Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kashmir Crisis

In May 2008, Kashmir Valley was peaceful.Thousands of tourists were visiting Kashmir. Peace with Elections just few months away lulled everyone to believe that now Kashmir had turned the corner and will join mainstream like all other states with periodic hiccup and all. In May a perfectly logical order was passed by the State Cabinet. Order transfered temporarily, 40 hectors of forest land near Shri Amarnath Cave to build Pre -Fabricated structure to house Pilgrims during 2 months of Yatra. This was not communicated properly to people of J & K by Congress Govt. Separatist, marginalized and loosing support in the valley, grabbed this opportunity and started misinformation campaign. Both Govt. at Center and State were inept. Separatist could convince Vally that Governor had plan to settle Hindus in the alloted land and change the Demography of the region!!. How absurd is this!!!. Center or State Govt. could not resettle 'Ethnically cleansed' Kashmiri Pandits in the valley for 20 yrs and Pandits are living in most inhuman conditions in refugee(!) camps in Jammu. Can anyone believe that this Govt. can change demography in Vally in favour of Hindus?
Agitation started in Kashmir and PDP and NC joined it so as not to loose support in Kashmir. As usual, when faced with opposition and threat from separatist, Congress Govt. gave in and revoked the order to appease separatist. This changed the complexion of this agitation. Jammu region felt betrayed and started agitation against revocation order. And unexpectedly this agitation was as widespread and violent as agitation in Kashmir. For the first time there was ' Intifada' in Jammu. Protestors throwing stones at security forces, Curfew orders couldn't be implemented, Govt. property destroyed, roads blocked and burning of cars, tyres everywhere. In Jammu, Kashmiri & Congress leaders faced peoples wrath.Their houses and property destroyed. They were physically assaulted. Jammu's only demand-non negotiable- is to revoke the order and allot land to shrine Board.

Journalists,TV anchors like Padmashri Barkha,Rajdeep and Karan Thaper et al had multiple programs, where leaders from all political parties in India and Kashmir, Separatists like Mirwaiz,Lone,Mehbooba and Mallik and S.A.S.S. leaders have participated. There is 'grave' danger. Kashmir is angry and agitation is led & fueled by teenagers. So called Children of Conflict. Jammu is also very angry and there also non political teenagers are leading the agitation, employing the same tactics used by agitators in Kashmir. Everyone blames Central and State Govt. for it's inept handling of the crisis when it started.Everyone wants Center to hold talk immediately.Everyone is shocked at the way PMO and Govt. is procrastinating. But the problem is What should PMO & Govt. talk at these meetings?

Strong agitation in Jammu has left Govt. with almost no options. Kashmiri leaders wont agree to give land to SASB. So Jammu will continue their agitation. Blocking of Srinagar Highway may have fueled the separatist movt. in Kashmir but it has also shown what is in store for Kashmir if Jammu is not with them. Mujaffarabad road is option but it has its own consequences.Even Pakistan is not very happy with the idea. Earlier Kashmiri leaders could threaten to cede from India and could wrest any concession from Delhi. Unfortunately this time giving more sops to Kashmir wont stop agitation in Jammu, rather it will fuel it further as Jammu can charge Delhi for appeasing secessionist and favoring them over 'Nationalist' Jammu. So no one is able to answer 'what next?'. Even Azadi will not come in month or two. Azad Kashmir as viable state will be subject matter for another post. Kashmiri leaders are not fools. They have milked this 'Azadi' demand for last 20 yrs and have done exceedingly well for the state. This year Indian Tax payers will pay Rs. 11510 Crore to state or Rs. 11510 to each Kashmiri to shout Anti Indian slogan and burn Indian Tricolor !!!. Unfortunately this time they picked up a wrong issue to demand Azadi and even they don't know how to wriggle out of this.
Lets hope that atleast now matter will be finally settled once for all. Either this way or that.---PK

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why this Double Standard ?

Last week in Orissa, VHP leader Swami Lakshmananand Saraswati was shot dead in his Ashram. Four other followers of the swami were also killed in the attack. Initial report that Maoist had attacked the Ashram and killed the swami was put out by local administration. But it has emerged that it was preplanned attack carried out by Christian group whose Religious Conversions were opposed by late Swami who had informed state Govt. time and again about threat to his life from these Christian groups.

As was expected, VHP called for the State Bandh which turned violent and mobs attacked Churches,Christian run Edu. Institutes and orphanages and Christian homes. This was widely and repeatedly reported on National T.V. and media.

Why such double standard? Compare this to murder of Graham Stein.All hell broke loose when Christian Missionary was burned alive in 1999 in Orissa. But when Hindu Saint is killed then there is deadly silence!!. Are all Christian Missionaries saints? History doesnt support this. They are ruthless killers when they are spreading Catholicism. American Indian Civilization in N.America, Inca Civilization in S. America, all local Tribal Civilizations in Africa, N.E.India and S. E.Asia were wiped off by Christian Missionaries with the help of the European rulers. In Asia they were in violent conflict with Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists and couldnt make much headway. One of the reason for 1857 Mutiny was fear of religious conversion of Muslims and Hindus to Christianity.

So murders and atrocities committed by Christian groups are kosher and any retaliatory action by VHP or Hindu group- should be highlighted and condemned in strongest terms on TV and Media. Ethenic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits is not even mentioned in press.(It is called exodus of Pandits from Valley!!) This double standard against Hindus has led to simmering discontent among Hindus and its erupts in inhuman acts of violence as witnessed in Gujarat and Orrissa. It becomes much more difficult to rein in attackers by the saner element of Hindu community. India must be the only nation where religious majority is pilloried day in and day out for its religious beliefs and practices. Even in U.S. Catholic issues like Abortion are major presidential Election issues and Candidates vie for support from conservative Christian religious groups and Church. Orthodox Christian/Muslim/Jewish beliefs and practices are no better than their Hindu counterpart. Hindus are slowly developing siege mentality and if majority Hindu community becomes intolerant of other religious groups then it will be disaster for India. ----PK

Will there be change?

Relative was arriving from San Fransisco by Jet Airways. Scheduled arrival time was 8.45 am. As Typhoon was expected to hit Hongkong I phoned Mumbai airport for ETA. Jet Airways informed me that flight was arriving before time and ETA was 7.05 am!!. I rushed to the Airport. Arrival monitor on Mumbai Airport was displaying ETA for the flight as 8.45 am / on time. Flight landed at 7.05 am ,passengers started coming out at 7.45 am but Airport arrival Monitor did not indicate that flight has landed. Why we cant manage such simple things on International Airport is beyond my understanding. Railways under our Lalu Prasad is doing better job of providing real time info.---PK

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Road Travel travails

On long Independence day weekend,our group had planned to spend the weekend in Daman. A friend has just bought Beachfront Bunglow in Moti Daman. Daman,a former Portugese colony's fame as a travel destination rests on fact that it is surrounded on three side by Dry Gujrat state. Fourth side is Sea but unlike Goa,Daman Beach is rocky where most of the Hotels are. Beach in Moti Daman is Sandy but sand is Blackish and beach is dirty.So swimming is not very popular on Daman beaches. Like Goa, Booze is really cheap but there are no shacks.

Trouble with all the weekend gateaways around Mumbai is travel time to & from destination.Khandala and Lonavala are now easy to reach thanks to Expressway. But road to Daman,Selvassa,Manor -Mumbai-Amdavad highway,is bad between Mumbai & Manor. Its part of Golden Quadrilatral but Congress Govts.have never paid any attention to Roads. Though Daman is Just 130 Kms from Borivli,travel time is usually 4hrs or so. Return journey is especially bad in Sirsad-Vasai belt and traffic jams stretching for 3-4 kms and lasting some 2-3 hrs is common. That's why no one likes to travel by road to Gujrat. People from South Gujrat, start in the morning to catch midnight International flights from Mumbai airport!!.This is going on for years but there is no improvement in road up to Maharastra border. On Gujrat side roads are good and express ways are built between main cities.

Regular travellers start very early from Mumbai,to avoid traffic. But when one is on vacation then why should one get up at ungodly hour? So as expected we were caught up in traffic upto Manor. It took us some 3 hrs to reach Manor. Everyone is so tired that Kamat Restaurant is God sent for Mind,mood,stomach and Bladder!!. Traveling in U.S.-esp. road travel is such a pleasure. One can take regular halts and can expect good restaurants and restrooms there. In India even upscale restaurants have stinking,dirty restrooms. While returning we were in traffic jam near Sirsad for almost 2 hrs. Male members relieved themselves on the roadside in full view of everyone. For Ladies , traveling by road must be a nightmare. When you reach home on Sunday evening, entire fun of weekend vacation has gone up in smoke. Unfortunately there are no alternatives to this situation and in years to come it's going to worsen. You have any suggestions?----PK