Autonomy for J&K: Issues to ponder

APROPOS of H.K. Dua's article "Autonomy for Kashmir: It is better not to delay it further" (Dec 13), a number of questions arise in this context. What is meant by autonomy? Does it mean limited independence or decentralisation? What are the real aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir? Will autonomy quell the foreign inspired and sponsored militants?

Will Pakistan's military rulers accept autonomy as a solution to the Kashmir issue? Will the Union Government, after granting it leave the question of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) unresolved? Will it prove to be a step towards secession? Will the demand for autonomy and its acceptance by the Union Government prove that the people of Jammu and Kashmir were residing under conditions of subjugation? What message will it send to the world? Will certain other border states of the Indian Union also demand autonomy? Is the Indian Constitution more centralised in its spirit? Does not Article 370 already provide extra powers to the people of Jammu and Kashmir?



Let us start a debate in The Tribune on these and other related questions. There is need for a holistic study before a decision is taken on the nature and quantum of autonomy for Kashmir.

Mr Dua has mentioned the need to win over the alienated people of Jammu and Kashmir. This gives rise to another question: "Why do they feel alienated?" Is the presence of military or security forces in the state responsible for the same?



The crux of the problem, and its implicit solution, lies with the people of Kashmir who are directly affected. They should feel free to fly the Indian Tricolour with pride and sing the National Anthem. The Centre and the State can ensure this by winning their hearts through good governance and effective implementation of development programmes.

Having won their hearts, we have to cross two major road blocks: the Hurriyat leaders and other militant organisations active in the state; and Pakistan. Two options to clear the road blocks could be considered - the soft option and the hard option. In the first, be diplomatically goody goody and continue with talks. And in the second, the Hurriyats and those creating problems should be isolated.

Pakistan has to be told to gracefully accept the Line of Control as the international border and be friends. If not, ask them to lay off. If required, teach them a lesson once and for all. Yes, there is also a third option - maintain status quo and wait for the solution. The government is the best judge to decide the option based on its larger vision and ground realities.

I am afraid, once we accord autonomy, vested interests may demand total independence for Jammu and Kashmir. You give an inch and they may take a foot. Let's not forget Kargil.

ANUSHA SINGH, Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi


The Kashmir problem is the result of according special status to the state under Article 370 of the Constitution. The culpable failure to revoke the Article has been sending wrong signals to the mavericks that the Government of India has no political will to resolve the problem and that it would yield to pressure, may be in the name of secularism, UNO Resolution or some other pretext.

The problem is the creation of our politicians, who talk of "secularism" but appease anti-national elements. Kashmir can no longer be treated in isolation of other states. Article 370 must go. All other steps must be taken to bring about full commonality among various communities and states. The nation needs to hold a debate on the unitary form of government.

It is for everyone to see that the reduction of security forces in the state has caused escalation of violence in the valley. Autonomy will sound the death-knell of national unity.



Divisions amongst the military groups of Jammu and Kashmir, one-upmanship of political parties and, more important, encouragement and support of all kinds provided by Pakistan rulers to the militants are responsible for the continued imbroglio in Kashmir. Solution to the problem lies in tackling the basic causes responsible for the quagmire and not in yielding to the demands at gunpoint.

Mr Dua has aptly said: “The Centre has to talk to all sections of people…It is better to start talks with those who are willing to come to the negotiating table”. But the agenda for talks should be confined to a solution within the democratic system. Luring the militants to the negotiating table with the offer of discussion on the quantum of autonomy shall play havoc. It is better not to open the Pandora’s box of autonomy for Kashmir.

Dr B.R. SOOD, Jalandhar

Medicare for Rly pensioners

THE railway pensioners get poor medicare. On retirement, one can opt for the Retired Employees Liberalised Health Scheme by depositing one month pay last drawn. Under this scheme, pensioners can get indoor and outdoor treatment from railway hospitals or from other recognised hospitals on the Rly doctor's recommendation when such treatment is not available in railway hospitals.

While only 15 per cent of the retirees have opted for this scheme, others are given a monthly medical allowance of Rs 100. There is no reimbursement of medical expenses for retirees in case of hospitalisation.

The Punjab Government pays Rs 250 to its pensioners as also medical allowance for OPD and reimbursement in case of treatment of major diseases and hospitalisation. The railways need to emulate the Punjab pattern for its retirees as most do not get proper medicare.

SHER SINGH, Ludhiana


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