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Experts' View: How to tackle the J&K crisis

By Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
Last updated on: August 14, 2008 14:58 IST
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Jammu and Kashmir is in flames, again. The issue of land allotment to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board has taken an unexpected turn and separate agitations in Jammu and the Kashmir Valley have divided the state on communal lines. On the ground, law and order situation has turned unsafe. asked prominent experts their opinion on the crisis and their suggestions to the central government on how to tackle the issue.

'Narrow political interests prevailed'

Brajesh Mishra, Former National Security Advisor and diplomat

Oh, it is very clear. Both sides will have to cool down. And then negotiate. Unless, tempers are down the government will find it difficult to control both sides.

The government should provide confidence to the people that they will find a solution. The separatists can use any argument about provocation but it can't be an excuse for pro-Pakistan demonstrations. It's obvious that the crisis is due to mishandling of the situation not just by central government but by all political parties including the opposition parties.

Everybody has been thinking with narrow political interests -- giving it precedence to the interests of the state and nation. 

'Clash of regional and sub-regional interests'

Gary Saxena, Former J&K governor and former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing

Unless the law and order situation comes under control nothing can move further.

Anti-national activities of people whose patriotic credentials have not been questioned so far should be dealt with firmly. The police response should be measured but firm. Lawlessness and extreme reactions have to be brought to manageable levels. The basic issue is that the hopes and aspirations at regional and sub-regional levels are not coinciding. They differ and sometimes clash with each other.

The government should move carefully to tackle law and order, political and economic issues and management of the media. Much of these things are fed on publicity and the media should show some maturity and responsibility. One should understand that the issue is not confined to 100 acres of land. The Amarnath Yatra has been going on for so many years with the goodwill of the local people. The issue itself was not a big deal but it was exploited by some people.  

'Involve Pakistan'

Mehbooba Mufti, President, People's Democratic Party

Today the issue of land is not what matters. Things have gone beyond the land issue.

India should address the ground situation. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should, first and foremost, ensure that there will be no economic blockade of the Valley. We have got the psychological message of this -- any communal element can come to power and choke the people of Kashmir anytime they want.

Today the economic blockade has been lifted but due to a chakka jam trucks are plying at a snail's pace.

Dr Singh should call the fruit growers association and ask them how can they be compensated? Fruits are rotting in Kashmir's bazaars. How come the mighty power of India could not stop this blockade?

What is shocking is that entire Indian nation seems to be standing behind just 15 members of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. In last two days, 30 people have been killed. These deaths will alienate people further. Dr Singh should pick up phone and call his counterpart in Pakistan. Both of them should finalise the date for a legal route to send all kinds of goods. Let us have this option, too.

'Merely 10,000 secessionists can't dictate to India'

Ram Madhav, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh spokesperson

The administration is utterly inefficient in the state so Governor N N Vohra should be changed. Security for separatist leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference like Syed Ali Shah Gilani and Mirwaiz Omar Farooq should be withdrawn if they are determined to defy the Indian state and want to toe the Pakistani line.

Also, people should know the fact that there was no blockade of roads and we can prove that more than 800 trucks have gone to Srinagar. The government should allow the fruits of Kashmir to go to Muzaffarbad in a legal manner. Let them sell fruits legally but the government must not allow business of separatists across the border. I am sure Kashmiri fruit growers want to sell within India only as the economy is getting stronger.

Nobody is highlighting the fact that the 40-day agitation in Jammu was not reported by the media but five-day-old agitation in Sringar became prime time news. Why? Merely 10,000 secessionists can't dictate to India. 

'Let Pakistan not exploit the situation'

B Raman, Pakistan expert and retired additional secretary of RAW

I think situation is so bad that the government will have to talk to the opposition leaders and persuade them to talk to the agitators in Jammu. The Bhartiya Janata Party claims that government should talk to the Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti leaders but that may not help. The BJP has also said that government should refer to the earlier court judgment on allotment of land and implement it. I think Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Dr Singh should informally talk to L K Advani and explain the situation in the region. Pakistan is facing internal problems. Why should India give Pervez Musharaff or any other Pakistani political leaders the Kashmir issue to exploit in their domestic politics?

The time is not right for the agitations in J&K over the issue of land. It can be settled later. The all party committee on the Amarnath issue is not going to produce results. The BJP should influence the agitators through their contacts and cool things down. 

'Bani banai cheez ko bigad diya'

A S Dulat, Kashmir expert and former chief of RAW

The Kashmir situation is very bad. What was need to play politics on the issue of land for pilgrims?  Bani banai cheez ko bigad diya. (Things that were settled have gone awry) Kashmir was peaceful. The militancy was almost over. Pakistan's interference was tackled. Separatism was decreasing. Look what the ISI and its minions could not do these people (politicians) have done it.

Now, obviously, the first priority is to get control over the law and order situation. That will be possible if the government gives confidence to both sides that they will negotiate. However, I have no doubt that we will overcome this crisis; we have seen the worst before.

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi