People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 36

September 14 , 2008



The Land Deal In Kashmir

A Dangerous Surrender To The Jammu Agitators

Eminent academicians and intellectuals have jointly issued the following statement on September 9, 2008 regarding the way the dispute over Amarnath Board land was settled.

WE the undersigned academics, and others express grave concern at how the dispute over grant of land to the Amarnath Board in Kashmir is being handled by our political authorities. Over four weeks the agitators in Jammu were allowed by the administration to impose a blockade of Kashmir, which, despite official denials practically continued till the end of August. Those whom L K Advani and others call “nationalists”, committed crime, arson and mayhem in Jammu, while waving the national flag. They have themselves proved to be the most effective separatists since they entirely separated Kashmir from the rest of the country, and tried to starve out the people of the very area they are never tired of pronouncing an integral part of India. By allowing them to do so and by making concession after concession to them the government of India cannot escape the stigma of colluding with them. When on the other hand, driven to desperation, the people of Kashmir valley protested against the blockade, as many as 40 persons were shot dead by the military, para-military and police forces. In the talks with the Jammu agitators through an all-party delegation headed by the home minister, the agitators secured the exclusion of the representatives of the Kashmir parties (PDP and NC) despite an invitation issued to them. No compensation for those killed and injured by army and police firings in the Kashmir valley has been so far announced, in contrast to what was done swiftly in Jammu.

And now the final act of collusion with the Jammu agitators has taken place, by the revocation of the governor’s own order of June 29 and the re-allotment of the 800 kanals of land “exclusively” to the Amarnath Shrine Board. The agreement was announced at a “joint” press conference of the governor’s representative and the Jammu agitators on August 31. The deal’s details made it clear that limitation to “the duration of yatra” is a mere formality, since no power is given to the government of Jammu and Kashmir over how the Shrine Board deals with the land “from time to time”. It is also clear that the special concessions, under paras 9 and 10 of the agreement, about withdrawal of cases and compensation to agitators are confined to Jammu and not made applicable to the Kashmir Division.

No persons sincerely interested in opposing the movement for Kashmir’s secession can support this deal, which is naturally seen in Kashmir as an unjust and provocative act. If we wish to retain Kashmir as part of our country we should stop treating the Kashmiri people as aliens and let them decide what to do with their land. We therefore call upon all fellow-citizens to join us in demanding a revocation of the deal and the establishment of a proper rule of law in the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The signatories to the statement are:

Irfan Habib, Professor Emeritus, AMU, Professor R.S. Sharma (Patna), Professor Suvira Jaiswal (Hyderabad), Professor Keshavan Veluthat (Mangalore), Professor R.L. Shukla (Delhi), Professor Irfan Habib (Aligarh), Professor H.C. Satyarthi (Muzaffarpur), Professor Shireen Moosvi (Aligarh), Professor D.N. Jha (Delhi), Professor Pradeep Saxena (Aligarh), Professor Iqtidar Alam Khan (Aligarh), Dr Ramesh Rawat (Aligarh), Professor Sayera I. Habib (Aligarh), Dr Prabhat Shukla (New Delhi), Dr S. Ali Nadeem Rezavi (Aligarh), Professor Rajan Gurukkal (Mangalore), Dr Shamim Akhtar (Aligarh)