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www.epilogue.in Preamble Letters to the editor Hear & Hear Who Said What Blog Spot Frankly Speaking
Editor in Chief Zafar Choudhary Consulting Editor D. Suba Chandran Associate Editor Irm Amin Baig
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Volume 2, Issue 6, June 2008
Time For Trans LoC
Security Hot Summers Ahead Jaipur Blasts Nation Gujjar’s Stir Neighbours Pakistan Nepal Tribute Ashok Sodhi Guest Columns A Researcher’s View
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Time For Trans LoC Trade
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Epilogue Ø 2008 1× June
Immunization Schedule for Pregnant Women and Infants
For Pregnant Women Immediately after confirmation of Pregnancy After one month of TT - I Injection Tetanus I Injection Tetanus II or Booster
For infants from the age of one and a half months At the age of 1½ months (6 weeks) BCG one injection* DPT Ist Injection Hepatitis - B Ist Injection Oral Polio Ist Dose DPT 2nd injection Hepatitis - B 2nd injection Oral Polio Drops - 2nd Dose DPT 3rd injection Hepatitis - B 3rd injection Oral Polio Drops - 3rd Dose Measles one injection DPT injection - Booster Dose Oral Polio Drops - Booster Dose
At the age of 1½ months (10 weeks)
At the age of 3½ months (14 weeks)
At the age of 9 months (36 weeks) At the age of 16-24 months
In case Birth takes places in Govt. Medical Institution the BCG injection should be provided immediately after birth. In case any dose is missed or delayed still the remaining doses should be provided. For further details contact your nearest Govt. Medical Institution.
RAL HEALT H RU
SIO MIS N
Issued by : NRHM-RCH J&K State
2005 - 2012
P R E A M B L E
FROM THE EDITOR
Let’s Not Succumb
The month of May was unusually disturbing in Jammu and Kashmir. For a while it appeared as the bad old days of mindless violence, death, destruction and mayhem have returned. Borders began to sizzle with saboteurs of peace creeping in. Breaching ceasefire on the International Border and Line of Control, at least five well organized and tacitly backed infiltration bids were recorded successfully at various points along the line of divide. There were three fiercely fought gun battles evidently rupturing the temporary wave of peace. All these mechanics of violence were apparently aimed at derailing the sagging peace process (whatever is left of it) as the incidents, more or less, coincided with resumption of stalled composite dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad. Though this escalation in violence deserved more attention than anything else but we decided to go ahead with the contrary. Few months back we had decided to do our June cover focus on trans-Line of Control trade between two parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Such ideas –promoting trade, cultural relations etc –are born at the level of government, politics, media or civil society when people have the reason and opportunity to think beyond violence. When such thinking gains ground, the elements inimical to peace and stability in the region return with impunity to make there presence felt. The recent incidents of violence and infiltrations, actively backed by Pakistani Rangers and Army from other side of divide, can be seen as a well thought out attempt to sabotage the peace process. This is a reiteration from the militant groups that they are still there and they have the capacity to strike at will. As we have seen in nearly 20 years of separatist militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, the timing of such incidents is always so opportune to grab the larger media space and
subsequently the space in public mind. Conceding this space to the negative discourse at the cost of futuristic ideas and imaginations is like succumbing to what we have been trying to resist for long. Like many other saner minds in the subcontinent we are also of the view that enhanced contacts and trade ties between divided parts of this state through Line of Control can set in motion a process eventually leading to death of decades old animosities and can usher the region in an era of peace, friendship and cooperation with mutually shared interests. It will be unwise to say that initiation of trade can be, per se, a solution to the Kashmir issue. If not a solution in itself, the trade ties can lead to building an atmosphere creating tendencies for forgetting the past and focusing at future. The trans-LoC bus service is a live example before us. Despite having a cumbersome and discouraging travel regime, the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and Poonch and Rawalakote has changed (for better) the way people think on both sides of divide. Kashmir issue is too complex to be resolved by trade alone but having trans-LoC trade is essentially in interest of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Since our launch in January 2007, this is Epilogue's third cover focus on trans-LoC trade. On this subject, our May 2007 issue, an indepth analysis by reputed economist and member of our Editorial Board, Prof Nisar Ali and September 2007 issues, an extensive research by Consulting Editor D Suba Chandran and his team were received very well by a cross section of readers. I hope this one will give a further push to the idea which arguably has the power of scripting a better future for the people of Jammu and Kashmir living on both sides of Line of Control. Zafar Choudhary
because there is more to know
EPILOGUE aims at providing a platform where a meaningful exchange of ideas, opinion and thoughts can take place among the people and about the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The attempt is to research, investigate, communicate and disseminate information, ideas and alternatives for the resolution of common problems facing the state and society of Jammu & Kashmir and in the context of their significance to South Asia as a whole. We welcome contributions from academics, journalists, researches, economists and strategic thinkers. We would also like to encourage first-time writers with the only requirements being a concern for and the desire to understand the prevailing issues and themes of life in Jammu & Kashmir Contributions may be investigate, descriptive, analytical or theoretical. They may be in the form of original articles or in the form of a comment on current events. All contributions have to be neatly types in double space and may be sent to the address given alongside or e-mailed to the editor. While the editor accepts responsibility for the selection of the material published, individual authors are responsible for the facts, figures and viess ithe tier articles.
Epilogue Ø 2008 3× June
M A I L
B O X
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Mail your letters to email@example.com
Tribal University: The sooner, the better The Gujjars of Rajasthan, in a justified and genuine struggle, are still fighting for their rights, the situation in our state (J&K) is little better –thanks to selfless efforts of some non-political community leaders. No doubt that there are still hundred and thousands of Gujjars and Bakarwals who continue to live under the dark shadows illiteracy and poverty and searching for their identities (Searching Identities, Epilogue May 2008), the future of these communities is quite bright. The NGOs like Gujar Desh Charitable Trust, which is working tirelessly for the upliftment of these most downtrodden and backward classes of the society, have rendered a noble job. The day is not so far when these communities would find their own place in the shape of the up coming Tribal University. It can be well expected that establishment of proposed Tribal University will contribute in changing the entire outlook of Gujjars. Let's hope it happens sooner. Mr Masud A Choudhary deserves congratulation for efforts for the promotion of Gujjars and Bakarwals of J&K. MOHAMMAD SALIM Research Scholar, JU
Muslims which never come to light, Muslims are poor, they are illiterate, they are jobless but it seems that every Bollywood director has only one thing in mind for Muslims –terrorism, terrorism and terrorism. In a routine Bollywood story a Muslim is always a bad man whether he is Amrish Puri in Gadar or Naseeruddin Shah in Fanna. Can we please have something better to watch? SAIMA LATIF Kishtwar
to the readers' hitherto unknown facts as well. But to make it more representative and for the benefit of general pubic it will be welcome if the subsequent issues cover other ethnicities and tribal identities in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Another aspect which needs the attention is the erosion of tribal culture vis-à-vis developments in various fields of development.
DR ZAKIR HUSSAIN Kargil, Ladakh. Confused electorate Give political space to J&K tribals It is very ill-fated on the part of the people of Jammu And Kashmir State that they are still confused choosing one political party to rule the state. It is very well said by you (Intelligent Coalition, Epilogue, May 2008) that both PDP and Congress wrestle with each other strengthening their muscles for power. But when the time comes to form a government, as it is already clearly indicated that no party would comes with a clear majority, every party would try its heart and soul to please the other party to form the government. Now, the only thing to see is that which two parties would form the next coalition government. Tribal India (Searching Identities; Epilogue May 2008) has undergone a transformation since independence; owing to various initiatives like the Tribal Policy and Development Plans. It seems the Gujjars in Kashmir had been subjected to Verrin Elwin's National Park Model of Tribal Development. The benefits of tribal development schemes are yet to percolate to the average tribal in this region. Even today when the Delimitation Commission has come forward with latest reservation scheme for Parliamentary constituencies ( and state Assembly constituencies) for next years general elections and political reservation in various states is in force since decades together, in J&K it is yet to say light of the day. The tribals of Kashmir need sufficient representation in the political superstructure at the earliest for their better economic development and cultural security.
Bollywood must look into other roles of Muslims The movie review written by Aprajita Mazumdar is a good piece, she has done her work very well. And the question she raises is really very fair one that why terrorism is only associated with Islam? There are still several issues related to
SANJEEV GUPTA Kathua
Dig more into tribes Searching Identities (Epilogue; May 2008) gives an insight into various aspects of a particular tribe and brings POONAM SAKET Research Scholar, Deptt. Of Sociology, JNU
Epilogue Ø 2008 4× June
H E A R
A N D
H E A R
WHO SAID WHAT
I have no doubt in my mind that Kashmir is ripe for solution.
US President, George W Bush
Congress-Peoples Democratic Party is an immoral coalition in which a number of ministers are involved in sex scandal but no action has been taken against them. Sex maniacs should be put behind bars and not allowed to roam free in public.
Omar Abdullah, National Conference President
Term of government is ending (in October) not ours. After that (elections) our next term will commence and I am here till completion of all projects launched (by me).
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Chief Minister
We don't mind of if National Conference patron Dr Farooq Abdullah, Peoples D e m o c r a t i c Pa r t y p a t r o n M u f t i Mohammad Sayeed or state Congress chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz represents Kashmir (in dialogue with New Delhi). But the question is do they represent the sentiments of Kashmiris? No, they don't. Because, they will not discuss killings, arsons and other violations of human rights.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, APHC (M)
It is true that aspirations do not change. We are committed to the aspirations of complete freedom of Kashmir. But this has to be seen and debated whether these aspirations are achievable.
Sajjad Lone, Peoples Conference
Formation of Chenab Valley Hill Development Council for districts of Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar is a just and genuine demand of the people of this region. If government doesn't have any problem in formation of Chenab Valley Corporation (an NHPC-JKPDC joint venture) for exploitation of our water resources then why is it (government) averse to formation of Hill Development Council.
Sheikh Abdul Rehman, veteran leader from Bhaderwah
Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq was scion of a family whose forefathers had played commendable role in spread of Islam in Kashmir Valley.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, APHC(G)
It is ironic that the Vigilance Organisation (top anti-corruption probe body) has been consistently not only targeting the employees of a particular region and religion, but has even now started singularly meddling in the development projects being executed in the Kashmir Valley, with the obvious ulterior motive of sabotaging any infrastructural development in the region.
Tariq Hameed Karra, Finance Minister J&K
Epilogue Ø 2008 5× June
C O L U M N
Prime Minister’s Visit Misfired
His Sane Advice Ignored
all for hartal in Kashmir valley by the separatist parties, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was to visit the state, could be to register their disillusionment with him and his government and their way to reiterate that Kashmiris were not reconciled with the status quo in the state. But people in Jammu region where his two day visit was confined and he addressed three functions, too, were not enthused. His announcement of Rs 1600 crore package for relief and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandit migrants (who had to leave the valley after the militancy started). It provoked angry reaction among the much larger number of refugees in particular and people in general belonging to Jammu. There are many categories of such refugees, such as those who migrated from Pakistani part of the state and from West Pakistan in 1947, those who were uprooted during Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, those who migrated from militancy affected parts of Jammu region and those who are displaced from the areas adjoining the border during current turmoil. Though some KP groups tried to pacify Jammu's reaction by expressing sympathy to the refugees of Jammu, the Jammu-based opposition parties like the BJP and the Panthers cited it as another proof of continued discrimination against Jammu region by the Congressled government in the state and at the centre. The Congress leaders too admitted, though privately, that the
party suffered setback as Kashmiri Pandits are registered as voters in Kashmir and not in Jammu which is its main base. Regional discrimination is a perennial theme of the state politics. It is no more confined to Jammu region. Ever since Ghulam Nabi Azad, a Jammu-based Congress leader, took over the position of Chief Minister, Kashmiri parties miss no opportunity to protest whenever a larger sum is spent on any scheme in Jammu region or if in recruitment to any department Jammu's share is bigger. One cabinet minister recently accused Vigilance Organisation and Service Selection Board of discrimination against a particular region and religion (read Kahsmiri Muslims). Of late, complaints of neglect and discrimination are being raised from one district or the other. The Chief Minister tries to visit every part of the state, even its remotest corner, to attend to the local demands. But all such efforts have not succeeded in meeting rising and competitive expectations from different areas and communities. Cannot an institutional arrangement and objective criteria be devised to ascertain the needs and priorities of all of them? In this context the Prime Minister's very relevant observation at Akhnoor, missed
by the media and political parties, deserves notice. He suggested participation of the people in development process through institutions provided in the Constitution of India. The reference obviously was to the 73rd and 74th amendments of the constitutions u n d e r w h i c h Pa n c h a y a t i R a j Institutions were set up which were not applicable to the state. J&K is the only state where there are no such institutions at present. The Prime Minister had made the same point in April 2005 while inaugurating Jammu-Udhampur rail service. He urged "the State Legislature to consider amending the law so that the state marches towards progress hand in hand with other states of the country." In between, speaking at the special convocation of Jammu University in July 2007, he had suggested devolution of power to regions, districts, blocks and panchayats. Some weeks ago the National Conference, the principal opposition of the state, formally passed a resolution in favour of regional autonomy. The patron of PDP, a coalition partner in the state government, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed committed his party to equitable development of all regions through
Epilogue Ø 2008 6× June
C O L U M N
appropriate institutions. The party has yet not defined those institutions. But at the third Round Table Conference convened by the Prime Minister last year, its representatives favoured regional federalism. Mirwaiz, too, has often supported a federal set up for the state. When asked to explain his concept of federalism, he said, "same as yours." CPM, the state unit and the national party have more specifically accepted the concept of regional autonomy and devolution of power to lower tiers.I have been campaigning for the idea since early fifties; which was accepted by Nehru and Abdullah and announced by them at a joint press conference on July 24, 1953. Later Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukerjee, founder president of the Jan Sangh, who had courted arrest in the state in support of an agitation of his party for abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, and for full 'accession', also veered round to the idea of regional autonomy. After a prolonged correspondence with Nehru, he offered to support the Delhi Agreement-which guaranteed an autonomous status to the state-provided the principle of regional autonomy was conceded. Nehru replied that he and Abdullah had already conceded the principle.The agitation of the Praja Parishad, the state affiliate of the Jana Sangh, was eventually withdrawn on reiteration of the principle by Nehru on July 3, 1953. After some months the party withdrew its commitment, as recorded by the then Jana Sangh president Balraj Madhok, on express advice of the RSS. Sheikh Abdullah, too, started equivocating on the issue of accession after his three day meetings with America statesman Aldai Stevenson
on 1 to 3 May 1953. Before and after returning to power in 1975, under his accord with Indira Gandhi he reiterated his commitment to regional autonomy, which was incorporated in the party manifesto Naya Kashmir, revised and updated by me. As the head of the Regional Autonomy Committee, I submitted my report on a five-tier constitutional set up for the state with regional autonomy and further devolution of powers to districts, blocks and panchayats. I also suggested an eight- point equitable and objective formula for financial allocations to all levels. But after submission of my report I was removed from my post. The government may consider, in view of favourable attitude of the main parties, for officially releasing the report for a public debate and to evolve some consensus on a problem that has plagued the politics of the state for the last sixty years and is responsible for many a complication therein. Its solution need not wait till the final resolution of the problem. Nor may be a substitute for the solution. But certainly the first step towards the solution is to reconcile divergent aspirations of regions and communities, apart from its immediate relief to the people of the state.The question of questions is why does not the state Congress party and the government headed by it not respond to the suggestions of the Prime Minister and Kashmir based parties and which is the most effective answer to the perennial grievance of Jammu and lately of other regions and all districts of as diverse a state of India as J&K is Against discrimination and neglect.
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Epilogue Ø 2008 7× June
C O L U M N
The Switchover Season
With the political scene heating up in Jammu and Kashmir in run up to forthcoming assembly elections there is a spate of press conferences being addressed by top leaders of the leading political parties. These press conferences are not about announcing election manifesto, achievements of past five years or pinpointing weaknesses of opponents. If not every alternate day, at least once every week the leaders are announcing “who joined the party today”. These days nothing is seen happening faster than change of loyalties and switchover of ideologies. Not only that party hoppers are jumping from one 'ideology' to the other, new parties are also taking shapes. When a heavy weight leaves a party to join another, it appears sometime that the victim party is up for irreparable loss. However, a closer look reveals that none of the parties is at a significant loss or gain as it is a mere realignment of constituencies to suit electoral prospects of turncoats. prominent Minister in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government, Ghulam Hassan Mir is not being questioned by any one when he wrongly claims himself as founder member of Peoples Democratic Party. After having been with NC, ANC, Congress and Janta Dal, Mir had joined PDP only in 2001 –three years after Muftis floated this outfit by collecting scraps from Congress. During 2002 elections everyone had seen him hanging around NC headquarters seeking party ticket from Gulmarg (Tangmarg) assembly constituency in North Kashmir. The NC, however, preferred Dr Mustafa Kamal –younger brother of Farooq Abdullah. Mir returned to PDP, contested election from same constituency, won with a huge margin and was subsequently inducted as Cabinet Minister. He had always wanted to be at 'number two' in party but that could not happen in presence of Muzaffar Hussain Baig. When Mufti handed over power to Ghulam Nabi Azad under power sharing pact in 2005, Baig took over as Deputy Chief Minister but Mir could not find a place in cabinet. At the spur of moment he fell out with Muftis and charged
them with everything including murder of a party colleague. For next two and half years the cold war, sometimes highly embarrassing, continued between Mir and Muftis till recently he floated his own party –Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Party. To lend credence to the new starlet on Kashmir's political landscape, announcement of Mir's party came a week after he had a m e e t i n g w i t h Pr i m e M i n i s t e r Manmohan Singh in New Delhi. Observers in Kashmir put Mir still strong in his own constituency even though he claims playing a decisive role in making of next government. “I was feeling suffocated in the party”, is the obvious refrain of anyone who is deserting one party to join the other. Even the naïve will guess the interest of winning prospects as a motivating factor for these turncoats but they are out to accuse the parent party or the previous party of making ideological comprises and therefore leaving them with no other choice than to join the new party.
Former legislator from Doda Ghulam Qadir Wani had been with the Peoples Democratic Party for around eight years now. He left all watchers of politics surprises when he jumped over to the BJP. Wani is among around five dozen prominent political figures of state who switched sides in past few months but his move came underlined the supremacy of self interests over political ideology. PDP is seen as a party with separatist tendencies and BJP just opposite to that. Wani justifies his jump over with 'suffocation' in PDP as he accuses his leadership of pursuing separatist agenda. “I can not tolerate Kashmir centric and anti-India political approach”, said Wani on joining BJP. A look at Wani's political profile and Doda assembly constituency's voting pattern suggests he made a clever move. He carries along a vote of local loyalties ranging from some 5000 to 6000. He is confidence of mustering this vote in whatever avatar he goes
Epilogue Ø 2008 8× June
C O L U M N
to the poll battle. Doda constituency has a sizeable Hindu population and their vote is evenly divided between BJP and Congress. In fact post Kulhand massacre, BJP enjoys an edge over the Congress as the party was able to mobilize the communal sentiments with month-long protest demonstrations and top party leaders including LK Advani and Rajnath Singh rushing in to meet families of victims. If BJP stands sincere with Wani and he retains his chunk of local loyalty vote the prospects of winning can be bright. Being with PDP this may not have been a possibility. Therefore, behind Wani's suffocation was perhaps also an element of frustration which he has apparently shed in a bid to pool BJP's vote bank with his. It has be to seen how much this switchover of loyalty works. One of most reputed, well learned political leader from Srinagar City Sadiq Ali joined PDP in January 2003, just two months after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had taken over as Chief Minister. Till then he was with National Conference having remained one of the longest serving Member of the Legislative Council and an MLA from 1996 to 2002. He, however, lost 2002 elections to one Shahjan Dar –an NC rebel who contested election independently. While walking into PDP office the grey haired intellectual, Sadiq Ali said he was feeling suffocated in NC and had lost faith in Abdullahs as they lacked the ideological commitment to what party stood for. He described Mufti as a visionary leader who has the capacity to lead people of Kashmir and respect their aspirations. For his sober outlook and serious approach to politics, Sadiq's
exit underlined an ideological crisis in the NC. Keeping a low profile in PDP for next five years, Sadiq returned to NC early this year. The announcement was made at a high profile press conference in Srinagar addressed by Farooq Abdullah and Omar. When asked about making this full circle, Sadiq refused to comment on anything except an obvious one-liner, “for me it is just like home coming”. With due respect to his home coming cliché, political observer feel that Sadiq Ali is being chased by a celebrated party hopper and big business baron. It is true that he often feels suffocated due to ideological differences but these differences seem less with the party and more with a leader of his own sect –Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain. It is well known in Shia politics of Kashmir that Ansari and Ali have running differences on a variety of issue. Said Ali was an old NC loyalist but he was denied a cabinet berth in 1996 which Farooq Abdullah offered to Ansari even though he contested and won election on Congress ticket. In 2002, Ansari not only formally joined the NC but also managed to field a proxy against Ali in his Zadibal constituency. After loosing election Sadiq Ali was visibly hurt as his party could not protest him against maneuvers of Ansari. This suffocation made him to desert NC and join PDP. Interestingly a couple of years later, Ansari too barged into PDP this suffocating the space available to Ali. Obviously Sadiq Ali had very little options available to him except for returning to the parent party.
In Jammu, the scion of Dogra dynasty –the erstwhile rulers of J&K –Maharaj Kumar Ajat Shatru Singh was picked up by Farooq Abdullah in 1996 out of nowhere and made to contest assembly elections. Not only that his victory was ensured, he was also taken into Cabinet at the cost of decades old party loyalists. With almost complete absence from public scene and a dismal performance next years, Singh lost 2002 elections. He did not wait much for switching 'loyalties'. Hoping for a seat on Legislative Council or nomination to Rajya Sabha, Singh jumped over to Congress where he had to wait for three years for the good to come. It didn't, and Singh returned to his hotel business. Recently accompanied by his wife at a glittering press conference addressed by father-son duo of Abdullahs, Ajat Shatru also announced his “homecoming”. In the season of a fast track enterexit, the list of Aya Rams and Gaya Rams is too long. Recently, when a party leader shared his concern at a public meeting with Dr Farooq Abdullah about mass exodus of its various cadres, the NC patriarch had quite a promising response. “Four Ministers in PDP are all set to join us…this will boot our morale…we are just waiting for the right opportunity”, said Farooq. Interestingly, not only Farooq, this is what every one is claiming. Feecback : firstname.lastname@example.org
Epilogue Ø 2008 9× June
B L O G
S P O T
The Need For Truth And Reconciliation
This is something I had written some time ago for a daily newspaper but going through it I believe it is still as relevant as it was. I also use it as an answer for those who feel that I am not willing to stand up and be judged for the deeds of my party and the governments it has lead. I also believe it is a natural extension to two of my most recent posts about human rights and the rather long winded one about so many other things. Violence broke out in J&K in 1989 and eighteen years later we still live in it's shadow. Thousands have been killed and many more injured. In all this time there have been countless allegations of human rights violations – violations at the hands of militants and security forces. Reports of young men alleged to have disappeared have appeared from time to time. I use the word alleged because no one can seem to agree on the correct number and it is this single fact that I have toyed with. How do we put aside our political differences and arrive at what really happened? How do we give closure to all those families that constitute the APDP (Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons)? Can we do this with out it appearing to be a witch-hunt? Over the years we have had internal inquiries conducted by the police, Para military forces and army. We have had judicial, magisterial and CBI inquiries as well but all of these have been focused on specific events or allegations. There has been no effort made to take a holistic view of the situation. Parties made promises while in opposition, which were soon forgotten once in power. Slogans like 'peace with dignity' and 'healing touch' were coined but remained slogans. The philosophy of two wrongs make a right seems to have won the day. Because allegations of excesses and human rights violations existed during the period of the National Conference Government from 1996 to 2002 it seems to justify the allegations that exist today. But the truth is that two wrongs can never make a right – what happened or didn't happen between 1996 and 2002 can never be used to justify what happens today. The idea is a simple one and one that is not mine. It is one I remember reading about some years ago and one that I believe is becoming increasingly relevant today. On the one hand we have an active peace process that is aiming to bring India and Pakistan at a point of agreement over Jammu & Kashmir, a point of agreement that both sides of the artificially divided state of J&K are comfortable with. On the other we have a dialogue process that seeks to address the internal dimension of the problem as well. My thoughts about either process are not relevant to the issue at hand. What is important is that the people are not seeing the dividend of these processes, especially the internal one, where it matters – the dignity and peace of their lives. Over the last few days the media has reported extensively about the case of Abdul Rehman Padder of Larnoo, Kokernag. He is believed to have been killed by the Special Operations Group of J&K police, dubbed a militant and buried in Ganderbal. No sooner had this incident been brought to light that other allegations followed. A Judicial Enquiry has been ordered and the report of these allegations is awaited. In the mean time newspapers in Kashmir began to carry stories about other grave yards believed to contain the graves of other victims of a over zealous security force determined to collect the cash reward that comes along with a “kill”. What happens the next time a militant is reported killed? How many will be willing to believe the official version of events? The next time a Kashmiri is arrested for militant links in Delhi how will we convince people he's not another Tariq Dar? The truth is we won't be able to. Each of these events has so shaken the faith of people in the institutions tasked with their protection that trust is at a premium. A rogue police officer in Kashmir and a biased one in Delhi have done untold damage to the reputation of their respective forces. Damage that no judicial enquiry will be able to undo no matter what the findings and how they are followed up. The time has come for something bigger, something free from politics, something free from the shackles of
Epilogue Ø 10 × June 2008
B L O G
S P O T
“national interest”. A nation's interest is served when it's nationals interests are protected; subverting a person's right to life and liberty can never ever be in a nation's interest. This is my answer to all those who believe that by raising these issues I am somehow damaging India's interests. What is that something? A Truth & Reconciliation Commission on the lines of what South Africa set up post apartheid. This is where I have taken the liberty of borrowing the idea from because I believe it is more relevant than ever in today's Jammu and Kashmir. For those of you not too familiar with this commission it was set up in 1995 by the government of President Mandela and was based in Cape Town. Archbishop Desmond Tutu chaired it and The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like body assembled in South Africa after the end of apartheid. Anybody who felt they had been a victim of violence could come forward and be heard at the TRC. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from prosecution. The hearings made international news and many sessions were broadcast on national television. The TRC was a crucial component of the transition to full and free democracy in South Africa and, despite some flaws, is generally - though not universally regarded as successful. I have cited the South African example as it is generally considered a model of Truth Commissions though truth commissions have been set up in countries like Argentina, Chile (twice in fact), El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Liberia, Morocco, Panama, Peru, Sierra Leone, East Timor and The United States of America, though the last
one was an unofficial body. The TRC worked through three committees - The Human Rights Violations Committee; The reparation and Rehabilitation Committee and The Amnesty Committee. In order to dispel the notion that this was victors justice reports of human rights violations and petitions for amnesty were heard both from the perpetrators of apartheid and the liberation forces including the ANC. I understand that a TRC is usually set up in a post conflict environment and we are not yet at that stage but every indication is that we are heading in that direction. The voices of peace are drowning out the voices of violence and one hopes that what we are seeing is the final stages of the violent conflict. Perhaps the time has come for Jammu and Kashmir to be given a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This commission should be tasked with uncovering all that happened from 1989 onwards, whether at the hands of the militants or the security forces. It should hold public hearings, uncover evidence and examine all allegations that come to its attention. Pakistan and India should show that joint mechanisms could work by allowing the commission to travel to both sides of the divided state to ascertain the truth about the disappearances. It is a fact that there are Kashmiri boys settled in Pakistan and it's side of Kashmir who had gone across for training and settled there. These boys are counted among the disappeared here and this anomaly needs to be corrected as well. The commission will have to account for
all those persons listed as disappeared. These may be enforced disappearances, militants gone across for training and like wise. The commission should also be tasked with hearing petitions for amnesty from the perpetrators of human rights violations. Such petitions can be judged according to motivation, scale or scope of violation and whether full disclosure was made in the course of the amnesty petition. The Commission must also be tasked with looking in to the forced migration of people from the valley, particularly Kashmiri Pandits but also Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. The circumstances that lead to their migration, people responsible for it and possible ways of reversing the migration. The success or failure of this commission, should it be set up, will depend upon who is asked to chair it. The person will have to be of such stature as to instill confidence in the people who today have had their confidence shattered, a person acceptable to all involved – India, Pakistan and the people most affected by this conflict, a person above the pulls and pressures of politics and money, a person who by force of character and will would be able to drive this process forward when all appears lost. The process will not be quick and it will not be pain less. Perhaps details will emerge that will make for uncomfortable reading when the report of the commission is published but it must be done because with out it we will never be able to lay to rest the ghosts of the last eighteen years.
Epilogue Ø 11 × June 2008
F O C U S
Time For Trucks
D Suba Chandran
Last year, in July, after meeting with Syed Asif Shah, Pakistan's Commerce Secretary in New Delhi, Jairam Ramesh, India's Minister for State and Commerce, announced Pakistan had agreed in principle to allow trade through the Line of Control (LoC). This year, during his visit to J&K in March Ramesh announced, “As soon as the new Government takes over in Islamabad, we will execute an agreement with Pakistan. I am pretty hopeful that the (cross-LoC) trade would start in the next 90 days.” This deadline of optimism is not yet over and the good omen is keenly awaited. he LoC was officially opened for the movement of people for the first time in 2005, since its closure after the Indo-Pak war during 1947-48. Despite the militant attack on the Tourist Reception Center in Srinagar on the day of its inauguration, the first bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad became operational in April 2005. If the objective of this bus service was to make borders irrelevant, as Manmohan Singh and Pervez Musharraf have hinted on different occasions elsewhere, it is time to contemplate further measures that would augment this process. Trade across the LoC is in everyone's interests. Ever since the inauguration of the bus service between the two Kashmirs, all the three regions on the Indian side – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have been anxiously waiting for further measures across the LoC. Today, there are two bus services across the LoC, meant only for divided families. There are however, numerous others, in all parts of J&K, belonging to different religions – Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist, who would love to travel across. Even though this section may not have relatives across the LoC, they would nonetheless like to travel for various cultural and religious reasons. Numerous religious places of worship exist across the LoC that are of interest to all the
communities in this region – Nangla Sahib, Sharada Shrine, Hazratbal, Shahdara Sharief - to name a few. There are also numerous places of tourist interest– Jammu, Chingus, Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Kargil Leh, Kargil, Skardu, and Mirpur, among others. Besides the potential for cross-LoC trade, the Chambers of Commerce and Industries in Jammu and Srinagar (JCCI and KCCI) have been demanding that the LoC should also be opened for trade. Thus, cross-LoC trade is a natural corollary of the process that was initiated in 2005. To an extent, the present level of cross-
LoC interactions have addressed or included significant sections of the civil society on both sides of the LoC, however limited these may have been. Though there are procedural delays, divided families have been crossing the LoC at regular intervals in the last three years. Political leaders belonging to the mainstream and separatist groups have also been allowed to cross the LoC. The Hurriyat leaders from Kashmir Valley were allowed to visit the other side after the earthquake in 2005, and mainstream leaders from Muzaffarabad region visited the Indian side more than once. There was even a “heart-to-heart”
Epilogue Ø 12 × June 2008
F O C U S
dialogue, between the political leaders on both sides. Members belonging to the media across the LoC were allowed to visit each other. Under the SAFMA, journalists from both Kashmirs visited each other during 2006. There have also been cultural interactions. In November 2007, women's groups from both sides met in Srinagar for a three-day conference. To conclude, it appears that so far, all sections of civil society have been allowed to meet, except the business community. Like any other section of civil society that has been allowed to interact, this group is also equally important. Allowing trade across the LoC would address this imbalance. Movement of goods across the LoC will be a great CBM between New Delhi and J&K, especially the Kashmiris. Besides initiating a peace process with Islamabad, New Delhi has also started another process within – addressing the concerns and issues with various sections in J&K. The Prime Minister has held three Round Table Conferences so far, besides forming five working groups on issues relating to cross-LoC interactions, governance, union-state relations etc. The Working Group on cross-LoC interactions has highlighted the need for cross-LoC trade, as a legitimate aspiration of the people of J&K. A section i n t h e K a s h m i r Va l l e y, f e e l psychologically suffocated, as the only physical link of the Valley with the rest of world is through the Jawahar Tunnel. There is also a feeling within the Valley that New Delhi purposefully wants to keep Jawahar Tunnel as the sole outlet for the Kashmiris, so as to make them completely dependent on India. Allowing the movement of goods across the LoC will greatly address this psychological perception. Cross-LoC trade will help the economic
situation in the Jammu region and Kashmir Valley improve considerably. In the Kashmir Valley, the horticulture industry, especially the fruit growers, and carpet and furniture industries will benefit enormously if the LoC is opened for trade. Today, the fruit industry in the Valley depends on an undependable route – NH-1A, to send its goods to New
From Jawahar Tunnel to Jammu, especially in the Ramban region, this road is prone to landslides, shooting stones and snow. On the other hand, apples from Anantnag would reach Lahore and Rawalpindi via Muzaffarabad much faster than they would reach New Delhi. In Jammu region, the manufacturing sector today, from Samba to Jammu, is so strong that,the entire belt has become an industrial zone. Today, the JCCI is confident of sending goods ranging from tea to tyres, via Suchetgarh and Sialkot. With the six-lane passage between Sialkot and Lahore coming up, goods from Jammu will reach Lahore within four to six hours.
Delhi. From Jawahar Tunnel to Jammu, especially in the Ramban region, this road is prone to landslides, shooting stones and snow. On the other hand, apples from Anantnag would reach Lahore and Rawalpindi via
Muzaffarabad much faster than they would reach New Delhi. In Jammu region, the manufacturing sector today, from Samba to Jammu, is so strong that,the entire belt has become an industrial zone. Today, the JCCI is confident of sending goods ranging from tea to tyres, via Suchetgarh and Sialkot. With the six-lane passage between Sialkot and Lahore coming up, goods from Jammu will reach Lahore within four to six hours. Undoubtedly, there are problems in proceeding ahead on this important issue, despite that fact that the benefits of opening the LoC for trade are immense. The primary hurdle in cross-LoC trade seems to emanate from Islamabad. Though there have been announcements in the past, on more than one occasion, regarding the visit of the business community led by the AJK Chambers of Commerce and Industry (AJKCCI), it has never materialized, for they were denied permission. While the Indian government blames Pakistan for not allowing this visit, there have been no comments on why these meetings never took place. Why is Islamabad against cross-LoC trade? Though there has been no public statement, one can understand the reasons behind Islamabad's reluctance. A section in India argues that the government of Pakistan fears that cross-LoC trade would lead to a normalization of relations between the two countries, which would undermine the latter's strategies in Kashmir. If this however, is the primary reason, then why would Pakistan allow cross-LoC interaction of divided families, media and sections of civil society, as mentioned above? Obviously, these measures are also likely to lead to normalization of ties.
Epilogue Ø 13 × June 2008
F O C U S
However, Islamabad's reasons for going slow on cross-LoC trade seem to extend beyond the 'normalization' argument. Perhaps, Islamabad fears that cross-LoC trade would make the status quo permanent, and in turn make the Line of Control a permanent border between the two countries. For trade to take place across the LoC, there are numerous legal issues which need to be addressed. While travel between two Kashmirs now involves the use of local identification; movement of goods across the LoC will require a legal understanding. Issues relating to the origin and destination of goods will then come to play a prominent role. The question of who will physically oversee the entry and exit of goods at the crossing point – whether the customs authorities of each country or any other, also arises. If the customs authorities are put in charge, legally it would signify that the goods will be leaving one country to enter into another. This, from Islamabad's perspective amounts to converting the LoC into IB. The second major challenge is likely to be on the question of whether the trade is “to other Kashmir” or “through other Kashmir”. If the movement of trade is likely to be only between the two Kashmirs, then the business communities in Jammu and Kashmir will be least enthusiastic, for it will not be a profitable proposition. For example, if the LoC is to be opened for the apples of K a s h m i r v a l l e y, o n l y t o r e a c h Muzaffarabad and Mirpur, one convoy of trucks will be enough to flood the markets in both these towns. What the KCCI is actually looking for is trade through the other Kashmir, enabling their goods to reach upto Karachi via Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Lahore. The JCCI will be extremely upset, if the LoC is opened only in the Kashmir Valley in Uri.
The business community in Jammu region, regards the opening of the Jammu-Sialkot road for trade, vital. If trade is to take place only between the two Kashmirs, the business communities are likely to be disappointed and in the long run, this move may backfire. This is precisely what happened between India
Why is Islamabad against crossLoC trade? Though there has been no public statement, one can understand the reasons behind Islamabad's reluctance. A section in India argues that the government of Pakistan fears that cross-LoC trade would lead to a normalization of relations between the two countries, which would undermine the latter's strategies in Kashmir. If this however, is the primary reason, then why would Pakistan allow cross-LoC interaction of divided families, media and sections of civil society, as mentioned above? Obviously, these measures are also likely to lead to normalization of ties. However, Islamabad's reasons for going slow on crossLoC trade seem to extend beyond the 'normalization' argument.
and China in opening Nathu La in Sikkim for trade. The business community in Sikkim was extremely enthusiastic in the beginning on the opening of Nathu La. They expected that trade would take place “through Sikkim and Tibet”
instead of “between Sikkim and Tibet”. While the business community wanted the goods from Tibet (and China) to pass through Sikkim upto Kolkatta port and beyond (and backwards), the actual trade was limited. To a large extent, it actually constitutes border trade in this region. In Kashmir, if the trade is likely to be limited only between the two parts, then Nathu La will get repeated in Uri. The third major challenge is likely to be the basket of goods that will be traded across the LoC. Here, if the current status of Indo-Pak trade is to be taken as a yardstick, then the record of both countries on bilateral trade has never been encouraging. While the business communities in Jammu and Kashmir regions would like to trade anything and everything across the LoC, the governments in New Delhi and Islamabad are unlikely to have beyond 25 to 30 goods in the trade basket. Again, this is precisely what has happened in Nathu La, where people of Sikkim are allowed to export only 29 items and import 15. The business communities in Jammu and Kashmir Valley have identified the numerous commodities from plastic to apples, which could be traded through the LoC. If the governments of India and Pakistan decide to keep the trade basket to a minimum, then the crossLoC trade may be sound in rhetoric and address the international audience, but will do little to address actual concerns at the ground level in J&K. The fourth major challenge emanates from across the LoC. How much interest do the business communities in Muzaffarabad have in cross-LoC trade? And how much influence does the AJKCII have over Islamabad in pressurizing the government of
Epilogue Ø 14 × June 2008
F O C U S
Pakistan to move forward, than to get mired in legal issues? A section in India believes that the business community in AJK is not as enthusiastic as the people in general or as their counterparts in Jammu and Srinagar. If this is true, the following factors could be identified as reasons for the relative lack of interest or enthusiasm on the other side. How big is the AJK business community? If the AJK business community is not strong enough to trade with the rest of Kashmir across the LoC, there is every reason for them to underplay cross-LoC trade. This is an issue which needs to be probed. Second, the business community in Jammu and Kashmir is not as keen to trade with the other Kashmir, as it is to trade through them to the rest of Pakistan. If the business community in AJK is unlikely to benefit from the cross-LoC trade, why would they be interested? Another point that needs to be probed here is, if there is “trade through” AJK, will it affect the local business community? For example, will the goods from Kashmir Valley “flood” the markets of Muzaffarabad and Mirpur? Perhaps the AJK business community is also not sure of the returns. What would they gain out of cross-LoC trade? If the trade basket is going to be limited to ten to fifteen items, as is presently the case, how much would that benefit the traders of AJK? This is why there should be a dialogue between the business communities across the LoC. Since there have not been many meetings between the two communities, the AJK side is not convinced. Finally, unlike the business community on the Indian side, perhaps on the other side, they are not able to pressurize the government of Pakistan. Both the JCCI and KCCI are vociferous in making their voices heard – both, in the capitals of State and the country. They may not have adequate clout to influence
the final policy, but can certainly act as an important pressure group. As cross-LoC trade is clearly in India's interests for numerous emotional, economic, and political reasons. Despite obvious security considerations, given the overall benefits, this is a risk worth taking. Convincing Islamabad on legal issues relating to cross-LoC trade
this challenge can be found only at the political level. New Delhi also has to take into account the inputs of the KCCI and JCCI and convince them of a well-planned and time-bound road map. If trade is to start in the Kashmir Valley, then the JCCI should be convinced that this process will expand and also include Jammu region in the near future. If the initial efforts however, are likely to remain limited in terms of “trade to” PoK and not “through” it, then the business communities in J&K should be made to understand that this is a process, likely to be implemented in stages, And that the same will also apply to the actual trade basket, in terms of goods traded. If the business community on the other side is not convinced of the profits of cross-LoC trade, it may be due to a lack of awareness. For this reason, it is imperative that the business communities across the LoC meet. It is unfortunate that Pakistan has not been allowing the AJKCCI to visit J&K. However, this limitation can be easily overcome. Given the communication facilities and the interests of research institutes and think tanks, a meeting between the business communities could be arranged in a neutral territory – anywhere from Bangkok to Dubai. Jairam Ramesh has promised in March 2008, cross-LoC trade within 90 days. The foetus take complete shape, with its features clearly delineated in 90 days. Given the political dimensions however, one will need to be a lot more patient on an important issue such as this, which has the potential to change the basic contours of the conflict in J&K. Understandably; one wouldn't mind waiting long; as long as this process is not stillborn.
While the business communities in Jammu and Kashmir regions would like to trade anything and everything across the LoC, the governments in New Delhi and Islamabad are unlikely to have beyond 25 to 30 goods in the trade basket. Again, this is precisely what has happened in Nathu La, where people of Sikkim are allowed to export only 29 items and import 15. The business communities in Jammu and Kashmir Valley have identified the numerous commodities from plastic to apples, which could be traded through the LoC.
will be a challenge for New Delhi. Pakistan is unlikely to agree to the Nathu La model between India and China. Before Nathu La was opened for border trade, China tacitly recognized Sikkim as a part of India, thus removing the legal hurdles. Who will actually man the border post? This has become a political question rather than a procedural one. Hence the answer to
Epilogue Ø 15 × June 2008
F O C U S
Let Trade Begin, Then Sky Is The Limit
Although Kashmir is at cross roads of China, Central Asia, Pakistan, India as a whole it is unfortunate that trade has not flourished as it should have been because of the unsettled problem and exploitation of resources without taking into account the requirements of the local population in respect of economy. ashmiris have been good traders and it is said that initially Islam came into Kashmir through the interaction of traders with Sindh, Central Asia. Today also it is common that in every part of India particularly tourist areas you will have a Kashmiri trader selling his Handicrafts and Souvenirs. This is also true in different places of the World particularly trading places like Dubai and other Countries like U.K., USA, Europe, South America, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and even South Vietnam now. Keeping this background the possibility of LOC Trade will be a very important development for Kashmir as is will not only be a important alternative for traders to trade their wares like Handicrafts, Fruits but also services like tourism where the sky is the limit for the economy of Kashmir. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry have suggested in different forums the possibility of declaring the whole valley of Kashmir as a Special Economic Zone which will allow not only free access to goods but also in combination with declaring it as a financial centre to include this lucrative sector in the trade of Goods & Services. Going to the trade of physical products LOC trade will give alternative markets for our fruit industry, Handicrafts which
are the main sectors of our export business. Our fruit industry which has presently a national market will now have an external dimension with the whole Pakistan market to be tapped. One of the most important benefits will be that the markets of Lahore, Rawalpindi & other places in Pakistan will be within a days reach of the producers who loose a sizable quantity of the produce presently because of inadequate infrastructure of Cold Storages etc. in Kashmir as well as time taken of min. 2-3 days for the product to reach Delhi the main distribution place for products like Apple which is the main product of the horticulture sector. Another benefit to the producers of the fruit will be that he will not be exploited by the trader in Delhi who presently has a stranglehold on the selling price of the produce and who has gone to the extent of even taking sizable orchard land on lease on yearly basis. The fruit trades as well as grower will became more quality conscious putting investments into infrastructure, packaging etc. to make his product more saleable. The impetus will certainly initially be that the major part of his produce will be marketable in the shortest possible time. The present estimate of regularly 2000 crores income from fruit industry, by a
conservative estimate will double once the LOC trade by just having alternative marketing of the product than at present. The other important group is Handicrafts. This group of items includes handmade Silk Carpets which we have a monopoly in the SubContinent and the income could easily be doubled with all cities of Pakistan having selling outlets like in other parts of India. Before partition Kashmiri traders had outlets in all the major cities which constitute Pakistan now. It may not be out of place to mention that the Carpet Industry in Pakistan has been set up and the majority of exporters/traders there are of basic Kashmiri origin. As Kashmir is specializing in Silk Carpets, the Pakistan trader of Carpets will include & sell this alongwith their wool Carpets wherever they have outlets and wherever they market their products as is the case by other Carpet traders in Delhi/other parts of India who market Badohi/Jaipur Carpets. This will increase the market of Kashmiri Carpets and thereby increasing the demand and production of these Carpets in Kashmir. In the Handicraft segment another important segment is Shawls for which Kashmir has been famous for centuries. With LOC trade and final
Epilogue Ø 16 × June 2008
F O C U S
destination of Pakistan and subsequently to Countries like Iran, Central Asia, Russia and even Turkey where the demand of these Shawls can be increased manifold by the easy accessibility of products as well as by trading community who have to presently go to those markets through Dubai, when with LOC trade a land route will be available. On other Handicrafts like Walnut Wood Carvings, Papier-Machie, Copperware etc. will also get a bigger market once LOC trade becomes a reality. One new products based on Aromatic Plants/Herbs, Floriculture, Walnut Kernels will also get a boost. It may not be out of place to mention that Dubai is today handling a sizable quantity of fresh flowers from Africa for finally selling to Russia whileas we could be the producers here in Kashmir and by the land route supply of these to markets in Russia and Central Asia which are booming because of the oil revenues these Countries are presently having. Besides the above with LOC trade starting we expect that services like Tourism will be started which will give a complete new dimension to this industry in Kashmir. Kashmir as a whole can be marketed together to tourists around the World, starting from Pakistan itself the population of which will certainly want to come to Kashmir as is the urge in every Indian to visit Kashmir at least once in a life time. The sheer beauty of our place alongwith the free flow of tourists through the LOC will give a completely different economic dimension to the local economy. With joint promotion of mountaineering, tourist places on both sides of the divide we will have trade in this segment which will according to our estimation will not only double but has the potential of even quadrupling in the
shortest possible time. Another important trading which can occur between two Kashmiris is trading in our power resources. As everybody knows that the Indus Water Treaty between Pakistan & India has uptil now withstood two wars and there is a possibility that we, people in Kashmir develop our water resources and jointly exploit them with International Investments which could be guaranteed by an international organisation like World Bank.
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The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry have suggested in different forums the possibility of declaring the whole valley of Kashmir as a Special Economic Zone which will allow not only free access to goods but also in combination with declaring it as a financial centre to include this lucrative sector in the trade of Goods & Services.
The tapping of these resources jointly with laws created in either place will change the whole economic scenario and at the same time develop energy which is costly to build but the cheapest to run. Keeping in view the energy prices all over the World this will be a major development of trade between two Kashmiris. This above is a short discourse on the potential of trade/services once LOC trade starts between the two parts of Kashmir. Dr MUBEEN SHAH is the President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI)
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Epilogue Ø 17 × June 2008
S E C U R I T Y
HOT SUMMERS AHEAD
Breach Of Ceasefire
Epilogue News & Analysis
Around midnight of May 8, the villages along International Border in Samba sector of Jammu region were rattled by the sound of gun shots. It was a rare sight and scene since November 2003 ceasefire. The heavy exchange of artillery firing continued for around an hour and half. It clearly ruptured the peace wave but authorities, apparently, preferred to sleep over things. Next morning, local people of the area said that they saw the footmarks along infiltration routes and suspected militants having sneaked in taking cover of exchange of fire on International Border. More than 1,000 rounds were reported to have fired from the other side as trail of empties were seen running towards Pakistani side. The BSF authorities rushed to the press in afternoon with two claims which still remain shrouded in mystery. BSF Deputy Inspector General JB Sagawan told media persons that there was an infiltration attempt by militants which was effectively thwarted by the troops. Clearly he ruled out any possibility of militants having sneaked in ignoring loud cries made by the local people. He also dismissed the obvious doubts that this firing wad from the Pakistani rangers. “There was a militant firing while they were trying to infiltrate, we retaliated effectively and they ran back into Pakistani territory”, he said. The BSF officer, however, said that a flag m e e t i n g w i t h t h e i r Pa k i s t a n i counterparts has been requested and matter will be sorted out there. At the flag meeting with BSF, same e v e n i n g , t h e Pa k i s t a n i R a n g e r categorically denied their involvement. Therefore, the hastily concluded theory remained: there was no violation of ceasefire and the militants had tried to sneak in at their own but BSF rebutted their attempt.
BESIEGED: Soldiers lay siege around a house in Samba where militants had taken inmates hostage. Jammu region saw first such militant attack in region after the infamous Kaluchak garrison massacre in 2002 which had brought Indian and Pakistani Armies eye to eye on Line of Control and International Border.
The way militants struck after more than two days of hiding in the area clearly underlined that it were Pakistani Rangers who had engaged the BSF in gun fire facilitating entry of militants. What did militants do on that bloody Sunday is known to all. A peace activist couple was silenced for ever, six others, including a photojournalist and two soldiers, were killed in the day long encounter. The entire series –firing on IB, infiltration and encounter –was one of the most confusing in 15 years of militancy in Jammu region. Local villagers in Kaili Mandi area of Samba say that they spotted militants in wee hours of the fateful morning and they were asking for residence of Hoshiar Singh –the only genuine Hindu political leader described Kashmir issue as a dispute, called for tripartite dialogue, described militants as 'our own boys' and offered space to separatists for dialogue in Jammu. His wife Shashi Bala, who was also killed, was widely respected trade union leader. Security forces refuse to accept this. “Militants were looking for a nearby Army formation to launch an attack. Hoshiar Singh raised alarm and warned them of calling Police when they asked him for location of Army unit or residential quarters of soldiers”, says K Rajendra, Inspector General of Jammu Police. Hoshiar Singh's only son Lok Sevak Singh, researcher in Political
Contrary to the claims of BSF and assertion of Rangers, the militants showed up two days later –on May 11 –and ruptured the small sense of peace and security prevailing in the region.
Epilogue Ø 18 × June 2008
S E C U R I T Y
HOT SUMMERS AHEAD
Science at JU, begins to cry hearing the version of security forces. An eye witness of the assassination of his parents, Lok Sevak says, “my parents were sleeping when there was a knock at the door. Father got up and was putting on clothes when mother opened the door. A man outside the door was in a assault position with gun cocked. No sooner than the door was opened that they shot at my father and then at mother. A grievously injured father was dragged towards the gate and then shot at again”. If Hoshiar Singh's killing was pre-decided and selective then one should see a larger game plan behind this. His killing was seriously condemned by the separatists, among others. Senior Hurriyat leader Shabir Ahmed Shah visited the family and called for a probe.
Former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah too has called for a judicial probe as he refused to accept this as a simple case of militancy. Since May 8-9, four clear incidents of violation of ceasefire have been reported from various sectors along the Line of Control –three in north Kashmir and one Poonch sector of Jammu region. The unprovoked firing which continued for 15 minutes in Poonch sector resulted into killing of one soldier. Though Army claims to have foiled the infiltration attempts but locals in Rajouri, Poonch and Kupwara districts say that they have seen hordes of fresh militants moving along the infiltration routes. Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor who was in Kashmir early this
month said that around 400 militants are waiting across the LoC to infiltrate. He said that militants are planning to sabotage the upcoming assembly elections. Though the political dialogue between India and Pakistan has several times begin and collapsed but the November-2003 ceasefire on borders had so far withstood all tests of times. This ceasefire is so strongly seen as a commitment towards peace that the local political groups have been asking for extending this experiment in the interiors too –between militants and security forces. With repeated breach of ceasefire, a loss of hops and fear psychosis again seems to have returned in the hinterland and along frontiers.
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S E C U R I T Y
Pink City Mayhem : Terror Trial Continues
ne by one, the main cities of India are waking up to the threat of terrorism. After Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, it was India's pink city of Jaipur that witnessed its first ever serial bomb blasts (ten blasts) on 13 May, leaving 63 people dead and close to 200 injured. As with the other recent blasts, these attacks also demonstrated the ability of the perpetrators to carry out coordinated blasts in public places which included the crowded Johari bazaar in the old city, Hanuman Mandir, near Hawa Mahal, at Badi Chaupad, Tripolia Bazar and Chandpole. With these blasts, however, the perpetrators achieved an unprecedented ten serial blasts as opposed to the average of three blasts in earlier attacks (with the exception of Mumbai serial blasts which included seven blasts). As the perpetrators celebrate yet another victory of their well-synchronized blasts, the nation is left confounded by the formidable threat of Islamic terror. A number of reasons are being advanced to address the question of why Jaipur. While the prime minister has pointed towards the objective of disrupting the peace process between India-Pakistan (occurring days ahead of the foreign ministers level talks in Islamabad), the state government feels the blasts were targeted to hamper the tourism potential of the city. Some security analysts are connecting it to the tenth anniversary of the Pokhran-II, for is it merely a coincidence that the blasts
occurred in the same state where the nuclear tests were conducted? But an exercise on exploring the reasons behind the selection of Jaipur per se undermines the very nature of the string of terror strikes hitting India. Considering the range of targets hit at so far – temples, mosques, railways, economic centres, market areas and other crowded thoroughfares – it appears that the only objective behind any blast in any city is to display the ability to strike anywhere at any time, and in doing so, expose the weakness of the Indian state. For this purpose, panIndian reasons such as the judicial apathy against the Muslims or the intent to flare up communal tensions (since the victims included both Hindus and Muslims, this seems unlikely) or the recent crackdown on SIMI cadres last month with the arrest of its India chief emerge as stronger factors in perpetrating and sustaining the rise of Islamic threat in India. Separately, developments within Pakistan signaling a renewed resolve to wage jihad in India, such as the 21 April rally of the United Jihad Council pledging its commitment to jihad or the 11 April call of Masood Azar, the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief 'to wage jihad against President Musharraf and his western allies' also bear significance to the spurt of Islamist terror in India. Little clarity prevails regarding the perpetrators of such violence as the cases involving previous blasts remain
unresolved. The police officials suspect the hand of Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) behind the blasts owing to the familiar pattern of execution – the use of cycles and the use of bombs containing ammonium nitrate as in the UP blasts. The main suspect includes the leader of HuJI, Mohammed Amjad, believed to have taken over the Huji operations in India. As a result, a number of Bangladeshis in Jaipur were arrested and taken for questioning following the attacks. Meanwhile, a message via email from the unknown militant outfit, Indian Mujahideen claiming responsibility for the attacks has further complicated investigations. The outfit that also claimed responsibility for the UP blasts has declared 'an open war against India' and has cited several factors including judicial apathy behind its motive. A number of issues however remain a mystery: how many people were involved in the blasts? Is there a link between the IM and the HuJI? Is the name of IM being flouted by groups like LeT and HuJI to confound investigations? Meanwhile, the most pressing issue remains what can be done to avoid such attacks in future. While intelligence agencies have come under a bitter attack, the actual forecasting of such blasts remains a formidable task given the lack of actual actionable intelligence, varied range of targets,
Epilogue Ø 20 × June 2008
S E C U R I T Y
random selection of date for attacks, and little headway on the perpetrators. This has thrown up the debate of setting up a federal intelligence agency on the lines of the FBI in the US that would have jurisdiction throughout India and would be able to initiate cases on its own without the request of the states or the Supreme court (as in the case of the CBI). But this issue is embroiled in several hurdles as it calls for an alteration of India's federal structure – since law and order falls under the purview of the state – and would also require a legal framework on the lines of an anti-terror law to function under, something on which little consensus prevails among the leading political parties. As the
debate on these issues plays out, a number of immediate steps can be taken to step up the security apparatus such as strengthening of the antiterrorist squads of each state – so far only Delhi and Mumbai police, and to some extent Tamil Nadu, have such specialized squads that monitor the activities of pro-Islamic militants; improving the coordination among the states and the central agency in dealing with such cases; increasing the size of police forces in the states; and upgrading the technology available to the police for monitoring the communication and financial transaction of the terrorists. Following the string of terrorist blasts in
India, the Jaipur blast throws up many puzzling issues: is there a common agenda among the various militant groups active in the country? If Gujarat riots are cited as a sign of anti-Muslim politics of India, why hasn't Gujarat seen any major blasts after the Akshardham attack? Why haven't we seen targeting of hindu fundamentalist political leaders? Many more such issues remain unanswered. This reinforces the need to move beyond security factors to understand the social, cultural and religious roots of Islamic threat within India. DEVYANI SRIVASTAVA is a Research Officer at IPCS, New Delhi
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Epilogue Ø 21 × June 2008
N A T I O N
Caste, A Crooked Eye
For a student of history, the ongoing Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan carries a profound level of sadness. Last year, more than a dozen Gujjars had lost their lives in an attempt to demand Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for their community in Rajasthan. This time, 36 people have died in police firing. A lot of justified noise was made when 14 people died of police firing in Nandigram. But Gujjar deaths do not seem to evoke the same kind of media sympathy. istorically, the Gujjars are effectively '1857 forces', in the same league as Lodhs, Banjaras, Ramoshis, Dhangars, Mewatis, Kols and Gonds who fought in the 1857 Uprising against the British as a community. On May 10, 1857, when the 3rd Cavalry threw off allegiance to the British in Meerut to kick-start what is now recognised as the 19th century's greatest anti-colonial revolt, the Meerut cantonment had a sizeable 60th Her Majesty Regiment composed of crack British soldiers. The 3rd Cavalry sowars and 11th and 20th Bengal Native Infantry sepoys did not have artillery; but the 60th Foot Regiment was well supplied with cannons. The 60th HMR men could have easily pursued and cut the march of Meerut revolutionaries towards Delhi. But it was the turbulent Gujjars of the Meerut countryside who surrounded the British cantonment in such large numbers that British soldiers found it difficult to advance. The Imperial Gazetteer of India states that throughout the “Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Gujars and Musalman Rajputs proved the most irreconcilable enemies of the British. A band of rebellious Gujjars ransacked Bulandshahr after a revolt by the 9th Native Infantry on May 21, 1857. The British forces were able to retake the town with the help of Dehra
Gurkhas, but the Gujars rose again after the Gurkhas marched off to assist General Wilson's column in another area. Under the leadership of Walidad Khan of Malagarh, the British garrison
occupied by the British Colonel Farquhar and measures of repression were adopted against the armed Gujars.” During the revolt of 1857, the Muslim Gujjars in the villages of Ludhiana district showed dissent towards the British authorities. The British interests in Gangoh city of Saharanpur District were 'threatened' by the rebel Gujjars under the leadership of Raja Fathua. The Gujjars of Chundrowli rose against the British, under the leadership of Damar Ram. The Gujjars of Shunkuri village, numbering around 3,000, joined the rebel sepoys. According to further British records, the Gujjars plundered gunpowder and ammunition from the British and their allies. In Delhi, the Metcalfe House was sacked by the Gujjar villagers from whom the land was taken to erect the building. Gujjar turbulence owed a lot to their nomadic status and the British attempt to settle them as peaceful land revenue paying peasantry. During the Mughal era, Gujjars were known for their entrepreneurial role — they not only exchanged milk and other commodities but also guarded the trade routes of North India. The colonial-British State, keen to turn every rural element into a peasant, did
The Imperial Gazetteer of India states that throughout the “Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Gujars and Musalman Rajputs proved the most irreconcilable enemies of the British. A band of rebellious Gujjars ransacked Bulandshahr after a revolt by the 9th Native Infantry on May 21, 1857. The British forces were able to retake the town with the help of Dehra Gurkhas, but the Gujars rose again after the Gurkhas marched off to assist General Wilson's column in another area.
was driven out the district. Walidad Khan held Bulandshahr from July to September, until he was expelled after an engagement with Colonel Greathed's flying column. On October 4, the Bulandshahr District was regularly
Epilogue Ø 22 × June 2008
N A T I O N
not understand the community's entrepreneurial role. So after 1857, the British classified the Gujjars (and around 150 other Indian communities) as 'criminal tribes' through the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871. In this move, communities that had fought for Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1857 were openly targeted. Several other forces like the Pardhis of Vidarbha and the Dhangars and the Ramoshi-Berads of Maharashtra and Karnataka also suffered. Most of them were warrior-nomads or warrior-hunters of the Mughal and Maratha era. During the colonial era, basic human rights were denied to these communities. They were literally given an 'anti-social' tag. Their position became worse than that of many Dalit communities in the country. The Government of India repealed the noxious British act in 1952. But the afteraffects of the social exclusion of these communities impacted heavily when it came to granting them reservations. Listed separately as De-Notified Tribes (DNT), they were not at first put in the Other Backward Classes (OBC), the Scheduled Caste (SC) or the ST category. By the 1970s, Gujjars of several areas, including Rajasthan, were granted OBC status. But this created a discrimination as the Gujjars of North India and the Dhangars of West India were unable to compete with upwardly mobile OBCs like the Yadavs, the Kurmis, the Jats (in Rajasthan), the Kunbis (Maharashtra), and the Lingayats and Vokalligas (Karnataka). A special category of Most Backward Caste (MBC) with a 'quota within quota' situation ought to have been created for them. In Bihar, Karpuri Thakur, the MBC Chief Minister of the state in the late 1970s, created 'Annexure 1' and 'Annexure 2' especially for the MBCs. If applied to areas like Rajasthan, this formula could
have gone a long way in ameliorating Gujjar grievances. But apart from Bihar no other state took the pain of adopting this methodology. The Gujjars are not alone in agitating.
During the revolt of 1857, the Muslim Gujjars in the villages of Ludhiana district showed dissent towards the British authorities. The British interests in Gangoh city of Saharanpur District were 'threatened' by the rebel Gujjars under the leadership of Raja Fathua. The Gujjars of Chundrowli rose against the British, under the leadership of Damar Ram. The Gujjars of Shunkuri village, numbering around 3,000, joined the rebel sepoys. According to further British records, the Gujjars plundered gunpowder and ammunition from the British and their allies. In Delhi, the Metcalfe House was sacked by the Gujjar villagers from whom the land was taken to erect the building.
The Kurubas of Karnataka and the Dhangars and the Ramoshi-Berads of West India, too, have been demanding ST status for long. So the Gujjar agitation touches a wider political nerve. Slowly, the ST/SC categories have become more the monopolies of
certain sub-castes within the Dalits and the Adivasis. While the 'Chamars' of Uttar Pradesh and the 'Mahars' of Maharashtra have received the maximum benefit of the SC category, the Meenas of Rajasthan have exercised a near monopoly in the 'STreserved' tag in Rajasthan. So much so that there is a powerful Meena lobby in Delhi and Rajasthan structures — powerful enough to make even Chief Ministers and Cabinet Ministers sweat. The game gets murkier when one comes to UP. Here the Kols, designated as ST in Bihar and Jharkhand, are listed in the SC category, where it is almost impossible for them to compete with upwardly mobile Dalit groups. The Gonds of UP are tagged as ST — but ST is not even a recognised category in UP! So there are no jobs or electoral reservations for UP Gonds while Madhya Pradesh Gonds can take advantage of these privileges as MP recognises the ST category. The political leadership in the country does not seem interested in the problem of MBCs, who constitute more than half of the OBC population and about 30 per cent of India's population. Either the Bihar formula should be followed everywhere, or special provisions should have been made for them. Unless this is done, the desperately poor and backward MBCs, who unlike Dalits have failed to create their urban middle class, will continue to agitate over their exclusion from the ST or other beneficial categories. Their agitation now holds the prospect of altering political equations. It's time to take a look at the ongoing demand before it spills further out of control. Amaresh Misra is the author of War of Civilisations: India AD 1857
Epilogue Ø 23 × June 2008
N E I G H B O U R S
United We Fall, Divided We Stand
So, are we surprised? The answer, for cynics and optimists alike, is an undisputed NO. Writing this column seems more ironic than tragic, for only a month has passed since the rise and fall of a promising alliance. Only last month did many observers, including myself, analyze the various challenges confronting the new government in Pakistan. Daunting as they all seemed, they certainly were no match to the excitement and hope brought in by the grand partnership between the PPP and the PML-N. or the sake of reminiscence, as I write this column, the very first challenge facing the government and as identified by almost every keen Pakistan observer – the restoration of 60 judges – has led to a much expected faceoff, in fact sooner than anticipated. On 21 February 2008, Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif agreed to form coalition governments in Islamabad and Lahore and on 25 March 2008, Yousaf Raza Gillani was sworn in as the new Prime Minister. The trio expressed the resolve to cooperate and take the country forward on the path of progress and prosperity with the Prime Minister announcing a 100-day programme for the welfare of the people. Their pious ambitions, however, got embroiled in murky coalition politics of reaching a consensus over the restoration of 60 judges, unceremoniously sacked by Musharraf last year. In between, a ray of hope beamed when the PPP and the PML-N signed the six-point Murree Declaration in Bhurban and accordingly agreed to restore the deposed judges, to the position as they were on 2 November 2007, within 30 days of the formation of the federal government through a parliamentary resolution. On 29 March, Prime Minister Gillani addressed the National Assembly and as held by the
Murree Declaration, on 29 April the deadline for restoring the sacked judges passed without any resolution. On 30
restoration. On 2 May, Nawaz Sharif announced that the deposed judges would be reinstated through a parliamentary resolution on 12 May 2008. Speculation, however, was against the pronounced date as long as a constitutional package that was acceptable to the PPP, the PML-N, the President, Supreme Court and the Army was not in place. Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari met in London on 9 May to reach a consensus regarding the restoration, the outcome of which was anything but conclusive. On 12 May, Nawaz Sharif announced that his party's six federal ministers would resign from the coalition owing to disagreements on how to restore the deposed judges. Sharif, however, said that his party would not sit on the opposition bench and vowed to support the PPP-led government on an 'issue-to-issue basis in line with the Charter of Democracy (CoD)'. The reason, according to Sharif, for not resting his party's' heels on the benches of opposition is to not be a part of the anti-democratic forces, i.e. Musharraf and the PML-Q. Going by Sharif's statement, the question arises, what is the motive behind the PML-N's stated position? The answer lies not just in the events
April, Zardari and Nawaz held a hasty meeting in Dubai claiming to have narrowed the differences over the
Epilogue Ø 24 × June 2008
N E I G H B O U R S
leading to the 18 February elections and the subsequent differences that emerged between the Sharif and Zardari, but can be traced back to the days when Sharif was ousted in a coup by Musharraf and Zardari was charged for corruption in 1997. The saga is as much personal as it is political. Musharraf, after being reelected in October last year, imposed emergency rule and suspended the constitution in the wake of a Supreme Court resolution declaring his election as unconstitutional. Sharif, on the other hand, was deported mercilessly in September 2007. Since his comeback eventually, Sharif has not only remembered his deportation with a bitter taste, but has also remained vociferous about restoring the judges and did not mince words when he stated that his party would support the PPP-led government on the promise that the new government would restore the judges. That the sacked judges, once restored, would rule out Musharraf's election as unconstitutional tops Sharif's wish list. Previously, the Election Commission had rejected Sharif's papers to contest in the February elections thanks to the corruption and hijacking charges slapped against him by Musharraf's regime. Interestingly, on 15 May the Election Commission accepted Sharif's nomination papers thereby allowing him to contest the by-election to be held on 26 June. Musharraf, when in power had issued a ban on anyone serving as the Prime Minister for the third time, which clearly goes against Sharif having held office twice as prime minister. The restoration of judges would mean striking down every amendment made by Musharraf; it would also mean striking the ban.
Zardari, on the other hand, was cleared of corruption charges under the National Reconciliation Ordinance passed by Musharraf, which was rejected by Iftikhar Chaudhry. The new judges, however, upheld the decree, so it is not surprising that the PPP remained adamant on retaining the current Supreme Court judges and reinstating the old ones through a constitutional amendment. Zardari is as eager to trim Chaudhry's powers through a constitutional package, as Sharif is, to throw Musharraf out by restoring the judges through an executive order. In essence, differences tearing the coalition apart are not about reinstating the judges than about the way in which they can be reinstated. Both the PPP and the PML-N agree on the need for reinstating the deposed judges, however, Sharif insists on restoring the old judges through an executive order while accommodating the new judges as ad hoc judges. By pulling out of the cabinet, Sharif has left the PPP to bear the brunt of criticism as a party that is willing to collaborate with the discredited PML-Q. One should not forget the deft politician that Sharif is. He was staunchly antiMusharraf and anti-establishment unlike Benazir who scored negative points because of her famous powersharing deal with Musharraf. The PML-N may have suffered a majority in the National Assembly, however, it gained where it matters the most – in Punjab. The reason was Sharif and his uncompromising position over reinstating the judges and sacking Musharraf. Perhaps there is no politician today who understands the dynamics of Pakistan's electoral politics like the way Nawaz Sharif
does. His reading of the pulse of the public as well as the media is astute and by pulling out of the cabinet, he has emerged as a man with conviction. Moreover, Sharif has also hit the note right by stating that his party would continue to support the government from outside and not bring it down completely. Like this he has stood by his commitment to reinstate the judges as well as his commitment to support the government. A one-man show by Sharif, as the champion of Pakistan, is neither far nor would it be surprising. For the PPP, however, all is not lost. After the February elections, there was enough room for a PPP – PML-Q – MQM coalition at the centre and even now the possibility cannot be ruled out. Of course, such a coalition would boomerang considering the uprising that could be triggered by an already imminent lawyer's movement. The PML-N has indicated its support for the lawyers' protests beginning on 10 June. The lawyers' movement, which was the sinew behind last year's uprising for a democratic nation, finds itself highly politicized this year. What could have been a true revolution has turned into just another rebellion. The PPP has reacted fairly well by refusing to accept the resignations of the PMLN ministers and keeping the cabinet seats vacant until Sharif orders to withdraw the resignations. Nonetheless, the current impasse needs to be broken, for the government cannot afford to mull over the matter of reinstating judges as if it is the only problem that Pakistan needs to be resolve. REKHA CHAKRAVARTHI is a Research Officer at IPCS, New Delhi
Epilogue Ø 25 × June 2008
N E I G H B O U R S
Nepal : The State In Transition
fter the successful completion of Constituent Assembly elections in Nepal on 10 April 2008, the country has officially been witnessing the demise of decade of political chaos and preparing for the dawn of new political system. The final result of recent elections kept everyone at surprise that the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) secured the lion's share of seats in the new Constituent Assembly and emerged as the largest party in Nepal. The unambiguous emergence of the former rebels as victors in this election confirmed their remarkable transformation from a guerrilla force to the likely governing party in the troubled Himalayan nation. However, the real challenge for the future government lies in establishing a plural and inclusive political system and lasting peace and stability in the country. On several fronts, the recent elections made a great impact on the positions of the major political parties, as some new parties have emerged as significant parties while others have shrunk to minor ones. Surprisingly, the Maoists have secured 220 of the 601 seats, which is more than the combined number of seats secured by the two dominant traditional ruling parties, the Nepali Congress (NC) with 110 seats, and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN (UML)) with 103 seats. In addition to our surprise, the Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF) emerged as the fourth largest party securing a total of 54 seats, thereby almost rising to the status of the NC and the CPN (UML) and another Terai Madhes Party won 20 seats. But many of
the former ruling and royalist parties have faced disastrous defeat in the elections. The Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), prominent royalist and former ruling party failed to win even a single seat. While analyzing the future course of political system in Nepal, it is important to understand the breadth and the depth of popular support for the Maoists. Only in 16 parliamentary districts out of 75, did the CPN-Maoists not win at least in one constituency. And of these 16, only in Parsa (in the Terai region), did they not finish either in 2nd or 3rd place in at least one seat. In 74 out of 75 parliamentary constituencies, the CPN Maoists finished among the top 3 political parties in at least one first-past-the-post (FPTP) seat. And of these 73 districts, in 58 it won at least one FPTP seat. Further the Maoists won 4/10 seats in relatively affluent Kathmandu valley. In the Terai, which was considered as their weakest region in recent times, the Maoists won at least a dozen seats and came 2nd in another 15. In the Proportional Representation (PR) elections even though Nepali Congress (73) and the CPN-UML (70) fared much better, they were nonetheless behind the CPNMaoists (100). Out of the total 601 seats, 240 representatives elected directly, 335 elected through PR system and 26 nominated by the cabinet Despite of their large scale victory in the elections, the Maoists' conciliatory message to the leaders of other political parties and even to the suspended King for a 'graceful exit' undoubtedly
elucidates their interest in cooperating with other parties. While the people of Nepal have confirmed the mandate of the April uprising in the elections and the Maoists initiated the talks of forming a coalition government under their leadership, the other political parties indicated that they may not participate in the government. As the major parties have already agreed on the republican agenda, the first meeting of the Maoist-led CA would bid farewell to the 240-year old Monarchy without any voting. The first meeting of Nepal's constituent assembly has been scheduled on 28 May. However, the pro-Monarchy leaders particularly in NC would turn against on other crucial issues in order to disrupt their party's cooperation with the Maoists. Also, the CPN (UML) demanded the Maoists to dissolve their aggressive Young Communist League (YCL) and create a cordial atmosphere to join the government under their leadership. The Maoist leaders have requested the CPN (UML) and NC not to resign before forming the new government and for remaining in the future governmentled by the CPN (Maoist). Despite the fact of the Maoists overwhelming electoral victory, given that the CA will use a 2/3 majority decision making rule, forging alliances with other parties will be inevitable to push forward their progressive agenda. Even, the CA could form a new government with the votes of a two-third majority only or continue the current government with some
Epilogue Ø 26 × June 2008
N E I G H B O U R S
changes in it pursuant to the Article 38 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007. It is pertinent to understand that the Maoists by themselves cannot nominate the Prime Minister and would require the cooperation of the NC and CPN (UML). At this juncture, the coalitions will have to be broad-based and perhaps issue-based as well, because even an alliance with the CPN (UML) does not yield a 2/3 majority. As none of the parties are in a position to form a unilateral government and be noncooperative, all political parties need to avoid bickering between themselves and reach consensus on forming a new government or continue the current government with some changes. In this present situation, all parties need to assess flaws in their parties to set them right and secure each other's support to establish stability while writing the new constitution. Firstly, the Maoists have to democratize their party and neutralize their sister organizations such as YCL with compliance to the democratic culture. Further, it is imperative for the Maoists to return the confiscated properties, facilitate the relocation of the displaced population, relinquish the control over public, private and government properties and stop their assault and abduction of the other party members as per the earlier agreements. Also, the other political parties urgently need to transform their age-old mindset, particularly when the country has been striving for peace and prosperity. The Maoist chairman Prachanda expressed their party's commitment to the multi-party political system and said that even in socialist system, multi-partyism is a must to build a vibrant society. Until the federal democratic republican Nepal is created, the democratic forces chiefly the NC and the CPN (UML) have moral responsibility to avoid any resentment with the Maoists since they are the ones who have attempted to bring the Maoists into
mainstream politics. Understanding the intensity of critical issues in the Terai region, the future government needs to address it impartially to avoid any further chaos. While the newly emerged armed groups have become destabilized, the popular representative of the Madhesi population, the MPRF expressed its willingness to cooperate with the Maoists and the new government. Incorporating the Madhesi parties in the government would benefit it to be more inclusive and contain the spread of terror groups' influence. Also, the issue of integrating the Nepal Army and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) must be sorted out as amicably as possible. As the Nepal Army Chief Gen. Rukmangad Katwal assured that there was no difficulty for the Nepali Army to work under the legitimate government, the Maoists should also refrain their PLA leaders and cadres involving in disparaging activities against the national armed forces. The Maoists approval of transforming the PLA into an industrial security force or national parks protection force seems to be more viable. Finally, all the parties should work jointly in the Constituent Assembly to write a constitution within two years and hold the parliamentary elections in another six months. That's the moral obligation of all the parties and no one should shy away from that. Building a new level of diplomatic policy and advancing its relationship vis-à-vis Nepal's nuclear neighbours and its major donor countries would be the next crucial task for the new government. With the former rebels CPN-Maoist poised to head the new government, the US State Department has declared that the party was never included in its “foreign terrorist organisation” (but placed under 'terrorist exclusion list') and its relations with Nepal will depend
on the actions of the individuals included in the new government. Earlier on 1 May, the US Ambassador to Nepal Nancy J Powell held a meeting with Prachanda to get assurances that the US humanitarian programmes will not be interfered. The changing US stance on the Maoists would definitely influence the policy of major donor countries whose unstinted recognition and financial support is essential for the reconstruction of the insurgencytorn nation. China's attitude towards Nepal has always remained equitable and nonpartisan. Noninterference in their internal affairs has been the basic plank of its Nepal policy. The Maoist-led government would not face any problem in further consolidating the spirit of cordial relations between the two countries. The conspicuous irritants in Nepal-India relations are the contentious issue of revising the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, 1950, border encroachment by India, construction of dams and other physical structures along border, occupation of Kalapani and several other trade issues. India has officially agreed to revise the 1950 treaty and resolve all crucial issues through amicable bilateral talks. In a recent statement, the former Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Shyam Saran, has said that India is ready to even stop Gorkha recruitment if the Nepal Government wants it to. India has long been considered Nepal as belonging to its 'sphere of influence' something that has not been seriously contested by any other power in the World. However, in the realm of emerging political situation and rapid rise of China's interests in building strong links with Nepal, attention needs to focus on defining the future India-Nepal relations. Dr PG RAJAMOHAN is an independent security analyst, working on Nepal.
Epilogue Ø 27 × June 2008
EC ON O OT HE & MY RI
NO OT HE & MY RI DE AS
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Topper students of various activities posing with their merit certificates and trophies
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J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages
T R I B U T E
The Willing Victim
Irm Amin Baig
“I was deeply pained to learn the shocking death of photojournalist Ashok Sodhi in an encounter between security forces and terrorists near Jammu.”
Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Ashok Sodhi while reporting in (Jammu and) Kashmir, and send condolences to his family and colleagues,”
Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia Program Coordinator
“I deplore the death of Ashok Sodhi…. safety of journalists is a subject of paramount concern in any democracy. It is essential that reporters be able to do their work and inform the public, even in areas of conflict. Their status as civilians must be respected,”
Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO,
ince the eruption of separatist violence in 1988-89, Jammu and Kashmir has seen hundreds and thousands of deaths but one of them earned as widespread condemnations and concerns as the one did this month. Some of the high profile personalities which fell down to bullets these two decades include Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq, Abdul Ghani Lone, several Ministers, legislators and other political and religious leaders. When Ashok Sodhi, an ace photojournalist, succumbed to a bullet while covering an encounter in Jammu region's Samba district on the morning of May 11, there was a shock and awe cutting across all boundaries.
Epilogue Ø 32 × June 2008
T R I B U T E
Sodhi made death matter of pride
Balraj Puri Padma Bhushan, Veteran Journalist During last two decade old militancy hardly any other of its victim in Jammu had been so widely mourned as Ashok Sodhi. Apart from the almost entire journalist fraternity of Jammu, who paid tributes to his professional and personal qualities at the press club, large number of citizens that gathered to bid him farewell during his cremation was rarely seen before. Messages from journalists from Kashmir valley, several other places from within and outside the state, Press Club of India, Press Council of India and social and political leaders expressed their solidarity with Ashok Sodhi's family and Excelsior parivar in the loss they suffered. New York based International Committee for the Protection of Journalist has also expressed grief over the tragedy. It was not any ordinary death. He was a martyr for a cause. Though first journalist in Jammu who risked his life while pursuing his professional duties, he joined illustrious company of his co-professionals who met the same fate in Kashmir and elsewhere in the world. I was privileged to have known him for almost two decades and to have enjoyed his deep respect.Offers of financial help to the bereaved family are pouring in from different quarters. Press Club of Jammu has offered to donate Rs one lakh. A number of smaller offers were also made on the spot at the condolence meeting of the Press Club. Excelsior has set a commendable precedent for announcing Rs ten thousands per month for life to Mrs Sodhi with all the retirement benefits to which Sodhi was entitled. Delhi Public School has offered to bear all expenses for the education of his child. Farooq Abdullah, who visited the bereaved family, also promised some help. We were assured by the Advisor and other personal staff of the Chief Minister that he would give serious consideration to a number of suggestions that were made in the memorandum that was submitted to them on behalf of the Press Club. But the compensation that should he paid on such occasions should be institutionalized. A free risk assurance cover should be provided by the government for all journalists who are engaged in hazardous duties and keep the nation informed of happenings from the firing range. Death is painful, particularly for the survivors. But Ashok Sodhi has made his death a matter of pride for all those who were associated with him. Martyrs never die.
“I deplore the death of Ashok Sodhi,” said the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura. “The safety of journalists is a subject of paramount concern in any democracy. It is essential that reporters be able to do their work and inform the public, even in areas of conflict. Their status as civilians must be respected,” Mr Matsuura concluded. A press photographer of 26 years standing and associated since beginning with Jammu's leading E n g l i s h n e w s p a p e r, D a i l y Excelsior, Sodhi died of bullet injuries received while covering a an encounter between militants and security forces in Samba district, 45 kilometres south of Jammu. Sodhi leaves behind wife and a teenager daughter. Ashok Sodhi was essentially an unusual personality with varied skills. He had initially joined the newspaper as a proof reader and later took photojournalism as career and excelled in the coverage of different facets of the political and security situations in Jammu and Kashmir. He equally excelled in theater as well.
Mufti Islah Correspondent, CNN IBN Jammu's ace lensman Ashok Sodhi's love for stills will live on even after his death. The hands that spared Rs 50,000 for a branded camera, now part of an urn, will soon be dipped in Tawi or Chenab waters. That camera will surely make its way to Jammu from Delhi today or tomorrow but Sodhi does not live to hit click with his fingers. Sodhi, according to his friends, would itch to capture and capture `good' and it was this restlessness that he sped a good distance of 50 kilometres in few minutes before he went on to become a pen martyr. ``It took him 30 minutes to be on the spot and only three to leave it ... forever,'' his close friend Zorawar Singh laments. ``All good things come to an end but this is tragic indeed,'' rues Manu Srivatsava, his longtime companion. I remember having met Sodhi twice, first when I was a cub desk writer with `The Indian Express' nine years...
Epilogue Ø 33 × June 2008
T R I B U T E
Sodhi was 12th journalist in Jammu and Kashmir having lost life while on duty or killed otherwise during militancy. New York Based non-profit organization, the Committee to Protect Journalists mourned the killing of Sodhi. “We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Ashok Sodhi while reporting in (Jammu and) Kashmir, and send condolences to his family and colleagues,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. “This is a sad reminder that journalists remain at risk in this volatile region.” Making a mention of all those who expressed sympathies with Sodhi's bereaved family is beyond the space scope of these pages as a sea of humanity poured in. In a communication to the editor-in-chief of the Daily Excelsior, the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh said, "I was deeply pained to learn the shocking death of photojournalist Ashok Sodhi in an encounter between security forces and terrorists near Jammu.” “Kindly convey my heartfelt condolences to members of his family”, added the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister also appreciated the management of Daily Excelsior for granting a monthly support to Sodhi's family. The management of Press Club of Jammu lead by its president Manu Srivatsa and Secretary General Suhail Kazmi, played a rare lead role in standing by the family and emerging as an institution, journalists can fall back upon in hour of crisis. There can be hardly any parallel found anywhere else in the country the way Press Club shared the grief and paid tributes to a martyred member of the fraternity. A library in the Club premises has now been named after Sodhi, a monograph is being written on him and a fellowship program in his memory is in the pipeline.
The Last Assignment When television channels flashed the sad news of Sodhi's death on the morning of Sunday, May 11 and SMSes of friends and colleagues followed many could not believe for Sodhi was usually a late riser and it was unexpected having him there so early in the morning. It was perhaps the last call which took Sodhi away, not only away to Samba but far away and for ever. The happy-go-merry kind of Sodhi died as a martyr fighting his professional duty more like a soldier. His death came as a massive shock for media fraternity in Jammu as every journalist took it as a personal loss. Thousands of people joining his cremation reflected the amount of goodwill Sodhi enjoyed among a cross section of society. He was literally a friend of the friends. Aged around 44 years, Sodhi had joined the Daily Excelsior as a proof reader in 1982 and later switched over his stream to photojournalism. Till his last breath, his loyalties remained with the organization he had joined 26 years back. He was one of the only three best known still photographers in Jammu. Colleagues who accompanied Sodhi on the fateful morning from Jammu to Samba said that it was quite unusual seeing him so eager to cover the encounter. While Sodhi was about to brush up his teeth his mother was preparing breakfast for him when he heard about the incident. He deferred brushing up teeth and instead took the toothbrush along as also the packet of breakfast to have it after discharging his professional duty. Such was his commitment with the profession. Though he brushed up teeth on the way but Sodhi could not have the last breakfast of his life. While covering the encounter in the embattled Samba village, Sodhi got a gun shot in his forehead. Colleagues made haste to rush him to the hospital but unfortunately Sodhi could not survive.
Void in our hearts
S. D. Rohmetra Editor-in-Chief, Daily Excelsior There is a void in our hearts. We in Daily Excelsior feel as if a part of our body and soul has gone. The genial figure of Ashok Sodhi will no more be walking up and down the corridors of this newspaper. No more will he enter my room to discuss daily assignments. He had followed this routine for 26 years thus growing up with us. A quarter of a century is a long enough period to closely know a person. Ashok was disciplined and never complained. If he had to say something he would do so softly but firmly. He did not believe in beating about the bush. His sudden departure now is not simply like that of a colleague joining and leaving the organisation. He will not be visible any more. As this feeling sinks in I find it extremely difficult to contain my own personal grief. For lesser mortals like us death is very hard to understand. No one really understands death well. It's difficult to believe that the person who passes away is actually gone forever. Ashok has died a martyr's death. He has laid down his life in the discharge of his duties. His sacrifice strengthens our resolve to take on the evil of terrorism with greater conviction and determination. This will be our tribute to his memory. On the professional front we will continue to stand up and be counted against the cult of violence. At a personal level, of course, we will stand by his family in our humble way. A signed editorial in Daily Excelsior on May 12
Epilogue Ø 34 × June 2008
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