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Sangh plays in Pak hands

The demand by the Sangh Parivar outfits for the division of Jammu and Kashmir has virtually amounted to playing into the hands of Pakistan. It would weaken the democratic and secular fabric of the border state. The Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh had come forward with a demand for the division of the state into three communal and religious-based states of Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir Valley. While Jammu and Ladakh are, by and large, inhabited by Hindus and Buddhists respectively, Kashmir valley is a Muslim-dominated area.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has also trumpeted this demand. It sought the division of Jammu and Kashmir into four states. Unlike the RSS, the VHP wants an additional state of Anantnag, forming the northern and western sides of Jhelum river. The VHP had decided to launch an agitation to get its demand conceded by the Central government. On the other hand, the Sangh has extended support to the movement being launched by the Jammu and Kashmir National Front, an RSS-backed organisation, for a separate Jammu state.

It is the safety of the Hindus in Jammu that has prompted the Sangh Parivar to demand the division of the state. They also hope that the formation of Jammu state would help the return of three lakh displaced Kashmiri Pandits to their homeland. If the demand of the Sangh Parivar outfits for the division of the border state is conceded, it will give another chance to Pakistan to raise the issue of a plebiscite in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. It is a known fact that the militants are active in the valley and the administration there may go into the hands of the militants aided by Pakistan sooner or later if the state is divided.

The demand by the Sangh Parivar is virtually reminiscent of the two-nation theory propagated by Mohammad Ali Jinnah during the pre-partition days. During that period, the two-nation theory of the bifurcation of India on religious lines had led to the emergence of Pakistan. But this two-nation theory of dividing the country on religious basis proved to be a flop in 1971 when East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh, seced from the mainland of West Pakistan. Bangladesh was carved out not on religious but on the linguistic grounds.

India is a multi-cultural state and as such should not allow the redrawing of the borders of the states on religious lines. In fact, states were reorganised in the country in 1957 on the basis of language and not on religious or on any other criterion. Kashmir is an integral part of India not because it acceded to India on the basis of the Instrument of Accession signed by the then princely ruler in 1948. 

Significantly, the Sangh Parivar demand did not find favour even with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which is considered the political wing of the former. Among those who rejected the demand of the RSS included the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Lal Krishna Advani, who snubbed the Hindutva hard-liners for making such an absurd demand. BJP leaders themselves apprehend that the demand has dangerous portents. Yet the difference of opinion between the BJP, which still favours scrapping of Article 370 of Constitution giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and other Sangh Parivar outfits is worth notng. But the RSS bluntly points out since they are different organisations, they can hold divergent or even contradictory views on issues.

The RSS demand has come in for sharp criticism from all quarters. The newly crowned chief of the National Conference, Omar Abdullah has snubbed the Sangh and said that the demand is against the very interests of the state as well as the country. He has remarked that the RSS has no locus standi to put forward such demands and decide the fate of the people of the state.

It is all the more distressing that the demand for the division of Jammu and Kashmir has come when the state is preparing to hold assembly elections within the next few months. A successful assembly elections in the state will prove to the world that the people there endorse its accession to India. In fact, there are clear indications that the elections in the state will be successful with many militant outfits, even those with pro-Pakistan leanings, thinking in terms of participating in them. 

The demand of the RSS at this juncture will only complicate the Kashmir issue further and Islamabad, which is trying its best to sabotage the election process in the state, may take advantage of it.

The Sangh Parivar, including the BJP, has in the meanwhile, come out with a demand to hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir under the President's rule. Prime Minister AB Vajpayee himself recently stated that his government was considering a proposal in this respect so that the elections were held there in a free and fair manner. Expectedly, the proposal was vehemently opposed by Chief MinisterFarooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah. Both oppose the move on that ground that there is no such law or convention to hold assembly elections in a state under the President's rule. The chief minister has contemptuously suggested the BJP should first propose to hold the assembly elections in Gujarat under President's rule.

PM Damodaran in Lucknow

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