Amitabh Mattoo (Jammu university, Vice-Chancellor)
The present situation is probably the worst crisis the state has faced in 50 years. During the 1990s, when the Valley was engulfed in violence, Jammu was an oasis, a model of tolerance and accommodation. Today, Jammu is angry and the movement on the street has the support of all sections of Jammu’s society.
The Valley, too, seems to be once again gripped by civil unrest. Can this cycle of violence and unrest be stemmed? Is it possible that out of this turmoil we may still be able to create the conditions of long-lasting reconciliation?
I propose the following via media:
First, let the civil society of Kashmir introspect and reflect on this issue. The yatra has been a part and parcel of Kashmiris and their composite tradition for over a century. We are confident that the civil society leaders of Kashmir can genuinely empathise with the intense feelings of hurt in Jammu. After all, they too have experienced this sense of being orphaned in their own land. Let the civil society of Kashmir make a genuinely statesmanlike gesture by entering into a dialogue with their counterparts in Jammu and by even considering voluntarily offering the land to their co-state subjects to be used for the Amarnath yatra every year.
Civil Society of Kashmir is aware that land to be used by yatris for two months will neither change the demography nor the culture of the Valley. In fact, Kashmiris will demonstrate that their legendary generosity and magnanimity of spirit and action is still as vibrant and alive as it was in the past.
Second, let the civil society of Jammu recognise that Kashmiris have, over the years, greatly contributed to the sanctity of the yatra and the harmonious manner in which the pilgrimage was conducted for so many decades. It was a Kashmiri Muslim — of the Malik family — who rediscovered the shrine and for many decades they were given a portion of the chadawa.
The civil society of Jammu must address the concerns of those who have traditionally depended on the yatra for their livelihood as well as of the fragile eco-system of the region while planning the logistics for the yatra. They must recognize that the success of the yatra and the safety of yatris will be best ensured through the goodwill of the local population and the spirit of amity and brotherhood that has traditionally prevailed.
Third, let the dialogue between the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti and Kashmir’s Action Committee become the basis for a real reconciliation of hearts and minds. Let the top leadership of the country — in the government and Opposition — realise that today on the streets of Jammu and Srinagar are the voices of the disempowered and the helpless. If we have to make real peace in the state, empower the people: from Ladakh to Lakhanpur.
Pak, ISI don’t want temple land
Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz)
The whole issue of the land and Kashmir problem on a larger canvas is a result of mistrust. First, Kashmir’s problem has been misinterpreted and the people of India have been led to an unremitting belief that Pakistan wants to grab the land and ISI is behind all the trouble. The aspirations of Kashmiris are never made known to the people of India.
We have been saying it loud and clear: Kashmiris will facilitate the pilgrimage like they always have. Neither the Hurriyat Conference nor any militant organisation has said anything against the pilgrimage. Then why is the land required?
Once the land was transferred to the shrine board, parallels were drawn that Kashmiris, like Palestinians, would be reduced to a minority and become refugees in their homeland. This was a result of mistrust and psyche of fear because of India’s attempts to bring more and more jackboots on the soil of the Valley. This fear has further deepened with the communal voices being raised by BJP leaders.
Facilities for the pilgrims are the issue. We are there to receive them, facilitate them. And as far as the overall Kashmir solution is concerned, it can be resolved through a third party mediation — be it the United Nations or any other international institution. Or, it could be through negotiations among three parties — India, Pakistan and Kashmir.
GIVE BACK LAND, DEFUSE CRISIS
Professor Hari Om (Vice-President and spokesperson of the BJP’s state unit)
The Jammu and Kashmir BJP is an integral part of the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti (SAYSS) that is spearheading the movement against the land revocation order. It has been simply striving to supplement the efforts of SAYSS, articulating the national sentiment and fighting blatant communalism.
The BJP fully endorses the organisation’s demand. It is the firm view of the party that the only way to conciliate the alienated and angry people of Jammu and assuage their sentiments is to implement the May 20, 2008, Cabinet order that diverted 100 acres of land at Baltal to the shrine board to build facilities for pilgrims.
The shrine board has to be resorted to its original position and the Shri Aamarnath Ji Shrine Board Act has to be implemented in letter and spirit. There is no middle path.
Alternately, the authorities could resolve the controversy, which has put Jammu on fire and convulsed and bloodied its political scene, by expecting the May 17, 2005, interim order passed by the divisional bench of the J&K High Court that empowered the shrine board to use the said piece of land during the yatra and manage the whole pilgrimage. Not to accept the demands of SAYSS or not to implement the High Court order would simply mean that the authorities are determined to boost communalism and fanaticism.