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End the deadlock

End the deadlock

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: August 6, 2008

Karan Singh has a solution

The situation in Jammu region continues to worsen with each passing day. In the absence of any meaningful political intervention, and on account of mounting police atrocities on protesters, the people of this region are more determined than before to continue with their agitation against the biased attitude of Srinagar, best exemplified by the manner in which the order allotting 97 acres of land to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board to set up temporary facilities for pilgrims was rescinded because the Muslims of Kashmir Valley were offended. Given the fact that emotions are running high and administrative measures like imposition of curfew have failed to restrain angry Hindus, a matured and even-handed political response is called for without any further delay. Since there is no elected Government in the State, that response should have come from Governor NN Vohra, but he has abysmally failed in fulfilling his responsibilities. Indeed, the people of Jammu view him as the person who has compromised Hindu interests and trampled on Hindu sentiments to curry favour with Islamists in the Kashmir Valley and appease his political patrons in Delhi. Through word and deed, Mr Vohra has demonstrated his bias against Jammu region and his disinterest in Hindu aspirations. He may serve the purpose of those with a dubious agenda on Jammu & Kashmir, but he does not deserve to be Governor of this State, not least because of his own views on how to deal with Muslim separatism in the Kashmir Valley, which are no secret. It is, therefore, not surprising that the people of Jammu want him out of Jammu & Kashmir.

Seen against this backdrop, the laudable initiative of Mr Karan Singh, who has come up with a five-point formula to calm the protesters and end the deadlock, should be taken seriously by all political parties and the agitators as a possible way out of the present impasse. Mr Singh has suggested that Mr Vohra should be removed from Jammu & Kashmir and given a different assignment; former Army chief JJ Singh should be appointed Governor of the State; the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board should be reconstituted with Hindus, including Pandits, from both Jammu and Kashmir; the Government should create facilities for pilgrims on the earmarked land and give the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board control over the land during the annual yatra, apart from extending the pilgrimage to two months; and, victims of police firing should be compensated. Each of these suggestions is eminently sensible and reflects Mr Singh's umbilical link with Jammu & Kashmir and his sensitivity to local concerns. Interestingly, Mr Farooq Abdullah has also suggested the temporary leasing of land to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board for the duration of the yatra every year. It will require political courage and a commitment to fairplay to carry forward Mr Singh's suggestions and use them as a basis for involving the protesters in a meaningful dialogue. No doubt there will be strong opposition from Mr Vohra and his patrons in Delhi, but this should be brushed aside without so much as a second thought. In any event, if Mr Vohra has any sense of dignity and self-esteem, he should resign from office immediately. He may be tolerated in Kashmir but is despised in Jammu. That makes him unwanted.

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