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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

_____________2008 to 2016 __________

How creations of Kashmir’s mainstream politicians make 1.25 crore people bleed through their nose

After death, Burhan Wani caused Rs 16,000 crore loss to Kashmir's economy

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Jan 10: The Jammu and Kashmir Government’s most authentic official document, Economic Survey 2016, released by Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu in Legislative Assembly here on Tuesday, makes a bizarre admission of the near-total breakdown of all activities of growth and development in the second year of the PDP-BJP regime. For the first time, it was officially revealed on the floor of the Legislature that the upheaval created by the Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8, 2016, had caused damage worth Rs 16,000 crore to the Valley’s economy.

Wani became a militant in Omar Abdullah’s regime in 2010-11 when some Policemen associated with counterinsurgency operations in Tral area allegedly maltreated with him and other teenagers. During Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s regime in 2015, politicians and media in competition created him as an “icon and inspiration” for the Valley’s new generation of the youth. A many of the mainstream politicians, including Ministers, MLAs, MLCs and MPs glorified Wani as a “hero” until his death and thereafter began eulogising him as a “martyr”. Paradoxically, these mainstream politicians are on oath to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India and this country's Constitution. Burhan treated them as "traitors" and "Indian agents" and claimed to be struggling for Kashmir's separation from India and establishment of Caliphate.

Birth of the PDP-BJP coalition in March 2015 frittered away entire enthusiasm of the Jammu and Kashmir’s best held Parliamentary and Assembly elections, in 2014, and lent a fresh lease of life to political uncertainty and the badly marginalised separatist politics and armed insurgency. Massarat Alam’s release by Mufti Sayeed’s government, followed by permission to a massive pro-Pakistan demonstration on Srinagar Airport Road in reception of the separatist hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, witnessed hundreds of youths abandoning their studies and picking up guns and stones — something almost completely forgotten after failure of Alam’s 2010 turmoil.

In a week of his taking over as Chief Minister, Mufti freed Alam on March 8, 2015. With their honour of reception to Geelani, in front of the Police Headquarters, on April 15, 2015, followed by a similar demonstration in Tral four days after Burhan's brother Khalid got killed in an encounter between militants and Army, Alam and his associates revived pro-Pakistan euphoria in a big way. Even as Alam was re-arrested under BJP’s pressure, Burhan carried the mantle while dominating newspapers, television channels and social media with his jihadist slogans and naked-face videos. Soon he discovered himself turning into a “role model” and inspiration for many of the Valley’s youths in schools and colleges. His death created yet another take of the turbulence Kashmir had witnessed in 2008 and 2010.

Ironically, even in 2008, when the two PDP Ministers, namely Qazi Mohammad Afzal and Tariq Hamid Karra, created a street turmoil with allotment of a piece to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board and Mufti Sayeed brought down Ghulam Nabi Azad’s government, the Valley had forgotten militants and marginalised the separatists. It was none other than Mufti and is PDP who brought down Ghulam Nabi Azad's coalition and unleashed a new era of political instability that comes intermittently knocking on the Government's doors with different intervals. Later, over one hundred people got killed and hundreds injured in street clashes and demonstrations in the summer of 2010.

“…the prolonged cycles of unrest since 2008 have become a new normal in the social, political and economic life of Jammu and Kashmir resulting into highly adverse impact on economic growth and infrastructural development”, Drabu’s Economic Survey admits. “Since June 2008, there have been four cycles of unrest — Amarnath land row, Shopian ‘rape and murder’ case (2009), 2010’s summer turmoil and the latest unrest following killing of Hizb militant Burhan Wani  — adversely hampering the delivery of public services and drastically slowing down the development expenditure”, it records.

The Survey reveals: “The general estimates of the losses caused due to the unrest are estimated at more than Rs 16,000 crore over a period of 5 months from 8th July 2016 to 30th November 2016. The cost of security related expenditure is over and above the losses caused due to unrest of 2016 in J&K State”.

“The continuous hartals, stone throwing and curfews have resulted in loss of tourist season, loss of working season, about 116 days out of total working season of 180 days (may to October) in 2016. Thus about 64% of the tourist and working season has been lost”, says the Economic Survey.

“Tourist season in Kashmir valley starts from April and lasts up to October, thus making season of 7 months. During 2015-16, the number of tourists who had visited the Valley stood at 6,23,932 including 2,20,490 Amarnath Yatris. The tourist season had started during 2016 in April and was in full swing upto end of 7th July, 2016. The remaining about 4 months (24 days of July, August, September and October) remained completely tense and registered closure of all activities due to turmoil in almost zero arrival of tourists in the Valley”, it added.

The Survey details how the tourism revenue of Rs 32.45 crore of Quarter-1 (April, May, June) came drastically down to Rs 1.84 crore in the Quarter-2 (July, August, September) in Kashmir valley in 2016-17. As compared to Q-1 of the year 2015-16, tourism revenue had remarkably gone up in Q-1 of 2016-16. While as it was Rs 19.13 crore in Q-1 and Rs 9.37 crore in Q-2 of 2015-16, it went up to Rs 32.45 crore in Q-1 of 2016-17 but dipped to a paltry Rs 1.85 crore in Q-2 after Wani’s death.  The State Cable Car Corporation alone had earned record revenue of Rs 31.62 crore in April, May and June of 2016 but it nosedived to Rs 1.67 crore in July, August and September.

“The estimated loss suffered by Industry during hartals/curfews (130 days) is of the order of Rs 13,291 crore comprising of Rs 6,548 crore of private sector and Rs 6,713 crore of Govt sector”, says the Survey. “In addition to the above, some Jammu-based SSI units have also suffered production losses due to turmoil in the Valley. The turnover loss has been reported as Rs 1,800 crore and revenue loss as Rs 275 crore”.

The Survey attributes cumulative economic losses of Jammu and Kashmir to the “political conflict” and draws a comparison between the turbulent J&K and the peaceful Himachal Pradesh, making clear how the neighbouring State’s businesses and economy are flourishing every year.

According to the Survey, J&K’s area is 1.01 lakh square kilometre and population 1.25 crore souls. HP is spread on 0.56 lakh sq km and has population of 68.65 lakh souls. Both the States have Himalayan mountain terrain and 20% each Forest cover. In 2015-16, HP’s GSDP (Constant prices) has been Rs 95,929 crore while as it was only 91,806 crore in J&K. While as 1.75 crore tourists visited HP, only 92.03 lakh (including Vaishno Devi and Amarnath pilgrims) visited J&K. As against HP’s 4.06 lakh foreigners, only 29,000 foreign tourists visited J&K.

As regards the power sector, HP and J&K have hydroelectric generation potential of 20,000 mw each. While as HP is generating 6,370 mw (revised estimate 10,264 mw), J&K’s harnessed capacity currently is not more than 3,220 mw. HP has 503 units of Medium and Large industrial units compared to only 86 in J&K.

While as HP’s GSDP (at constant prices 2011-12) for 2015-16 is Rs 95, 929 crore and per capita income (NSDP 2015-16) is Rs 1,11,977, it is only Rs 91,806 crore and Rs 57,858 respectively in J&K.


Mufti Mohammad Sayeed:
Politician, Patriot, Peer, Pandit, Paadshah

KEEPING MY PROMISE of expressing my opinion about late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Sahab and his political ideology on occasion of his first death anniversary, I am now exercising my right. Since I have seen most of our contemporary politicians closely without ever having my own newspaper, need to seek loans or advertisements or contracts or transfers and I don't have to contest elections or play to the galleries, I will give my own independent, objective, dispassionate view which may be different from that of many of the esteemed friends. According to my belief, which can be partly or fully wrong, Mufti Sahab sailed against the wind of then popular Plebiscite Front from 1955 to 1965 and he, alongwith friends and colleagues like Mohammad Shafi Qureshi, GM Sadiq etc. played a key role in integrating Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India by sowing the first seeds of the Congress party in Kashmir and collaborating with the Centre in diluting the State's special statutory position. So it stands as incontrovertible evidence that he was New Delhi's agent and representative in Kashmir, not Kashmir's representative in New Delhi. He paid its prices but got equally attractive dividends. He lost all the Assembly and Parliamentary elections in Kashmir till 1998 and to become an MLA he contested and won the elections from RS Pora of Jammu in 1980s. He and his colleagues faced social boycott in Kashmir when NC under Sheikh Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah made the slogan "Mufti sinz qabbar Kashiri nebar" popular in 1970s-80s. To become a Member of Parliament and Union Minister of Tourism, followed by Union Home Minister, he had to contest from Bihar and UP. He won his first and the last Parliamentary election from Kashmir on Congress ticket only in 1998 and later his first Assembly election once from Pahalgam and once from Anantnag. Because of support and faith from Delhi, he became Chief Minister of J&K twice and has the distinction of being till date the only Muslim who was inducted as the Union Home Minister in India. Even before floating his own PDP, and while being in Congress, Mufti Sahab had started expanding his base with destabilising the elected governments in 1970s and 1980s and later in 1990s generating a sentiment with his severe criticism of Farooq Abdullah's anti-militant, anti-separatist and anti-Pakistan politics and governance that ultimately helped him erase much of his regime's massacres and massive human rights abuse in 1990 when he was India's Home Minister. He was an exceptionally shrewd and connected-to-people politician and made lakhs of Kashmiris to believe that Farooq Abdullah had been the architect of the "rigging" in 1987 Assembly elections inspite of the fact that Mufti himself was part and parcel of the Rajiv-Farooq Accord in 1986-87. Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Ghulam Qadir Pardesi, who was District Election Officer in 1987 and has to share maximum responsibility of the alleged rigging, was a founder member and served the media kebabs at the press conference when Mufti Sahab floated PDP in July 1999, months after J&K Legislature passed a resolution unanimously and the Farooq Abdullah government's Autonomy Committee report called on New Delhi to restore 1953 position to the State. One can't be taker to the wild allegations that then PM AB Vajpayee and Home Minister LK Advani paid huge amounts of money to create and promote PDP but it is a fact that the Kashmiri mainstream was never as split as it became post-1999. Being great visionaries, Vajpayee and Advani perhaps wanted to set J&K's politics in such a mould that a Valley-based Muslim-dominated party, be it NC or PDP, should never be able to hold 44-plus seats and thus form the government without making a national party like Congress or BJP a part of the coalition. With such a coalition, autonomy or J&K's special status will never be a consensus demand in Assembly or outside. This goal could not be achieved without bringing NC and PDP to the position where they could win seats in range of 15-30 and run the government by rotation every six years. And this would not be possible until PDP was given a long rope, free hand and license to raise and exploit the secessionist passions with glorification of separatists, militants and Pakistan and while demonising and discrediting the Indian institutions and systems particularly the Army and paramilitary forces and "Farooq Abdullah's Task Force". Thus, while calling for friendship with Pakistan, opening of all roads to Pakistan, release of "political prisoners", prosecution of Police officers and soldiers involved in human rights abuse, space to separatists et al, Mufti Sahab created a political space for PDP in the Valley and in 2002, 2008 and 2014 he managed to get a chunk of vote from the genetically pro-Pakistan and separatist populace that helped him assume power twice. New Delhi's unflinching support and faith made him over-confident to the extent that towards the end of his career and life, he did what few in the Valley had imagined---formation of the government with RSS-driven BJP which, all through campaigning, he had described as a demon and asked the Kashmiris to fail. He was never, and could never have been, what some people like Arnab Goswami called him "pro-separatist" and "pro-Pakistan". It was because of his long rope from New Delhi and remarkable support even from very influential Congress leaders, including Pranab Mukherjee, Ahmad Patel, Digvijay Singh and Makhan Lal Fotedar, that PDP's agenda to unsettle Ghulam Nabi Azad led to fall of the coalition government and subsequently an unprecedented regional and communal divide in J&K in 2008 when the militancy had reduced to a trickle and the separatists had been marginalised by the political developments across the globe post 9/11. It resuscitated what many in Delhi had forgotten as the "dead snake" which is now biting everybody Indian in Kashmir after intervals. It had two devastating manifestations in 2010 and 2016---when Mohammad Shafi Qureshi died in Delhi and India could not hold his burial in Kashmir. Today's competitive separatism among the mainstream parties, including NC and PDP, are an essential consequence of the theatre created in 2008. If NC will return to power in 2020, we will see PDP playing this role in next 6 years. It is now clear that New Delhi does not need genuine, legitimate politics and democratic institutions or patriots and nationalists in J&K. It just needs vote and someone in the chair as CM or Minister. Irrespective of party, New Delhi also needs sustenance of a scenario in which 68% Muslim population or 58 Muslim MLAs in a House of 87 will have no independent say in any matter of policymaking. Our politicians will claim to be "friends of peace with Pakistan" and "peaceful resolution" of the Kashmir issue but the fact is that they have little role in the whole game as long as the separatists will act as the bonded labours of Islamabad and the so-called mainstream politicians will provide the same service to New Delhi. One shall have to make a dispassionate introspection to find as to who are the real beneficiaries of this sort of the political theatre in Kashmir. I believe late Mufti Sahab did a great, unparalleled service to the Indian nation to achieve many of its strategic goals in Kashmir. Once jingoistic, hardcore Indian, Farooq Abdullah is just learning some lessons and making himself attractive for New Delhi by using the language Mufti Sahab did for years. It is well possible that only 4,000 Kashmiris will attend funerals of such politicians and people like Burhan Wani will live as heroes and die as martyrs with 200,000 attending their last rites. But India is least worried about that. Governance and development will become relevant only when this era of Delhi-protected dynastic politics will end in Jammu and Kashmir. Having said about his politics, I have no hesitation to accept that late Mufti Sahab was an extremely humane and helpful politician in his personal behaviour who would keep with him friends and enemies alike. May his soul rest in peace.

______ Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Sunday, January 8, 2017

No representation of Jammu Muslims, Sikhs in J&K High Court in 88 years

Only 3 Kashmiri Muslims reached the top slot and held the CJ’s chair for less than 3 years since 1928; one of them worked for 2 years, 2 others for less than 6 months

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Jan 7: Constituting a substantial chunk of the population in Jammu division, Muslim or the Sikh minority have never found a representation in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in its history of the last 88 years. While as the major share of judges and Chief Justices has gone to the Kashmiri Muslims, Kashmiri Pandits and the Jammu Hindus, Mr Justice Tashi Rabstan is the first—and so far the last—judge of the JKHC who has been picked up from the Buddhist minority or the entire Ladakh region, in March 2013.

Of the 33 judges who were appointed as CJs since 1928, 10 have been Muslims. While as three of them — Mian Jalal-ud-din (1978-80), Mufti Baha-ud-din (1983) and Bashir Ahmad Khan (2007) — were Kashmiri Muslims, all the seven others were from different Indian States. In totality, even the Kashmiri Muslims, the largest majority in the State, retained the top chair for less than 3 years in 88 years, since the State High Court assumed embryonic form in Maharaja's rule in 1928.

Freedom fighter and lawyer Mian Jalal-ud-din was the first Kashmiri Muslim who functioned as CJ of JKHC. Of the three Kashmiri Muslims, he alone worked as CJ for more than one year. He held the top position from February 15, 1978, to February 22, 1980.

While as Mufti Baha-ud-din was transferred from J&K by Indira Gandhi’s Congress government at the Centre without regard to then Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah’s threats and protests in August 1983, within six months of his taking over as the 12th CJ of JKHC in March 1983, Justice Bashir Ahmad Khan functioned as CJ from January 25 to March 31 in 2007. However, some Kashmiri Muslim judges officiated as CJ for brief stop-gap arrangements.

Among the 71 judges of JKHC, 23 were Kashmiri Muslims and 11 Kashmiri Pandits. With some representation to Jammu, many of the the judges were brought in from different Indian States. Three of them—S.S. Kang (1989-93), T.S. Doabia (1997-2003) and Virender Singh (2007-14) — were Sikhs from Punjab.

The Jammu Hindus got different occasions to function as CJ or judge in JKHC. The Jammu Muslims, who constitute more than 30% of the population in the region and have around 500 of them as members of the 3,000-strong High Court Bar Association, Jammu, did never get a chance. Sikhs, who constitute 10% of the HCBA membership and have a substantial concentration in Jammu, and are a minority in the Valley, were also never picked up as judges for JKHC.

Even as judges or CJs are not essentially picked up from ethnic, regional, religious, linguistic, gender or cultural identities, there are remarkable instances when the selections were influenced with interventions from different pressure groups and corridors of power in New Delhi. If well-placed judicial sources are to be believed, eminent lawyer Mr Sunil Hali was appointed as a judge of JKHC within months of a communication from Rashtrapti Bhawan, seeking representation to the Kashmiri Pandit minority and satisfaction to a “sentiment”, in 2008.

Again in 2013, lawyer Tashi Rabstan was appointed as a judge of JKHC when influential political and religious entities from Leh to New Delhi had built up considerable pressure for giving “due representation” to the Ladakh region and the Buddhist minority. Such campaigning however did not work when names of some Jammu-domicile Muslim lawyers had been even recommended by the Collegium.

On different occasions, the Collegium of JKHC had recommended leading criminal lawyer Ghulam Nabi Goni, his son and former Advocate General Mohammad Aslam Goni, besides another former Advocate General Shabir Ahmad Salaria, to fill up some vacancies of the judges in the State High Court. All the three hailed from Jammu region. Of them, Mr Salaria and Mr Aslam Goni also emerged as National Conference leaders. Salaria also served a term as a member of Rajya Sabha. However, not one of them became a judge in JKHC.

As lately as in 2012, when Mr B.S. Salathia was President of HCBA Jammu, his association submitted a memorandum to then visiting Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, seeking representation to the Jammu Muslims in the State High Court. However, no Muslim from Jammu, or a Sikh from J&K, was picked up when four judges — Ali Mohammad Magrey, Dhiraj Singh Thakur, Tashi Rabstan and Janak Raj Kotwal— were appointed as judges in March, 2013, and three more — Bawa Singh Walia (2015), Ramalingam Sudhakar (2016) and Alok Aradhe (2016) — were transferred to JKHC from different States.

No Jammu Muslim or Sikh does also figure among the seven lawyers and three judges currently under consideration of the competent authority in New Delhi.