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