|Joint Resolutions 07|
7th Joint Convention, Delhi, from 25– 28 December 2005
Joint Position Paper on Jammu and Kashmir
There are several aspects to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir: the historical origins of the dispute going back to partition; denial of democratic rights by both India and Pakistan to the people living in territories held by them; division of water resources between India and Pakistan through the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 to the detriment of people on both sides; displacement of people from their home and hearths, be it Mirpuris due to Mangla dam or Kashmiris pandits due to insurgency or other local communities due to border shelling; regional disparities...etc are all issues of concern. But all this pales into insignificance by the 16 year long Insurgency and Counter-insurgency in Indian held Kashmir.
1. PIPFPD’s position on Jammu and Kashmir is that “Kashmir not merely being a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, a peaceful democratic solution of it involving the people of Jammu and Kashmir living on both sides of LOC is the only way out”. By peaceful is meant negotiations between the three parties to the dispute and democratic means respecting the wishes of the people while ensuring protection for ethnic or political minorities. Three wars have been fought and policy of military suppression of Insurgency (called ‘proxy war’ by India) have failed to lead anywhere. Neither the Karachi Pact of 1949 nor Shimla Pact of 1972 produced results. Indeed Shimla Pact which obliged the two sides not to take recourse to violation of LOC was adhered to in breach. If India violated this in 1983-84 through its ‘Operation Meghdoot’ which resulted in occupation of Siachen heights then Pakistan is guilty of doing the same through its Kargil incursion in 1999. In the intervening years both countries have used the excuse of their conflict and mutual suspicion to go in for nuclear arms thereby adding an altogether new dimension to the conflict over J&K.
2. The ceasefire effected between India and Pakistan from the midnight of November 25, 2003 holds along the 198 kms of international border and 928 kms of LOC (which includes 150 kms of Actual Ground Position Line claimed by India in Siachen). Cessation of shelling has meant that the civilian casualities along this tense area has stopped and the damage caused to farmlands through cordite poisoning halted. All this is welcome. But the likelihood of de-militarisation of Siachen one of the world’s largest glacier still remains uncertain. While Pakistan doesnot accept India’s insistence that the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) be mapped or else it apprehends that once it pulls out from Siachen there is likelihood of Pakistan stepping in. Interestingly during the period of ceasefire the Indian army has completed a three tier security fence, according to its Army chief. However, Counter-Insurgency, with all that it entails in terms of disprivileging people and empowering military forces, remains intact. Privileging Security
3. The Indian government claims rapid improvement in the socalled security situation in J&K. The Indian Home Minister claimed in December 2004 that infiltration had come down by 60%; number of violent incidents came down from an avergae of 11 in 2002 and 9 in 2003 to 6 in 2004 and “killing of security forces, civilians and militants all have come down”. (It needs to be pointed out that according to Indian defence minister measuring infiltration is a matter of “guesswork”.) Army chief also reiterated that number of militants operating is no more than 1700-1800 in J&K. The Indian army chief insists that “our (security forces) anti-infiltration posturing along the border and LoC has succeeded in bringing down the level of infiltration”. As a mark of improvement the Indian PM during his visit to J&K in November 2004 announced pullback of army. Furthermore the Indian government announced its decision to review the proposal mooted by the National Conference for autonomy.
4. There is heavy deployment of Indian security forces whose numbers exceeds 500,000. Army has three corps in J&K. (Permission to carve out a fourth Corp has been granted). Of these 15 and 16 Corps are engaged in CI. Incidentally 16 Corps is one of the super Corps of Indian army with eight divisions with each division having between 16-20,000 troops each. In addition there are atleast 150,000 central para-military forces, 50,000 Rashtriya Rifles, 60,000 J&K police, and 18,000 SPO’s. Fencing of the LOC and its electrification has been completed. Sensors and night vision devices are available for monitoring activities on the LOC. Residents of the border areas are obliged to carry IDs day and night at home or outside. Combination of landmines and fencing of the LOC has disrupted life of local communities. This is an illustration of how more personnel, weaponry, equipment, surveillance, fencing have turned J&K into a huge military camp maintaining an omnious presence? Indeed this situation evolved from over 16 years of privileging military means over political.
5. In any case conditions cannot be normal if extra-ordinary powers remain conferred on security forces. The Indian security forces are empowered with a regime of draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Public Safety Act (1978), Enemy Agent Ordinance (1948), The Egress and Internal Movement (control) Ordinance (1948), Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act (1963), Prevention of Suppression and Sabotage Act (1965). Above all with Section 144 in force since 1990 gathering of more than five persons is prohibited thereby outlawing all forms of political gathering/meetings/manifestations. Despite the presence of more than 500,000 security forces the Indian government feels threatened by ordinary people coming out on the streets protesting atrocities or enforced disappearances. Even a rally to protest non-payment of wages by the state government was dis-allowed in Kashmir although they were permitted in Jammu. (On November 24, 2004 state government employees were locked inside the agricultural departments complex in Srinagar to disallow them from coming out and defying Section 144!) All this constricts people’s fundamental rights including their right to life guaranteed by the Indian Constitution as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 1-27), to which Indian government is a signatory.
6. Moreover, CI encourages corruption. While we in the sub- continent are long familiar with fake encounters, recently Indians became acquainted with fake “kills” to get promotion and reward. To this must be added fake “surrender”. On November 9, 2004 forty seven alleged militants “surrendered” with their arms it was done in the presence of senior army and police officers in the Nagrota HQ of the 16th Corps with much fanfare and publicity. Within a few days it turned out that 26 out of 47 were un-employed youth who were persuaded by a local politician belonging to the Congress party to pretend to be militants. In order that they receive a fixed deposit of Rs 1.5 lakhs and a monthly stipend of Rs 2000. While applauding the ingenuity of the politician who unwittingly exposed the surrender policy there are some disturbing questions that need answers. For two months the alleged militants remained in army camp and yet their real identities remained intact. Is one to believe that there was no contact with the supposedly dreaded “terrorists” while they were in army’s captivity? Even these psuedo militants surrendered with weapons (which entitles them to higher compensation). Where did the weapons come from? Are weapons so easily available in security forces camp that even fake militants can borrow/beg/steal them? All in all it highlights the corrupting influence of counter-insurgency.
7. It is also a mark of abnormalcy that the Congress led UPA government is carrying out a massive augmentation of country’s military in the name of addressing the internal security problem. Believe it or not, it is supposed to provide employment to people who had ‘strayed into terrorist activities due to lack of jobs’? Thus 209 batalions of India Reserve Batalions are to be raised in which anywhere between 167,000-250,000 persons can be employed. At the same time states affected by “terrorism” will be asked to raise anywhere between 2-10 batalions. In addition allocations for police modernisation has been increased from Rs 1000 cr to 1700 cr. All this is over and above the 261 batalions which were being raised between 1999-2000 to 2004-05 by the central para military forces. Since it costs Rs 26 cr to raise one batallion (that is how much it was in year 2002) the total bill for raising 209 batalions could run to Rs 5500 cr! This munificence is being undertaken at a time when the India’s finance ministry was complaining financial constraint to fund National Rural Employment Gurantee Act. Nevertheless, in J&K accretion in manpower cannot be linked to armed militancy, which is said to be in decline, but more to do with in-security felt by the Indian authorities about the mood of the people. People’s Mood
8. However important elections for bringing about regime change through ballot box, the procedure is not worth much in the absence of institutions or mechanism which ensure accountability of rulers and protection for the ruled. Where military calls the shot, as in J&K, since October 1990 under the AFSPA, legitimacy of elections becomes more doubtful. AFSPA does not define a crime rather empowers the security forces to restore authority in an area declared “disturbed” even by killing someone on mere suspicion. Judiciary exercises little control over the security forces in J&K since Section 6 of the AFSPA virtually indemnifies the personnel from threat of prosecution. Similar mood is found in Pakistan held Kashmir. Those who do not swear allegiance to Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan are disqualified from contesting elections. When allowed to contest elections and on winning they do not play a role in selecting the person to head the government. That privilege rests with the authorities in Islamabad.
9. Consider the latest parliamentary elections in Indian held J&K. During elections parties campaigning for boycott were barred from entering an area where meetings were planned or simply detained for a day. The Indian Election Commission refused to declare that just as people have a right to canvass for vote they also have a right to campaign for boycott. Where writ of the government is imposed by soldiers, helped by armoured carriers, road-blocks, body searches...”free choice” is a misnomer. One day as ‘kingmaker’ cannot wipe out the daily grind of oppression.
10. Even then what was the percentage of votes cast? Not more than 34% out of a electorate of 64 lakhs in which Jammu with a lower population than Kashmir region had more voters than latter! Which is to say that by government’s own reckoning 66% of the people boycotted the elections! However much one tries the inescapable fact is that an overwhelming majority of people through a simple act of boycotting elections reiterated their support for a demand that they be heard. Development in the period of Militarsiation
11. In such a situation the Indian government is dangling the bait of development. It is doubtful if conditions of occupation can result in sustainable development or can replace the search for a just and democratic solution. In politics as in economics it is people who play the most valuable and vital role. The condition in which people can flourish and their pent up energies released is when they are not subjected to oppression. But when life all around is punctuated by military presence, armed with powers to even kill on mere suspicion, with no accountability for violations and atrocities, when mobility and movements are constrained by military camps/stations/checkpoints/bunkers, where civil institutions are unable to redress even elementary grievances then to believe that people so burdened will show initiative and enterprise is a gross mis-conception.
12. By and large rulers believe that either people’s resistance can be blunted and/or acquiscence purchased by offering jobs, building roads, dams..... This is what was done in 1953 when Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed was brought in after Sheikh Abdullah was detained without a chargesheet and New Delhi opened its coffers. It is believed something similar will do the trick yet again. The two day visit, from November 17-18, 2004 by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was expected to do just that. The Rs 24,000 cr “plan” only means economic centralisation. Take a look at UPA governments offer: it intends to invest Rs 18,000 cr in the central sector in J&K and to reduce army deployment in J&K. The Rs 18,000 cr comprises investments in Uri II and Kishanganga projects. In addition the Srinagar-Leh road is to be upgraded by BECON which comes under Army and 1000 micro hydro-power projects are to be undertaken by the Army as part of its ‘sadbhavna’ (goodwill) project. Thus its not only New Delhi but New Delhi exercising greater control through the military that is significant. The balance Rs 6000 cr spread over four years would be for projects already cleared by the previous BJP led government with few additional items thrown in. Thus it involves providing salary support for one year for 24,000 jobs: 10,000 in state armed constabulary and 14,000 women to be empolyed in 14,000 ‘aganwadis’ being setup across the state. The PM also announced removal of restriction placed on filling vacancies in the government job where reportedly 21,000 jobless can be accomodated. Apart from this the PM announced setting up of new colleges, engineering and medical schools, hospitals etc. If this is read with the offer of restoring pre-1953 autonomy then it appears that Indian government wants to safeguard its investments. With three times as much invested in the central sector it would increase centrally held assets in J&K and augment Indian stakes in any eventuality.
13. Now, one of the key problems that J&K faces is revenue shortfall and high fiscal defecit. The existing revenue often falls short to pay for salaray and wages. As recently as in September last the state government was pleading with the central government to release funds so that they could pay back wages and arrears to their employees. Infact according to the state finance minister (Indian Express, November 19, 2004) under the MoU signed in 2000 the state is obliged to reduce revenue expenditure by 5%. Salaries to employees are part of revenue expenditure. “If we do not do so the penalty is that the 15% of our non-plan allocations is witheld (by the centre). It is around Rs 450 cr. This is exactly why we had frozen all recruitment”. The state finance minister also told state government employees who went on two day strike for merger of DA with basic salary that the state government doesnot have funds to do so. Notwithstanding this actual state of affair with burgeoning debt and salary bill eating into revenue nearly 46,000 additional jobs are being created in the government sector!
14. It needs to be mentioned that whereas recruitment of civilian employees was stopped earlier there was no restriction placed on recruiting people into security forces. Which meant that it placed the state exchequer in even more of a problem. So the question is where is the money going to come from? From the centre? How does it help J&K that their non-plan expenditure especially on salary and wages, atleast half of it for armed constabulary, keeps on eating into allocations for social sector? It would appear that the Indian government wants to present J&K as a basket case dependent on Indian government’s benevolence.
15. Consider also that prospective sources of revenue are closed for J&K. Take J&K Sales Tax Act 1960 which is ignored by all central public sector undetrtakings let alone the central security forces. The Indian government arm twisted J&K government to waive this for India’s central civilian and military establishments. According to state government estimates the revenue loss has been in excess of Rs 3000 cr. Take another instance. The Indus Water Treaty 1960 places curbs on use of water for navigation as well as irrigation. It is estimated that even at a conservative estimate of annual loss of Rs 150 cr annually from 1960-2000 a sum of Rs 6000 cr compensation ought to have been paid. Let alone this even the expectation were belied about J&K being handed over the 690 MW Salal Hydel Project which cost Rs 960 crs since NHPC has recovered the cost many times over. The state government felt that were it to come to state sector they stood to gain Rs 1000 cr annually. The cost of power from Salal charged by NHPC is 52 paisa. Punjab, Rajasthan,Haryana, Delhi, Uttarachal, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are reluctant to allow it to be handed over to the state because they fear the state would raise the unit cost of power. Ironically for a state that has hydro-electric potential of 20,000 MW there is just 631 MW in state sector and rest 1170MW are in the central sector. J&K manages to receive 12% as royalty from NHPC. But now NHPC wants to discontinue this for the Kishanganga II project. (It is instructive that since the Mangla Dam project came into existence not a drop of water was effectively made available for irrigation for Pakistan held Kashmir. It has an allotment of 50 cusecs from Mangla Dam but cannot avail of this for want of irrigation network. With negotiations now under clause 6.2 of Mangla Upraising Agreement signed between Government of Pakistan and the Government of Azad Kashmir this may change).
16. This is not all. Under an agreement signed by the state government with the Indian Banks Association the state government has agreed to amend the Transfer of Property Act thereby financial institutions get the right to sell land mortaged with them by the state in case of default for borrwoing for 450 MW Baglihar project. They can sell it to public sector units or central undertakings. The National Conference government had offered to mortgage state’s consolidated fund which was annulled by the PDP-Congress government. This incidentally is the largest and the only major hydel project being undertaken in the state sector. With the project getting delayed and revenue generation nil for repaying loans to the tune of Rs 1600 cr borrowed by J&K government chances of default are high.The interesting thing to note is that large tracts of land, probably upto 10% of the total, have been occupied by the security forces. This results in loss of arable land for cultivation and better productive use. Land is one issue which J&K (and other border/tribal areas) has tried to guard jealously for the state subjects apparently with little success. This is a form of demographic invasion where huge forces get deployed permanently occupying large tracts of land.
17. The question is not only of drying out sources of revenue but also of lop-sided state of affair: the expense incurred on security forces for socalled CI results in both siphoning of funds from productive to non-productive use. It is compounded by generating employment in security forces which amounts to using as cannon fodder young working men and women. Consider the much tom-tommed reduction of troops. No one knows how many army personnel will be removed. Until December 15, 2004 only four batalions or roughly 3500-4000 troops were moved out of J&K. When the exercise is completed at an unspecified date in 2005 what would be the total number of jawans withdrawn? The number varies between 9000-40,000. It is important to note that while withdrawl of army is welcome it doesnot mean that total strength of security forces will come down since the state and central para military forces will more than make up for the pullout of army personnel by deploying and relocating their own forces. As it is the Indian PM announced employment of an 10,000 youth from J&K in security forces in the current financial year. This is in addition to the 13 batallions that were to have been raised by August 2005. And probably doesnot include 2-10 batalions that the Indian Home Minister spoke of in the Lok Sabha on December 14.
18. Take another instance of lop-sidedness. Against a RBI recommended credit-deposit ratio of 60% for the banks the CD ratio recorded in March 2003 was 31.49% and 34.96% in March 2004. Even this could be reached thanks to the CD ratio of J&K Bank 43% in contrast to CD ratio of just 23% of the nationalised banks! Which means that banks invest money outside J&K since government policy discourages large investments in J&K. This is the state of affair for a region that boasted of pioneering radical land reforms (1948-52) which resulted in expropriation and distribution of land of nearly 9000 odd land-owners amounting to 1.82 lakh acres. It is this that resulted in phenomenal yield especially of paddy which at 40 quintals a hectare is one of the highest in the sub-continent. For this area to live off Indian government handouts sums up how potential for its prosperity were subverted, so to say, at birth. All in all sixteen years of insurgency and counter-insurgency (1989-2005) have altered the social and economic lives of Kashmiri people. It would not be an exaggeration to say that virtually no section of the Kashmiri society has escaped the debilitating consequence of violence and counter-violence. The human costs of the war and extent of damage caused is staggering with casualities in excess of 200,000.
Pakistan held Kashmir
19. There are various constitutional limitations on what is called the Azad Jammu Kashmir’s autonomy. Defence, security, foreign affairs and currency, for instance, are outside the purview of the AJK government. Furthermore, Pakistani officials dominate the Kashmir Council and major bureaucrats occupy key decision-making posts. The Chief Secretary, the Inspector-General of Police, the Accountant-General and the Finance Secretary, come from Pakistan. Many in Azad Kashmir believe the General Officer commanding, of the Pakistan Army at Murree, has a big say in their affairs.
20.In addition, the AJK govent is ernm said to lack control over the State’s natural and financial resources and the decisions on their use. This has been a source of outrage for many Kashmiris and partly explains the poor development of AJK. Especially in denial of royalty on hydel generation at Mangla Dam to AJK. There is also concern about reports that the capacity of the Mangla reservoir was being raised, which could have serious repercussions for the local population, and would displace a large number. With Pakistan’s bureaucratic and military apparatus dealing with many State affairs, AJK has little or highly restrained autonomy in many key areas, which has serious consequences for government- formation and decision-making. The refusal to accommodate people’s views and the denial to them of the right to take part in this process has also complicated the positions different political factions and individuals have taken on the future of Kashmir. Kashmir ’s autonomy and the right to self- determination of the people of Kashmir must be respected before a peaceful and lasting solution can be achieved.
21.A sustained constitutional and electoral process since 1985 has resulted in a relatively stable system of government. All political actors are firmly committed to the constitutional process and do not allow any form of deviation despite some deep political differences. Elections to the state legislature are regularly held and assemblies complete their term. However, AJK does not enjoy autonomy and independence in governance. Shortage of water for human consumption and agriculture and lack of health facilities is chronic.
22.AJK has a dual system of justice, which has been in practice since 1974. One system was inherited from the British and the other inspired by Islamic legislation in Pakistan. The judicial officers in districts and tehsils, high courts and the Supreme Court include Shariah judges called qazis. There is a magistrate and a qazi for criminal cases, involving Shariah law, whereas there is only one judge for civil cases. The qazi judges are not required to be law graduates. They only need to obtain a parallel degree in religious education, called Dars-e-Nizami, from madarrasahs (religious schools). They do not receive any training i n l a w. This a d hoc pa ral lel s ys tem of court s ob s truct s the administration of justice and has been a source of concern even for the judiciary and law enforcement authorities. Fundamental freedoms, such as the freedom of movement, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association are often infringed in AJK under various pretences, despite claims to the contrary by the officials. Limited tolerance of divergent views affects the full exercise of political rights. There are seven to eight pro-independence parties in AJK, but the state’s constitution and election laws bar those who subscribe to the idea of an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir from contesting elections. Under the interim constitution of 1974, civil servants as well as all those elected to the parliament are obliged to take an oath that they will remain loyal to the ideology of accession of Kashmir to Pakistan. Part 7(2) of the Azad Kashmir Constitutional Act of 1974 states that, “No person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to the ideology of the State’s accession to Pakistan.” This deliberate exclusion of the pro-independence opinion, held b y ma ny peopl e as wel l as organiz ed pol it ical groups, demonstrates lack of respect for dissent, which is more prevalent than is generally acknowledged or admitted.
23. Security is often used as an excuse to undermine fundamental freedoms. The Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, which prohibits activities that are prejudicial to public safety or the maintenance of public order, is only one example of restraining political rights under the guise of protection of public security. People have often been detained under this broad-ranging and vague ordinance, which can be abused to curtail any activity that can be deemed as likely to cause fear or alarm to the public. In addition, there is resentment at tdepriving the people of Gilgit and Baltistan (the areas which were historically part of Kashmir, and are now with Pakistan) of their right of representation in the political institutions of the country. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has a strong presence and people continuously feel that they are being watched and monitored. Pro-independence groups and the press particularly remain under surveillance. Detention and arrests by the intelligence agencies are arbitrary and are not scrutinized. The High Court have no jurisdiction over people caught by the agencies.
24. The Kashmiri people welcome the current peace process and confidence-building measures. However, they demand that they must be involved in the talks on Kashmir and not kept excluded from the process by Islamabad and New Delhi. They do not support any solution of the Kashmir issue which propounds division of Kashmir on the basis of religion. Divided families living on both sides must have a way to meet in freedom and exercise their right of self-determination and to decide whether they would like to join India or Pakistan or become independent.
25. Fifty eight years of festering dispute makes it evident that a major reason for this state of affair is because Kashmniri people have been kept out of the process of resolution. Whereas they have borne the brunt of irresolution of the dispute. It is massive Indian military presence that confronts kashmiris. The security forces live in high walled fortified camps spread over huge tracts of land in/around the mohalla/village/fields of the people. Before dawn and after dusk pathways get barricaded. They are empowered to violate the public and private lives of people. Above all the targetting of Kashmiri Muslims by the Indian security forces, making no distinction between armed or unarmed people and attempts to resolve the issue over the heads of the people should be noted. It is axiomatic that armed militants need to be isolated not by terrorising the people but through the process of dialogue and ensuring that wishes of the people are respected. When three parties to the dispute (India, Pakistan and the people of J&K) are engaged in dialogue then role of the gun will be drastically reduced if not cease.
26. While decrying the role of the Indian government in perpetuating the dispute we cannot remain oblivious of the tight control exercised by Pakistani military over people living in Kashmiri territories held by them. While insurgency is absent there is no denying that people of Gilgit, Baltistan and Mirpur continue to suffer at the hands of Pakistani military.
27. While PIPFPD has scruplously avoided prescribing any solution for all these years and only insisted that the process be peaceful and democratic. The stalemate on the ground obliges us to spell out our solidarity with the aspirations of the people. For nearly six decades the two governments have dealt with J&K as though it was a trophy that must be kept in their grasp no matter what. This lends a certain poignancy to the demand for self-determination. Sixteen years of military rule in Indian held J&K following four decades of suppression of peaceful struggle to heed their aspirations has nourished the movement through all the ups and downs. When free and fair elections could have worked people were awarded with rigging (from 1951 to 1987). When they showed willingness to talk it was seen as a sign of their weakness (JKLF in 1993 and HM in 1999). When talks were held it was with rump APHC (2004). When GoI was asked to create conditions that would give a filip to talks they responded with offering crumbs.
28. Unlike elsewhere where one party spearheads the movement in both sides of divided J&K there are a plurality of views/approaches contending for ascendancy - from those believing in independence, to advocates of accession with Pakistan, along with people who want the current status being accorded a de-jure recognition. Disunity and organisational weakness, paradoxically, enhances the demand that people be allowed to decide. If right of self-determination is what people exercise and not a choice imposed on them then it lends strength to the fact that people want to decide for themselves and not be dictated to even by those claiming to represent their best interests or speak for them. This desire unites people of J&K across all divisions including the one crafted by the LOC. Therefore, democratically harnessing this desire and translating it into representation could provide voice to the plurality of views that actually exists and offers a prospect for holding negotiations whose legitimacy would greatly advance the search for reconciling ideological and strategic interests with peoples aspirations.