Friday, August 22, 2008

Hindusthan needs a Patriot Act

Hindusthan needs a Patriot Act. Counter Rangila Rani of 10 Janpath.

Hindusthan needs a Patriot Act on the lines of the USA Patriots Act to punish and send the secessionists, traitors to Tihar.

The official title of the USA PATRIOT Act is "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001."

This will help unearth the hawala transactions which enable corrupt politicians to amass wealth and cart it away to foreign bank accounts and try to buy up vote banks using such ill-gotten money. This is the bane of Hindusthan polity which has reduced most of the politicians to be chamcha-s of the empress in 10 Janpath.

Mechanisms for effective enforcement of the Act should be put in place, answerable only to the people of Hindusthan. One way is to create an institution with constitutional mandate to implement the Hindusthan Patriot Act and which will not be subject to the vagaries of the polity and interference by chamcha-s.

The bringing back of POTA should be subject to this condition that the types of provisions included in US Patriot Act should find a place in such a revised enactment.

Sonia Govt.’s reluctance to bring back POTA is clearly governed by their desire to cuddle secessionists and jihadi islamist terrorists, apart from seeking protection for their ill-gotten wealth. Appeasement policies have come home to haunt the chamcha-s who will soon have to find their passports and return to Luciana.

Read the entire USA PATRIOT Act at
The purpose of the USA PATRIOT Act is to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and other purposes, some of which include:
· To strengthen U.S. measures to prevent, detect and prosecute international money laundering and financing of terrorism;
· To subject to special scrutiny foreign jurisdictions, foreign financial institutions, and classes of international transactions or types of accounts that are susceptible to criminal abuse;
· To require all appropriate elements of the financial services industry to report potential money laundering;
· To strengthen measures to prevent use of the U.S. financial system for personal gain by corrupt foreign officials and facilitate repatriation of stolen assets to the citizens of countries to whom such assets belong.
Below is a brief, non-comprehensive overview of the sections of the USA PATRIOT Act that may affect financial institutions.
Section 311: Special Measures for Jurisdictions, Financial Institutions, or International Transactions of Primary Money Laundering Concern
This Section allows for identifying customers using correspondent accounts, including obtaining information comparable to information obtained on domestic customers and prohibiting or imposing conditions on the opening or maintaining in the U.S. of correspondent or payable-through accounts for a foreign banking institution.
Section 312: Special Due Diligence for Correspondent Accounts and Private Banking Accounts
This Section amends the Bank Secrecy Act by imposing due diligence & enhanced due diligence requirements on U.S. financial institutions that maintain correspondent accounts for foreign financial institutions or private banking accounts for non-U.S. persons.
Special Due Diligence Programs for Certain Foreign Accounts
Section 313: Prohibition on U.S. Correspondent Accounts with Foreign Shell Banks
To prevent foreign shell banks, which are generally not subject to regulation and considered to present an unreasonable risk of involvement in money laundering or terrorist financing, from having access to the U.S. financial system. Banks and broker-dealers are prohibited from having correspondent accounts for any foreign bank that does not have a physical presence in any country. Additionally, they are required to take reasonable steps to ensure their correspondent accounts are not used to indirectly provide correspondent services to such banks.
Section 314: Cooperative Efforts to Deter Money Laundering
Section 314 helps law enforcement identify, disrupt, and prevent terrorist acts and money laundering activities by encouraging further cooperation among law enforcement, regulators, and financial institutions to share information regarding those suspected of being involved in terrorism or money laundering.
Section 319(b): Bank Records Related to Anti-Money Laundering Programs
To facilitate the government's ability to seize illicit funds of individuals and entities located in foreign countries by authorizing the Attorney General or the Secretary of the Treasury to issue a summons or subpoena to any foreign bank that maintains a correspondent account in the U.S. for records related to such accounts, including records outside the U.S. relating to the deposit of funds into the foreign bank. This Section also requires U.S. banks to maintain records identifying an agent for service of legal process for its correspondent accounts.
Section 325: Concentration Accounts at Financial Institutions
Allows the Secretary of the Treasury to issue regulations governing maintenance of concentration accounts by financial institutions to ensure such accounts are not used to obscure the identity of the customer who is the direct or beneficial owner of the funds being moved through the account.
Section 326: Verification of Identification
Prescribes regulations establishing minimum standards for financial institutions and their customers regarding the identity of a customer that shall apply with the opening of an account at the financial institution.
Section 351: Amendments Relating to Reporting of Suspicious Activities
This Section expands immunity from liability for reporting suspicious activities and expands prohibition against notification to individuals of SAR filing. No officer or employee of federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial governments within the U.S., having knowledge that such report was made may disclose to any person involved in the transaction that it has been reported except as necessary to fulfill the official duties of such officer or employee.
Section 352: Anti-Money Laundering Programs
Requires financial institutions to establish anti-money laundering programs, which at a minimum must include: the development of internal policies, procedures and controls; designation of a compliance officer; an ongoing employee training program; and an independent audit function to test programs.
Section 356: Reporting of Suspicious Activities by Securities Brokers and Dealers; Investment Company Study
Required the Secretary to consult with the Securities Exchange Commission and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve to publish proposed regulations in the Federal Register before January 1, 2002, requiring brokers and dealers registered with the Securities Exchange Commission to submit suspicious activity reports under the Bank Secrecy Act.
Section 359: Reporting of Suspicious Activities by Underground Banking Systems
This amends the BSA definition of money transmitter to ensure that informal/underground banking systems are defined as financial institutions and are thus subject to the BSA.
Section 362: Establishment of Highly Secure Network
Requires FinCEN to establish a highly secure network to facilitate and improve communication between FinCEN and financial institutions to enable financial institutions to file BSA reports electronically and permit FinCEN to provide financial institutions with alerts.

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Secession is not an option

The continuing unrest in the Kashmir valley has made a number of editorialists so desperate that they seem to have lost faith in the innate ability of the Indian State to offer a viable solution. Not unlike the surgical chopping off a human limb wasted by gangrene, these worthies have suggested that India should let go of Kashmir. The suggestion is preposterous, of course. For, nobody willingly parts with a limb which is crucial to one’s very survival. Like it or not, the Kashmir secession, voluntary or otherwise, would mark the beginning of the end of a secular Indian State. Not because the Hindu majority aspires to a theocratic State. No, because the failure in Kashmir would unleash its own dynamics which would dissipate the energies of the secular Republic to guard itself against retrograde forces. Of course, it is undeniable that over the last 60 years, the ruling class has made grievous mistakes in Kashmir. Nehru’s emotionalism contributed vastly to the mess that has been Kashmir all along. His blind faith in Shiekh Abdullah, because he was a close personal friend, soon turned into an implacable personal hostility, resulting in contrary policy responses. The nomination of Bakshi Ghulam Ahmed as the Sheikh’s successor became a metaphor for the carrot-and-stick policy successive Congress regimes at the Centre have followed in Kashmir.

Turning a blind eye to the gargantuan corruption of the `nominated’ rulers in Srinagar, while condoning a total lack of good governance, was the favoured policy tool of New Delhi. The central government betrayed a lack of faith in ordinary Kashmiris, glossing over the corruption and incompetence of the nominated Kashmiri leaders.

A measure of such a short-sighted policy was the willing subversion of a truly democratic process in J and K. The Centre feared that a genuinely representative government in Srinagar could up the ante and openly pass a resolution in the State Assembly calling for secession. The fear was misplaced.

The New Delhi-nominated Kashmiri rulers not only aggravated the feeling of alienation ordinary Kashmiris felt, but they drove the real leaders to openly raise the banner of revolt against an overbearing New Delhi. It wasn’t so much that the Kashmiris were rebelling against India as they were rebelling against Indian leaders who distrusted them so deeply that they denied them a representative government.

However if in Nepal yesterday’s Maoist revolutionaries can be suitably tamed for them to embrace the democratic path, there could be hope in Kashmir too. Remember in Kashmir there are no Prachanda-like revolutionaries, only disgruntled and opportunistic Kashmiri leaders. And to get their own back against an overbearing and unresponsive central government, which treats them with extreme suspicion, they play the Pakistani card against India. For, the so-called Kashmiri secessionists crying `azadi, azadi’ know full well that they will feel suffocated if Kashmir were to join Pakistan. Pakistan would not only fully assimilate Kashmir into itself but would also ensure that its `pure’ Kashmiri demographics is altered beyond recognition. India, despite pressures, has most conscientiously refrained from doing so, though in hindsight it could be considered a weakness of its initial Kashmir policy.

Instead, successive governments in New Delhi have pumped hundreds of billions of rupees into Kashmir in the hope of buying the goodwill of ordinary Kashmiris. The per capita income of Kashmiris is a multiple of the national average because of the misplaced generosity of successive governments in New Delhi. The Kashmiris have been pampered. Yet, they behave as if they have done India a great favour by staying with India. Secession not being an option, the only alternative, to begin with, maybe to treat Kashmir on an equal footing along with the rest of the States. Give them a representative local government within the four walls of the Indian Constitution. Yet, the full force of the Indian State ought to be brought to bear on them should they seek to breach the original compact with the Indian State.

Precisely because successive rulers in New Delhi have been assailed by doubts about the true value of accession of Kashmir to India, they have handled the Kashmir problem with kid-gloves.

Be correct but firm in dealing with Kashmir. More than sixty years after the accession, there is no scope for opening up that done deal again. But do not follow a duplicitous approach towards Kashmiris. Be up front. Let them know where they stand vis-a-vis the Indian scheme of things. And, having done that, come down heavily on any breach, minor or major. And, for god’s sake, stop throwing honest tax-payers’ rupees at them. A sure way to spoil a child is to give it candy every time it sprawls on the floor crying. Discipline yourselves to discipline the Kashmiris.

Muslim clerics defend blasts accused Bashar

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | August 21, 2008 | 22:56 IST

Prominent Islamic clerics led by the Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, Maulana Ahmed Bukhari on Sunday came out in a big way to the defence of the recently arrested madrasa teacher Mufti Abu Bashar, in connection with last month's serial blasts in Ahmedabad.

Joined by Samajwadi Party member of Parliament, Abu Asim Azmi, Bukhari virtually sounded a bugle of revolt against what he termed as "the anti-Muslim" policies of the Indian investigating agencies.

Azmi hails from a village that adjoins Bashar's native village of Bina Para in Sarai Meer area of Azamgarh district .

Their call for a protest rally on the Lucknow-Azamgarh highway drew at least 5000-7000 people, who kept the road blocked for hours, while raising anti-police and anti-government slogans. The crowds cheered the speakers, who openly flayed the government and the police.

While both Azmi and Bukhari termed the police action as "biased", Bukhari went to the extent of issuing a warning, "If the government does not take early measures to bring an end to undue harassment of Muslims who were indiscriminately labeled as terrorists, this country is in for another partition, so let us be prepared for nation wide riots and violence."

Bukhari said, "all this talk about creation of Indian Mujahideen needs to be probed . I would not be surprised if such an organization has been floated by fundamentalist bodies like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or Vishwa Hindu Parishad with the sole intention of defaming Muslims."

Abu Asim Azmi said, "I am not giving any clean chit to anyone, but the manner adopted by the investigating agencies speaks of a blatant bias and a predetermined approach."

Azmi felt, "an appropriate way to deal with the situation would be to constitute a high level committee comprising secular minded judicial luminaries like Justice Sachar, Justice Krishna Iyer and Justice A A Ahmadi , it could even have representatives of Hindu organizations like RSS and VHP also. Let them question the arrested young Muslim boys and if the committee is convinced that they are actually involved in terrorism, let them be hanged."

However , in the same vein Azmi went on to add a word of caution, "but what the investigating agencies are doing today is grossly unfair ; they were all declared as terrorists well before any trial and this is what needs to be stopped.

Recall Great Calcutta Killing

Prafull Goradia
Pioneer, Aug 15, 2008

For Jinnah, Direct Action Day on August 16, 1946, was the 'most historic act'

Not many people remember or know that on August 16, 1946, began the bloodiest and the biggest State-sponsored riot in the country's history. That was in Calcutta, capital city of undivided Bengal whose premier was Hussein Shahid Suhrawardy, the Muslim League leader; he later became Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The League, led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, planned to launch 'Direct Action' on August 16 to convince the British that Hindus and Muslims could not coexist in the same country and hence India must be partitioned. A 23-point tactical manifesto was distributed to League activists. Some of the points read as: "Destroy Hindus and drive all Hindus out of India. All transport should be used for battle against Hindus. Hindu women and girls should be raped, kidnapped and converted into Muslims from October 18, 1946. Hindu culture should be destroyed." The Calcutta District Muslim League published on August 13, 1946 an elucidation, clarifying that 'Direct Action Day' was to be conducted in the name of jihad a la the Battle of Badr.

On August 22, Bengal Governor Frederick Burrows wrote a report to Viceroy Lord Wavell on what came to be known as the 'Great Calcutta Killing'. "The trouble had already assumed the communal character which it was to retain throughout. At the time it was mainly in the northern half of the city. Later reports indicate that the Muslims were in an aggressive mood from early in the day and that their processions were well-armed with lathis, iron rods and missiles," he said about August 16.

To quote Burrows for August 17: "This tour that convinced me that the reports that I had received of the seriousness of the situation had erred on the side of underestimation. I observed very great damage to property and streets littered with corpses." The highlight of August 18 in the Governor's letter was: "I made another tour of inspection, this time with the Army Commander and the Chief Minister, covering large areas in the south and south-east of the city which I had not visited before. The Chief Minister showed an exasperating preoccupation with the sufferings undergone by members of his own community."

The slaughter over the first few days was so widespread that Burrows could not give any authoritative figures for casualties. Guided mainly by hospital figures, he guessed 2,000 dead at the very least. No one was available to clear the bodies until "the Army came to my rescue on the basis of Rs 5 a body to volunteers", the Governor wrote.

The Statesman, then a British owned daily, wrote on August 22: "The group of incompetents, or worse, who owing to their office necessarily bear primary responsibility for the criminal carnage in Calcutta, a catastrophe of scope unprecedented in India's history, have been insufficiently seen or heard in these grim days. We mean the Ministry."

In a leading comment, headlined "Calcutta's Ordeal", The Statesman said on August 20, "The origin of the appalling carnage and loss in the capital of a great Province, we believe the worst communal rioting in India's history, was a political demonstration by the Muslim League." What Jinnah said was the most authoritative declaration on the killing: "What we have done today is the most historic act in our history... This day we bid goodbye to constitutional methods."

Today, we are witnessing something similar in the Kashmir Valley where the PDP is inciting the people to take to bid goodbye to constitutional methods. Elsewhere, the 'Indian Mujahideen' has put out an e-mail, urging "Muslims to wage jihad against Hindus". The e-mail invokes Ghauri and Ghaznavi to charge Muslims. We could yet witness violence that may make the 'Great Calcutta Killing' look like a skirmish.

The Rangile Raje, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister.
Please read the following editorial entitled "Rangila Raj" in Indian Express dated 21.8.2008:

"This continent-sized country with a necessarily complicated history of nation-building is no stranger to difficult moments. One such moment is upon it now. Kashmir, says an increasingly vocal corner in the national debate — it’s of course great that a debate is happening — is posing difficult, perhaps unanswerable, political/ territorial questions because the impetus is all within. Really? Then how come just a few weeks before Kashmir was so off the news that peace, and therefore further dividends, had become boring stories? The principal reason that situation has transformed into the present crisis is that while Kashmir has been volatile before, the Centre has never been as weak as now. Not even when weak coalition governments ruled India. Just recall very recent history.First, a governor who was not even appointed by this government was allowed to handle Amarnath badly. Then, the implications of giving in to the Valley hardliners were not drawn.
Then the Jammu protest was not met by immediate state response in terms of not allowing highway blockades. Then a senior representative of this government offered the Valley’s agitating entrepreneurs not the promise that highways will be cleared but that paramilitary will buy their apples. An assurance that obviously signalled to the Valley hardliners that there’s a huge deficit of political/ tactical will at the Centre. No prizes for guessing who the senior representative was. The same gentleman runs the ministry that allowed all the other lapses. In Shivraj Patil’s heroic ineffectuality we have the symbol and part of the substance of this government’s terrifying inability, when occasions have demanded, to exhibit national will. Kashmir’s practiced agitpropists have sensed that at no time as now has the Centre been so sold on the idea that doing nothing in time and issuing vacuous statements at all times are good strategies.

Discussions on Kashmir always bring up history. Here’s a little bit of history to help contextualise the current state of state response: probably not since the early 18th-century ruler Muhammad Shah Rangila, who wrote the book on awesomely ineffective security governance, has India had administrators who have been so brilliantly incapable of discharging their basic remit. Needless to say 21st-century India can’t afford Rangilas in government. And all responses to the Kashmir crisis must start with this recognition. Also, let’s ask ourselves: is India to cut and run because of some weeks of violence when years of patient diplomacy, dogged army work and good politics had blunted the hard edges in Kashmir? The country has dealt with violence within before. It has dealt with groups calling loudly for a divorce with the Union. If we decide to take a particular course on Kashmir, what will we do when politicised violence erupts elsewhere? Drawing-room
solutions can look pretty and neat. Nation-building, sadly, isn’t always pretty and neat. It calls for clarity and determination. That’s what Delhi — and Srinagar — need."

Our Home Minister is, indeed, a Rangila Raja. He always expresses his helplessness when faced with a problem. He had expressed his inability to fence the borders with Bangladesh because of its geographical situation. The Prime Minister, who is a dummy and another Rangila Raja had done a blunder by making Shiv Raj Patil the Home Minister of India when the latter was not even an elected member of Lok Sabha. But Prime Minister himself is also not a member of Lok Sabha which is the representative body of the people. Or is it that fault lies with Sonia Gandhi who had selected both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, both ineffective people. Whatever be the cause of selection of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, although they are not drunkard like Mohammad Shah Rangila the ineffective Mughal Emperor, they are, indeed, both Rangila Rajas. We would be having the weakest Government till these two Rangila Rajas rule. Fortunately, the
elections are round the corner and we may get rid of these rulers in whose rule, people have become bold enough to suggest independence for J&K without thinking about the consequences of these suggestions.

Satbir Singh Bedi

Don't Give In To Them
22 Aug 2008, 0010 hrs IST, K Subrahmanyam

A number of people have written on why India should consider allowing the Kashmiris to secede since the widespread demonstrations and disturbances taking place day after day would indicate that they don't want to be part of India. If this logic is to be accepted, Indian Parliament should be wound up since there are disruptions day after day holding up the proceedings of the two Houses. One writer has raised the issue whether the Kashmir problem involves the idea of India. It certainly does, just as the orderly conduct of Parliament also involves the idea of India. Both of them encompass the idea of an India as a pluralistic, secular, federal democracy aiming to achieve justice, equality and fraternity for all its citizens.

The efforts to achieve this aim may not be optimally effective as shown by inadequate governance, to put it
mildly. But the challenge facing India is whether we try to set right our governance and improve it or yield to the protesters. Disruption is being made part of India's political culture by most of our political parties. We must ponder over the consequences of yielding to the secessionists in Kashmir and the encouragement it would provide to other such movements elsewhere in the country.

Whether it is disruption in Parliament or on the streets of Kashmir, only a small group or minority resorts to it. The majority remains passive and silent. Those entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing order do not display adequate strength and courage to restore rule of law at the earliest but allow the situation to deteriorate. When Parliament is adjourned without transacting any business for the day or the use of excessive force becomes necessary to disperse unruly crowds in the streets resorting to violence, destruction of public property and casualties, those who engineer the disruptions know full well what the results will be. In fact, they desire those results. The silent majority and the governing authorities in both these cases do not have the moral fibre to assert their will and enforce the rule of law. This is the challenge before the Indian republic whether in Parliament or in Kashmir.

Kashmir has had two elections under international observation and they were considered to be free and fair though there were constituencies where the polling was so low as to indicate that the voters in those areas had boycotted the polls. But such places were few in number. Therefore, we cannot say that Kashmiris have not had an opportunity to elect their representatives or express their views democratically. Only those who advocate secession have not stood for election and demonstrated their strength through a democratic

The basic issue is whether the Indian republic is in a position at this stage, 58 years after its constitution, to permit secession of a small portion of its population on the basis of religious identity. The agitation for secession in Kashmir is based on religion and religion alone. But if they were allowed to leave there would be consequences that have to be anticipated. During the partition of the subcontinent in 1947-48, such consequences were not foreseen and the result was a bloodbath resulting in the death of a million people and ethnic cleansing involving 15 million.

Secessionism on the basis of religion from a federal democratic republic, which has assured autonomy to Kashmir, is an irrational act. Such irrationality is unfortunately not the exclusive privilege of one faith only. We have seen the repercussions of events in the Kashmir valley, in Jammu and other places in India. There are forces in India which are likely to take advantage of such secession to unleash massive ethnic cleansing elsewhere in the country.

The values of the republic proclaimed in our Constitution are still to percolate down to the common man who is conditioned by his religious and caste prejudices. The republic envisioned in the Constitution will perhaps take another century to be realised. Allowing secessionism will be a defeat for secularism and that is not acceptable if the Indian republic is to be nurtured and brought to fruition. If a cost-benefit analysis were to be done of the consequences of yielding to Kashmiri secessionism, the likely costs would be much too heavy for the republic. There is the example of Tamil Nadu where the spirit of secession was intense in the decades after Indian independence. Now the former secessionists admit that being part of the Union has benefited the state immensely. There is no reason why Kashmir cannot be similarly brought around.

What Kashmir needs is good and firm governance. A lot more can be done with regard to crowd control without causing too many casualties. But the will to enforce respect for the law has been lacking just as it is in Parliament.

Demonstrations in the streets and consequent violence have become as routine as disruptions in Parliament and various state legislatures.

Not only Kashmir, but violent agitations elsewhere pose a challenge to the idea of India. The country has to seek a comprehensive strategy to deal with this challenge. Yielding to the Kashmiri secessionists is not a solution. It would be the end of the concept of India.

The writer is a Delhi-based strategic affairs analyst.

August 22, 2008 New York Times
Kashmir Rumbles, Rattling Old Rivals

SRINAGAR, Kashmir — Born and reared during the bloodiest years of insurgency and counterinsurgency, inheritors of rage, a new generation of young Kashmiris poured into the streets by the tens of thousands over the past several weeks, with stones in their fists and an old slogan on their lips: “Azadi,” or freedom, from India.

Their protests in Indian-controlled Kashmir were part of an unexpected outburst of discontent set off by a dispute over a 99-acre piece of land, which has for more than two months been stoked by both separatist leaders in Muslim-majority Kashmir and Hindu nationalists elsewhere in India.

Overnight, the unrest has threatened to breathe new life into the old and treacherous dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, which is claimed by both nations and lies at the heart of 60 years of bitterness between them, including two wars.

Disastrously for the Indian government, Kashmir has burst onto center stage at a time of growing turmoil in the region — with the resignation this week of Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, who had sought to temper his country’s backing for anti-Indian militancy here.

Even though the two countries have been engaged in four years of peace talks, India has grown nervous that the disarray in Pakistan has left it with no negotiating partner. From New Delhi’s perspective, that power vacuum has allowed anti-Indian elements in Pakistan’s intelligence services and the militant groups they employ to pursue their agenda with renewed vigor.

Relations between the countries have become newly embittered as Indian and Pakistani forces have engaged in skirmishes across the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between them for the first time in years.

Not least, India has blamed the Pakistani intelligence services for playing a hidden role in the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan last month, a charge that Pakistan vehemently denies.

The latest unrest here has only added to the difficulties of renewed dialogue.
How long this agitation will continue depends on both India’s capacity to assuage Kashmiri separatist leaders, and their ability in turn to control the sudden eruption of rage among the young.

The largest, most intense demonstration in years took place on Monday, as tens of thousands of Kashmiris, mostly men, streamed into an open area in the city center to demand independence from India. They came in motorcycle cavalcades, and on the backs of trucks and buses.

A few waved Pakistani flags. Some shouted praise for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the banned Pakistan-based militant organization that India blames for a series of terrorist attacks in recent years. “India, your death will come,” they chanted. “Lashkar will come. Lashkar will come.”

By Tuesday, traffic had returned to the city, as the separatists called for a three-day suspension of the strike. Shops and cafes reopened. The pro-Pakistan graffiti had been covered up, as though it were again an ordinary day.
Another mass gathering, however, is planned for Friday at the martyrs’ cemetery, where two generations of those killed in the conflict are buried, with all the potential to become yet another flash point of conflict.

Again and again, Kashmiris from across the political spectrum said these scenes reminded them of the peak of the anti-Indian rebellion in the early 1990s, except at that time, separatist guerrillas, aided by Pakistan, openly roamed the streets with guns.

Nineteen years after that rebellion kicked off, the current demonstrations have pierced what seemed, perhaps deceptively to the Indian government, like a return of the ordinary here.

Earlier this year, tourists were flocking to Dal Lake in Kashmir. Buses were running twice monthly so that Kashmiris could visit their relatives across the de facto border in the Pakistan-controlled region of Kashmir. A bookshop opened for the first time in nearly two decades.

“Before the storm, there is always a calm,” a Kashmiri woman, Assabah Khan, 34, declared. “The uprising we see now is the latent anger against the Indian state that has erupted again.”

Narendra Nath Vohra, the governor of the Indian-controlled Kashmir state, compared life in Srinagar today to darkness at noon.

In the last few weeks, tourists all but disappeared. Schools and offices closed. The main city hospital was filled with Kashmiris shot and wounded by Indian security forces.

Mehmeet Syed, who only a few months ago could sing her heart out on stage with her five-piece rock band, remained caged in her home, as her city erupted in a series of fiery protests and strikes. On the road leading to the Syed family home, children guarded a homemade roadblock the other day, clutching stones.
On Monday, on the edges of an open field where tens of thousands had gathered to vent their anger at Indian rule, Abdul Gani Mir, 62, marveled at a young man who had scaled a chinar tree to plant a green Islamic flag.

Mr. Mir said being here filled him with hope. “We succumbed, but I don’t think this generation will,” he said, and then he chuckled. “I wish I were young.”

His niece was among 20 unarmed Kashmiri protesters killed by Indian security forces last week, as they set off on a march to Muzaffarabad, in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Sheik Yasir Rouf, 27, said he had never before taken part in a demonstration so large, so intense. He was a child in the early 1990s, when the anti-Indian rebellion was at its peak. “This feeling was always there,” he said. “We are fighting for our one right to be free.”

“Sooner or later, this had to be,” insisted his friend, Shahid Rasool, also 27.
Mr. Rouf said he had spent 15 days in jail during his senior year in high school, accused of harboring militants. Mr. Rasool was picked up by security forces and interrogated all night; he was 16 years old.

The trouble in the valley began two months ago, quite unexpectedly, over 99 acres of state government land that, for decades, had been used by Hindu pilgrims on the route to a Himalayan shrine called Amarnath.

In May, the authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir authorized the panel that runs the pilgrimage site to put up “prefabricated structures” for pilgrims. The order enraged Muslims.

With state elections scheduled for this year, some politicians and separatist leaders pounced on the decision and declared it a bid to re-engineer the demography of Kashmir. Hard-line Islamists compared it to the Israeli occupation of Muslim holy lands.

The government soon rescinded the order, but nothing, as Governor Vohra pointed out, actually changed — Hindu pilgrims still used the land, and they still came this year in record numbers.

Nevertheless, the retraction of the original order enraged people in the Hindu-majority plains of Jammu, which is part of the same state. They, too, began agitating by the tens of thousands. And they, too, were goaded by politicians and hard-line leaders.

All told over the past two months, the protests here in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley and counterprotests led by Hindu groups in the plains below, have left a death toll of nearly 40 in clashes with security forces.

The two sides remain at each other’s throats. Muslims in the valley allege that Indian troops have been quick to halt their protests, while letting Hindus in the plains carry on their agitation.

Hindu leaders in the plains were outraged that the government allowed anti-Indian separatists to march through the valley carrying Pakistani flags.

Many Indians regard the rebellious tableau in the valley as an unexpected affront. Kanwal Sibal, a retired diplomat, suggested in a livid column on Tuesday in Mail Today, an English-language newspaper, that unlike China with its Tibet policy, India has never sought to alter Kashmir’s Muslim-majority demography.
The latest fury, he suggested, “shows the failure, and perhaps the futility, of efforts to win the hearts and minds of the valley Kashmiris.”

Kashmiri public opinion is hardly uniformly anti-Indian, and the pro-Pakistan current is one among many. But distrust runs deep. Rumors travel and harden equally fast.

Muslims here complain that Indian security forces roam the streets, and they can recount at least one memory, usually more, of humiliation and fear.
“It is a volcano that has erupted,” Shad Salim Akhtar, 54, a doctor, said of the latest agitation.

That volcano kept Ms. Syed, the Kashmiri singer, at home. She had a video shoot scheduled for her new solo album; it has been postponed. Her father, Ahmad, a doctor was considering running in the elections this fall, but he is no longer sure.

Dr. Syed, 46, said he had just been getting used to the sense of the ordinary returning to his city. The guards at checkpoints were less aggressive than before. He did not worry much about his daughter’s concerts. “Three, four months ago, we thought, ‘It’s all over now, nothing to worry about,’ ” Dr. Syed said.
That is all over now, his daughter lamented. “Will that day come when we can move around freely?” she asked. “It is a dream.”

Amit Wanchoo, a Kashmiri Hindu and the leader of her band, Imersion, was also mostly staying home, leaving plenty of time to write new songs. One was dedicated to those killed last week.

“The sky is saying something, the air is saying something,” the lyrics went. “Where are my people, whom I met here?”
Yusuf Jameel contributed reporting.

Kashmiris too should not be hurting the nation s psyche
The government should not lose nerve and give concessions that have long- term implications
by kanwal Sibal (Mail today, 19 Aug. 2008)
HOW long will the country tolerate the offensive exhibition of separatism in Kashmir? How do the Kashmiris want the rest of us to react to the display of portraits of Jinnah and Pakistani flags? What should one feel when some demonstrators say defiantly that they are Pakistanis? What about these incessant calls for “ azadi”? Are we expected to excuse all this because the Kashmiri psyche has been hurt by us all these years and we are responsible for their sense of alienation because of our high- handed ways in Kashmir? Many of the presumptions we make about the Kashmiris and our own conduct in Kashmir are either mistaken or exaggerated. To what extent is the notion of Kashmiriyat shared in Jammu and Ladakh? Kashmiriyat should by definition mean an identity that transcends narrow religious affiliations; it should mean a sense of community felt by all. How have the Kashmiri Pandits fared in the valley even before the their exodus in 1990? Has Kashmiriyat protected their life and property? How much effort has been spontaneously by their Muslim brethren in Kashmir to welcome them back and to rehabilitate them in the Valley?
From the time of independence Kashmiriyat was a political handle to keep separatist feelings in J& K alive.
It was an argument to seek exceptional treatment for J& K from which the power brokers in the state profited.
The Muslim domination of J& K was cloaked under the cover of Kashmiriyat.
This is not to say that before the “ arabised” Sunni Islam made inroads into the Valley, Kashmir did not practice a more tolerant, syncretic version of Islam. But the number of Hindus in the Valley was always too small to test the “ secular” fibre of Kashmiriyat. Islam has coloured Kashmiri politics from 1947 itself because of Pakistani claims to the state in the name of religion. That religious canker both internal and promoted by Pakistan continues to bedevil Kashmirs relations with the rest of India. The fact is that it has always been the Muslim sentiment in J& K that has needed to be placated.
Kashmiriyat gave an illusion of internal harmony and consensus in the state that did not actually exist.
The current crisis in J& K has been triggered by the shockingly communal position taken by the Valley Muslims on the transfer of 40 hectares of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board for setting up temporary structures for the convenience of the pilgrims.
To believe that the demography of Kashmir could be threatened by this decision is to abandon common sense. For the last 61 years the Indian authorities have not allowed the demography of J& K to be disturbed because of Article 370. We could have emulated the example of China in Tibet and encouraged outside migration into J& K in order to better control the ground situation. Even in POK, demographic protection to the local population has not been given.
But Indian democracy and respect for constitutional provisions have protected the core demographic interests of the Kashmiris over six decades. That local feelings could be aroused so intensely over such a nonissue shows and that mainstream parties should also want to make political capital out of this artificially induced uproar shows the failure, and perhaps the futility, of efforts to win the hearts and minds of the valley Kashmiris.
The reaction in Jammu to the cancellation of the decision to transfer the use of land by the government under pressure from the Valley Muslims has been exceptionally strong.
Neither terrorist attacks in Jammu nor the general feeling that Jammu gets unequal treatment at the hands of the government in Srinagar have provoked such intense public agitation as in this case. Perhaps this being a religious issue, the psyche of the people of Jammu has been more than ordinarily hurt, and all the pent up feelings of being discriminated against have erupted.
The impact of the Jammu agitation on road traffic to the Valley has, in turn, given further impetus to antinational activity in the Valley. Claiming that the Jammu agitators had blockaded the Valley, the secessionists with large public support are demanding that the road to Muzzafarabad in POK should be opened to traffic.
Rather than cooperating in resolving the issue at the root of the present turmoil, the Valley Muslims are trying to strike a blow at Indias sovereignty and affirm their pro- Pakistan attachments by seeking to move en masse to the LOC to force the opening of the road. The Pakistani card is being played against us, as usual. The declared aim is to mobilize the people to break the barrier between Kashmir and Pakistan, having perhaps the Berlin Wall in mind. Police firing on supposedly peaceful demonstrators would, they may be calculating, attract international attention to the Kashmir issue again, raise human rights concerns and embarrass India at a time when it would not want revival of international concerns about India- Pakistan tensions.
The Valley Muslims are presenting themselves as the victims of recent events when they are in fact the guilty party. Geelani openly espouses an Islamic platform to reject India; the Hurriyats separatist agenda, coordinated closely with Pakistan, projects self- determination. The Valley Muslims rise up against India periodically, irrespective of the concessions they get. India cannot agree to secession and so long as this remains on the agenda of political groups in the Valley, with Pakistans support, our Kashmir problem will not go away. No secular democracy can effectively deal with mosquebased politics. Street demonstrations can be suppressed but the voice of the mosques cannot be silenced without inviting charges of interference with the practice of religion.
Much is made of the argument that rigging of elections by the authorities has alienated the Kashmiri masses from us. Between alienation and secessionism there is a long road.
The Kashmiris have to look at the state of democracy in their benefacto— Pakistan. In next door Tibet, the language, culture, religion as well as the homogeneity of the local population are being undermined. The resources of Tibet are being exploited ruthlessly without regard to environmental damage.
A more objective view should be taken by the Kashmiris of Indias respect for Kashmiri sensitivities, rather than claim immunity from state action within the law for antinational activities and recourse to terrorism.
The turmoil in the Valley is the consequence of pursuit of temporizing policies that have emboldened secessionist forces. The task of the government in dealing democratically with religious forces in a border state with strong anti- national leanings, that are networked, besides, with external state and non– state actors is no doubt exceedingly difficult.
Yet, without fully controlling the local situation, the decision to promote cross LOC ties, allow the Hurriyat leaders and Geelani to operate freely, to actively explore a solution to the Kashmir issue on the basis of making borders irrelevant and some joint management mechanisms, conveyed a readiness to make further concessions in search of durable peace in J& K. The demand to open the Srinagar Muzzafarabad road flows directly from earlier decisions. The government has, surprisingly, expressed its willingness to meet this demand in accordance with the 2005 agreement with Pakistan to permit border trade.
Here the question is not of controlled border trade but a political riposte to Jammus perceived blockade of the valley by the secessionists that signals that they can create an alternative economic lifeline through Pakistan in defiance of Indias sovereignty. Steps to calm a volatile situation are fine, but to lose nerve and make concessions with long term implications is another. Not only the Kashmiris, the rest of the nation has a psyche that should not be hurt.
The writer is a former Foreign Secretary(

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