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The Delhi Durbar is crumbling

The Delhi Durbar looks curiouser and curiouser from the fringes of India – like from this overgrown town shyly snuggling amongst the seven hills by the side of the Arabian Sea, Thiruvananthapuram. This part of India never formed part of the Mughal Empire and we have no collective memory of those tragic times when the 1857 revolt erupted, but the Delhi Durbar today leaps out of William Dalrymple’s book on the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar. 

This is was the stunning thought that occured to me as I instinctively reached out for morning’s Hindu newspaper. The daily’s lead story had a cute little box showing the coloured cheeks of 5 handsome gentlemen who are to take the momentous decision as to whether the AFSPA should continue to prevail all over J&K and not. 
They cannot apparently make up their mind because one of them needs more time to procrastinate further. To be sure, Defence Minister A.K.Antony’s stance is shocking. At least, he should take a stance like the army chief does (who has a closed mind on the issue). But all that Antony would say is this is a “very, very sensitive issue”, which would need “mature and cool” handling. 
This is pure baloney and is an excuse for indecisiveness. What is this AFSPA about? Having held charge of the “Kashmir Unit” in the MEA for a number of years, having rubbed shoulders with colleagues in the MHA and MOD and in the intelligence agencies, I can claim some familiarity with the subject. Do you know, for instance, that there has been a committee called Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy Committee (which even had an army general sitting as member) that looked into this business of AFSPA and that its report has been gathering dust for the past 6 years and 5 months only because the government thought it a “very very sensitive” report that deserves “mature and cool” handling?
Two, the real issue is that AFSPA gives the Army the powers to kill civilians with immunity. But then, if the security situation has improved palpably – as in many parts of J&K – where is the need to kill civilians at all? Three, Antony is being less than frank by overlooking that Omar Abdullah’s proposal is at least one year old and it is his Ministry that is sitting on it twiddling thumbs and proffering one lame excuse after another to block it. 
As far as I can see, strong vested interests have developed. Corporate interests are being affected. This is not a turf battle, it is a veritable war over the “empire” that the army created in J&K through these tragic decades of our current history. Vacating the “empire” means great loss of “comforts”, perks and privileges. It is not like the shady Adarsh Housing Society scam, of course, but it is no less worse when a corporate body appropriates public resources on an epic scale. 
My point is that this is simply not a matter for the army to have an opinion at all. This is a matter for the civilian government. The government declared an area as “disturbed” out of its wisdom and the government should decide if it is no longer “disturbed”. There has been a colossal failure of leadership when the government failed to do so even after years of tranquility in a certain area – as pointed out by Abdullah. 
The government can always judge if the security situation can be handled without the “expertise” of the army. But it is not for the army to insist that its “expertise” is an imperative need. It is for the civilian government to decide whether Srinagar needs army’s “expertise” or whether Budgam may need army expertise in 2016 (where it hasn’t conducted a single operation for the past 5 years)? In Srinagar, by the way, one cannot recall when the army last operated at all. 

Finally, this is a matter that has implications for India’s foreign policy at a juncture when things are looking up in the relations with Pakistan. Any forward movement in the normalization involves to some degree thoughtful initiatives on the Kashmir problem, pending a final solution in the fulness of time when a climate of trust is created. 

Antony should not stand in the way. Give way, please, so that the nation can move on. Gandhiji would have advised him to do that. It is plain humaneness that our citizens should be allowed to live in dignity. 

Posted in Politics.

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10 Responses

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  1. says

    Kudos to Bhadrakumar! One sane voice on this issue! All those protesting your view here – will they want to live as citizens in Kashmir? Or will they send theirs sons or brothers to Kashmir as part of Indian Army? They all talk nationalistic jingoism when they have nothing to lose personally! That is the bane of India.

  2. Ramanathan Umapathy says

    1.Only on acceptance of Indian constitution by Gilani and his cohorts
    2.Unequivocal acceptance of Democracy under Indian Constitution
    3.Complete stoppage of ProPak slogans by Gilani and his hurriyat gangs
    4.Handing over by Gilani of killers of Bhat and other moderate Hurriyat leaders
    5.Gilani accepting accession of J

  3. says

    I need to disagree with the author. The defence ministry need to conclude yet. It is good that AFSPA is pushed to the font story. But not all decision making need to be in binary. I would think that fuzzy logic would excellently work in this case. And i DONT call that as indecisiveness.

  4. Sriram Ramarathnam says

    I have come across nothing worthwhile from Kashmir except the regular whining and raving and ranting that has been going on ever since 1947.
    As if people world over have no problems.
    Well after having purged the state(the valley) of Hindus, their progress must have zoomed.
    Instead, all that has zoomed is the per capita dependence from the central govt.
    Let them keep ARt 370, get stuck in Kashmir and not, repeat not buy land anywhere in India.

    All that is good in Kashmir is the lake (cannot keep it clean though, though many Muslim lives depend on it – obviously Hindu tourists have to flock to the lake), saffron (ha, cannot the change the name of the flower? cannot increase the already pitifully low yields ,,, why what are Kashmiri agrl scientists doing) Amarnath (Hindus are useless – despite the humiliation they flock in droves to visit the shrine and keep the Kashmiri economy going) and the weather

    No industry worth the name – not even a BPO, no world reknown university- except one for throwing stones, perhaps-

    The favourite past time is carping cribbing and ranting.

    What a waste of a place?

    Who will want to settle down there? Even if Article 370 is removed, I daresay anyone will think twice of even working there for a living


  5. ravi prakash says

    The AFSPA is an outdated act. It was used by the British to suppress civilian dissent. It is draconian to say the least and at worst leads to excessive violence against civilians. While this is the ground reality, the political situation is still unstable. There are seperatists eager to fan the secession from the Indian Union. Then there are the pro Pakistani sympatisers among the political groups who could become active and provide home and shelter to the more violent elements.
    Clearly, the situation calls for a more comprehensive approach and not just restricted to the removal of the AFSPA. Perhaps a more progressive law that deals with the situation needs to be introduced. The law must empower the armed forces to deal with the violent war mongers as well as empowering the police and the civilian authorities to prosecute other criminal acts that go against the unity of this country.
    The sad part is that the Govt does not wish to sort out these issues . The result: wasting away precious time with the AFSPA and keeping the issue festering indefinitely.

  6. nitmohan says

    The country whose two-two Prime Ministers are gunned down and blasted, we cannot expect any security preventing us from outsiders attack. A country which does not have any policy nor could make a policy after independence for J

  7. Jagannath Shetty says

    Mr. MKB, the matter is not that simple as you made out to be. Lot of blood of Indian Army Jawans has flown in the valley of Kashmir to protect the so called civilians you talk about. If the situation is normal then where is the worry for you? Army will not bother you at all. Only if the civilians threaten the army then the civilians risk of their life. What is the issue? If the Kashmiris find out solution by themselves ( in any case – under the Indian Union) – the role of army will automatically become redundant. Let us agree with Mr.Antony – who is considered as the most balanced politician this country has and let us listen to what he has to say. Be assured, the issue is handled by the right person.

  8. Sundar Narasimhan says

    Comprehensive analysis of a complex issue – this one.

    However, it is being understood that there is a good improvement in the law and order in J

  9. Subhash Chander Aggarwal says

    Do you mean to say that Kashmiries are not allowed to live with dignity in AFSPA regime?
    What about the Pro-Pak slogans one hears every now and then?

  10. K Srinivasan says

    Remove army , but remove article 370 as well .
    jet J

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