Sunday, September 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


A framework for resolving Jammu & Kashmir crisis

From confrontation to confederation
ECONCILIATION and peace process with regard to Jammu and Kashmir must address three critical concerns and do this concurrently, not sequentially. First, India must undertake an internal dialogue and healing process.

Politics of separatism
Syed Nooruzzaman
HE Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections have sharpened the division among the state’s political players into two opposite camps. One is enthusiastically participating in the democratic exercise and the other is engaged in keeping the maximum number of voters away from it.




Harihar Swarup
Dhanraj restores the glory of Indian hockey
HEN India and Pakistan face each other in hockey field, it is do or die for both teams. They might prefer to lose in a semi- final or a final but would not like to be trounced by each other for they consider such a defeat as personal humiliation.


Political compensation for being scapegoat?
T is a tale which would mystify even the best of investigators. From being asked to leave the Indian Air Force to joining the Congress, Air Marshal M S Sekhon has possibly created a best seller where the moral of the story apparently is... when you can’t beat them, join them.

  • Saffron power

  • Thick-skinned lot

  • Brigadier’s feat

  • Waiting for Koirala


Humra Quraishi
Where illiteracy is a thing of the past
RITING this column whilst packing my bags for Srinagar — to see how the Srinagar man is reacting to these elections. And just before packing my bags I had visited the Mathura Road branch of the Delhi Public School which runs an additional afternoon shift for the children living in the outlining slum settlements.

  • Dowry problem

Modi’s remarks no slip of the tongue
Abu Abraham
ESPICABLE’ is too mild a word for the Chief Election Commissioner to have used to describe Narendra Modi’s remarks on him. But then, even with a dictionary in front of me, I find it hard to choose a word that will at the same time convey my anger and contempt for a man whose fascist outbursts and actions have shamed the whole nation.


A framework for resolving Jammu & Kashmir crisis
From confrontation to confederation

RECONCILIATION and peace process with regard to Jammu and Kashmir must address three critical concerns and do this concurrently, not sequentially. First, India must undertake an internal dialogue and healing process. Key elements in this package will be an accord on autonomy for J&K, an amnesty for those not charged with heinous crimes, good governance, the safe return of the Pandits, and effective implementation of a meaningful development and employment programme. Autonomy, or devolution as the BJP would prefer, is central. Nomenclature does not matter, substance does.

The Kashmiri view has always been that after long subjugation they must shake off alien rule, which in the last phase meant Dogra supremacy. “Quit Kashmir” for Kashmiris was what “Quit India” symbolised on a larger canvas. For the National Conference therefore, it was essential that freedom precede accession. Sheikh Abdullah, the State’s foremost leader, rebuffed Jinnah’s overtures. But accession to India was involuntarily forced by the Pakistan-sponsored tribal invasion.

Thirteen years of civil strife and cross-border proxy war has taken countless lives and brought misery, fear and uncertainty in its train. However, the Indian state cannot be defeated and will not walk away. On the other hand, fatigue and disenchantment with Pakistan have been reinforced by international recognition, especially after Kargil, that the UN Resolutions are dead and practical solutions that exclude secession or independence merit support. India likewise knows that pacification is not peace and that it has to find a political solution.

The people of J&K must be enabled to secure self-determination or azadi within India. That space must be created. Autonomy and the abrogation of Article 370 are not polar opposites. Integration with India is governed by Article 1 and Schedule 1, which defines the Indian Union, as well as by corresponding sections of the J&K constitution. Article 370 is merely a mechanism for regulating Centre-State relations with regard to J&K. Trifurcation, as advocated by sections of the BJP and the RSS, cannot be a counter to autonomy. It comes dangerously close to a latter-day endorsement of the two-nation theory.

Secondly, there is need to negotiate regional autonomy for the three main constituent units of J&K. It is necessary to end the sense of economic and political discrimination that Jammu and Ladakh feel in relation to the Valley. Further particularities within these three regions had led the J&K Regional Autonomy Committee to suggest the creation of eight new regions in the State. This may not be acceptable. The alternative (suggested by the Committee itself) would be district autonomy.

Thirdly, there must be genuine talks with Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir question. However, to the extent that India is able to secure an internal settlement, Pakistan will lose its leverage in J&K.

Issues in contention

The major issues in contention for Kashmiris principally relate to the Emergency provisions, the role and powers of the Governor, the Central services, the jurisdiction of the Election Commission, Supreme Court and CAG, and restoration to the State of all Concurrent powers. The State is financially dependent on the Centre and would obviously not wish to lose its support in matters of investment and tourism. Emotional and psychological factors lie behind the demands for repatriation of powers to the State. Once a dialogue gets under way, not all of these are likely to be pressed. The extent of autonomy is ultimately a matter of trust. Nothing will be lost if J&K comes to enjoy greater autonomy within the Union.

Some may ask why J&K should be treated differently from any other state. The fact is that it is different. Article 370, the existence of a state constitution, Pakistani occupation of a third of the State, the UN factor and the ongoing insurgency make J&K a special case. In 1984, the Supreme Court in Khazan Chand vs J&K observed that the State “holds a special position in the constitutional set up of our country”. Moreover, the Constitution celebrates India’s diversity. Articles 371 and 371-A to I contain special provisions for Maharashtra and Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal and Goa. Article 290A has special provisions pertaining to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Fifth and Sixth Schedules prescribe a special dispensation for tribal areas. Similarly, the Constitution provides for reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Sikkim has a category of “state subjects” and minorities enjoy certain protection. Himachal Pradesh, like J&K, regulates purchase of land by outsiders. None of this has caused India to fall apart. On the contrary, respect for diversity and accommodation is what holds India together.

Regional autonomy

Autonomy for J&K must prudently be accompanied by devolution of regional autonomy to its regions so that traditional rivalries stemming from divergent socio-cultural and geo-political interests are harmonised. The Glancy Commission (1931), the Gajendragadkar Commission (1967) and the Sikri Commission (1980) were set up to look into regional disparities. The problem persists. It has taken the form of agitation in certain quarters in Jammu for separate statehood or abrogation of Article 370, and a demand for Union Territory status in Ladakh. The Darbar (government) moves to Srinagar in summer and to Jammu during winter.

A Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council was legislated in 1985. A Leh Autonomous HDC was soon established but Kargil declined to follow suit. New sub-regional identities have come to the fore and various demands have been made by and partly conceded to Gujjars, Paharis and Pandits and Ladakhis for special protection and preference in terms of language, development and grant of tribal status.

One way of balancing these diverse regional interests would be to structure different levels of integration and devolution within the ambit of the Constitution. An upgraded and democratically empowered panchayati raj regime could take care of all sub-regional identities and interests. It should be possible thereafter to provide that contiguous districts may come together if they so desire for certain approved purposes of regional development. The powers devolved to the regions could be calibrated to be more “integrative” or “autonomous” in terms of Centre-State relations. Article 258 empowers the President to “entrust” to a state government, whether conditionally or unconditionally, functions in relation to any matter to which the executive power of the Union extends, the additional costs involved being defrayed by the Union. Conversely, under Article 258A, the Governor of a state may, with the Centre’s consent, entrust to it conditionally or unconditionally functions in relation to any matter to which the exclusive power of the state extends. Such arrangements could be suitably entrenched and would provide flexibility in fine tuning Centre-state and intra-state-Centre relationships in order to meet the exigencies of varying circumstances.

The Sarkaria Commission saw in Articles 258 and 258A a mechanism that could be sensitively used to enhance cooperative federalism. Creative use of these Articles could also be made to deconstruct and reconstruct Centre-State and intra-state relations in J&K. The Northeast has been a unique political laboratory in experimenting with many gradations of regional autonomy in respect of different areas and communities. This has been done on a territorial and a non-territorial basis. The Karbi-Anglong model of autonomous councils in Assam is the most advanced in India. The entrustment principle, being operational, has lessons for J&K.

Identity problem

Pakistan has an identity problem because the Muslim League’s needlessly narrow self-definition of the new state was posited on being “the Muslim other” to what it conceived of as “Hindu India”. Its governing elite and other Mohajir migrated to Karachi leaving behind almost as many Muslims in India as there were in West Pakistan. They simultaneously distanced themselves from “Indian” history, heritage and culture, with little other than religion to take their place. Hence the claim to J&K as a contiguous princely domain with a Muslim majority and its description as Pakistan’s “jugular vein” and “lifeline” whose reclamation remains the “unfinished business of Partition”. Kashmir was made the core and symbol of nationhood as the country found itself increasingly unable to fashion a constitution and a coherent national polity. Many found a patriotic rallying cry and cementing bond in Kashmir, not least the Army, which was soon on its way to becoming an autonomous and, now, the dominant power in the country.

Pakistan’s efforts to annex J&K from 1947 onwards through overt and covert operations have been firmly rebuffed. Though Indian political mismanagement provided it openings that it was quick to exploit at various times, it has overplayed its hand. It assiduously developed a nuclear weapons capability to offset India’s superiority in conventional arms and, by its own admission, thrice resorted to nuclear blackmail of this country well before South Asia went overtly nuclear in 1998. Kargil and the new wave of jehadi attacks were postulated on the basis of bleeding India and then crying nuclear wolf on the dangers of escalation if India retaliated. The September 11 Al-Qaeda attack on the USA and the exposure of the ISI’s close links with the Taliban created a new international awareness of Pakistan’s complicity in terror and nuclear brinkmanship. Yet it remains a frontline state and ally for the USA in America’s continuing engagement with the Al-Qaeda.

Window of opportunity

These developments have created a window of opportunity for India in J&K. There is growing disenchantment with Pakistan’s self-serving violence through foreign mercenaries at the cost of innocent Kashmiri lives and a yearning for peace. India has to dialogue and settle with its own people in J&K on autonomy, good governance and doing what it takes to build trust and respect in place of alienation. This process can run parallel with a dialogue with Musharraf, particularly after the forthcoming elections in J&K and Pakistan. The fact that some members of the late Abdul Ghani Lone’s Peoples Conference are contesting the J&K poll signifies new stirrings. Pakistan is being challenged.

In Pakistan itself, the amendments to the Constitution announced by Musharraf ensures the military a formal, even dominant, place in governance through the national security council and enhanced presidential powers. Nevertheless, the election — howsoever flawed — of a civilian government with a prime minister at its head will mark the incipient restoration of civil authority within some kind of democratic framework, howsoever restrictive it may be at the outset. Musharraf too is riding a tiger and seeks legitimacy. It would be in India’s interest to support liberal democratic elements in Pakistan and provide the General with an exit. Dialogue could serve both purposes.

Musharraf has said that he is prepared to be flexible and look at unconventional solutions. Any settlement must give Pakistan something without disabling India while providing comfort to the Kashmiri people at the same time. The term “Kashmiri people” must obviously mean all the people of J&K on both sides of the LoC and not merely some of them. The basic agenda was agreed upon in Lahore and talks should proceed without preconditions. At stake is not the fact of a “dispute” over J&K but the nature of the dispute. Perceptions vary. There would be little purpose in rehearsing history. A clear recognition of ground realities would be more to the point.

The first and foremost reality is that war and violence will solve nothing. India must talk to Pakistan not because virtue and logic are on its side but because it is there. Our own follies have ensured Pakistan a larger presence in J&K than would have been the case otherwise. It simply cannot be wished away. Likewise, Pakistan must realise that it is approaching end game in Kashmir and needs to move away from the brink to save itself. World opinion has changed and will not permit alteration of the LoC by force or nuclear brinkmanship. A plebis-cite has long ceased to be a viable option. Neither India nor the world is prepared to countenance another partition in South Asia along real or imagined religious fault lines.

Towards confederation?

A bold and generous Indian offer of further autonomy to and regional autonomy within J&K, together with a package of political and economic reforms as outlined, would assuredly capture the imagination of the people. It would rob Pakistan of its dwindling leverage and, indeed, build pressure on it to match this in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) and the Northern Areas (NA). Self-determination and azadi for all of the people of J&K, Pandits included, can and must be found within the framework of India and Pakistan respectively. It is not going to happen outside these established sovereignties. History is not easily unscrambled, especially when it has been written in blood.

A critical element of an unfolding settlement would be the conversion of the LoC into an international border. This should be a soft, porous border that admits of relatively easy passage of people and commerce and other interactions between the two sides. Few seem to have understood the significance of one of the pre-Agra confidence building measures announced by India, namely, an expression of willingness to open the traditional Jammu-Sialkot, Uri-Muzaffarabad and possibly even the Kargil-Skardu routes for cross-border traffic. Simple travel documents and baggage and currency regulations could be devised and progressively developed. Family visits, tourism, pilgrimage, trade, investment, joint ventures and institutions, and a variety of cultural and people to people exchanges can be envisaged.

Oversight of such protocols would require the establishment of appropriate mechanisms and related infrastructure.Agreement would be necessary for border management, crime prevention, trade and transport facilitation and communication links. There would be common environmental, health and other concerns calling for coordinated action. The Indus Treaty was drawn up essentially as a water sharing arrangement. It did not devote much attention to optimal development of the potential of the Indus system in terms of water storage and energy. This could be the basis for negotiating an Indus-II for the collaborative development of the basin to mutual benefit. Such a programme is likely to attract international investments to make J&K the playground of Asia.

All these developments would incrementally create a cross-border architecture of institutions that could gradually mesh to form overarching structures and fora. Mutual adjustments along the LoC would serve to rationalise the border in the interests of administrative convenience and on ecological and security considerations. A demilitarised border could be the first step towards designating zones of peace and, in time, agreement on joint defence.

The Siachen dispute can quite easily be settled by reaffirmation of the extension of the LoC from NJ 9842 due north to wherever it meets the international boundary followed by mutual troop withdrawals. The entire glaciated region from the Karakoram Pass to K2 and even further west, and even the Skaksgam Valley and part of Aksaichin (if the Chinese so agree), could be declared a World Heritage Karakoram Glacier and Nature Park with UNEP and IUCN support.

The Indo-Pakistan dialogue has to go beyond J&K. Nuclear risk reduction and a nuclear restraint regime must rank high on the agenda. There is every reason for cooperation in building an Iran-Pakistan-India and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. Afghanistan and Iran, like Myanmar, could in due course become members of a revivified SAARC.

What this in effect means is that J&K could in stages be demilitarised and transformed from a zone of conflict into a zone of peace. Together with AJK, it could acquire the attributes and symbols of some kind of sub-regional condominium or confederation, without derogating from Indian and Pakistan sovereignty over these respective territories. Far from dividing them, Kashmir could become the fulcrum of a new Indo-Pakistan relationship. Pakistan would gain legal title to AJK and NA and each side would come to have a shared stake in the security and welfare of the other half now closed to it. The people of J&K would be prime beneficiaries, enjoying the best of all worlds. The critic may deride what may be seen as wishful thinking. Yet, Nehru in 1964 and L.K.Advani more recently have both spoken of confederation as a possible solution. It would be open to Bangladesh to walk the same road.

An Indian Prime Minister, referring to the future of J&K, said some years ago that “short of independence, the sky is the limit”. On the other hand, once the ghosts of Partition are laid to rest, Pakistan will rediscover itself and be able to reclaim its heritage without fear of diluting its distinctive identity. An Indo-Pakistan rapprochement would make SAARC a dynamic engine of regional cooperation and growth in South Asia. The SAARC Vision envisaged SAFTA leading on to a South Asian Community by 2020. This is no idle dream.

Whichever way it happens, there has to be an end to confrontation. Complex questions are sometimes best resolved by placing them in a wider context of time and space. So if we envision an ideal future in and for South Asia, we can then work backwards to determine what should or can be done, when and how in order to reach the chosen destination.

The Instrument of Accession

  • The Instrument of Accession was a standard document applicable to all the erstwhile princely states. Its signature by the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir on October 26, 1947 transferred responsibility for defence, foreign affairs and communications to the Union. Anything beyond this required the concurrence of the State government.
  • The Instrument of Accession was constitutionally effectuated by the 1950 Presidential Order. This made 37 entries of List I applicable to J&K but excluded the State and Concurrent Lists, leaving all residuary powers with the State.
  • The J&K Constituent Assembly was elected in 1951 and went on to adopt certain basic objectives which were incorporated in the Delhi Agreement signed on July 24, 1952. This stipulated that while all J&K residents were Indian citizens, state subjects would enjoy special rights and privileges within J&K. The State would have its own flag alongside the national flag.
  • The Sheikh was dismissed on August 8 but the Delhi Agreement was ratified by Parliament and the State Assembly before the end of the month. “Going back to 1953” therefore implies accepting everything up to this point. This goes beyond the bare Instrument of Accession; Dr Farooq Abdullah has said that the National Conference for one is prepared to renegotiate other issues.


Potted history

  • Sheikh Abdullah’s restoration in 1975, the Indira-Sheikh Agreement and the fair and free polls in 1977and 1983, constituted a new beginning. However, Farooq Abdullah’s ouster in 1984 and the rigging of the 1987 polls betrayed the hopes of a new generation.
  • Anger and disgust gave birth to a revolutionary upsurge inspi-red by the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of communism, and liberation movements elsewhere. Pakistan seized the opportunity to step up cross-border terrorism through a proxy war.
  • The Afghanistan eruption in 1980 caused Pakistan again to became a frontline state. The Taliban grew under the tutelage of Pakistan, with Zia’s Islamisation ripening into jehad, making the country a focal point of international terrorism.
  • 1998 saw the covert nuclearisation of South Asia. Vajpayee’s Lahore initiative was derailed by Kargil. The world saw through Pak’s duplicity and insisted that it respect the LoC. Gen Musharraf captured power in a coup.
  • September 11, 2001 was a defining moment. Musharraf had little choice but to commit Pakistan to Operation Enduring Freedom and the global alliance against terrorism. He has since walked a tightrope with the promise of curbing the jehadis yet unable to abandon support for the so-called “freedom struggle” in Kashmir.
  • India took the path of coercive diplomacy after Parliament was attacked on December 13, 2001. This compelled the West to take more serious notice of its concerns for fear of an Indian military response leading to nuclear escalation.


POK & Northern Areas

  • The “Azad” Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), and the Northern Areas (NA) are in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), but are separate entities, each having a different relationship with Islamabad.
  • AJK, with its capital in Muzaffarabad, is ethnically predominantly Punjabi-Pathan. Pakistan “approved” its latest interim constitution in 1974 which prescribes that no person or political party shall propagate or participate in activities “prejudicial or detrimental to the ideology of the States’s accession to Pakistan”. Freedom of speech is subject to reasonable restrictions in the interests of “friendly relations with Pakistan”. The oath for official functionaries enjoins “loyalty to the country and the cause of accession of the state of J&K to Pakistan”. In the most recent AJK elections, many opposition candidates were disqualified as they objected to the oath.
  • Final authority vests in an AJK Council, located in Islamabad and chaired by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and the Northern Areas (KANA) is all powerful. The chief justice, chief election commissioner and auditor general are appointed on the advice of the Council.
  • The Northern Areas embrace 11 old established principalities and feudatories of the Maharaja including Gilgit, Hunza, Nagir, Yasin, Koh, Ghizer, Ishkoman and the Skardu region of western Baltistan. These were virtually annexed from AJK by Pakistan in 1947. Nor are they constitutionally part of Pakistan. They enjoy few civil or political rights and have no access to any higher judicial authority. This has aroused open discontent both in the NA and AJK and has been the subject of litigation through the 1990s.

Excerpts from the P.N.Haksar Memorial Lecture delivered at Chandigarh’s Centre for Rural Research and Industrial Development (CRRID) on September 5, 2002, by the author, who is Visiting Professor, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.


Politics of separatism
Syed Nooruzzaman

THE Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections have sharpened the division among the state’s political players into two opposite camps. One is enthusiastically participating in the democratic exercise and the other is engaged in keeping the maximum number of voters away from it. And the whole world is watching the goings-on with great curiosity. The reason is the Americans have declared that the polls can be considered as the first step towards a peace process in the subcontinent. The USA has also expressed its desire, though not so clearly, to work as a facilitator of future parleys between India and Pakistan to untie the Kashmir knot. That Pakistan does not agree with the super power on the first point and India on the second is a different matter.
Shabir Shah and Abdul Ghani Bhat
      Shabir Shah              Abdul Ghani Bhat

The two neighbours are fighting for their stated objectives. One party seems to be clear in what direction it wants to go and the other not so clear. But that is not the point here. The problem is that no one is sure about the intentions of the third factor, which came into play with the onset of militancy in the troubled border state. That factor relates to the plethora of leaders who claim to represent the true aspirations of the Kashmiris. They are the ones not participating in the democratic process set in motion in Jammu and Kashmir for electing the people’s representatives.

The All-Party Hurriyat Conference and Mr Shabir Shah’s Democratic Freedom Party are the two prominent anti-poll forces hogging the limelight these days. The Hurriyat came into being in May, 1993, when 23 groups decided to fight for their grievances from a common platform. But most of them had a very limited following at the individual level. Mr Shah’s party, earlier a component of the Hurriyat, too is in a position to influence the voters’ choice in just a few pockets in Anatnag, Pulwama, Rajouri, Poonch, Doda and Bhadarwa districts and parts of Srinagar city.

Those boycotting the polls, popularly known as separatists, were not a significant factor till Pakistan-inspired-and-sponsored militancy changed the political climate in the state. The separatists began to draw considerable attention with the intensification of the proxy war as well as their tactical formation of an alliance — the All-Party Hurriyat Conference. There has, however, been a big gap between what they want and what the people of Jammu and Kashmir aspire for, notwithstanding the Hurriyat claim to the contrary. The separatists are not participating in the coming elections on the plea, not based on sound logic, that the battle of the ballot cannot end the Kashmir crisis. It will be like another political exercise as held in the past. It has, in their opinion, nothing to do with the primary question of “the right of self-determination”. True, it is not meant to answer this question. But there is a catch. If the people in the state are really bothered about what the separatists want everybody believe, these leaders should not have felt shy of associating themselves with the process — the election —which will provide proof of the extent of popularity of a political player at the ground level. But the anti-poll forces have their own calculations. Or, may be, they are not sure of their standing in the eyes of the public.

The concessions promised to them could not help. Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah offered to resign to pave the way for President’s rule if that could help the Hurriyat to prove its claim in the people’s court. New Delhi has used various agencies, including the Ram Jethmalani-led Kashmir Committee, to convince the separatists to review their anti-poll stand but all in vain. Now when all is set for the battle of the ballot, one feels the separatists, particularly the Hurriyat leaders, have lost a golden chance to capture power as there is a strong anti-incumbency factor being felt throughout the state. Nobody could have prevented them from continuing their “movement” for a settlement of their grievances. People in general appear to be unhappy with the National Conference government for its failures on almost every front, though the Chief Minister will blame this on terrorist violence.

The anti-poll elements have been complaining that those who have attained the voting age during the past few years do not find their names on the voters’ list. They claim substantial support for their viewpoint from this section. If a report carried in a section of the Press is correct, there has been no proper revision of the electoral rolls in the troubled state since 1988. The official side may put the blame at the door of militancy, but this is no convincing explanation. The separatists do have a point. But their protest in this regard has not been as loud as required. Perhaps, this did not suit their gameplan. Today they find themselves on the side of Pakistan, but it has its own agenda for the entire Jammu and Kashmir, including the part under its own occupation.

Since the very beginning Islamabad has been carrying on a strong anti-election campaign. At one stage it even warned the Hurriyat leadership of dire consequences in case it decided to change its mind. Thus, one can presume the separatists had the fear of the terrorist gun too in their mind which influenced their present negative course of action. Pakistan does not want a smooth election as it will strengthen India’s case in any future dialogue. If the Hurriyat and other separatist forces too have acted on these lines, then one can conclude that they are serving Pakistan’s cause, wittingly or unwittingly.

But this is not what the majority of the Kashmiris stand for if one goes by a recent study of the people’s perception. Around 61 per cent of the Kashmiris wish to remain Indian citizens because of political and economic reasons against just 6 per cent giving preference for Pakistan. This is the outcome of a recent survey conducted by Facts Worldwide, an affiliate in India of Britain’s MORI, a highly respected organisation. Besides this, a book — ”Kashmir and Neighbours:Tale, Terror and Truce” — by a Turkish professor, Turkkaya Ataov, has brought out in detail that the majority of the Kashmiri Muslims have no love lost for the so-called “azadi movement”. The people are tired of bloodshed and long for improving their economic condition. This should be enough for the Hurriyat leaders and their likes to realise how far they are getting distanced from the common Kashmiris whom they claim to speak for.

The way the government in Islamabad looks at the Kashmir crisis under the changed circumstances also seems to be unfavourable to the Hurriyat. If Pakistan can dump the Taliban for safeguarding its own interests, it can treat the Hurriyat too in the same fashion. Going by a recent report in a Pakistani newspaper, perhaps, Islamabad is already toying with this idea. It is learnt that President Pervez Musharraf is busy reviewing his Kashmir policy, which may be unfolded during his US visit to attend the coming UN General Assembly session. In such a scenario, one is forced to conclude that the day is not very far when separatists may be rendered irrelevant. Do they ever think on these lines?


Dhanraj restores the glory of Indian hockey
Harihar Swarup

WHEN India and Pakistan face each other in hockey field, it is do or die for both teams. They might prefer to lose in a semi- final or a final but would not like to be trounced by each other for they consider such a defeat as personal humiliation. In no other sport event, including cricket, Indian and Pakistani players show such hostility as in the sphere of hockey. A hockey match also arouses unprecedented excitement in the people of the two countries and they are seen glued to their TV sets as if a war is being fought. A defeat in the field of hockey has same demoralising effect as losing a war.

It was a day of great excitement on Wednesday when Indian and Pakistani teams faced each other at Cologne. Viewers were thrilled as both the teams launched almost savage attack on each other but the man who mesmerised the audience with his magic stick play was Dhanraj Pillay. Doubtless, India owes its victory to Dhanraj at Cologne. Cutting across Pakistani defenses like a knife ploughs through butter, he helped India score three goals enabling his team to establish 3-2 lead over its arch rival; diehards call the talented young players of both sides as enemies.

First Dhanraj doged three Pakistani defenders in a row before setting up Prabjot Singh with a near empty goal. The second, a penalty corner converted by the Captain Dilip Tirkey, was the result of another piercing run by Pillay. The third was a superb one by Gaganjit Singh, but only after Dhanraj had zoomed passed two Pakistani defenders and pushed the ball to him ( Gaganjit ). So elated was Dhanraj by India’s victory that in an spontaneous reaction he virtually yelled: “It was a magical hockey today. This victory will always be very special for me”.

Some liken Dhanraj to the legendary Dhyan Chand, who had come to be known as hockey wizard. Dhanraj may not have grown as tall as Dhyan Chand (only time will tell that) but he has certainly qualified to be in the category of Balbir Singh and Mohammed Shahid. Dhanraj is 34 when most of the players in a fast game like hockey hang their boots much earlier but this wonder man from Kerala has, as if, the God given stamina. Most of the players in both Indian and Pakistani teams are a decade younger to him but in speed, agility and stamina, he is far superior. This is indeed a miracle. Dhanraj may too call it a day before long but his name will always be remembered in the annals of hockey and, in the time come, he may also be described as legendary.

Thirteen years back Dhanraj made his international debut in the 1989 Asia Cup in Delhi and since then he has won almost every honour the hockey has to offer. An Asian Games Gold medal as captain, the Arjuna award and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna have been his prized decorations. The only glory that has eluded him was an Olympic gold, though he has been to the quadrennial games twice — in 1992 (Barcelona) and 1996 (Atlanta). He has established a record having played in three Olympics , three world cups and three Asian Games. He captained the Indian team in 1998 world cup and crowned his career by leading the team to the Gold medal at Bangkok Asian Games besides playing for foreign clubs in Germany, Holland, Malaysia, France, UK and Bangladesh.

Decorated with Padma Shri award, Dhanraj has come to be known as world’s “most dreaded” forward. Born in Kirke, Pune, he started playing hockey at a very early age and adopted Mohammed Shahid as his role model and hero. Coming from a humble background, he has hundreds of hockey lovers as his fans who, he says, have been “a great source of encouragement to me”.

He has always taken his training initially very seriously and later struggled hard to raise the standard of Indian hockey and restore the pristine glory of the game. Happily, he has met with certain amount of success.


Political compensation for being scapegoat?

IT is a tale which would mystify even the best of investigators. From being asked to leave the Indian Air Force (IAF) to joining the Congress, Air Marshal M S Sekhon has possibly created a best seller where the moral of the story apparently is... when you can’t beat them, join them.

The recent news of Air Marshal Sekhon joining the Congress in Jalandhar in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh raised eyebrows specially in the Air Headquarters for the initial suspicion for leaking of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s letter to the Ministry of Defence in which he had recommended Sekhon’s case for being made the Chief of the Western Air Command.

Suspicion had been on the Congress more because the letters were leaked immediately after the party came to power in Punjab and then the process was also underway to defame the previous government. However, what has mystified most is the sudden turn around both by the Congress and the Air Marshal. The air force officer who was once picked up to be an apparent scapegoat to settle political scores is suddenly acceptable in the same game.

The presence of Captain Amarinder Singh at the joining ceremony is surprising specially as it was he who had firstly who demanded stringent action against the Air Marshal for bringing disrepute to the Armed Forces and then had also justified his near sacking in another statement. The Air Marshal himself also seems to have learnt the tricks of the trade faster than most. From pursuing Shiromani Akali Dal for furthering professional career to joining the Congress to further the political career, it would be considered a move apt for the chess board. But the question being asked here is that whether it is a case of “in Rome do as Romans do”, or some kind of political compensation for being picked as a scapegoat?

Saffron power

One was witness to saffron power of a different kind. It happened when the newly inducted Minister of State from Shiv Sena Anandrao Adsul went to take over his assignment in the Ministry of Finance in the North Block the day after he was sworn in at the adjoining Rashtrapati Bhavan. It was a case of how the VIPs and their subordinates break all security regulations to show their power. More important, it was also an appropriate case of how the police prefers to look the other way when it is the higher ups who break the law.

In violation of all traffic and security laws valid in that high security area of the Raisina Hill, the Shiv Sena supporters of Mr Adsul drove in a cavalcade at breakneck speed with huge party flags hanging out of the cars. But what the traffic policemen on duty and the security officials overlooked was the pilot motorcyclists. While the pillion riders carried the huge flags, the drivers drove at high speed without any helmets on. Is it that like the BJP, even the local police was intimidated by the aggressive Shiv Sena supporters?

Thick-skinned lot

Gujarat developments have thrown up several instances of how thick-skinned politicians can be. The most recent example came up this week when Arun Jaitley addressed a press briefing shortly after the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the Election Commission’s decision to hold the polls in Gujarat in November-December. For those who were expecting Jaitley with stooped shoulders and sunken eyes, a revelation was awaiting them. Obviously, Jaitley was prepared for his cross-examination by the media as he had been vociferously opposing the Election Commission’s order against holding early assembly polls in Gujarat. Jaitley had been strongly defending the NDA Government’s decision to seek the Supreme Court’s advise on the issue.

As one of the mediapersons wanted to know what will he now do after the Supreme Court’s interim verdict, the BJP’s Chief Spokesman said “What will I do? I will be away from you for 10 to 15 days as I will be arguing my party’s viewpoint in the court.”

Brigadier’s feat

It is not very often that an army officer throws a party at his own cost exclusively for scores of journalists and office colleagues. And when this indeed happens, one can be sure that the army officer has a solid reason for throwing such a party. Shruti Kant, the smiling PR face of the Indian Army, organised a modest cocktails-dinner to celebrate his elevation from Colonel to Brigadier. Kant’s feat is unprecedented as he has served in the Army’s PR set-up for decades since he was a Captain. Army Chief S. Padmanabhan needs to be complimented for recognising expertise in a crucial field like PR. Obviously, the Tehelka-rocked Army needs experts to handle the media.

Waiting for Koirala

Film actress Manisha Koirala who knocked the door of the National Commission for Women two days back to seek its favourable intervention and report breach of trust by the producer of the film `Ek Chhoti Si love Story’ did not turn up for the consultative meeting with non-government organisations and legal experts on Friday. The building housing the NCW and the office of the Indian Council for Child Welfare was abuzz with activity as star-struck employees skipped lunch and camped at the gate for nearly an hour to catch a glimpse of the Nepalese beauty.

They stopped scribes to find out if they had any clue about Manisha’s arrival. While some said that the actress was in Mumbai, the NCW Chairperson said that they had not heard from Manisha at all. Manisha’s petition before the Commission, the first by an Indian actress, has sparked off discussion among women non-governmental organisations and legal experts on the larger issue of indecent representation of women in the media.

Contributed by T.V. Lakshminarayan, Girja Shankar Kaura, S. Satyanarayanan, Tripti Nath and Rajeev Sharma.


Where illiteracy is a thing of the past
Humra Quraishi

WRITING this column whilst packing my bags for Srinagar — to see how the Srinagar man is reacting to these elections. And just before packing my bags I had visited the Mathura Road branch of the Delhi Public School which runs an additional afternoon shift for the children living in the outlining slum settlements. Called Shiksha Kendra, it is an excellent concept with far-reaching consequences at no extra cost.

The school manages to reach out to over 500 children who would have otherwise never dreamt of stepping into a public school. As I saw those children sitting and studying in the best possible infrastructure, I kept wondering that why hadn’t this idea hit any of our planner’s heads... “After the regular school hours the entire school infrastructure lies idle and what we have managed to do it is utilise this for these children. Those who can afford pay the transportation fees and a lowest possible fees otherwise the entire cost is borne by the school and donors...We reach out to the child coming from the underprivileged segment. This concept is catching up and many of our branches are running this additional shift for hundreds of children living in the settlements adjoining their schools...”says DPS Chairman Narendra Kumar.

If this concept picks up, no school infrastructure should be allowed to remain idle and illiteracy would be a thing of the past. Whilst on this and whilst the ‘Literacy Day’ passes by, let me add another bit of good news — Jammu and Kashmir, which has the lowest literacy rate in the country, is now getting equipped with a DPS branch Yes , Srinagar-based Vijay Dhar is setting up a branch in the Athwajan locality, overlooking the Zabarwan mountain range.

As he says that with the exception of the Army Public School this will be the first CBSE school in the Valley, I wonder why the government isn’t focusing on making the people literate. Maybe it wouldn’t suit them to have a literate population!

Dowry problem

I don’t know why the CPI’s women’s wings have decided to focus on dowry-related issues at this juncture when the very survival of the mankind is at stake. But Brinda Karat had her reasons chalked out. “The dowry problem has been spreading ...earlier certain communities were not getting affected by it but now you’ll find this menace all over, even in the Muslim community...we had our own survey conducted in different parts of the country and the findings have been alarming.”

Though Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dixit couldn’t make it for the release formalities of Le Meridien’s chef Davinder Kumar’s book ‘Kebabs, Chutneys, Breads (UBS), but the function went off rather well.

Khushwant Singh was the chief guest and he is one of those chief guests who doesn’t speak beyond two lines and leaves you to go beyond formalities...And though I ate at least a dozen kebabs but what I found more interesting is to know the biographies of each and what goes into the making of each kebab.


Modi’s remarks no slip of the tongue
Abu Abraham

‘DESPICABLE’ is too mild a word for the Chief Election Commissioner to have used to describe Narendra Modi’s remarks on him. But then, even with a dictionary in front of me, I find it hard to choose a word that will at the same time convey my anger and contempt for a man whose fascist outbursts and actions have shamed the whole nation.

The Gujarat Chief Minister’s words were no slip of the tongue nor were they spoken in a fit of passion. They were uttered as cold, calculated insults, and not once, but in a series of meetings in the rural districts of the State. At a Swabhiman rally at Bodela near Vadodra, this is what he said about ‘James Michael Lyngdoh’ (the full name deliberately used to reveal his religion): “Someone asked me, has Lyngdoh come from Italy? I said we would need to ask Rajiv Gandhi. Then someone asked, is he a relation of Sonia Gandhi? I said they sometimes met in church, so there must be ties between them.”

It is now left to Modi to keep the communal pot boiling while waiting for elections. The Gaurav yatra is another ploy towards the same end. The Gujarati Hindu pride must shine forth over the skeletons of the dead and the ruins of homes. After all, he has Prime Minister Vajpayee’s full backing for his performance as Chief Minister.

While the BJP president, Venkaiah Naidu has kept a discreet silence, Vajpayee reacted to his abominable behaviour only after a painful period of four days. In a kind of pious statement he said (without naming Narendra Modi) he was distressed by the unseemly controversy and the ‘undignified’ remarks made in ‘certain quarters’ about the Chief Election Commissioner. It must be recognised by one and all that the maturity of our democracy lies in all its institutions working within their constitutional limits (a clear hint to Lyngdoh), respecting each other’s domain and maintaining a proper balance.

And now Narendra Modi has promised to shut up since the ‘controversy has come to an end’ following the Prime Minister’s ‘guidelines’. But then who is to stop the rest of the Sangh Parivar from continuing with the ‘controversy’? The Viswa Hindu Parishad’s international president, Pravin Togadia, has said bluntly that this time the contest is not between the BJP and the Congress, but between Hindus and Muslims.

Narendra Modi’s attack on the Chief Election Commissioner has exposed his own vile personality. It has also emboldened the rest of the Sangh Parivar to continue with the same vicious communal propaganda.

To imagine that it is men like him who want to restore the lost glory of Hinduism fills me with horror. What hope is there for secularism anymore? It is the crudity and vulgarity of the Parivar outfits that is so appalling. Indeed, what hope is there for Hinduism itself? The poison of communalism has spread so widely and gone so deep into the psyche of our nation that those who believe in secularism and the normal decencies of our social and public life must urgently think of ways to fight this menace that is bound to wreck our nation if left unchecked.

For the BJP and the Sangh Parivar, Gujarat is the ground on which the hidden and the not-so-hidden agenda is to be tried out.

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