When other parts of India were in the grip of post-Partition violence, the slogan the first army units landing in the Valley heard in October 1947 epitomised Kashmiriyat: Hamleywaar, khabardaar. Hum Kashmiri Hindu, Muslim, Sikh hain tayyar!
The trans-border elements whose advance the Indian troops halted and whom the Kashmiris had warned against misadventure are exploiting to the hilt now a land use diversion the ruling coalition could — with the right political will — have showcased as a return to the state's culture of communal harmony.
Moreover, the piece of land at Baltal is a camping site with little vegetation. The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board can only use it for setting up pre-fabricated shelters for pilgrims during the yatra. “For no other purpose and at no other time can the land be used. The temple board also has to make a one-time payment of Rs 2 crore for the diversion,” a top J&K official told HT.
There are lessons to be learnt from the stand-off driving thousands to the streets amid the political blame game culminating in the PDP’s cowardly desertion of the coalition. That agents provocateur could project the diversion of a mere 100 acres as a conspiracy to change the Valley’s demography is a collective failure of the political class on either side of the divide.
The PDP pullout lends itself to many interpretations. On the face of it, Mufti Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba are desparate to insulate themselves from popular outrage over an issue they should have helped place in the right perspective. It’s an irony that the party led by the country’s former home minister chose expediency over its duty to fight the falsehood that’s misguiding the people.
In fact, the Valley-based party decided to quit ahead of its own June 30 deadline to obfuscate — in the changed situation — the role of its leaders in the controversial land transfer. There is no denying the fact that PDP’s Mohammad Afzal holding the Forest portfolio took the proposal to the state cabinet after his party colleague and State Law Minister Muzaffar Baig put his seal on it.
There is a lot more to the uproar in the Valley than meets the eye. Its slow yet definite movement to peace and the forgotten spirit of Kashmiriyat wasn’t to the liking of separatist lying in ambush. How can one buy their other argument of environmental degradation by the land transfer when not a pine leaf moved over diversion of forest land to set up telecommunication towers, railway projects and the Rs 300 crore Mughal Road linking Rajouri with Kashmir?
The conspiracy actually is to kill the revival of Kashmiriyat --the heritage that had Kashmiri Pandits teaching the Quran to Muslims; the two communities celebrating their togetherness with names like Khuda and Mullah and Bhagwan and Pandit. A Shiv temple in the State has a Muslim priest and a Hindu looks after a Ziarat in Jammu.
Oblivious of such examples of communal harmony, the political class is a helpless witness to Kashmiriyat losing ground in the Jammu-Valley face-off over 100 acres of barren earth.