Amir Khusro, one of the greatest poets of India, had said a couplet in Persian, which was subsequently repeated by Jahangir when he saw the beauty of Kashmir: “Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast”, which means: “If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this”. Alas! this paradise has been turned into a hell in the past seven decades in the wake of destruction of human life and property, recurring incidents of terrorist violence and the resultant law and order problem despite the squandering away of tax-payers’ hard money.
Broad estimates show that the Government of India has spent billions of rupees over all these years in Jammu & Kashmir to maintain law and order and a large chunk of India’s Armed Forces along with para-military forces is stationed in the state. The separatist leaders of the Kashmir valley are ‘rewarded’ bythe Indian government with perks and protection that costs crores of rupees to the Indian taxpayer every year. In fact, just over the last five years, India has spent 356 crore on these separatists’ security, travel and hotel stays!
According to data provided by the J&K government in 2015, India has spent 309 crore to provide security to the separatists over the last five years, with some 950 security men guarding them round-the-clock. The government has also spent 21 crore on putting up these separatists in luxury hotels and 26.43 crore on fuel for them to travel around — and spread their anti-India venom! According to one media report, the state and Centre have together spent 560 crore over the past five years on the separatists, who in turn have been instigating young Kashmiri boys to indulge in the stone-pelting protests that have kept Kashmir on the boil off and on.
People living in the Kashmir Valley have benefitted most by the money spent by Central Government. Many a times people living in Kashmir Valley make excuses that they don’t have enough opportunity or lack of development in the area but it is to be noted that they are in the receiving end. Most of the funds allocated to the state are diverted to the Kashmir Valley.
A person living in the Kashmir Valley gets eight times more money from the Central Government when compared with citizens from other states of India. In 1992-93 the per capita assistance to other states was 576.24 and in 2000-2001 it was 1,137. The same per capita for a Kashmiri was increased from 3,197 to 8,092 in the same time duration. In the year 1980 the number of people living below the poverty line in the Kashmir Valley was 24.24% which dropped to 3.48% in next 20 years. Current national average for people living below poverty line in rest of the India is 26.10%.
Despite such liberal doles the people of Valley still lament their grouse against the government. This scenario leads some experts to opine that no country can have two laws and rules for national citizenship as it is against the Constitution of India which promotes “Equality of Status and Opportunity”. It is further opined that failure in taming over separatists and Hurriyat leaders would make India not only a “Soft State” but a “Failed State”.
Pakistan’s ISI controls enormous — often unaccounted — financial resources, raised through clandestine drug trade, which it uses to execute a range of sustained covert operations, including the creation and support of terrorist groups, across the Indian border, especially in J&K. Many media reports indicate that Kashmiri separatist leaders receive about 100 crore from Pakistan annually to create unrest in Kashmir, chant anti-India slogans and keep the Valley boiling. According to reports, Pakistan’s ISI has been sending the funds through its terror agents in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, who are being controlled by Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salauddin and Jamat-Ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed. The Pakistani money is spent on training, weapons, and ammunition, and was sent to local militants in Kashmir. Intelligence reports added that there are 26 terror training camps across the Line of Control (LoC) being run by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Hizbul Mujahedeen, and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
Many experts lament at India paying a heavy price for its past mistakes pertaining to J&K, especially during the 1947-48 Pakistani aggression over J&K and during the Simla Agreement in 1972. It is pointed out that in the aftermath of Pakistan’s invasion of Kashmir in 1947-48, when India referred the dispute to the United Nations and UN brokered ceasefire was agreed on January 1, 1949, India ordered its troops to observe ceasefire immediately, Pakistan ignored the UN mandate and continued fighting for two more days before it effected ceasefire holding on to the portion of Kashmir under its control. Resultant outcome was that 65 per cent of the territory came under Indian control and the remainder with Pakistan.
Some experts point out that 1972 Shimla Agreement afforded an opportunity for India to resolve the J&K issue once for all by demanding vacation of Pakistani-occupied Kashmir because Pakistan was under extreme pressure and it could have agreed, though unwillingly, to do so. Some political pundits opine that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution according Special Statusto J&K is also one of the past mistakes instrumental in complicating the issue because no dispensation at the helms in New Delhi can dare ending this status under the given circumstances.
The resultant outcome is that the country is paying a heavy price for the past mistakes in terms of squandering billions of rupees of taxpayers’ money in pampering the separatists and suffering loss of human lives and destruction of property every year. According to the data compiled by South Asia Terror Portal (SATP), from 1988 till the end of May 2017, 44, 263 persons have lost their lives in J&K, of which 23, 199 were terrorists, 14, 763 security personnel and 6, 301 civilians.
Replicating the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results, is not smart politics. The failure to resolve endemic J&K problem for 70 years by the dispensations at the helm, using the same complacent people and outdated methods, should cause a re-think amongst political leadership of present dispensation. Innovative solutions are called for. Some observers feel that the solution to Kashmir problem can come out of Kashmir itself.
Some experts, while pointing to the Union Home Minister’s recent assertion that: “Kashmir is ours, Kashmiris are ours, Kashmirityat is also ours. We will find a permanent solution to Kashmir,” have opined that such a statement can be welcomed if it amounts to the admission that the Kashmir ‘problem’ that requires a ‘permanent solution’ is not a mere law-and-order problem — as successive rulers in Delhi have looked at it — but a political problem. The stark reality today is that the land of Kashmir is ours because the army has been holding it for us. The Kashmiris are not with ‘us’ because ‘we’ have lost the battle for their minds. Mere pampering the egos of handful separatist and Hurriyat leaders by showering bounties on them will not solve the problem. The real stakeholders are the people of the Valley and their elected representatives. There should be collective thinking about Kashmir by PDP, NC, BJP and Congress; they should sit together, talk to each other, bury their ego and then in unison provide guidance to the actual stakeholders.