Rebellion without a cause?

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by anoop_mig25, Aug 15, 2010.

  1. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 17, 2009
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    article is related to J&K written by Balraj Puri in indian express on 12/8/2010 original article at

    writer says what should be done instead of giving autonomy to the state of jammu and kashmir . the writer emphasis that local level government bodies should be strength . how various local government organisation are toothless tiger because of over-centralised system and need of hour is to de-centralise it

    Mods i don`t know where to put this article hence started as new thread so plz move it in right section hope following article would have great debate
    The situation in Kashmir is far from normal. Both the state and the Central governments still seem to be groping in the dark for the real causes and solution to the turmoil that started on June 11.
    There is also no evidence that separatist groups organised the agitation. Young people, with their faces covered, told the media that they were dis]illusioned with the current separatist leadership. It seems that mutual rivalries between groups, and the attitude of the Pakistan government that patronised one group after the other, has eroded their support. In these circumstances, offers from the Union government for talks with all leaders of Kashmir, including the separatists, will hardly help. Nor is the proposal to resume dialogue with Pakistan relevant at this juncture. This, essentially, is a revolt of teenagers that use stones as their weapon, and modern technology to mobilise support in the Valley and elicit sympathy from outside. The only model which seems to inspire them is that of the intifada in Palestine, and the Albanian teenagers in Kosovo, who also used stones as their main weapon of revolt. A new-found connectedness through sites like Facebook and Twitter, and their consequent awareness of movements elsewhere, facilitated the growth of this agitation.

    The first step to deal with the situation should be to establish contact with the young leaders and understand their frustration, as well as the minimum conditions to restore normalcy. An “agreement” with separatist leaders may not be acceptable to them.

    Simultaneously, the CRPF and the police should be trained in modern methods of crowd control, so as to disperse them with minimum casualties — as has been done by Israel in dealing with the intifada, and in Kosovo; or was done in Canada to disperse large demonstrations against the G-20 conference.

    An independent enquiry should be held after every incident. Why was no enquiry held immediately after Tufail Ahmad Mattoo was killed on June 11, though his autopsy confirmed that he was killed by a teargas shell? The government announced a commission of enquiry more than a month-and-a-half after the first death, by which time 19 more young people had died.

    Some expressions of “azadi”, the inevitable rallying slogan of every popular movement in Kashmir, should be allowed — at least, some demonstrations, as long as they are peaceful. Even Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the hardline leader, has advised the youth to do the same. And if they continue to use violence, they will lose what popular sympathy they have aroused in the Valley and outside.

    While long-term measures for enlarging autonomy for the state are worth considering — subject to the safeguards provided in the Nehru-Abdullah Agreement in 1952, and after consultations with regional leaders — some measures can immediately be introduced. For example, J&K is the only state of the country which does not have panchayati raj, and the act under which it will be introduced, actually winds up making panchayati raj institutions a means for further centralisation and regimentation of the system.

    Then there are a number of institutions in the rest of the country which protect citizens’ freedoms. Were the National Human Rights Commission’s jurisdiction extended to J&K, it would not abridge the state’s autonomy but would certainly guarantee more freedom to the people. At the very least, the state human rights commission, which its former chairperson described as a “toothless tiger”, should be brought to par with other states. The same is true of the state women’s commission, which does not have powers equivalent to its counterparts elsewhere. Similarly, while the state is beyond the jurisdiction of the national Right to Information Commission, which has radically enlarged people’s power in the rest of the country, its own RTI is yet to start operations. Another example is the state accountability commission — defunct for at least the last five years.

    The case for more autonomy for the state will be strengthened if the power it has already got is not used merely to empower the ruling party. The over-centralised system is a major source of discontent in every region, sub-region and ethnic community. In Jammu, popular discontent is expressed in anti-Kashmiri or ultra-nationalist sentiment, while in Kashmir it finds an anti-India outlet. Only a federal and decentralised system can reconcile the aspirations and interest of the state’s many communities.

    This can done by the state itself, with the Centre needed just for expert advice. It is only when people do not get “azadi”, interpreted as the freedom of expression and power to decide their affairs at various levels, within India that they seek it outside. Once these reforms are given a trial, then it will be much easier to work out a consensus on the withdrawal or reform of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, or reduce the size of the army presence — as also to work out a basis of dialogue with Pakistan.

    The writer is a J&K-based commentator and director, Institute of J&K Affairs

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