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Chidambaram Had Talked Sense To India’s Cabinet Committee On Security


Congress in Atonement Mood in Kashmir


Z. G. Muhammad


 Of late, the Congress leadership nearly out of the political wilderness has shot into prominence in Jammu and Kashmir. Notwithstanding, having ruled the state through proxies, governors, directly or in coalition for over sixty-six years, the party never got such an attention in the state as it has been getting in the recently for some of its leaders recognizing the historical realities about the Kashmir Dispute. Moreover, the intelligentsia looking for the party playing a substantive role in ending the sufferings of the people of the state.  

It is not to suggest, yesteryear’s bete noire leadership has overnight become messianic for people of the state. The party is remembered for its dirty track record;  not respecting its pledges to the people of the state,  history of fraudulent and rigged elections, foisting of draconian laws and sending innocent to jails. In spite, of the Congress leadership expressing its anguish over pelleting hundreds of children to blindness, wounding over fifteen thousand people with pellets and bullets and flagrant use of dreaded Public Safety Act against hundreds of children and youth by the BJP-PDP coalition government during 2016-Intifada the repressive role played by the party in the state continues to live in the public memory. This was palpable during a two-day visit in mid-September of top Congress leadership headed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Srinagar and his meetings with various political leaders and civil society formations.

 Calling a spade a spade most of the civil society formations reminded the delegation of the detestable role played by various Congress governments that have brought the resolution of the oldest outstanding dispute on the UN agenda to an impasse of worst form- seven decades of sufferings to the people of the State and three India-Pakistan wars. In its six-page long memorandum one of the advocacy groups summing up the role of the Congress government in Jammu and Kashmir candidly informed Manmohan Singh and other leaders how it had reneged promises made to the people of the state and comity of nations for allowing people to decide their future through a plebiscite under the aegis of the UNSC. Laced with instances after instances the memorandum talked about the havoc played by the Congress with the conditions laid in the “Instrument of Accession” by changing the nomenclature of heads of the State and extending the central laws like 356 and 357, for integrating the State with the Union of India. Moreover, for achieving this nefarious objective how the topmost leader, with his facade of secularism and socialism, pandered the right-wing Hindu leadership for achieving the objective in contravention of the commitments made at the international level.’ The lucidly written note also said how the party ‘obfuscated and mystified the real issue by giving it any name other than  what it is in reality and changed the narrative from the promised right to self-determination into a discourse of cross-border terrorism.’

The meetings of various civil society formations and advocacy groups with Man Mohan Sing delegation might have been only as cathartic as it had been with the delegation calling itself the ‘group of concerned citizens’ led by senior BJP leader and former Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha. Nevertheless, it has been statements of some top Congress leaders that have caught public imagination- if the Congress leaders are in an atonement mood about Kashmir and want to do a penance for the sins committed by top leadership in the past. Some of the top Congress leaders, who far holding views a bit different than the much orchestrated ‘hegemonic discourse’ on the Kashmir Dispute which are being talked about seriously include former Indian Home Minister, P. Chidambaram and   Mani Shankar Aiyar a former diplomat turned politician and a minister in Manmohan Sigh Government. In the gory year of 2010 when about 150 children and youth were killed by troops and hundreds of others wounded, in the huge crowd of Indian politicians,  Chidambaram sounded   different when he said: “we must put our heads together to find a solution, a unique solution to this unique problem.” In July 2016, he again sends positive vibes to people of the state, when he blamed India of ‘reneging its promises and saw referendum only way for making people of Jammu and Kashmir to love India.’ A political commentator Meghnad Desai |had commented on this, “There is a celebration in heaven when a single sinner repents.”

Four days back, on 28 August 2017 Mani Shankar Aiyar said in Jammu that P Chidambaram as Minister had moved a secret note for the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), proposing dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir with the starting point being the “Instrument of Accession”- the mother of Confidence Building Measures.  He had also suggested, “The government should go back to the people of J&K starting with 1947.” The CCS had rejected it but the former Minister after many years made it public. Chidambaram’s proposition for a way forward on Kashmir found supporter on Thursday in Mani Shankar Aiyar at a press meet in Jammu.  “If we have to resolve this (Kashmir) issue, this Instrument of Accession, which was signed in 1947, has to be kept in mind and from there we have to start.”

 In 2010, during the third-longest Intifada in a row in the State, the former Home Minister had rightly understood that the policy of procrastination and suppression pursued by the various governments in New Delhi during past over sixty years was no solution to the dispute. Had, the CCS agreed to the Chidambaram’s proposition of   ‘going back to the people of J&K starting with 1947’, it would have been a way forward for starting a meaningful and purposeful dialogue in keeping with genesis and history of the Dispute. For the right to self-determination before UN resolution of 1948 and 1949 first   accruing to the people of Jammu and Kashmir from the very letter of acceptance to the ‘Instrument of Accession” by the Governor General Of India, Lord Mountbatten, the proposition would have found quite a number of takers from the leadership fighting for the cause of right to self-determination… The dialogue would have been a big beginning for settlement of the Kashmir Dispute and ensuring peace in South Asia.    

Since the Congress is not presently in power in New Delhi, even if it may be convinced    that the Chidambaram’s note to the CCS was the right proposal for resolving the Kashmir problem it would not be in a position to do anything about it except the    Policy Planning Group on Kashmir of the party of which the former Home Minister is a member mobilizing public for starting a structured dialogue with Srinagar and Islamabad.  

Published on 2-10-17

PS “The fact and date of the Instrument of Accession has been challenged by many important historians>”

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