Bring Kashmiri Muslims to the mainstream

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By Virendra Kapoor
The late Balraj Madhok, at the time president of the Jana Sangh, the previous avatar of the BJP, had kicked up quite a storm by suggesting that Indian Muslims need to join the mainstream. Predictably, the liberal-secularist hounds pounced on Madhok, calling him all manner of names.
But over a period of time, everyone, excluding, of course, the liberal-secularist crowd, has come to see merit in Madhok’s prescient prescription. Without mainstreaming Indian Muslims, especially those in Kashmir, India can never hope to have durable peace.
Never mind what the people in the West are beginning to experience at the hands of the purveyors of ISIS, a condition no doubt advanced ahead of its time by George W. Bush, we should have no qualms in admitting that without mainstreaming Kashmiri Muslims there shall be no end to what we euphemistically call the Kashmir problem.
Actually, if not to put too fine a point on it, it is a Muslim problem. Even at the risk of being called names by the self-styled thekedars of secularism, we ask a simple question. It may be a no-brainer alright, but it still needs to be asked to reinforce the argument about mainstreaming of Indian Muslims. And the question is: Would there be a Kashmir problem if instead of Muslims the valley was Hindu-majority?
Of course, not. Only the head-in-the-sand-ostriches from the secularist brigade would respond differently. Even after making due allowance for the undeniable bungling by the post-Partition leadership, the truth is that Pakistan and its agents in Kashmir and further afield in the rest of India would have by now given up on the snatch-Kashmir-at-all-costs project were it not for the fact that Kashmir was a Muslim-majority province.
Now, at this point of time it may not be possible to change the demographic character of Kashmir. Of course, you can never contemplate changing geography, can you? But, as Madhok had emphasised back in the mid-60s, had an effort been made by the early Congress leadership to “mainstream” Indian Muslims, we would not be in such dire straits in Kashmir as we find ourselves in now. Tens of thousands of security personnel, zillions of rupees, thousands of lives have been lost because the Kashmiri Muslim is not mainstreamed into Indianness. He may merrily grab everything material and physical from India, as, no doubt, he has, but his heart is not with India. Why, because our bleeding-heart liberals were so obsessed with do-gooding they did not mind jeopardising the wider national interest. Offering them a life of dignity, of socio-economic equality and religious and other freedoms, indeed all possible opportunities that an organised, modern-liberal state can offer hasn’t made them give up anti-India “jihad”. Ordinary Kashmiris harbour traitorous thoughts. Visiting Indians are always from “Indiya” while they claim to have a separate identity and belong to a foreign land called Kashmir. And this is true even of the few educated Kashmiris that you may chance to meet on your visits to the valley. Frankly, all that talk of the healing touch, Kashmiriyat, uninterrupted and uninterrputible dialogue with Pakistan, etc., are stock terms bandied about by those who have no clue how to deal with the periodic eruptions of mayhem in Kashmir and still want to look wise and superior. But the truth is all this has been tried several times over, only for the Kashmiris to reject everything with utter disdain.
That is why we suggest that the policymakers should consider Madhok’s prescription for mainstreaming of Muslims, to begin with in Kashmir. Fear of costs and consequences should not deter us from pressing ahead with the only possible remedy which remains untried and may still work since in the last 70 years everything else seems to have failed.
Meanwhile, apropos the glorification of Kashmiri terrorists that goes on consciously and sub-consciously in the mainstream media, we reproduce here a letter from a concerned reader published last week in a major English daily. It makes the point succinctly, in the process spotlighting the skewed world-view of the secularist brigade: “…Of course, Burhan Wani was an idealist but with a cash reward of Rs. 10 lakh on his head for killing innocent people in Kashmir itself. A bevy of men and women also attended the funeral of Yakub Memon but that does not make him an idealist…” Or did it, at least for those engaged in glorifying Burhan as a great idealist-warrior?
That was why Madhok was so ahead of his times. We need to mainstream our Muslims. Or else, bigger crises await all of us in the not-so-distant future. Mainstreaming or integrating the minorities in the larger Indian ethos and culture might be a civilisational project, but somehow, someone has to begin it, now that all else has been failed by the gun-toting thugs who lurk in the half-lit alleys of Srinagar.
Nitish Kumar quite clearly believes that riding the prohibition bandwagon he can reach 7 Race Course Road. But whatever he does he can never make up the loss of revenue by taxing samosas and namkeen. And regardless of how many police he sets after catching the stealth sellers and consumers of liquor he can never hope to be one hundred per cent successful in enforcing prohibition. Last week, they arrested a former JD(U) MLA, who after getting high on hooch was heard showering choicest epithets on Kumar. A few weeks earlier, the wife of another JD(U) leader was arrested for keeping bottles of liquor in her house. But the Bihar Chief Minister, having concluded that women are fully sold out on prohibition, and consequently constitute his captive vote-bank, refuses to stop at merely barring the sale and consumption of liquor. Now, it seems, he is going to make every adult member of a household liable for prosecution should any member of the family be found consuming liquor. Or should a liquor bottle be found in the house. This is crazy, punishing the family for the frailty of a lone member. Anyway, has Nitish found out what they do in the Bihar Bhavan? It may be located in the national capital but is still supposed to observe the edicts of Patna, isn’t it? How is it itinerant Bihari netas who stay in Bihar Bhavan in Chanakayapuri are immune from Nitish’s sole policy initiative after winning election riding on the shoulders of Lalu Yadav, well-known for his fondness for the evening peg, even if he imbibes it in a steel glass?
Politicians by nature are thick-skinned. Look at P. Chidambaram. The former Finance Minister made it out as if the Modi government was being unfair to RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, implying he had enjoyed good relations with the Governors in his time. Nothing, though, could be farthest from the truth. Now, Duvvuri Subbarao, RBI Governor from 2008-13, in his book, Who Moved My Interest Rate…, has detailed how both Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee as Finance Minister had made his life miserable. In particular, Chidambaram was downright boorish at times, pointedly refusing to acknowledge Subbarao’s presence at a state dinner in Mexico. A control freak, who puts down anyone who might have a different opinion, Chidambaram publicly rebuked the RBI Governor for not cutting the interest rate. But as for the thick-skin, the same Chidambaram has the gumption to pay tribute to Subbarao for his book, saying it offers a “learned, meticulous and honest account…his intellectual integrity shines on every page of the book…” Really, artifice and hypocrisy come easily to our politicians.
Here is a new line of work for the jobless. The National Media Centre, a housing colony predominantly of media persons on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway, pay someone a princely sum of Rs 13,000 every month. His job description? To make sounds like a langur to frighten away the monkeys. That is it. What if monkeys wise up to the deception? We hope not. The poor fellow playing the langur will be jobless.

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