Thursday, November 4, 2010

Some More Options for Kashmir

By Col LK Anand Retd

With all the mess on the Kashmir issue already having been accumulated in the past six decades, through actions and inactions of various parties, no tangible solutions appear to be in sight at least for the present or even in the near future. It is difficult to say that the minds of those interested in Kashmir would change overnight and the problems will get sorted out soon, on the contrary there are more chances that the present instability would persist. Under such unfavourable circumstances now prevailing in Kashmir, there appears hardly any chance of talks by interlocutors or similar mediators, with the separatists or the Kashmir population succeeding.

As such, India can ill afford any further complacency on this issue and must set its own house in order, and display toughness and strength in all spheres. There should be no room for us to be cowed down by the threats from Pakistan, on the basis of their Nuclear ability, as also support from China militarily. It is a known fact, that everyone tries to intimidate those displaying weak or indifferent stance. It is also doubtful that Obama can or would do anything, except to eventually supply more arms and aid to Pakistan.

It is strongly felt that Indian government should gradually try out the following tough measures in the order listed, to commence process of reconciliation amongst the population of Kashmir as well as strengthen and consolidate its own hold and control on the State. This posture is not aimed at waging war or hostilities but is for ensuring safety of Kashmiri population from terrorist activities and internal feuds, as well as for preventing lawlessness and ensuring Indian control in the Valley :-

( a ) Presence of Indian security forces in Kashmir, under the command of Army leadership, be enhanced by two to three folds if not more. AFSPA should remain applicable as heretofore to deal with terrorism and such activities breeding within the precincts of the State and from across the LOC.

( b ) All borders with Pakistan (especially POK) and China be totally sealed to allow zero infiltration into Indian territory from across the border. Border Security Force assisted by Army, if required, could be employed for this task.

( c ) All talks with Pakistan’s leadership should be totally suspended till they hand over the Indian territory (POK) forcibly occupied by them in 1948, stop singing the tune of Kashmir problem as an international problem, and to cease all violations of LOC. We can certainly do without unfriendly Pakistan who does not respect India’s territorial integrity, peaceful and friendly attitude.

( d ) Along with improvement in conventional warfare capability, India must side by side also substantially enhance its Nuclear ability and delivery systems to develop required degree of deterrence. It is not that we have to go on war, but no neighbour should have the courage to intimidate us by resorting to misadventures against us. We certainly have a right and responsibility to ensure our own security, without the intervention of a third party, and there is no harm in being reckoned as a super power militarily.

( e ) Government of India should take cognizance of anti National stance and utterances of the Kashmir Chief Minister and if feasible remove him. Dissolve the assembly, if situation so warrants and impose President’s rule in the State. Under such circumstances appoint an experienced and senior military officer with advisors of his choice, as the Governor of the state, to assist the President, to maintain law and order and run the state administration.

( f ) Conditions should be created immediately, in the state for the return of all Kasmiri Pandits/Hindus or any other citizens who were compelled to move out of their motherland. Suitable, financial assistance loans etc be provided for their resettlement and rehabilitation.

( g ) UID cards (Nandan Nilekani Edition) be issued first of all, to all Kashmiri citizens, after stringent verifications. It should be ensured by carrying out thorough, house to house searches, to identify loyal citizens and to trace out the anti national elements and persons having association with terrorist groups. Such persons be suitably dealt with and if required be thrown out of Kashmir or tried by fast track courts.

( h ) All separatists and those professing anti India feelings, may be treated as traitors. Highly fast track courts be appointed to try all of them for sedition/treason, if required at places far away from Kashmir, say Andaman Nicobar or Lakshdweep etc. However, they may be given an opportunity or option to change their allegiance or affiliations, by pledging and signing a bond or move out of India (Kashmir) with bag and baggage, if they do not elect India to be their motherland.

( j ) Article 370 of the Constitution should be revoked in the State, as soon as conditions in the state normalise. Within six months of repealing it, any Indian citizen wishing to own property and settle down in the state may be permitted to do so.

( k ) The people of Kashmir irrespective of their religion be given an assurance and a feeling that they are integral part of India and have to live as Indians along with all other citizens of India, pledging allegiance to Indian Constitution.

( l ) All types of technical and financial assistance, for developing infrastructure, full assistance in developing industries of various types, their own residential complexes as well as business complexes in which they already excel and are experts, must be provided to the deserving cases.

Although, precious period of over six decades has been wasted or not properly utilised by the Indian Government, for ensuring proper welfare of Kashmir “The Paradise on Earth”, yet, even, now there is an opportunity for the Government to undo the lapses of the past, by observing a stance of strength, power and determination, with their heart and soul, for the betterment of fate of Kashmiri people.

Col LK Anand Retd
Published in Free Press Indore, Thursday, November 4, 2010

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