Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Unless India acts today J and K will implode tomorrow, Dr Amitabh Mattoo

Unless India acts today J and K will implode tomorrow, Dr Amitabh Mattoo
Kishtwar in Jammu and Kashmir remains on the edge, four days after the outbreak of communal violence that left three persons dead. Is a dangerous mix of religion and terror at work? Is one of the most sensitive regions in the country being polarised on religious lines? University of Melbourne's professor of International Relations Dr Amitabh Mattoo joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.

Q. It is widely perceived that a Minister of (state) government who belongs to Kishtwar town is behind this. Officers like SP and Collector posted by him for hours remained silent spectators when this violence was on, resignation of the Home minister is not the answer for this, dont you think the whole administration including the C.M should be accountable to this? Asked by: Nomula Vinod
Unless India acts today, J&K will implode tomorrow: Dr Amitabh Mattoo
Is there an attempt being made to divide and communalise Jammu and Kashmir further?
A. I think is important when you have a crises like this, especially in a sensitive state like Jammu and Kashmir, not to be impulsive or make a hurried judgement. The Home Minister has resigned because he was present in the town when, according to reports, there was anarchy on the ground for hours. But it is now time to get a grip on the situation, for the administration to enforce the rule of law impartially and then for a detailed inquiry to conducted and then to quickly punish those responsible

Q. If it is not communalised how can the Politicians survive, the incident is unfortunate, which is confined to the small part of J&K, but media has it made a big National Issue and kept it live for weeks. There was absolutely no need for politician to rush soon as the incident happens, no one expects them for they do not come with any expertise, they only come to see, if there is any avenue of getting votes by championing the cause. Asked by: S ESHWAR

A. The issue may see small, but it is a symptom of the collapse of the idea of Jammu and Kashmir, which was of celebrating diversity and respecting differences. Today, all the rich ethnic, linguistic, religious identities are being transformed, in all three regions, into shrill, polarised Frankensteins. Unless the nation acts today, the state will implode tomorrow.

Q. The Political parties operating in J&K have their strength based on the Jammu, Ladakh or Kashmir portion, based on the majority religion of the area.Candidates selection for people's representation by the parties is based on the religion. Still we have the hypocrisy of secularism? Why this shame? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. We as citizens and civil society have to fight this growing communalisation of politics and polarization of regions and sub-regions. And remember Kishtwar was a very peaceful place. I spent two years of the first years of my life there. And there was complete communal amity there.

Q. PoK, J&K are two legally Geographical areas with dispute on boundaries remaining unsettled for six decades. You see any hope of settlement here? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. The best hope in recent times was during the dialogue between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Musharraf, when they had all but agreed to make the LOC a line of peace, decentralize power on both sides of the LoC, and not touch hard issues of political sovereignty. But Musharraf lost all legitimacy before he could do a deal and there was no national consensus on the Indian side. We will have to now wait until the next election in India next year, and see how Nawaz Sharif does in Pakistan. Will he able to control the Pakistan Army? And an added complication is of the possibility of a civil war in Afghanistan after the NATO forces withdraw from there next year. That may have a spill over impact in Pakistan and, more dangerously for us, in J&K.

Q. Religion was the reason for Kashmiri pandits having been driven out from the valley. Historically Mughal invasions also recorded that their raids resulted in loot and conversion to Islam. It was reportedly under threat or lure. IS that now upgraded to terror stage? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. The tragedy of the Kashmiri Pandits is for all to witness, and I hope and pray that there will be a day, not too far in the future, when they can return to the valley with honour and dignity. Kashmir belongs to them as much as it does to anyone else It is wrong to identify any one religion with terrorism. Individuals can be indoctrinated, but all religions basically propagate a message of peace. Indeed, you have to only to read the writings of the great Sufi saint of Kashmir, Sheikh ul Alam, known to Kashmiri Pandits as Nund Rishi, to realise this.

Q. The Maharajah of Kashmir having Taunted the new Government at Delhi in merging gave leeway to Pakistan to inch in. The encroachment into the kingdom of Kashmir by the then Pakistan government was allowed to go unchecked by international community. Why? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. The Maharajah of Kashmir dreamt of an independent Kashmir which could be like a Switzerland in Asia. That dream became a nightmare, as forces from Pakistan invaded the state. He acceded to India when the Pakistan supported forces were a few kilometres from Srinagar. India took the case to the UN making two mistakes. First it took the case under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter which deals with Pacific settlement of disputes rather than chapter 8 which deals with Aggression. Second, Nehru was an idealist and he did not realise that the Anglo-American bloc in the UN Security Council were working against Indian interests. The present LoC corresponds mostly to where India and Pakistan ceased fire; some argue that this was also the limit of Sheikh Abdullah and the National Conference's influence and it was Abdullah who prevailed upon Nehru to accept the cease fire.

Q. Do you think that the Government should carry out campaigns to educate people on national integrity and not to fall in calls of extremists who try to spread communal hatred, or people should learn it themselves? Asked by: Shazoor Mirza

A. I think Education is a key. Unfortunately, while there is much emphasis on teaching the three Rs we have forgotten the fourth R: Right Thinking! We have to teach our children the values of honesty, integrity, compassion and tolerance. Only can ensure a future free of extremism, intolerance and bigotry.

Q. Is there an attempt being made to divide and communalise Jammu and Kashmir further? Asked by: raji
A. I think every right thinking person must fight attempts to divide and polarize. Jammu and Kashmir is the finest expression of the idea of India: unity in diversity. Traditionally, whether it was i the valley or Ladakh or Jammu people lived in relative harmony. Of course, they were episodes that we should be ashamed of. But the episodes went against the larger narrative of history. We have to reclaim and reinvigorate our composite culture and our common heritage again.

Q. There is no denying that country was divided on communal lines by the British at time of Independence.Was it a mistake on India to have accepted secularism whilst Pakistan adapted to be a religious Islamic state? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. The idea of is of celebrating diversity, respecting all religions. It is an idea which has not only survived but succeeded. Would you rather live even as Muslim in Pakistan or be part of the great Indian secular democracy?

Q. Hello Sir, Do you suggest people outside state involved in such acts? How right is BJP in stating that trouble started when some anti India slogans were raised? Don't you think this is an easy ploy to hide the real truth of Kashmir and exploit the emotions of indian citizens which has been going for a long time? Asked by: Omar(Sopore)

A. I think it is most important for right thinking people to calm down the temperature, and to let peace and stability return. We should not arrive at quick judgements or rush into a blame game. A full impartial inquiry should apportion blame, but for us concerned citizens to help de-esclate the situation and campaign for communal harmony.
Q. You are also a Kashmiri Pandit.You didn't migrate in the 90's. Why? Should I then read that the concept of 'ethnic cleansing' is a myth? Asked by: Indian

A. I think it is fair to say that the majority of KPs left. And no one leaves their home happily, and I think everyone has to work to make their return with dignity happen, especially of those who live in such dismal conditions in the camps.

Q. Sir, Don't you think the secular fabric of India is gradually tilting towards Islam? Hindu is unsafe here, without any support from Govt. Asked by: sarin

A. I think the secular fabric is far too strong to be eroded easily Unan-o-Misr-o-Roma Sab Mit Gaye Jahan Se, Ab Tak Magar Hai Baki Naam-o-Nishan Hamara, Kuchh Baat Hai Ke Hasti Mitti Nahin Hamari, Sadiyon Raha Hai Dushman Daur-e-Zaman Hamara.

Q. Do you think political parties are playing to their audience by raising the Kishtawar issue in parliament of India and was state government right in stopping political leaders go to Kishtawar? Asked by: Mudasir

A. I think one of the challenges in a Democracy is that electoral parties will seek to advance their interests on every issue. But on Jammu and Kashmir, at most sensitive times, there has been a national consensus and each Political Party has looked at the bigger national picture. I do hope that happens once again because J&K is far too important to be viewed through partisan lenses.

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