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Clouds Of Despire Over Valley Skies PDF Print E-mail
Written by M. L. Kotru   
Saturday, 09 September 2000 00:00
Men, Matters, Memories

Between the time I visited Kashmir valley last, in the first half of July and the second time now, in late August - early September, much has happened on the ground to warrant a second look. The last time I was in Pahalgam, the place was bustling with life, Amarnath yatris and the locals were jostling for space in this famed resort, a tented township had sprung up, community langars (kitchens) dotted the Lidder banks. Security forces were very much around but somehow you chose to ignore their presence then, given the fact that they were massively outnumbered by the locals and the pilgrims. That was in early

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 September 2010 04:02
India Can't Afford To Grant A Higher Degree Of Autonomy To Kashmir Now. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephen Cohen   
Monday, 28 August 2000 00:00


Professor Stephen Cohen explained how the Lahore Process got derailed during his conversation with The professor felt something like the Lahore initiative could not work unless "you build up agreements in a number of areas before hand, not afterwards."

To which's Nikhil Lakshman asked why that was so because then Egyptian president Anvar Sadat had done likewise when he flew to Israel in 1977.

audioClick here to hear what Professor Cohen said in response

    Do you think India should reduce the number of troops in Kashmir? What do you mean when you say India needs to "democratise" Kashmir?
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    Do you think Pakistan has control of the militants?
audioClick here

    Do you honestly believe the Islamists in the Pakistan army would allow a military retreat? Within India there is a view that General Musharraf is just a facade and the man really pulling the strings is General Aziz, who is widely considered to be an Islamist.
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    The Indian perception was that the troubles in Kashmir last year did not have the tempo of the early nineties. But all that changed with the Kargil war and the suicide attacks of late...
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    So you don't share the State Department's perception that Pakistan exports and sponsors terrorism?
audioClick here

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 September 2010 05:13
Bogey Of Alienation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Prof. Hari Om   
Wednesday, 23 August 2000 00:00
What is alienation ? Alienation, according to M Seeman, author of "germinal" work "On the meaning of alienation" [American Socialogical Thought, XXIV, 6, 1959], "denotes the estrangement of the individual from key aspects of his or her social existence".

Or, "alienation is a feeling on the part of the individual that he cannot influence the situations [social or political] in which he interacts". How is alienation caused ? Karl Marx says in his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts [1844] that alienation is caused when the individual loses "control over his own destiny and sees that control vested in other entities". Almost similar is the formulation of E. Fromm, who, in 1956, wrote The Sane Society. He opines that "alienation is that conditions when man does not experience himself as the action bearer of his own powers and richness, but as an impoverished ?thing? dependent on powers outside himself".

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 September 2010 03:53
Hindu Pilgrims Massacred; But The Show Must Go On PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rajeev Srinivasan   
Friday, 18 August 2000 00:00


It is no great surprise to me that the so-called 'ceasefire' by the shadowy Hizbul Mujahideen in Jammu and Kashmir came to an ignominious end. As I said in my previous column ('Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!') it was a propaganda exercise for the separatists and the Pakistanis to claim that see, they were willing to talk, it was India that was intransigent.

For once, India did the right counter-propaganda by immediately responding to the 'ceasefire' offer. With such alacrity that the Pakistanis (and their puppet, the Hizbul Mujahideen man Salahuddin in Islamabad) were caught on the wrong foot. They might actually have had to sit down and negotiate with the Indians, which they really don't want to do. Therefore, Plan B was put into action.

That was the brutal massacre of a hundred Indians, including Hindu pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra and Hindu laborers from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. This was trigger-happiness, intended to a. show the Indians who was boss, b. cause mass outrage and calls to abort the talks. But the Indian government still did not withdraw from the negotiations; the Indian public did not rise up in anger.

Therefore Plan C had to be hastily constructed: add some unreasonable demands. Yes, ask for Pakistan to be included in the talks post-facto -- this is guaranteed to be rejected by India. Thereafter, feigning injured innocence, the Hizbul Mujahideen wrings their hands about Indian 'unreasonableness' and goes back to business as usual, murdering people.

The theatrics have backfired: anybody who cares could see that India acted in good faith, and it was Salahuddin and the Pakistanis that sabotaged the talks. So no little gold stars for the dictator Pervez Musharraf; his propaganda ploy got him no plaudits whatsoever. So it is back to square one -- Situation Normal All Fouled Up.

Except for one small detail -- one hundred innocent people, mostly Hindus, who were murdered. In particular, many were pilgrims, going on an arduous pilgrimage to the ice cave at Amarnath. Pilgrims are always treated with deference everywhere in the world, for their closeness to the Infinite. Yet, the Indian media did not see fit to dwell on them; I don't remember seeing anywhere a full list of the people killed, their family backgrounds, any details about them. I know nothing about who these unfortunate people were. They have already been forgotten.

And I don't remember seeing the professional Human Rights mafia raising a ruckus. Let me pick on the most visible of these 'progressives' -- Shabana Azmi, Teesta Setalvad, Communalism Combat, SAHMAT. Not to speak of John Dayal and the National Christian Council or whatever. Not one of them, unless I am gravely mistaken, even turned an elegantly coiffed hair. You see, the dead were Hindus, so they were not human. So they had no human rights. QED. Only Muslims and Christians have rights.

Can you imagine the fuss if 50 Muslim or Christian pilgrims were slaughtered in India? Do you remember the breast-beating about attacks on Christians? The god-awful fuss made over exactly one missionary ('Death of a Missionary') burned to death? The mea culpas are still resonating. The manhunt for the perpetrators was most energetic. We get periodic interviews with the missionary's saintly wife who forgives all and sundry for all their sins, whether they committed any or not. I wouldn't be surprised if the Vatican saints Graham Staines any day now, even if he was not a Catholic.

Where are the interviews with the wives of the Hindu laborers and the pilgrims? Why doesn't anybody care if they forgive the killers of their kith and kin? Are they even getting any compensation money? I suppose not. They have already been forgotten. They are only Hindus.

This is what it means to be a Hindu in the great Socialist Progressive Secular Republic of India. You are a second-class citizen. Jawaharlal Nehru must be laughing in his grave -- he has succeeded in what he set out to do: destroy Hinduism. He put in place a perfect system of apartheid, one in which the silent majority is explicitly handicapped and exploited by law; and they believe they deserve it. While the 'minorities' are coddled. How this is different from the erstwhile white-supremacist regime in South Africa I really am not sure.

The Nehruvian Indian Constitution is a discriminatory document, as it expressly curtails the freedoms of Hindus, but not of 'minorities'. For instance, Hindu religious institutions come under government control and grand theft, but not Muslim or Christian ones. Hindus are not allowed to run schools, but 'minorities' are. The list goes on and on. It is apartheid, codified.

Each of these dead Hindus is a victim of Jawaharlal Nehru's megalomania. For it occurred to me recently that Nehru was anti-Lincoln. Whereas Abraham Lincoln gave his life to preserve the American Union, Jawaharlal Nehru gave the lives of several million Indians to destroy the Indian Union; primarily to massage his ego. As I said in my previous column 'Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,' Nehru was the reason for Partition, for the Kashmir problem, for Pakistan. He and his dynasty have been India's sorrow.

As India looks fearfully to August 15 and the mayhem on that day, it is worth remembering Saadat Hassan Manto's words: "There, behind barbed wire, on one side, lay India; and behind more barbed wire, on the other side, lay Pakistan. In between, on a bit of earth which had no name, lay Toba Tek Singh." We in the subcontinent all seem to inhabit an illusory homeland, just like that disappeared village, Toba Tek Singh.

All thanks to the wholly unnecessary Partition. All the other nations that were partitioned in the binge of partition in the mid-1900s have reunited or will reunite: for instance, Germany, Korea, etc. But Nehru's vanity and desire to be king have forever blighted this beloved country. Pakistan will never give up its struggle to destroy India: we will never reunite the old India.

Macaulay must be laughing too. He too has succeeded beyond his wildest imagination. This country has an entire two generations of Nehruvian Stalinists in positions of influence and power who have been brainwashed into despising themselves and being bilious shadows of others, in this case Chinese, Russians and Americans. Not the British, though, alas for Macaulay.

I read a lot of reports in the worldwide media about this whole ceasefire charade. Most of them scarcely mentioned the massacre. Practically none of them mentioned that these were pilgrims. I suppose the world media also hardly thinks of Hindus as human beings. How can you blame them if the Indian media doesn't? Self-respect is needed before others will respect you.

At best, Hinduism falls in the 'Other' category of religions according to the New York Times. This is the way they reported on the Peace Summit (which His Holiness the Dalai Lama was excluded from): Rev. XYZ, Monsignor ABC, Rabbi XYZ, Mullah ABC, and then 'representatives from the Buddhist, Hindu, Native American, Shinto and other faiths.' Once again, note that these are nameless, un-individualised people. Only the Semites deserve names and individuality. Only the Semites are people. So, naturally, they have human rights. Hindus are mere statistics.

Ramesh Rao in a column on suggested that the New York Times has been unremittingly hostile to India in the recent past. I agree, at least from the time Barbara Crossette used to file unvarnished tripe from Delhi. I think this has hurt the Indian propaganda cause quite a bit, as the paper is practically the mouthpiece of the foreign policy mafia in the US. I suggest that India's ambassador to Israel should ask the leaders there to put in a good word with the NY Times, who are after all Jewish and very pro-Israel. This could be a tangible benefit from the growing Indo-Israeli warmth.

What bothers me most is the casual way in which devout Hindus were butchered by Muslim terrorists. Don't they realise the worm can finally turn one day? After all, Muslims do go on pilgrimages too. Or maybe these terrorists are so bloodthirsty that rational thought does not occur to them. They have massacred some 50,000 of their co-religionists in cold blood in Algeria. And god knows how many in Afghanistan.

Look at the list of killings of Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir (from India Today, August 2, 2000). This is in addition to 350,000 Hindus ethnically cleansed from the Kashmir valley. Most of the following are in the Jammu region. These were cold-blooded executions of unarmed civilians by heavily armed mercenaries, often Afghan or Arab.


August 2: 11 in Doda district
August 2: 7 in one family in Kupwara district
August 1-2: 27 labourers in Anantnag district
August 1: 31 Amarnath pilgrims at Pahalgam
February 28: 5 drivers in Anantnag


July 19: 15 in Doda
June 20: 15 in Anantnag
February 20: 11 in Rajouri, 9 in Udhampur


August 8: 35 in Himachal Pradesh (Islamic terrorists responsible)
July 28: 16 villagers in Doda
June 19: 25 in Doda
April 18: 27 in Udhampur


March 20: 7 in Budgam in Kashmir
January 25: 25 in Ganderbal

Who cries for the Hindus? Are we children of some lesser god? Will the world notice us only if we take up the gun in self-defense?

And why is it that explosions do not disrupt Pakistan's Independence Day? What exactly is RAW doing? Pakistan can relate to counter-terrorism: being fanatic bullies they will be able to appreciate pain when it is applied to them. Pakistan is a fairly porous country, as demonstrated by the roving bands of mercenaries: why aren't some of them in India's employ, wreaking large-scale havoc and terrorising people?

India needs to ally with the Israelis to understand both the psychology and the tactics of protracted action against religious terrorism. After all, the Hindus and the Jews have both been victimised for millennia; it is time that both stood their ground. Especially for the Hindu, there is no outside help, at least not until India gets to be a major economic power. We are the Other, those of the frighteningly timeless religion, that which Islam and Christianity must worry about -- for Hinduism was there before they came about; and Hinduism will still be there after they disappear.


Thank you to the readers who wrote to the United Nations regarding the shameful blackballing of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In particular, I liked reader Kaustubh's gentlemanly yet firm note. However, it appears the insult will stand: the Lama is not going to the conference.

I read somewhere that the Pakistani information minister took umbrage to L K Advani referring to 'South Asia' as the 'Indian subcontinent'. "India is only one of the countries in 'South Asia' " quoth the Pakistani. (Quotes mine.) Now you know where all this 'South Asia' garbage is coming from. As I said in my previous column, 'Why I am not a South Asian' it is a desperate Pakistani information warfare attempt to reduce India's brand equity. After all, the only things people associate with Pakistan are "Paki-bashing" and "wild-eyed, bushy-bearded, fundamentalist terrorists including Osama bin Laden."


Last Updated on Saturday, 18 September 2010 05:15
Too Many People Have Died PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dilip D'Souza   
Wednesday, 16 August 2000 00:00


The way I see the mess in Kashmir, there are various interested parties. Each comes with its particular motivations. As an Indian who wants to understand what's going on in that state, I cannot avoid trying to understand these parties, these motivations. So for a 53rd birthday, here's an attempt to explain how that goes.

First, there's the ruling establishment in Pakistan, a clique that seems to exist and prosper regardless of who is actually in office in that country. For decades now, this ruling establishment has made out that Kashmir is the centrepiece of Pakistan's very existence, that that country's soul and identity is inextricably linked to Kashmir. A mere dilution of that concept, let alone a solution to the tragedy of Kashmir, spells catastrophe to this establishment. For such dilution will also expose the shameful way it has betrayed Pakistan and kept it a poor, struggling country.

Second, there's the Indian state. Regardless of who is actually in office, two things never change: a consensus about Kashmir and the steady effort to persuade the rest of the country of its truth. These are the elements in this consensus: that Kashmir is irreversibly, undeniably, forever, and by the way also legally, Indian. That even so, we must keep hundreds of thousands of our best soldiers and policemen stationed there at an enormous cost in money, material and lives. That Indian nationhood is so fragile that a mere dilution of this view of Kashmir will dismember India.

Third, there are the assorted terrorists or militants or freedom fighters, depending on who's referring to them. I'm aware that they form a whole spectrum of loyalty and opinion, besides quarreling frequently and viciously with each other. I'm also aware that for those reasons, they probably cannot be lumped together. But in at least one thing they seem to agree, and that is their basic motivation: a general disaffection with India.

Fourth, there are the Kashmiri Pandits, driven cruelly from their homes. As a broad and general aim, they would like to return to a homeland of their own in Kashmir. But while they understandably find Pakistan distasteful, they are increasingly disillusioned with an India that seems indifferent to their situation. They are coming to understand a sad reality: whichever the political party, it sees the Pandits only as a pawn in its own wriggles towards capturing power. As a cause to score points with, not people to care about.

Fifth, there are the Kashmiris in the Valley. As far as I can tell, they are largely sick of three things: one, the endless years of conflict, two, India and three, Pakistan. The years have told them very clearly that neither country will actually let them decide freely what their future will be; that the land they live on, rather than the people they are, is the bone that India and Pakistan wrestle over. And today, the stakes are grown too high for either country to let go. They have understood as well that the militants are largely mercenaries and thugs; hopes of an end to the suffering certainly do not lie in that direction, if ever they did. They would like just to be left alone, but that seems less likely every day.

Sixth, there are those in India who believe the only solution in Kashmir is to -- and I quote from one such who once wrote to me -- "wipe Pakistan off the face of the earth!" These are also the people who say -- and I quote from another such who once screamed at me -- "Kashmir will remain part of India regardless of what the Kashmiris want!" To me, these guys seem wrapped in a consuming hatred of Pakistan. Hatred produces obduracy, and I cannot see that that is a viable basis for solutions. I know these Indians have their mirror-images across the border. I am confident that acting in concert and unchecked, they will ensure we all end up as nuclear French fries.

Finally, there are some others in India: those who are appalled by the escalating carnage in Kashmir, the frustrations and hatreds it has spurred in the rest of the country, the horrifying prospect of war. They keep urging the need for radical new thinking for the tangle in Kashmir, some major departure from the path we have followed there for half a century. They also urge that Kashmiris -- Pandits too -- have the chance to speak for themselves, and that it is time the rest of us listened. Again, I am confident these Indians have their counterparts across the border.

The indifferent and ignorant apart, I think everyone who is interested in Kashmir falls in one or another of the seven categories above. Send me a note if you're an eighth or ninth or tenth.

When I read about outrages in Kashmir such as the recent massacre of Amarnath pilgrims, or murderous bomb blasts in Srinagar, I despair that there ever will be an end to it all. Opinions on every side are so deeply entrenched, everyone is so convinced of the God-given truth of his own take on the situation -- as am I, too -- that there is no longer any dialogue. No exchange. No hope for peace. Sometimes I think even the desire for peace is ebbing fast. And that, as I sit here in Bombay, is a frightening thought indeed.

Still, you have to hold on to some optimism and hope. So for this 53rd Independence Day, I'd like to suggest a few thoughts.

1. Enough blood shed in Kashmir. Just enough.

2. Entrenched opinions have never got us anywhere. So let's begin by examining our own. To me, that means I must understand that if I think my views are reasonable, that lady out there has her own views and they sound reasonable to her. But since neither she nor I are about to vanish, we have to find a way to exchange our views, find common ground.

3. Pakistan's leaders often say something like this: "There can be no bettering of ties until India recognises that the core issue is Kashmir." India replies: "Kashmir is not the core issue." India's leaders often say something like this: "There can be no dialogue until Pakistan stops sponsoring cross-border terrorism." Pakistan replies: "We don't sponsor terrorism, we support freedom-fighters."

That is, each side has found itself a perfectly good reason to evade dialogue, and yet blame the other for that evasion. I'm not talking here about right and wrong on somebody's barometer. I'm talking about stubborn evasion.

You will find similar intransigence across other fences between those seven categories I listed above. Thus blame is everywhere, while introspection is not to be found. And any common ground is a very long trek away.

As long as we don't find common ground, the blood will flow. That takes us back to #1. And as we trudge back there, as we lose pilgrims and photographers and soldiers and policemen and just ordinary men and women and children every day, I wonder with Bob Dylan:

How many deaths will it take till we know,
That too many people have died?

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 September 2010 05:17
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