The beautiful valley of Jammu and Kashmir has been burning ever since militancy and violence broke out and insinuated the place like poison ivy. As the battle between the separatist forces and the Government of India continues, it is the citizenry that suffers. The recent row regarding allotment of 40 hectares of forest land to the Amarmath Shrine Board to better facilities provided to thousands of pilgrims to the Amarnath cavesÂ has now taken epic proportions. Jammu and Srinagar are burning in the collective fires of protests and curfew. And the propagator of the protests is the Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti which contains 28 members belonging to HIndu organizations.
The decision to allocate land to the Shrine Board was taken by the previous BJP government and after its electoral loss, the PDP government led by CM Mufti Sayeed had started the process of land transfer. Due to government red tape the process slowed down. Unfortunate for Ghulam Nabi Azad that it should have been during his tenure as the CM of J&K that the allocation would be finalized.
The land allotment was first opposed by the environmentalists crying fowl at the vastÂ number of trees that would be felled and prime forest land that would be lost if such an allotment happened.Â Sensing an opportunity the major separatist groups in the valley, Hurrriyat and the J&K Liberation Front jumped on the bandwagon and protested vehemently aginst it.
Their stand was thatÂ it was illegal to give landÂ for personal use. But here the allotment was to the Shrine Board which was formed by the Government and is headed by theÂ State Governor, a Government employee. Hence their allegation stands anulled. But what happened after these protests was that the CM decided to cave in andÂ stopped the land transfer. This agitated the Hindus in the State. The PDP now sensing danger pulled outÂ its support from the J&K government resulting inÂ its collapse.Â J&K is now under Governor’s rule and there is absolute chaos. The BJP and its allies haveÂ now taken the opportunity to fan communal fires in the State. Nearly seven civilian lives have perished in clashesÂ with the State Police.
The Hurriyat, which has now been joined by the PDP,Â has said that the Government wants to create an Isreal-like situation in Kashmir and through the land allotment attract more Hindu settlers into the Valley. Am I to believe that nowÂ Indians have to think twice beforeÂ stepping foot into a part of their own Country just because it happens to be a Muslim majorityÂ State? Have the Hindu’s not protected and provided for the Haj pilgrims every facility during their annualÂ journey? There are special terminals for them in the airports, special train services.
Then why is it that when Hindu pilgrims ask for better facilitiesÂ such a hue and cry has been raised? And this we specially ask Omar Abdullah of the National Conference. What does he wish- that these pilgrims continue to make the yatra at the peril of their lives as the road is trecherous and wrought with natural hazards and frequent landslides.
IÂ may sound biasedÂ in my opinion but today this is what every fellowÂ Indian might be thinking.Â The issue has completely polarized theÂ State and I fear that at the slightest instigation there might be communal violence. People like LK Advani and Uma Bharati are waiting like hawks to create a Godhra-like situation in Kashmir.
I have seen Muslims of the valley and everywhere else in the country say they are no different from their Hindu brethren. We have lived together for centuries now and yet at the slightest provocation we spill each other’s blood. Today in Kashmir there are Muslims who have supported theÂ Â Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti’s protests and sided with their Hindu counterparts.Â It is a pity that such people willÂ be sacrifices if violence breaks out.
I have always wondered that why is it that the Valley has remained silent when the Kashmiri Pandits were slaughtered and why have they stood through similar acts of violence without opposing such brutality.Â They have to now collectively rise above the separatists and deny them authority over their decisions. They should express their opinion and decide if it is violence or peace they wish. Its time the Valley stood up for its own and not be a party to the whims of the Hurriyat and JKLF.