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The Rediff Interview/M G Vaidya

J&K Votes

'It is wrong to term our demand as communal'

As Jammu and Kashmir heads for elections, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh says it has found a solution to the problems that have afflicted the violence-prone border state. Their remedy lies in the division of Jammu and Kashmir into three states: Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government has rejected the demand; Opposition political parties have assailed the RSS, saying the trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir implies the creation of a Muslim Kashmir, a Hindu Jammu and a Buddhist Ladakh.

Despite the opposition, the RSS leadership is going ahead with its demand. An RSS-floated organisation called the Jammu and Kashmir National Front is leading the campaign for splitting up the troubled border state. In an exclusive interview to Deputy Managing Editor George Iype, RSS spokesperson M G Vaidya explains the reasons for the division of Jammu and Kashmir.

Why has the RSS leadership come out with the sudden demand that Jammu and Kashmir should be divided into three separate states?

It is not a sudden demand. We have been pressing with the demand for the division of Jammu and Kashmir for the last two years, especially after the Jammu and Kashmir state assembly passed the autonomy resolution in 2000. In fact two years ago, the RSS leadership had appointed a committee under the chairmanship of the retired chief justice of Haryana and Punjab, Jitendra Veer Gupta, to study the need for trifurcating Jammu and Kashmir.

Some 48 peopleís delegations from across the state met the Gupta committee. Out of that, 44 delegations opted for a separate statehood for Jammu. The committee in turn recommended to the RSS leadership that the people of Jammu think the solution to their problems lies in separate statehood for Jammu. So our demand is that Jammu and Kashmir should be declared as separate states and Union territory status should be accorded to the Ladakh region.

Donít you think the demand for the division of Jammu and Kashmir is against Indiaís stated policy of integration and unity?

The RSS is for more and more integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India and not its going away from the country. How can the creation of new states in Jammu and Kashmir result in the disintegration of the country? In fact, there are many other factors that hinder the integration of Jammu and Kashmir into India. We feel that a separate constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, a separate flag for the state and the provision of Article 370 in the Constitution are all against the unity of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India.

We are for the complete abolition of all these specialities given to Jammu and Kashmir. For instance, Article 370 provides a special status to Jammu and Kashmir by which no Indian can settle in that state whereas people from Jammu and Kashmir can settle down in other parts of India. What a strange rule!

Do you mean that the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir is the root cause of the stateís problems?

Yes. Over the years, we have been taking away the special powers of Jammu and Kashmir for the good of the country. Sheikh Abdullah was called the prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Later we changed the nomenclature to chief minister. The Election Commission, the Supreme Court and the Comptroller and Auditor General have supervisory powers in Jammu and Kashmir, which they did not have before 1953. So we have to quickly integrate Jammu and Kashmir to India by taking away its special privileges. Even now the duration of the state assembly in Jammu and Kashmir is six years, whereas it is five years in other states. Why?

Even in the United States, the presidential election takes place in four years. I tell you continuing to accord these special privileges are not going to help Jammu and Kashmir anyway.

The Opposition parties allege that your call for trifurcating Jammu and Kashmir is to create a Muslim Kashmir, a Hindu Jammu and a Buddhist Ladakh. Donít you think such a demand would create a communal divide?

It is wrong to term our demand as communal divide. It is in fact a regional divide. And the divide is very natural. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India with a joint name. Gujarat is Gujarat. Maharashtra is Maharasthra. There is no state called Gujarat Maharashtra. It implies that Jammu and Kashmir are two naturally different divisions. The Jammu region consists of three Muslim majority districts. In the total population of Jammu region, Muslims are 35 per cent. Even the Muslims among whom the RSS has been disseminating this idea want a separate state of Jammu.

But the Vajpayee government and all the political parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party have rejected your demand.

Political parties and the government can have different perceptions on our demand. But our demand for splitting Jammu and Kashmir stands firm. You see governments reject many things. It does not mean that we should give up our demands. The demand for the new state of Uttaranchal was rejected by the Uttar Pradesh government. Jharkhand statehood was rejected by the Laloo Prasad Yadav government in Bihar.

New states like Uttaranchal and Jharkhand do not have a history of militant violence that has killed more 30,000 thousand people in Jammu and Kashmir.

People have been killed in Kashmir because a section of the people want certain parts or the whole of Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan. We are not going to offer even a single inch of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan. The army is there to protect us. Do you think as soon as the division of Jammu and Kashmir is done, the army and the people will run away from the valley? Do you suspect the patriotism of our people in the Kashmir valley?

But Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani said the RSS demand for the division of Jammu and Kashmir goes against the ethos of India and also against our stand on Kashmir before the international community.

You need to ask Advani why he has rejected our demand. We do not share the arguments of Advani on this matter. This is not the only issue that the RSS disagrees with the government.

Do you hope to convince the Vajpayee government about your demand?

Yes, we are doing that. And the public desire for the trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir will be reflected in the coming assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir.

Have you taken up this demand officially with the Vajpayee government?

No. Not officially. But the government knows well our stand and demand and we are sure that one day they will agree with us.

Donít you think that the very rationale behind the division of Jammu and Kashmir is to divide it into Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist territories?

This is not correct. Our demand is not on communal lines. In Jammu region, there are 35 per cent Muslims. Do you fear that our proposed Jammu state will become a Hindu-majority state where Muslims will be a minority? In that logic, the whole of India is a communal state because the Hindus are a majority in India. Our rationale is that the division is not on religious lines.

Where will the migrated Hindu Pandits go if you divide Jammu and Kashmir?

The Hindu Pandits from the Kashmir valley are these days refugees in Jammu, Chandigarh and Delhi. We want them to be rehabilitated in the Kashmir valley. Our demand is that the government should start a dialogue with the Hindu Pandits and make means to rehabilitate and resettle them.

Donít you think if we divide Jammu and Kashmir into separate states, it will be a morale booster to Pakistan?

Pakistan has no locus standi as far as the part of Kashmir that is with India is concerned. Pakistan has no locus standi as far as the abolition of Article 370 and other issues are concerned. The trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter of India and Pakistan has nothing to do with it.

Political parties say the RSS has come forward with the trifurcation demand to upset the Jammu and Kashmir election.

Not at all. Our demand has been there since 1999. It has nothing to do with the election. Even the National Conference people will not like the Kashmir valley to join Pakistan. If it makes such a demand, then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullahís fate will be the same as the fate of former Afghanistan president Najibullah. An overwhelming majority of people in Kashmir is with India only. Pakistani elements also exist there. But to say that the whole issue of Kashmir becomes complex, as soon as the state is trifurcated does not have any logic. Our view is that all the states in India should be treated at par.

The RSS makes its stand very clear and unambiguous. It is for others to decide whether they are with us or away from us.

Design: Dominic Xavier

The Jammu & Kashmir home page

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