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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

Ensuring Greater Liberty In Kashmir

On Kashmir, a matter of vital significance to the world, it is important to not focus on any legalities or technicalities but to revert straight to the basics. I will therefore consider two basic issues in this article: (a) Kashmir’s territory and (b) its people, and hope to deduce policy insights that are compatible with liberty and peace.

Kashmir's Territory:

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On Kashmir, a matter of vital significance to the world, it is important to not focus on any legalities or technicalities but to revert straight to the basics. I will therefore consider two basic issues in this article: (a) Kashmir’s territory and (b) its people, and hope to deduce policy insights that are compatible with liberty and peace.

Kashmir's Territory:

No nation can hope to defend the freedoms of its citizens without first securing its territory. National boundaries are, however, only rarely created by civilized debate. In most cases, brute force and physical possession are its markers. A nation that loses physical control over land loses it for ever. History moves on.

India’s partition was based on the communal principle, with princely states given the option of acceding to either India or Pakistan. This – the communal principle – however, is badly flawed, indeed meaningless. The failure of this principle is evident from the fact that roughly the same number of Muslims live in India today as they do in Pakistan. It is likely, therefore, that this principle was a façade for British geopolitical calculations to weaken the mighty India of the future.

Be as it may, this principle failed to make any headway from day one. When the Muslim ruler of Hindu-majority Junagarh acceded to Pakistan, Indian forces took it over and held a plebiscite in 1948 to provide ‘legitimacy’ (Note, however, that only possession matters, so this idea of a plebiscite is a desirable but not necessary condition of national territory). India also rejected the Nizam of Hyderabad’s independence dreams, and took it over.

In Kashmir, however, things went badly wrong. After dithering for months, by which time chaos and anarchy had set in, the Hindu raja of Muslim-majority Kashmir fled Srinagar, acceding Kashmir to India. But his action was devoid of any implications for when he did not control the Kashmir valley, how could he possibly hand it over to anyone? When Nehru flew planes into Srinagar and took over the valley, the matter should therefore have come to a close. In the meanwhile, Pakistani troops – through a front of organized tribal forces – took over what is now called Azad Kashmir.

But then Nehru quite unnecessarily lodged a complaint with the UN, claiming the entire Kashmir territory (territory that India has not physically controlled even for one instant). He also committed unnecessarily to a plebiscite in Kashmir. Things got murkier when J&K was allowed its own constitution and Article 370 of the Indian Constitution gave Kashmir a privileged status.

But things have dramatically changed. Both nations are now nuclear states. It should be obvious (unless people are willing to risk mutual assured nuclear destruction) that all options on the boundary have now been closed. Pre-nuclear era treaties and commitments are worthless and the LOC cannot be budged except at grossly unacceptable cost.

Some Kashmiris, looking for a way out, still ask for an independent state. But they should realize that this option is entirely off the table. Pakistan will never allow this to happen (after all, the “K” in its name comes from Kashmir), and India is aware that China – with its menacing control over the Karakoram highway – will use defenceless Kashmir to threaten India. This means that India can never afford to have an independent Kashmir.

So what is to be done? The most logical solution is for India to withdraw its complaint to the UN and recognize Azad Kashmir provided that Pakistan (a) agrees to recognize the LOC and that Kashmir is an integral part of India, (b) totally stops aiding and abetting terrorist activity in Kashmir, and (c) works constructively towards trade and cultural relations with India. Should this happen, the people of Kashmir, who are fed up with endless violence, will find at least some respite.

However, this won’t happen easily. It is not in Pakistan’s interest to resolve the Kashmir issue. If this issue disappears then Pakistan will have one fewer reason to exist – further deepening its already severe existential crisis. Therefore Pakistan is likely to continue terrorising Kashmir.

One plausible way to achieve this is to improve the governance in Kashmir to such an extent that Muslims in India (and particularly in Kashmir) will become wealthy and will thereafter themselves throw out the terrorists sent by Pakistan. But this is further complicated by political parties like BJP that keep stoking communal conflict and promoting Hindutva. Such parties only strengthen the hand of the Pakistani generals and create doubt in the minds of Kashmiri Muslims.

Unless all political parties in India agree to separate religion from political discourse, resolving the territorial problem in Kashmir will remain a distant dream.

Kashmir's People:

Despite all these complications, territory is a relatively minor matter. Nations exists for the sake of the people, not the other way around. Therefore Kashmiris must want to live in India: and by that I mean all Kashmiris – not just those who work for the J&K government or the Kashmiri Pandits or the Hindu and Buddhist residents of Jammu and Ladakh.

For that to happen genuine freedom must be ensured. True, the J&K constitution guarantees civil and political rights, but the India itself is unfree, so how can J&K experience freedom? The Indian constitution violates our freedoms in innumerable ways (as shown in my book, Breaking Free of Nehru); and governments in India use an archaic colonial governance system for their socialist ends. The end product is a horribly corrupt, statist society.

India ranks at the bottom of the Third World on the Heritage index of economic freedom – well below Botswana, Uganda, Namibia, Rwanda and Tanzania, and below Bhutan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Even Pakistan offers more economic freedom than India. Indian misgovernance has surely increased secessionist demands; demands that Kashmiris would have otherwise snubbed. With such deplorable governance, how can we prevent Kashmiri youngsters from being attracted to Pakistani propaganda?

The Solution – Freedom And Good Governance:

Kashmir’s solution boils down to freedom and good governance. And while Article 370 must be abrogated, it is best done as part of a liberation package for the entire country.

This packages should ensure that all Indians are treated equally (discrimination such as reservations must go); poverty is eliminated; corruption is reduced to the unavoidable minimum; freedom (subject to accountability) is ensured; and restrictions on movement and settlement within NE India and tribal areas of India are abolished – along with the abrogation of Article 370.  

Once genuine freedom and good governance are available in Kashmir, anyone who talks about secessionism will be ignored by the people. And then the Kashmiri Pandits (and others who have been forced to leave) will be able to return to their homeland, marking the end of this tragic and bloody chapter in India’s history.

Freedom Team of India:

I invite leaders from Kashmir (of any religious denomination) who want genuine freedom and good governance in Kashmir to join Freedom Team of India. Existing political formations in India do not understand even the basics of freedom, and so we are obliged to work to bring freedom to India (and Kashmir).

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this writing are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of League of India, its Editorial Board or the business and socio-political interests that they might represent.

This article was first published at the author's blog on Jan 01 here


Sanjeev Sabhlok has a doctorate in economics from the University of Southern California. He joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1982 and resigned in January 2001 to pursue possible political and other goals. He now works in the Australian public sector in regulatory policy.


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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

“No Part of Assam to be Allowed to be Included in Nagalim”

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Assam Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on February 13 informed the State Assembly that no part of the State would be allowed to be included in any proposed ‘Nagalim’.

Chandra Mohan Patowary also assured the House that the government would strongly oppose any move to do so in the future also.

He was replying to Opposition Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Ajanta Neog raising the matter in the Assembly here about media reports that Assam’s land would come under proposed ‘Nagalim’.

The Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) has been seeking integration of the Naga-inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur into Nagalim.

All the three states have opposed the proposal.

Assam Chief Minister Had Already Issued a Statement

Reacting to the violent incidents in Dima Hasao over Nagalim, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on January 25 had said that no land of Assam will be included in proposed Nagalim.

“The state’s geographical territory would not be compromised. The people in any part of the state need not worry about proposed Nagalim and people in Dima Hasao should not have any apprehension regarding this,” Chief Minister Sonowal said in a statement issued from New Delhi.

Stating that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has already assured of non-inclusion of Assam’s land in Nagalim and state government has also taken all steps to ensure the same, Sonowal called upon the people of the state to maintain peace and harmony.

Following the chief minister’s directive, a crucial meeting was held at Dispur on January 25 where chief executive member and executive member of Dima Hasao Autonomous Council along with representatives of various organisations of Dima Hasao took part.

Meanwhile

In his reply to the opposition question in the Assam Assembly, Patowary claimed that the neighbouring state was not “cooperating with Assam in maintaining peace and status quo along the 512.1 kilometre-long inter-state boundaries.”

He also claimed that Nagaland has been attempting infringement of Assam land with the latest major instance being of setting up a sub-division inside Assam in November last year, which, he said, Assam government has been successfully and firmly resisting.

But the minister said that he was hopeful the border dispute would be settled soon as the Supreme Court was dealing with it.

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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

Odisha Police and the Maoists Exchange Heavy Fire

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The Police and Communist Party of India-Maoist cadres exchanged fire during a raid on a camp of the Maoists near Tikarpadu under Jodamba Panchayat (village level local-self government institution) of Chitrakonda Police limits in Malkangiri District on February 12.

The heavy exchange of fire took place inside the jungle near Tikarpadu when a joint squad of Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh and Special Operation Group (SOG) of Odisha Police Forces swooped down a Maoist camp during a joint combing operation. No casualties have been reported during the exchange of fire.

Malkangiri Superintendent of Police (SP), Jagmohan Meena said there were around 50 Maoists, including some leaders, at the camp at the time of firing.

“Specifically, we can’t divulge as which Maoist leader was present at the camp, but there were a few Maoist leaders. Unable to face heavy firing from our side, the Maoists fled the spot,” Meena told The Telegraph newspaper.

According to reports, taking advantage of the difficult terrain and dense jungle as many as 50 Maoists, including their top leader Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna alias RK managed to escape.

Police suspect that top rebel leaders had congregated at the camp to chalk out their strategy to carry out a major attack.

At least 45 Maoist kit bags, six AK fire ammunition, two INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) assault rifle rounds, six live 303, wire bundles, gas cutters 9 mm carbine magazine, explosive slurry and detonators were recovered from the camp.

Meanwhile, work on the Gurupriya River Bridge, which aims to connect about 151 villages of seven panchayats with Malkangiri District, has been extended for the fourth time after missing three deadlines.

An official said the bridge was expected to be operational by March end. “Out of the 22 concrete slabs, work on 19 has been completed. We hope to complete the work before the March end,” said the Malkangiri Public Works Department (PWD)’s Executive Engineer, Arun Kumar Sahu.

(South Asian Terrorism Portal)

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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

NIA Arrests Another Suspected ISIS Operative in Tamil Nadu

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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on February 12 arrested Ansar Meeran (29) from an unspecified hideout in Poonamallee of Poonamallee Taluk, Tiruvallur District in Tamil Nadu.

Meeran is accused of being Islamic State (IS) sympathiser and for plotting terror attacks in Tamil Nadu

Meeran is the fourth accused stated in the First Information Report (FIR) of IS-Tamil Nadu case. Meeran and other eight accused were charged under Sections 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 17, 18, 18B, 20, 38, 39, and 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UA(P)A] 1967.

Meeran was produced before the designated Special Court and was sent to judicial custody at Puzhal Central Prison in Chennai District (Tamil Nadu). Meeran and his associates conspired the terror attacks, recruited members for IS, raised illicit funds, arranged travelling for individuals to travel to Syria and join IS, said an unnamed Investigation Officer (IO).

(South Asian Terrorism Portal)

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