Tag Archives: jammu

KASHMIR AND DR KARAN SINGH

Once all the euphoria about the army saving the Kashmiris of the Valley evaporates, Kashmir will be back to square one and its youth will resume stoning the jawans. Indeed, There seems to be no solution to Kashmir. It also incarnates the irrevocable enmity between India and Pakistan: India will not surrender Kashmir, because she considers rightly that it has been part of her territory for 3000 years. Pakistan will not surrender its claim on the Valley, because it estimates that the Kashmir valley is a majority Muslim region and that under the (mad) logic of partition, it should have reverted to Islamabad. And both countries are trying by force, the one openly, the other covertly, to stake their claims on Kashmir. Thus, there is no issue, except war, a nuclear conflict maybe – and everyone will be the loser: who will have Kashmir then if there is nothing left of India and Pakistan?

All politicians have tried their hand at solving this problem and all have failed. Yet there is one politician in India, who not only understands all these intricacies, but who might be acceptable to both Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir: that is Dr Karan Singh. Dr Karan Singh is a much-misunderstood personality and it may be worthwhile to look at his life and achievements.

No doubt, he was born in a privileged family: son of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Sir Hari Singh, and his lovely wife, Maharani Tara Devi, he saw the light in the prestigious Martinez hotel in Cannes, France. The birth of a Yuvaraj (heir apparent) was feted by the people of Jammu & Kashmir, whether Muslims or Hindus.

Yet, if you read carefully his biography, you will see that Dr Karan Singh, had a difficult life. Born a prince, yes, but with a strict and overbearing father, who allowed him to see his mother for only one hour every day, whereas the young Karan doted on her. In time, he also realized that all was not well between his mother and father and that they lived separate lives. He was then sent to public school where he got no privileged treatment. Finally, at the age of 18, the muscle on his right hip and leg began to decay and he had to undergo a major surgery, which was a traumatic experience for him. The operation involved permanent immobilisation of the hip joint through a bone graft and a six-inch metal pin, which kept him in bed for 18 months, in a lonely New York hospital. Dr Karan Singh would now limp for life, but he never complained about it and that did not stop him from playing tennis and campaigning tirelessly.

True, he became regent of Kashmir in 1949, but under difficult circumstances: his father, disagreeing with Nehru, left the State which had by then acceded to India, and Karan Singh was later appointed as Sadar-i-Riyasat and finally as Governor of Kashmir. His father’s shadow was not there anymore, but Nehru had replaced him and was sometimes an overbearing presence on the young man. In 1967, he finally came on his own, joined Mrs. Gandhi and later became the youngest union minister ever in her cabinet, being reelected 4 times as an MP from Udhampur. Today Dr Karan Singh, after having been a brilliant ambassador in the US, is chairman of the ICCR, while being involved in many trusts and charities.

It has been said sometimes that Dr Karan Singh is an indecisive man. This also far from true. He may belong to the Congress and not of the BJP, but he is one of the few politicians who has a deep understanding of Hinduism and who has remained faithful to his inclinations. Dr Karan Singh is the foremost expert in the world on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy and he is at present chairman of the Auroville Foundation, the international city near Pondichery founded by the Mother and based on Sri Aurobindo’s vision of a new humanity.

Now for Kashmir. Dr Karan Singh is very clear about its history and its future: “The real problem with Kashmir, he says, started with my ancestors, the Doghras, mostly in the 19th century: by treaty, conquest, or inter-marriages, they created a state comprised of five major units, which are fundamentally very different from each other in terms of geography and ethnicity: the territory around Gilgit, which belongs basically to Central Asia; Ladhak, which is an extension of Tibet; what is today under Pakistan control around Muzarrafad, which is Punjabi Muslim; Jammu, which in essence belongs to Himachal Pradesh; and finally the valley of Kashmir, of course, which is Indian Muslim at 95 % and also belongs to the Kashmir Pandits before they had to flee”.

Dr Singh also emphasizes that the KP community never tried to rule Kashmir: “they were only the babus, the secretaries, the teachers, there might have been some exploitation, but on the whole they lived peacefully with the Muslims”.
Is Kashmir essentially an artificially-constructed entity then? “Yes, he replies, it is the exact replica of what was Tito’s Yugoslavia before it was broken in parts, or the Austrian empire, which was an amalgam of different states. All empires are artificial: look at the one Alexander created, or Ashoka’s empire, or Charlemagne’s… Often, they are also governed by non-local rulers: even my family was non-Kashmiri”.

When ones asks Dr Karan Singh if he has accepted Partition, he replies: “No, but today, there is certain logic to the split of Kashmir: two of the “foreign” portions – Punjabi Muslim Muzarrafad and Central Asian Gilgit – are with Pakistan; and the three “Indian” parts are with India : Jammu, which is 2/3 Hindu; Ladhak which is 55% Buddhist (and 45% Muslim); and the valley which is now 99% Indian Muslim”.

What is the solution then? “Since 1947, he smiles, Pakistan has fought four wars to regain Indian Kashmir, five, if you include the proxy war they are waging on us today. In my opinion, I don’t think they will ever succeed. The only solution is a European type of Union in the subcontinent. Look at France and Germany: they fought three wars over two centuries; France even fought a hundred years war with England and they are still bickering at each other over the EU, or the Euro! We only have been at it for 60 years. A Europe style type of union is a logic thing today. We could have a single rupee in South Asia, no borders, free trade… And a united Kashmir”…

Is it true that Muslims and Hindu leaders respect him ? “Kashmir has always been inclusive of all religions, answers the son of Kashmir. Vashnaism was born there, Sufism flourished there, the hard-line Sunnis of Pakistan have tried to change all this, I don’t think they have succeed, as today the Kahmiri Muslim is still more tolerant than his Saudi or Pakistani brother. Yes, I still feel deeply for Kashmir, I am an elder statesman, and have been in politics for nearly 60 years! “

So could Dr Karan Singh be the man of the moment for Kashmir, and solve an imbroglio which has eluded all Indian politicians? Will Destiny at last beckon this man of depth, who was never really been entrusted with responsibilities corresponding to his qualities ? He started with Kashmir and maybe he will finish his career with Kashmir, if the new government of Shri Narendra Modi is visionary and bold enough to entrust him with this task.

The volcano of Hindu fury erupts sometimes

Fran�ois Gautier

Source : The NEWINDPRESS

INSTEAD of calling an all-party meet to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir row, the government would do well to try to understand the fury of Hindus and not limit the scope of the introspection to the Amarnath issue. Are Hindus angry only with the hypocrisy of the government on the land issue? Are there no other topics that make them furious?

Hindus are a peace-loving people. The average Hindu is easy-going and accepts you and your diversity, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Parsi or Jain, Arab, French or Chinese. He goes about his business and usually does not interfere in yours. In fact they take it a little further: They hate trouble and go out of their way to avoid it.

Everywhere in the world, on the other hand, Hindus are hounded and humiliated; be it in Fiji where an elected government was twice deposed in an armed coup, or in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where Muslims target Hindus every time they want to vent their anger against India (read Taslima Nasreen�s book Lajja). There were one million Hindus in the valley of Kashmir in 1900. Only a few hundred are left today, the rest having been forced to flee through terror. In Assam, Tripura, or Nagaland, Hindus are being outnumbered by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and terrorised by pro-Christian separatist groups, such as the Bodos or the Mizos, while local governments often turn a blind eye. Their temples are being taken over in states like Kerala or Karnataka, the donations appropriated by the state governments.

Yet in 3,500 years of known existence, Hindus have never invaded another country and never tried to impose their religion upon others. No, it has rather been through peaceful invasions that Hinduism has stormed the world, whether in the East, witness Angkor Wat, or in the West today, where the byproducts of Hinduism, yoga, meditation, ayurveda, pranayama have been adopted by millions.

Hindus also gave refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world.It�s a pity that these two communities turned against their Hindu brethren , the former by way of lured conversions, and the latter with bloody invasions.

Hindus, who accept everybody and welcome all religions, are mocked and bombs are planted in their markets, their trains and temples are attacked, they are chased out of their homelands; television and newspapers make fun of them, their own politicians ostracise them.

So, sometimes, Enough is Enough. At some point, Hindus, the most peace-loving people in the world, those Mahatma Gandhi once called gently �cowards�, erupt in fury � uncontrolled fury.

Yes, one should condemn the Gujarat pogrom, but one should look also at the causes. It is not only the 36 innocent Hindu women and children who were burnt to death in a train by a mob of criminals. It is also how much silent frustration and anger must have built over the years, decades, or centuries even, amongst Gujarati Hindus, that in one moment, 1,25.000 Hindus, normal, peaceful people, came out on the streets of Ahmedabad with such fury.

The same thing is true of Jammu and the Amarnath issue. Hindus never complain about their government giving billion of rupees to Indian Muslims for the pilgrimage to Mecca. But when Hindus need shelters, toilets and basic facilities at a height of 15,000 feet to worship at Amarnath, it is denied by the same government. So they erupt in fury.

Instead of appealing for calm and communal harmony, instead of giving us all this eyewash about a 500-year-old Dargah �mostly patronised by Hindus� political leaders, journalists, and spiritual leaders, would do well to look at the root cause of Hindu fury, and try to address their frustrations.

Journalists should also do a little bit of introspection. Hindus have had enough. If this government, or the next, does not take note of their frustrations, we might very well see more Jammus erupting in the coming months and years.

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ALSO READ HIS EARLIER POST ON THE SAME SUBJECT FROM PARIS

Unity, not separation, is the answer
Tuesday July 1 2008 08:17 IST

Source: The Newindpress

READING in Paris about Kashmiri Muslims rioting because of land transferred to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) and the People’s Democratic Party pulling out of the Jammu and Kashmir Government coalition, one feels a little bit surprised. The Amarnath pilgrimage is an ancient tradition and after all, Kashmir,much before some of the inhabitants of the Valley were converted to Islam, is the seat of Shaivism, the place where thousands of yogis, sadhus, holy men, prayed, meditated and often attained realisation, for at least 3,000 years.

Millions of devotees have flocked to Armanath over the centuries — and Muslims from Kashmir should show them generosity, because in India, although Muslims have been a minority since the beginning, Hindus have always respected the religion of Islam. Indeed, Muslims in India have had a freedom that Hindus or Christians do not enjoy in Saudia Arabia or Pakistan.

Furthermore, Indian Muslims returning from the Gulf, have built, in the last 20 years, tens of thousands of mosques, thanks to Gulf money, often with land donated by the Indian Government and without the Hindus ever protesting. Kashmir is also the land of Sufism, where the best of Islam and Vedanta blended, which allowed many generations of Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims to worship together in mosques and temples and attend each others’ festivals.

Unfortunately, after the creation of Pakistan, a hard Sunni fundamentalism has entered the Valley, mainly with Pakistani and Afghan jihadis, and four lakh Kashmiri Hindus have been forced by death, terror and violence, to flee the valley of their ancestors, one of the biggest ethnic cleansings in human history. Sitting in Paris, one wonders if it is worth it for India to fight for Kashmir.

After all, both Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have hinted time and again that self-determination could be a solution. But all those who have covered Kashmir extensively, like myself, know that 98 per cent of the Valley would vote to separate from India and eventually land in Pakistan’s lap.

This leads to the next question: should India surrender to international pressure and let Kashmiris decide their own fate? Well it all depends on the Indian people’s determination. Each nation has, or has had in the past, a separatist problem.

Today, the Spanish have the Basques, the French the Corsicans, or the Turkish the Kurds. Amnesty International will continue to lambast India over human rights violations. But has Amnesty the right to decide what is right or wrong for each nation?

Can India let itself be dragged into this mire? Why should India, which took so long to unite itself and saw at the departure of the British one-third of its land given away to Pakistan, surrender Kashmir? The evolution of our earth tends towards unity, oneness, towards the breaking up of our absurd borders, the abolishing of passports, bureaucracies, no man’s lands; not towards the building up of new borders, new customs barriers, new smaller nations.

India cannot let herself be broken up in bits just to satisfy the West’s moralistic concerns. To preserve her Dharma, India has to remain united, even conquer again, whether by force or by peaceful means, what once was part of her South Asian body. For this she should not surrender Kashmir, it could be the beginning of the breaking up of India. Still in Paris, reading the BBC’s coverage of the Amarnath episode, any Indian lover such as myself can only be appalled. Reports of the BBC on Amarnath always speak about “Indian-administered Kashmir”, never giving the full picture of Hindus being forced to flee the Valley, nor of the sacredness of this ancient pilgrimage for all Hindus.

It reminds me when we were covering Kashmir in the Nineties, how the BBC always scoffed at the Indian Government’s accusation that Pakistan was sheltering, sponsoring and arming Kashmiri militants, which it was sending back across the border to create havoc. The accusation has been proved true, but, of course, the BBC never apologised for its partiality.

It’s arrogance and hypocrisy, of course, because we all know how the British decided to go all the way to the end of the world to retain the Falkland Islands, killing many innocent Argentinians in the process.

Indeed the BBC is a state within a state: recently a BBC journalist did a feature on Auroville, the international city near Puducherry based on Sri Aurobindo’s ideals, making accusations of of paedophilia. In spite of numerous protests by residents of Auroville, and the fact that there is no paedophile in their midst, the BBC never apologised. Finally, Kashmir, the Valley of all absurdities, atrocities and human cruelty, could also become the land of hope and redemption, if only the Muslims of Kashmir would understand that their forefathers were Hindus, who must have suffered a lot during invasions by Turk or Afghan warlords, often converting out of fear or necessity.

If only Muslims in Kashmir would understand that Hindus are their brothers and sisters and that although Hinduism and Islam are so different, only Hinduism recognises the divinity of other religions, the avatarhood of other prophets — not Christianity or even Buddhism. If only Kashmiri Muslims would allow Sufism to make a comeback in the Valley, would permit the spirit of Bhakti, of devotion, of tolerance and acceptance of other creeds to re-enter the Islam which is practised in the Valley, it could not only save Kashmir, allow the return of their four lakh Hindu brothers and sisters, but it might help Islam to regenerate itself, open its dogmas to a world which has changed enormously since the Koran was written 1,500 years ago and save itself from the path of confrontation with the West on which it is embarked at this moment.

The author, a journalist and writer, is editor-in- chief of La Revue de l’Inde.

E-mail: fgautier@sify.com