Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Beyond the border politics

orders burn. That’s what history speaks. And that’s what going on in contemporary world scenario. Ethnic divide, religious sentiments, political motives, separatist movements could make any border vulnerable to attacks. At the most beautiful, the so-called Paradise on Earth, the Jammu and Kashmir state in India, all these factors come together making it the most restive place in the world. As beauty brings unwanted attention, this place is always doomed to boil, despite its freezing temperature.

As in the pre-independence period, the region is facing continuous security threat even in the post-independence scenario. Kashmir is particular to India as a border state. The neighbouring country Pakistan, too wants a share of Kashmir. The geographical positioning as well as religious sentiments of the place makes two nations vie for its possession. But now the issue has risen beyond border politics.At present Kashmir is burning over a land row. It began when the peace process between Pakistan and India started showing tremendous improvement and the state was getting ready to go for local polls. 

Apart from the state government under the Congress-People’s Democratic Party that managed to bring peace in the region, the Central government with its constant efforts adopted many Confidence Building Measures. The two sides released many prisoners from their jails. Of them the most important gesture came from Pakistan who set free an alleged spy. Resumed bus, train services also boosted the peace process. Cross-border intrusion and firing were also stopped. Football matches were held. Tourists flocked.
Even a rock troop from Pakistan performed on the banks of famous Dal Lake. The valley, which reverberated short-lived notes of peace, once again hears gunshots and is experiencing home-drawn violence.

Is it like some good things never last for long? It seems somebody wants Kashmir to boil always. But who wants Kashmir to boil? It is difficult to find specific answers. But it is easy to find out that the present situation is purely political. All began in the name of Amarnath Shrine Board. With just three months away for local election after the Central government announced the local poll dates, the then governor of the state Lt-Gen SK Sinha, on May 26 announced the transfer 40 hectares of land near Amarnath cave to Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board for setting up temporary shelters for pilgrims. The Ghulam Nabi Azad government√≠s decision came up when Hindus’ Amarnath pilgrimage began. Soon after the announcement environmentalists came up with protests citing ecological problems.

When the issue was raging high the tenure of Governor SK Sinha expired on June 25; and Governor NN Vohra took charge. Soon after that on June 28 PDP, the coalition partner of ruling government, pulled out support reducing Azad government to a minority. This made the state government to revoke the land transfer order. But the government failed to quell the protests and chief minister Azad was forced to leave the office on July 1.

It should be noted that the local environmentalists sparked the land protest. However, it got a political colour much later when the valley politicians, mainstream as well as separatists, took up the issue for their own gains. Now it has developed into a communal divide. The politicians, irrespective of their party ideology, saffron or green or secular, have eroded the minds of innocent, illiterate people to put land row as an inevitable issue. As in the past, Hindus and Muslims are at loggerheads over religion than land issue.

When the Azad-led Congress-People√≠s Democratic Party tried to woo the Hindu population with the transfer of land, the communal Bharatiya Janata Party which is trying to get a foothold in the region smelt a rat. They took advantage when the government revoked the land transfer. With the Sarabjit issue, they have gained a foot-ground in the valley’s political scene and the land row came a blessing to them ahead of the election. ut there is something that the politicians failed to realise. 

Kashmir is entirely different in forming a political platform. For decades the people have been crushing under terrorism; and a single spark could bring out all their suppressed anger to a melting bowl. The English East India Company’s divide and rule policy, which led to the partition and formation of India and Pakistan, is taking new nuances. The political parties knowingly or unknowing are adopting the leftover of century-old British tyranny for playing dirty politics. But in Kashmir region, this is suicidal. It will give a reach to those who want the country to be challenged by Kashmir uncertainty always, especially when India is developing economically and becoming a decisive power in the world.

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