step. As per the Hindu mythology, people consider little girls as embodiments of goddess Durga and during holy festival of navratras, the people of Jammu region worship them as “Kanjaks”. The above step is an endeavor to combat the rising menace of rape in our country. In fact rape is a heinous crime against women is highly condemnable and certainly deserves strictest punishment including death sentence and in minor cases is more barbaric. Moreover imparting the colour of caste, creed and religion to this crime makes it more gruesome. The recent incident of Rassana village, where a minor girl of particular community was raped drugged and murdered came as a shocker to the whole nation. Even the Prime Minister and President denounced this horrifying crime in clear terms and assured the nation that perpetrators of this crime would be reprimanded and family of the victim would get justice. But what was more worse was that this unfortunate incident was envisaged as an issue between the communities and some vested interests drew mileage out of it and tried to give it a communal colour. The situation took an ugly turn to the extent that it brought Hindus and Muslims face to face. The need of the hour was getting justice to the little girl through a fair inquiry and trial. But ironically those who started demanding CBI probe for fair trial were dubbed as pro rapists whether these were common men, civil society, businessman, politicians or bar association people. The antisocial elements at the behest of their masters tried to create a wedge between the two communities, who have been living together in Jammu region since centuries and here, Hindu and Muslims are well known for their brotherhood, simplicity and their accommodative nature. They have been termed as Martial races, who at the time of need have given their blood to this nation by valiantly fighting wars against the adversaries.
In fact, the very base of Jammu city, which itself was built by Raja Jambu Lochan 14th century BCE, is on peaceful coexistence when he witnessed an extremely rare and unique scene of Lion and Goat drinking water together on the bank of a river. This view of quenching thirst by two distinct animal species together transgressed in him the feeling of existence of peace and tranquility in this place. This inspired him to build a city named Jambu, now as Jammu Tawi . Since then all communities Dogra Hindus, Dogra Muslims are living together in peaceful co-existence. Even the extreme provocations did not deter them. Jammu Region is basically dominated by Hindus whereas Muslims, Sikhs and the communities too are residing here. As per census report of 2011 there are nearly 67 percent to 69 percent Hindus and remaining are on muslims and other communities. It has around 10 districts with total population nearly 54 Lakhs. Even Chief Minister at times has appreciated the people of Jammu for holding the tenants of harmony, amity, and brotherhood despite extreme provocations at times.
Thus we need to introspect that what went wrong when and where that suddenly the two communities came face to face to an extent that a simple and genuine demand of CBI probe for fair trial and ensuring strict punishment to the perpetrators of crime was not taken up in a positive sense by others. Even the CM , who is holding the charge of Home department in J&K State also undermined the sentiments of Jammu, Samba and Kathua regions. Against the popular demand of transferring the case to CBI, the high profile case was referred to Crime Branch. This also gave a flip to communal tone. Further instructions were also passed not to evict the nomads (which includes Gujjar and Bakkarwals). They constitute approximately 10 to 11 percent of the total population of the state. Whereas Central Government has already passed a law on 18th December 2006 under which nomads have already been given certain rights in forest land throughout the country. On the contrary, the need of the hour was to check the land mafia or the influential people trying to grab the forest land and also those implicated in assisting the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis to settle in the outskirts of Jammu, Samba and Kathua with intention of changing the demography of peaceful Jammu region. These illegal settlements have overburdened the already crumbling available infrastructure in the region and have posed a threat to national security. From the whole incident, political pundits in the state and centre have also left no stone unturned to align themselves in persuing the old age policy of vote bank. Instead of understanding the gravity of the situation, they have started milking out of it without even bothering for the changing narratives in Jammu region and Kashmir valley which are geographically, culturally and climatically different.
Therefore the need of the hour is to introspect and find out the ways and means to address the daunting challenges faced by disillusioned youth in two different parts of Jammu & Kashmir. In Jammu region thousands of young boys are passing out every year from schools, colleges, universities with high aspirations but in the absence of any clear cut policy they do not get jobs and move out to various places. Even existing avenues of employments are denied through the nexus of officials, experts and consultants in public service commission. This has further perpetuated frustration and grievance among the local youths. Besides lack of efforts towards generation of employment, allotment of funds, establishment of infrastructure in health education, agriculture, tourism and road construction has further compounded the problem by manifold. Whereas in Kashmir valley because of insurgency the youth are up with arms against the state. The root cause of this is considered as radicalization through Pakistani propaganda on the behest of Pak army and its spy agency- Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). The Ahle-Hadith, a salfi movement dates back to the year 1897, when Anwar Shah Shopian, a native of shopian district constructed first mosque in Srinagar. This Alhe-Hadith movement though imported from undivided Punjab had witnessed12 decades of turbulence starting from Dogra kings, through Kashmir movement, partition genesis, three wars etc. But in spite of that Kashmiriat, Jamhooriat and Insaniyat remained intact in Kashmir valley. But it was only in 1987 especially after State assembly election that the vacuum was created which was filled by our rogue neighbour in the form of armed insurgency and Pak was successful in luring Kashmiri youth to take up arms against the state. This destroyed the secular fabric of valley and consequently nearly 2.5 lakhs Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave their homeland and they were settled in around Jammu in refugee camps and in other parts of the country. The foot prints of Jammat Islami were also visible in the form splendid structure of mosques which came to existence in valley with their numbers swelling to 3500. But more concerning and alarming is the waiving of ISIS flags and advocation of shairat and Islamic laws. If ISIS is able to lay its foot prints in the valley it would not only be disastrous to Kashmir valley but will have its impact on whole country. Therefore it is high time that those who are at helm of affairs must take the things very seriously and evolve strategy to combat this in the beginning itself.
The author is of the view that the following steps are absolutely essential to overcome the changing narratives both in Kashmir valley and in Jammu region to fulfill the aspiration of the people especially the younger lot.
Firstly, the Government must form a task force for all the three regions to look for issues and their possible means.
Secondly, Government of India in consultation with political parties at Centre and state should draw a red line what extent it can meet the aspirations of people within frame work of Indian constitution.
Thirdly, efforts must be made to reach out to local youths for shunning violence and for joining mainstream. The services of clerics, within the state and other parts of country can be utilized. Chief Minister has already taken the initiative by urging Ulmas not to teach children about Jihad. Her efforts may not pay rich dividends thus the need of the hour is a collective and collaborative approach by all who matter in Kashmir viz leaders of all political parties, civil society, bar assocation, traders accademicians and parents etc.. Parallel efforts must be made to generate avenues of employment for them and also address their basic issues. Fourthly and the most importantly, the Government of India must not shy away in talking to Pakistan, especially when its army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is openly advocating dialogue with India and peaceful resolution of all out standing issues.It is an open secret that Pakistan’s doctrine of waging a proxy war has failed.It has not only isolated Pakistan at international arena but also brought their multi ethnic society on the brink of civil war. Therefore having two pronged strategy is becoming imperative to establish complete domination along the LoC and also open channels for comprehensive dialogue. Because problems and issues will only be resolved through dialogue.
The author is former Director General & Special Secretary DRDO MOD (GOI))
Dr Sudershan Kumar