Kashmir : Factors Responsible For Turmoil – III

C. Administrative Factors :

Administrative sterility, apathy , slovenliness and complacency have contributed to the alienation of Kashmiris . What Vincent A Smith wrote about the past of Kashmir is true even today; “Few regions in the world could have had worse luck than Kashmir in the matter of Government.” Administrators were never brought to book despite their corruption and involvement in economic offences. Vigilance Commission reports on successive State Governments and Ayyengar Commission report are evidence enough regarding these malpractices. No sincere efforts were ever made to stop deforestation, drug trafficking  and evasion of taxes. Loot of exchequer was not only allowed but also encouraged. To quote one instance, I once visited the house of a Senior Officer of State Government in Jammu and was shocked to know that he had purchased just half a kanal of Land for his residential house while additional one and a half kanal which belonged to the State Government were annexed to it through manipulation.

An old adage says, “You can conquer territories and control subjects but you cannot win their hearts except through good governance.”

1. Corruption, Nepotism, and Favouritism :

It was reported by the daily Khidmat, Srinagar on 25 May 1952 that “Corruption had assumed an epidemic form which had taken the whole state under it.” The corruption since then has not abated but increased manifold. P N Bazaz writes in ‘ Kashmir in Crucible'(p 70), “By giving tempting bribes in the form of huge sums , government jobs, or PWD and forest contracts, he (Bakhshi) corrupted political workers, journalists, religious leaders and others inside and outside the State. His route-permit system by which permit holder could earn thousands while sitting at home gained notoriety.” With meagre employment avenues available, the common people found it difficult to get jobs in spite of carrying necessary degree certificates with them. Politicians instead of creating avenues of employment in the state ascribed the problem of unemployment among Kashmiri Muslims to the fact that most of the jobs were taken by Kashmiri Pandits thus giving it a communal colour which gullible people readily accepted. If it were so, why has the problem not been solved for the last two decades since there are no Kashmiri Pandits left in the valley to compete with the Muslims?

Besides government jobs, the other avenues too were blocked by the vested interests. Self employment seekers were discouraged by the bureaucratic red tape while contracts were awarded to the relatives and friends of politicians and bureaucrats. There has always been a nexus between the politicians, bureaucrats, contractors and drug pedlars which gave rise to a nouveau riche class known in Kashmir as ‘Charas Khojas’. D N Kaul who retired as Inspector General of police in J&K, is of the view that the nouveau riche flaunt an ersatz culture whose chief characteristics favour a vulgar display of crude and low taste in dress , in style of living in house and in the general way of conduct and bearing (The Seminar, vol 392).

2. Infiltration in Administration and Police :

Many senior officials of the  state administration were known to be hand in gloves with the extremists.  As per the report published in the Statesman of 6 January 1990, “it is not a secret that demoralized state police force remained sympathetic towards the militants, that the local CID was acting more on their behalf than on behalf of the State. It is also no secret that senior doctors at Sheri Kashmir Medical Institute baulked the central and state police for two months and did not let them interrogate Hamid Sheikh who along with four known militants was later released in exchange for the kidnapped daughter of the then Union Home Minister”. Complicity of State Government officials was part of the strategy under the Operation Topac planned by Ziaul Haq of Pakistan for which regular indoctrination was carried out by Jamate Islami cadres in the mosques of Kashmir.  Paralysis of administration in J&K State witnessed in early ninety’s was the direct result of such indoctrination.

3. Uniform codification of rules :

It is a fact that militancy rose its head suddenly and the Government had not anticipated the same. But as the time passed by, both the Central and the State Governments did not take pains to make uniform rules, firstly, to attract officials to attend to their jobs in the valley, and secondly, to compensate those families whose kin were killed or injured as a result of terrorist action. Various allowances given by the Central Government varied from office to office so much so in some departments officials took as many as four  HRA’s or equivalent  thereof while Officials of  other departments enjoyed the hospitality of the best of the hotels in the valley. The added burden on the exchequer was much more due to the claims of patriotic bureaucrats as compared to the subversive militants. Even the treatment given to the security forces who died in Kargil war was totally different from the treatment given to those who were killed while combating terrorists in the valley.

4. Right to Know:

People’s right to know has not been honoured in Kashmir. P N Bazaz in his book, ‘Kashmir in Crucible’ (p89) has asserted that “In Kashmir valley during the past nineteen years many political disturbances have taken place and hundreds of people done to death by armed police but not even once did the Government order any judicial enquiry into the conduct of the guardians of law and order.” Surprisingly, despite the fact that the holy relic of Prophet (Moi Muqqadas) was lost in 1965 and recovered subsequently by no less a person than Lal Bahadur Shastri who later became the Prime Minister of India, the Central Government has not been able to convince Kashmiris as to who took away the holy relic and under what circumstances. Many more incidents have taken place ever since, more importantly the Anantnag riots in 1986, abduction of Rubaiya Syed, Killings of  Tika Lal Tapiloo, Mushirul Haq, Khera, Lassa Kaul, and Mirwaiz Farrooq, and clandestine funding of militants through hawala in the valley, yet no judicial enquiry has been ordered into the incidents and nobody has been brought to book on this account.

Where as the Central government has recently introduced the Right to Information Act which empowers people of India to seek information about matters that concern them as also ensures transparency in the Government,  the same was not extended to J&K State in its full form. The act passed by the State Government does not have all the essential features of the former.

5. Ineffective State Mass Media :

In the early phase of militancy, the subversives were able to paralyse both the State agencies viz All India Radio and Doordarshan, which have not been able to re-establish themselves in the valley with the same old glory. For more than a decade news used to be broadcast /telecast from outside the valley. No critical reports about militancy could be carried on these media due to fear of reprisal. It needs to be mentioned here that during 1965 insurgency Radio Kashmir  had, besides mobilising popular support against the insurgency, played a great role in countering the disinformation campaign unleashed by Pakistan Radio,Azad Kashmir Radio, and newly established Sadae Kashmir, a clandestine radio station operated from across the border.

Even during the recent Amarnath agitation, there were riots in Kashmir and the private television channels were noticed to be playing a negative role during the period so much so that State Government had to finally issue a whip on the matter. J&K State being a sensitive state should have had in place a proper code of conduct for the media like TV channels, radio stations and  newspapers so that there were no direct or indirect acts of subversion by them.

D. Human Factors

Militancy had thrown up a big challenge to the Government. On the one hand  were those who were terrorists, on the other hand were those who were victims of terrorist violence. It came to notice  that human lives consumed by terrorism carried different price tags. Officers of LIC killed by militants received several lakhs of rupees while others received just one lakh or even less. There were still others who did not receive any or were prevented by the militants from accepting any amount from the Government. Worse still, price of a life in Assam or Punjab was different as compared to price of a life in Kashmir. Resettlement of victims and others who were directly affected by terrorism also did not receive proper and uniform attention. Bogus migrants were registered in migrant camps. While the real victims had to face many difficulties in getting relief from the Government, thousands of families who continued to stay in Kashmir were able to get registered and receive relief in Jammu and Udhampur. The Government did not make any attempt to issue orders in this regard to make sure proper verification of the migrants was carried out. The relief counters had a fixed rate of commission which used to be paid by such fake migrants. The relief officers encouraged registration of fake migrants and making of fake ration cards which increased their own income. It was this vested interest of the ruling class that prospered at the expense of the plight of the people who were happy with the situation  and prayed for continuation of these conditions in the valley.

On the other hand, in the valley, the distribution system was taken over by the extremists who controlled it and as a result distributed it to those who followed them. The government was seen nowhere in the initial phase of militancy and the people were more than convinced that half the battle had been won by militants and Azadi was round the corner.

1. Role of Human Rights Organisations :

Indian democracy has one safety valve which sustains it and that is the freedom of expression. Many  human rights organisations, seeing the unbridled mounting state repression in Kashmir, cried foul. Raymond Whitaker in his article, ‘Militants in Kashmir Show Their Hand’ (The Independent, 10 June 1990) wrote, “An Indian team recently reported that the failure of Government to distinguish between masses of unarmed demonstrators on one hand and groups of armed militants on the other has been responsible to a large extent for pushing the general public to the Anti-Indian position that the militants adopted. It is the government that ironically provided a handful of secessionists with a mass base.”

Asia Watch also sent a fact-finding mission which visited Kashmir in December 1990 and produced a  report on 19 Aug 1991 which showed gross violation of human rights. An US study team appointed by US Congressmen also reported gross violation of human rights . Another report  to this effect appeared in the Economic and Political Weekly of 21 December 1991 under the title ‘Bharat’s Kashmir War’ written by Gautam Navlakha. Similarly, human rights activists like V M Tarkunde, Rajender Sachar, Amrik singh, Balraj Puri, Inder Mohan, Rajinder Dviwedi, N D Pancholi and T S Ahuja affliated to organisations like PUCL, Citizens forum for Democracy, Radical Humanist Association and Manav Ekta Abhiyan also made public their report on 20 April 1990 which was very critical about the handling of situation by Jagmohan, the Governor and highlighted the excesses committed by the security forces in the valley. On the contrary, the B G Varghese Committee sponsored by the Press Council of India which visited Kashmir exonerated the Indian Army for having committed any gross excesses in the valley (Press Council report – Crisis and Credibility, 19 June 1991).

Harish Sethi in an article, ‘ A Constricted Course ‘ (The Seminar , vol 392) writes, “While some of these HRG reports have been commended for their coverage and timely warnings against state excesses, the general reading has been that HRG’s bend over backwards to prove their radicalism and this radicalism seems to consist of a gleeful and malicious state bashing and of proving that the law and order machinery is not only excessively but invariably biased against the minorities and the weak, that the social base of Hindu communalism has grown to alarming proportions, that terrorist and military violence is almost excusable in face of State terrorism and so on.”

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